Well. That sucked. I liked three out of tonight's four vote-outs. This isn't how it's supposed to be.
All twenty-four semifinalists crowd the stage (and the staircase, and the wings, and the fucking roof because there's twenty-four of them) and sing "Take It Easy," written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey and made famous by The Eagles. Yeah, that's right. During the performance, we learn the following: Elliot may indeed be a better singer than I gave him credit for, but he still looks like a grizzled old fisherman; Ace will always be looking at you like that -- like he wants you to go to Winter Formal with him; David Radford will always sound like that; Chris's vocal chords are gonna be for shit in a few weeks; Patrick is doomed; and you do not ever want to run into Will, Taylor, Kevin, and Bobby in the same place, ever. The girls are there, too, technically, but they don't get featured. Conspiracy!
The first to undergo the feng shui machinations of Ryan's elimination procedure are the women, of whom the back-row-seated Mandisa, Kellie, Paris, Ayla, Lisa, and Kat are not going anywhere. And, to his credit, Ryan never pretends otherwise. The lowest vote getter comes down to either Brenna or Becky, surprisingly enough, and it's Becky who goes home. And she does so with a shitload of class, if you ask me. She wasn't anywhere near the worst or least interesting on Tuesday night, either, so I'm not sure what went down there.
The spatial arrangement for the guys is more integrated between the slam dunks and the easy outs, to wildly mix sports metaphors. The lowest vote getter (Bobby) comes down to (Bobby) Sway and Bobby (Bobby), and it's indeed Bobby (!!) who goes home. Sway was not sweatin' that for one second. Bobby acts a fool, more than a little bit, but the judges are nice to him, thankfully, and he sings "Copacabana" again. Not so thankfully.
Kinnik and Brenna, who had to sweat it out with Becky, get spared the next time around, and the elimination comes down to boring-ass Heather and bad-idea Stevie. Stevie gets the predictable boot, even if Heather was at least as deserving of it, if not more so. Then Stevie sings her Groban song again, but ditches half of the high-pitched stuff and it sounds really good. Well, better at least. Damn. That's disheartening.
Finally, Ryan arranges a chorus line of guys in preparation for the final elimination, and he fakes me out and makes me think Patrick is safe, even though he's totally gone. That one hurts. Yeah, it was a shitty Etheridge performance, but he was a favorite. And in exchange I get Bucky, Gedeon, AND Radford? Thanks, America.
Ryan and the semifinalists barely fit on one stage as we begin the results show. Bobby and Heather look intense. Would those two be the scariest Vegas cabaret act you could ever imagine, or what? David Radford can't stand still, so nervous is he that he's going home. Brenna strikes a fierce pose and will not break it. Gedeon can't not smile. Kevin is so psyched to be standing next to Paris, he barely knows what to do. Becky's back to looking pretty after Tuesday night's Marg Helgenberger moment. Stevie is experiencing all this from one hour in the future, that's how over this show she is. Will is petrified, like somebody just told him the truth about Michael Jackson. For the first time this season, Ryan gets to say "we are LIVE!" Well, except for this part, which had to have been pre-taped because one short credit sequence later, everybody is lined up side-by-side, all the way up the staircase to the RC Cola lounge. "Almost forty million votes" were cast between Tuesday and Wednesday nights, although to be fair, a lot of those votes likely came from senior citizens looking to book tickets on whatever cruise Bobby Bennett was advertising for. Yes, they were deaf. Ryan reminds us that two boys and two girls will be eliminated within the hour. He doesn't say "in random and geometrically diverse ways," but we know what's up.
Ryan turns to the judges, and it gets awkward, because Simon and Ryan's George and Martha moment from Wednesday night is still fresh in our memory. It's hilarious, though. Ryan starts asking Randy some bullshit question, while Simon starts whispering in Paula's ear. "Tell your father to pass the dinner rolls, if he's not too selfish to spare one." "Fine. I'd ask for the butter, but your mother was clearly too drunk to let it soften on the counter this afternoon." The actual question Ryan asks Randy is about how much weight the "likeability factor" carries with the audience. So they're already addressing the Pickler conundrum. Randy lets us know that he is softening on his time-honored belief that it's all about the singing, and that Simon "might" be right about it being about personality as well. I understand the need for the judges to maintain the pretense that this singing competition is all about finding good singers, but what Randy's saying is like if he said, "I'm beginning to suspect viewers tune in to the audition rounds to laugh at the delusional morons." He does say that once it gets to the top twelve, it's no longer about the personality, it's about the singing. Good to see he's back to lying again. I'm much more comfortable this way. Ryan's asks Paula why in this, the fifth season, there is "more buzz, more popularity, more votes than ever." I love that. "Paula, why do you think we're so kick-ass?" Paula starts to talk about demographics, and I'm pretty sure she got all this info off a bottle of pills somewhere. Perhaps Stoli has started to print random facts on their labels like cereal boxes? Ryan mentions how this season's contestants don't seem like "your typical American Idols," which is dumb because it's the same mix of ringers, teenagers, and shrewdly placed "misfits" that there's always been. Then, and this is the best, Paula says "each one of them can pierce the heartstrings of America." I love Paula Abdul. I'd love to see her speak at a high school graduation.Paula and Simon bicker like children for a moment, and then Ryan moves in for first blood: "[Simon's] gonna try and be tough in his baby blue sweater." And the metro comes out swingin'! Simon: "Why are you obsessed with what I wear?" Because you're his living Dorian Gray portrait? ["Oh, snap!" -- Jacob] Simon says the obsession is "creepy," but what's really creepy is how the show manages to slow down like this every week, to the point where it's just the two of them staring at each other, trying to work out the "how to make him seem gay without seeming gay myself" math in their heads on live TV, and you're sick of making the "just kiss already!" joke so you end up simply wanting this infernal running gag to be over. Every week! Simon, as always, says he knows who's going home, and he says it's because "they were terrible." Which is false, even from his own perspective, but it's his shtick so who cares? He says "we have trained the American public to be good music critics," which is hilarious in every single way. Ryan totally misses that part and instead focuses on the pronoun "we," which Simon says was "the royal 'we.'" Meaning Simon alone. Or The Dude, maybe. Can we get to the other filler now?