American Idol
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The Van Is Leaving

You know how The X Factor seemed to be auditioning new announcers with the opening of every episode? I think American Idol is doing that with art directors for the pre-episode previews. Tonight it's Mad Men-inspired red, white, and black text. If only the show itself did something similarly different every night.

Entrances. They really have to figure out how to do that high-speed zoom on Ryan's face without landing completely out of focus. Or maybe not. Ryan announces that Lana Del Rey and Haley Reinhart will perform tonight. Oh, and one finalist will be going home unless the judges use up their save tonight, which I'm sure they'll be falling all over themselves to do with ten finalists left. But first, the top ten sing one more Billy Joel song, "The Longest Time." Nice choice for a group sing. Too bad almost all of them are flat on the lines they sing solo. Also, the image of Elise cuddling in Steven Tyler's lap will forever haunt my nightmares, and the nightmares of everyone I've ever met.

After the ads, Ryan plugs Jennifer's new show with the untypable title, and calls even more attention to her radioactively pink dress. Then there's this week's embarrassing music video/car commercial, which is about the top ten (including Erika's old hair) playing hide and seek by disappearing behind things that are much too small to conceal them. Ryan comes back and mutters about how the top nine who survive tonight will get to move into the big mansion. "It's a cool mansion. All mansions are cool." Just open the envelope, haircut. We're starting with Hollie, Skylar, and Elise. With regard to last night's performance from Hollie and the judges' comments, Jimmy says she's the opposite of Billy Joel, and this was her worst night, but he thinks she'll be all right. When it comes to Skylar, Jimmy says she needs to get more creative, and fast. As for Elise, Jimmy was really impressed despite her choice of an obscure song, and like Jennifer, he got "goosies." The lights come down, and Ryan tells Hollie, 'Say goodbye to Hollywood...and hello to the Hollywood Hills." So she's safe, and Ryan's not even trying. That leaves Elise and Skylar, and Skylar's safe. Poor Elise, man. What does she have to do? Ryan reminds her that she's been in the bottom three the last two weeks...but not this week; she's safe. All three of them go back to the couches, which is totally confusing. What happened to the winner-stools?

After some ads, Ryan introduces Lana Del Rey singing "Video Games." I've been purposely trying to remain ignorant of this whole debate about her "authenticity" and whether she deserves her success and the SNL debacle, so I'll just say that speaking for myself, I don't like the song, I don't like her voice, I don't like her self-conscious mannerisms when she performs. But thanks for coming. At the end, confetti falls and the audience cheers, I guess in celebration of the fact that she got through it this time.

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American Idol

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