The Judges' Save is off the table, so we know that somebody's going home on Thursday night.
Smart money says that Elise Testone is doomed. One could also make an easy argument for Hollie Cavanagh's ouster. But that's why the play the games on the field, to use the sports cliche. Will America throw a curveball for the second straight week?
And, for the record, I'm using a picture of Joshua Ledet not because I'm completely confident he's safe or because I loved his rendition of my favorite song ever, but because that's a fantastic red jacket and it deserves a few more minutes of recognition.
Click through for the full live-blog...
8:10 p.m. ET Sorry about the late start. I was interviewing The King of The North and I got stuck in traffic coming back from Santa Monica. Fortunately, I got back in time for the Zodiac-themed Ford Commercial, set to "Stars." Whee!
8:11 p.m. Hollie insists that the absence of Save hasn't changed anything backstage and that they're all still close and they're all still singing for their lives.
8:11 p.m. Joshua and Hollie face judgement first. Jimmy thinks that Joshua did well, particularly with "A Change Is Gonna Come." Jimmy doesn't think Hollie's going to move out of the Bottom Three, but she still took a "giant step" this week. On the other hand, Jimmy just thinks Joshua needs to keep doing what he's doing to make the finale. Joshua says that it's crazy he's here, because he's claustrophobic and he nearly couldn't get on the plane to come to "Idol."
8:15 p.m. Are we going to do The Huff again? We had 53 million votes cast last night. Joshua's safe, but only after a few seconds of Seacrest being an ass. Thanks, Ryan! And as for Hollie, she's the first person in the Bottom Three, which is pretty fair. But two more Stools of Shame must be filled. After Kris Allen.
8:19 p.m. Taylor Hicks is alive. And he's on-hand to tell Ryan that he's playing Vegas this summer. It's utterly absurd that the man next to Ryan Seacrest won "American Idol." And he beat Katharine McPhee. "American Idol" is weird, kids.
8:20 p.m. Frankly, it's also still a bit odd that Kris Allen won "American Idol." Kris has grown on me. He's a solid performer and he's reasonably appealing and musical. It's just that Kris hasn't really competed with Adam Lambert in the "hype" department over the past three years. But there's more to being an Idol than hype, I'm sure and it's nice to see how polished Kris has become. I'm not sure I'd personally have built an entire song around Kris Allen's falsetto, but what do I know?
8:27 p.m. Skylar Laine and Elise Testone come to center stage. This is not a fair pairing for poor Elise. She can't have much doubt that she's going to join Hollie in "Idol" Purgatory. Jimmy thought Skylar delivered, while Elise fell flat. Somewhat confusingly, Jimmy also says that "Let's Get It On" is the song that started the Baby Boom. This is not true. He also says that Skylar is the best performer the show has. This season? Still not convinced, anyway. Elise says that she thinks the judges and Jimmy are tougher on her than they are on everybody else. She says that she's disheartened and she feels discredited. Yikes. She handled her "Idol" adversity with total class for so long that you almost can't blame her for frustration.
8:30 p.m. To the surprise of nobody, Elise is in the Bottom Three, once again. And Skylar is safe. Yawn.
8:35 p.m. We're paying tribute to Dick Clark again, which is appropriate. It's good that young "Idol" viewers who may not even know Dick Clark from New Year's Eve should know who he is and what he meant to both music and television.
8:36 p.m. Alas, a Dick Clark tribute is a dreadful point-of-transition into LMFAO.
8:38 p.m. There's a dancing zebra. There are also dancing robots, but I don't especially care about them. Because... Dancing zebra.
8:40 p.m. They're so apologetic. What a polite bunch of kids.
8:44 p.m. Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon and Jessica Sanchez get the call. I speculated last night that after a subpar night, Colton could be destined for Bottom Three-dom. Phil-Phil in the Bottom Three would stun me. Jessica there would surprise me, since usually the Judges' Save is good for a week or two of safety, though her Wednesday performances weren't top-notch. Jimmy thinks Jessica is singing songs that are too old for her and he apologizes for letting her sing "Try a Little Tenderness." Hmmm... He's only part-right. Jimmy didn't like Colton's performance, especially his version of "Bad Romance," which he actually compares to "Spider-Man" on Broadway. Ouch. He's much more enthusiastic about Phillip. Meanwhile, Jimmy seems to think at least five singers are going to be in the finale.
8:49 p.m. Jennifer Lopez doesn't have a clue what's going to happen. Jessica is safe, but only after 15 seconds of Seacrest being an ass. It's down to Colton and Phillip. One of them is about to make their first appearance in the Bottom Three. And it is... Colton, which is exactly correct.
8:51 p.m. Colton, Hollie and Elise is actually the correct Bottom Three. Randy, however, refuses to commit to saying that America got it right. Grow a pair, Jackson.
8:51 p.m. Semi-wow. Elise is actually safe. But only after 15 seconds of Seacrest being an ass. So either Hollie or Colton is going home... After the break.
8:55 p.m. Holy cow! The person going home is... COLTON DIXON. "I need to apologize. I wasn't myself last night and I get it," Colton says. Kudos for classiness, Colton. He definitely picked two incorrect songs on Wednesday. I wouldn't have guessed that it would be enough to send him home, but they were REALLY poor song choices and they did, as Colton knows, get him away from the attributes that resonated with his core audience. Ooops.
8:58 p.m. So do we figure that the competition is now over? I mean, Phil-Phil was always the prohibitive favorite for demographic reasons, but has he now become unbeatable?
8:58 p.m. Colton kneels for his final performance. This made me uncomfortable the first time he did it and I'm uncomfortable with it again, especially with the cutaways to the very emotional Hollie and Phil-Phil.
That was surprising, eh? Not shocking. But surprising...
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