Friday, March 11, 2011

AI Results Show Recap: "Not This Time, Baby"

Whenever I watch one of American Idol's results shows, I am struck by several things. I am amazed how much time is wasted doing absolutely nothing for the sake of ratings, I wonder whether the producers give signs to the audience because they always seem to be a little too appropriate all the time, and I question how much joy Ryan gets from manipulating the emotions of contestants whose emotions are already stretched to the brink of hysteria.

With a "Steven Tyler for President" sign in the background, the judges were introduced. I wondered if J.Lo's puffy, one-sleeved blouse came from Karen Rodriguez's "J.Lo- and Selena-inspired" collection.

After a dramatic introduction of the contestants ("let's open the doors and have your top 13 come on out") we got down to filler to business. We saw recaps of Wednesday night's performances and the reactions from Jimmy Iovine, the contestants and the judges. We had an overlong segment introducing the mansion the contestants are living in, complete with super-happy-bunny Jacob yelling into the wind and getting an echo. (The echo actually said, "Dial it down, Jacob," but the camera didn't pick that up.)

And then it's time for a Michael Jackson medley. Can we teach these kids to lip sync before the medleys start? Lauren and Stefano were featured quite prominently.

Before the oh-so-tantalizing Ford music video, Ryan informed us that Casey was in the hospital, which is why he wasn't on the show. (This makes the second time in two weeks he's been hospitalized. According to his Twitter feed, he's feeling better now that he has "fresh blood" in him.)

Wait! More filler, did you say? We got footage of the top 13 on the red carpet during a premiere of the upcoming Red Riding Hood movie (so once Hollywood turns all television shows and comic books into movies, the fairytales are clearly next) and even an awkward interview with the movie's doe-eyed star, Amanda Seyfried.

And now, your results! Jacob, Stefano and Karen were chosen first. Jacob, when asked how he thought his performance went, said he "messed up a few notes but pulled it back together." (Really? No.) Ryan excitedly told all three "You're all safe! Except Karen!" (Way to go, Ryan.) Karen sadly went off to one of the stools of doom. (Why not just give these kids chairs of nails or something?)

Adam Lambert (with a subdued new haircut) returned to the land of Idol to sing a stripped-down version of his song, Aftermath. (New audience sign: "Eve (Hearts) Adam." Clever.) A dance-mix version of the song is available online, and the proceeds go to The Trevor Project. Such a nice boy, that Adam Lambert. Apparently he even indulged Nigel Lythgoe and took a picture with "Adam Lambert 2.0," James Durbin. (It is pretty cute. Check it out.)

Next up: Lauren, Haley and Ashthon (sporting hair reminiscent of Season 4 contestant Nadia Turner mixed with a little of Sanjaya's faux-hawk). Ryan focused on Lauren first, mentioning that the judges "were really tough on you last night." She pouted a bit and then said after watching her performance back, the judges were right and "it sucked." After a swelling round of sympathetic applause (probably secretly led by Nigel Lythgoe), she burst into crocodile tears only to be told she was safe.

Here's the thing. The judges weren't really tough on her. All of them told her how amazing she was, what a great singer she is, but that the performance could have been better or, in Steven's words, "more kickass." To pretend otherwise is just another desperate way this show chooses to manipulate the truth to try and control the outcome.

I'm finished now.

The judges dissected Haley's performance, with Randy once again saying he didn't think it was right for her and then Randy and J.Lo kept suggesting she sing different types of songs. (R&B! Blues! Pop!) Then, to further confuse matters, since Randy decided Haley's hippie-inspired clothes resembled "the young Stevie Nicks," he recommended she sing Stevie Nicks songs! Haley babbled a bit to no avail, and then Ryan told Haley that both she and Ashthon were in the bottom three. With the remaining contestants realizing they all were safe yet stuck in that "Do I cheer? Do I appear sad for the bottom three?" dilemma, Ryan ordered them—seriously—to celebrate.

Diddy Dirty Money (say that five times fast) performed, and then Ryan let Karen/Selena know she was safe to vocalize for another week.

So then it was down to Haley and Ashthon. Ryan reminded everyone (for the millionth time) that the judges had the option to pretend they'd even consider to use their one save.

He then revealed that Ashthon had received the lowest number of votes. She chose to sing "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" again, and did a better job than she did on Wednesday night. But to no one's surprise (except, perhaps, Ashthon's), the judges "unanimously" decided not to use the save.

"Not this time, baby," a teary J.Lo said. "I've always rooted for you, but I'm sorry." Clearly this is the part of her job that J.Lo is going find most difficult, but I was glad the other judges didn't have to console her this time.

The best part about eliminations is David Cook's rendition of "Don't You (Forget About Me)." Great song, great movie, great singer.

And there you have it...not as funny but not as full.

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