It looks like Taylor Dayne's Love Will Lead You Back is now another song to avoid singing, because in addition to Season 4's Mikalah Gordon, the song has now ended the run of our bilingual songbird, Karen Rodriguez. But more on that later.
The show opened with a montage of the contestants sharing what their childhood dreams were. (My fave: Scotty's admission that he wanted to be an astronaut, but his brains were not astronaut material.) And then the dramatic words crawled across the screen:
Last night they fought for the same dream
Their fate is in your hands
America has spoken
The judges were introduced and Steven Tyler literally was wearing an outfit stolen from KISS, minus the makeup. Who dresses this guy? J.Lo may need to pull out her Grammys dress in order to get noticed.
The contestants broke into their Glee-inspired mashup of Born To Be Wild and Born This Way (which sounds more like Madonna's Express Yourself every time I hear it). And it was live. Not all that good, but live. Jacob was his usual dramatic self. He's starting to remind me of Geoffrey Holder. Anyone else?
Blah blah blah...
Uninspiring Ford music video to Bowling for Soup's Val Kilmer (I'll admit it: I looked that up)
Blah blah blah...
Product placement for American Idol's 10th anniversary CD (somehow the studio audience didn't get as excited about finding the CD under their chairs as they would if they were on Oprah)
Blah blah blah...
Pre-recorded segment on "What Defines Our Idols," aka Stupid Contestant Tricks. The highlight was Pia's getting bleeped when she explained that she has a singing shih-tzu. (What did they really think she'd say?)
And then we got down to the results, after a brief St. Patrick's Day interlude. First up were Jacob, Lauren and Casey. Ryan asked Randy for a lesson on what causes pitch problems ("it's when you are just under or just over the correct pitch...") and J.Lo tried to excuse it away by explaining the contestants have trouble hearing themselves over the music.
My recap to the contestants would have been very different than Ryan's was. I would have said, "Jacob, once again you destroyed an amazing song with your vocal histrionics, yet for some reason the judges, despite wincing during your performance, have chosen to ignore the problems. Lauren, you're a talented singer, but your attitude is tremendously irritating. Casey, you have so much potential, but STOP SCREAMING!" (Ahem.)
All were safe. Next up: Haley and Paul. Haley was once again asked if she knew what kind of artist she was, to which she replied, "Well, I'd like to sing rock and funk and blues, all together, you know?" (In other words, no.) Paul admitted he took vitamins. (Is that what the kids are calling it these days?)
Paul was safe. Haley, once again, was in the bottom three, so she headed off to her stool of shame.
Upon returning from commercials, because there has to be at least one J.Lo-related plug in every episode, Ryan greeted Pitbull, with whom she collaborates on her new single, saying "congratulations on everything." Pitbull looked like he had never seen Ryan before in his life.
Last year's winner, Lee DeWyze, performed one of his new songs. It was perfectly unobjectionable, much like Lee himself. When asked to give the contestants advice, he said, "Always remember why you tried out. Whether you win or lose, you still love music, and you need to remember that." Such a nice boy; in fact, according to Ryan, Lee is "one of the nicest contestants we've ever had on the show."
Scotty, Pia and James came up next. Didn't take a rocket scientist to know all three were safe.
Next came Stefano and Naima. Naima mentioned she has "a passionate hate for the word 'pitchy.' I am in love with the word 'pitch,' and I promise we will be in perfect harmony if I get to come back." Stefano was safe and Naima joined Haley in the bottom three.
Karen and Thia were last to learn their fate. Thia talked about herself as an artist and said she could do so much better if given the chance next week. And then Karen was sent to the stools of shame.
The Black-Eyed Peas performed. For the longest time, I thought there was a stand-in for Fergie. It was weird, so I fast-forwarded through the performance. (C'mon, it's March Madness!)
Just before Ryan sent Naima back to the couch, it was amazing that she, Haley and Karen didn't even touch each other. Then, when he announced that Haley was safe and Karen was at risk of being sent home, none of the other finalists seemed excited for Haley or tried to hug her. Maybe Jimmy Iovine was right?
Karen chose to sing Hero in order to convince the judges to save her. It was a little stronger than her Top 24 performance, but still off-key. While the judges
To save J.Lo another emotional breakdown, Randy delivered the news: the judges had decided to not use the save, although he explained the decision was not anonymous. So we watched Karen's journey to the sounds of David Cook, and then saw the judges up on stage, comforting the contestants. Randy hugged Sad Jacob, whose best friend is leaving the competition.
And we're out. An hour that felt like a day.