So, let's just get all our cards out on the table. I know Melissa and Kinnik are going home on Thursday. So do you, so do they, and so do the judges. Conveniently, everything on the show is neatly plotted out so it all unfolds according to plan. You could called it "fixed," I'll just call it "more carefully plotted than 24, at least." Anyway, in order for this fait to become accompli, the following went down:
Kinnik performs Alicia Keys, because she's all out of ideas, and Melissa performs Heart's "What About Love?" because she's able to read my mind. Kinnik keeps my interest for as long as she can with boring-ass Alicia, but is summarily judged as "too sharp," and Kinnik even goes so far as to agree with the assessment, that's how much everyone is on the same page. Melissa gives the latest in what has become a long line of energetic and fun Heart performances, and while the voice isn't 100% there, the "well, you're finished" critique from Simon comes across as much completely fabricated as it is utterly true.
Paris and Lisa are both coming off of "stop acting like such an old lady" criticisms. Paris responds by singing a song that would be dubbed "enthusiastic and spicy." By your grandma. Two steps forward, one step back, my dear. Oh, the song is "Conga," by the Miami Sound Machine. So, yeah, you're with me now. Lisa, for her part, sings the song from Camp, which is awesome, except for the fact that it's the same exact song she's sung for three weeks now. So she ignored the judges completely, but she actually is on her fourth or fifth go-round on this mortal coil, so it all fits her rather perfectly. Katharine -- who is neither leaving the show nor pregnant -- white-girl-shimmies her way through Aretha's "Think," and the judges take their dry white toast and their four fried chickens and love it very much. Ayla sings a brand new Natasha Bedingfield song, that maybe was released this morning for all I've actually heard of it. She's noticeably not as good as in previous weeks, and moving around a whole lot makes me wish she had a basketball to dribble so she wouldn't look go gangly. But she pulls it together by the end, and the judges now like her enough to lie just a little bit for her, and that's a nice development, I think.
Mandisa is the best thing going for the third week in a row, and the judges finally cast off all reservations and fall at her feet. As they should. She managed to make "I'm Every Woman" sound like you hadn't heard it a million times before. Kellie Pickler is dressed like she's out to start a bar fight, like where guys break bottles over each other's heads in order to impress her. She sings "I'm the Only One," and completely busts up the dark cloud hanging over Etheridge on this show. It's the first time I've enjoyed her singing since auditions, and even without grading on a curve, it's just a legitimately good performance. Then Simon gets creepy, and Kellie's vocab fails her some more, and Ryan has more fun with her than he has with anyone else, and we're done.
Tomorrow, it's the final eight guys, and Jacob will beâ¦wait, Jacob will be writing about Battlestar or having a laugh at me from several states away, because I'm dealing with this whole endless week on my own.
Things are going terribly wrong on the men's side of the competition right now, and I'm sure I am not going to like how this shakes out on Thursday.
Gedeon sings the public domain classic "When a Man Loves a Woman," and is good, and the judges don't have any serious issues with it. He hasn't messed up since "Shout," so I don't think he'll be in too much danger of leaving. He also gives the most Trump-tastic pre-song interview yet, so that was fun. Chris sings "Broken" by Seether, a song I didn't realize I knew until about halfway through, mostly because I think it's an Evanescence song. Not as good as his previous two performances, but there's no other guy I'd rather listen to on a consistent basis. The judges basically have to cool him down after the hotness that was last week, and they do, but not unfairly.
Kevin is still adorable to me, but it's also crazy painful to see him still around. He brings his lisp to bear on maybe the worst song possible for it, "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)" He sings it decently, and also like an Irish tenor. Like a friend of my grandfather's. I love the kid, but this really has to stop. There are two of Bucky, mostly because I think his DNA decided to run away from itself but couldn't get far. He sings a song I have never heard and don't really care to. He is completely and utterly not impressive, as always. Not bad, but nothing particularly good about it.
Will officially takes the mantle from Fedorov as he makes yet another dunderheaded song choice. "How Sweet It Is"? Is he kidding? He's not kidding. He is boring, however. He's also going to be eliminated from this competition, which means I'm going to be pissed. Can't say he didn't earn it, but damn I am going to miss him. Taylor talks about meeting Christopher Cross (!) and dresses up as the goddamn Easter Bunny. Okay? Does it even matter after that? He sings "Taking It to the Streets," by Paul Rudd's tormentor, and he brings the entire bag of bullshit to bear, and it doesn't ever end, and it's a wonderfully accurate Michael McDonald impersonation. But I'm starting to wonder who this Taylor would actually be if you stripped away the affectations and tics. Which is totally dumb, because replace "Taylor" with "Constantine" in that sentence, and you'll get your answer damn quick.
Elliott has a bum ear and still looks, I am pained to report, sort of disconcerting. He sings the classic wuss rock tune "Heaven," by Bryan Adams, which I totally read as a pre-emptive strike against Ace so he can't use it in the future. It's probably not true, but it's more interesting to think about than Elliott's performance, which is nice but boring. Simon pretty accurately pegs it as out of Elliott's comfort zone. Finally, Ace sings some Michael Jackson tune or another, and he's in falsetto for a full half of it, and it is horrific. He pulls out of the tailspin enough to toss some of his whispery shit in there, which salvages it somewhat. But, my God, I think the screeching may haunt the dreams of our children's children. I'm talking all of humanity. The collective unconscious took a turn for the worse on Wednesday.
Tomorrow: Kevin, Will, Kinnik, and Melissa are my best guesses. Though I won't rule out shenanigans on either side of the gender line. And they're going to group sing something by Fleetwood Mac, if the past two weeks are any indication. "Go Your Own Way" if we're lucky. "Don't Stop" if we're not.
Bo Bice's hair is so shiny! Was it always like that? He starts us off by singing what I can only assume is a hidden bonus track from one of Train's albums, but apparently it's also the title track from his album. He sounds, if you will permit a bit of blasphemy, like total ass, and you just know Simon is itching to make some bitchy comment or another. More's the pity that he doesn't.
The first women's elimination doesn't even come down to two. It's just, Lisa: safe; Melissa: safe; Ayla: safe; Kinnik: not safe. Kinnik, of course, saw it coming and is a total pro about it, and she's just wonderful, even if I don't think it's all that tragic that she got eliminated now. The first elimination for the guys goes down similarly. Kevin: safe; Gedeon: safe; Bucky: safe; Elliot: safe; Will: not safe. Booo! Bah, it was sort of obvious and all, but it would have been a whole lot easier to swallow if Kevin wasn't right there as a shining example of totally worse.
With the next set of eliminations, we're also simultaneously naming the twelve finalists. This means we get to see Paris celebrate and act like a total child, and it's Taylor-level not pretty. We also see Katharine, Kellie, Mandisa, and Lisa atop the coveted moon cafÃ© stools. The last spot comes down to Ayla -- who was great for the first two weeks and very not great this week -- and Melissa, who got savaged by Simon but trolloped it up like a champ, not to mention sang a song we've possibly heard before. Heartbreakingly, it's Ayla who's going home, putting Melissa in the finals. Ayla cries, y'all. She cries a lot. And given how much I liked her, this is sad. Her sing-out is one giant sports-and-life metaphor, which should be fun to delve into.
The male finalists get named next, with Taylor leading us off, and I want to punch him in the face so bad. So bad. Also in, among the unpunchables: Ace, Chris, and Elliott. Next up as a finalist is Kevin, which totally figures, and it means bad, bad things to come, and he nearly racks himself jumping off the stage. Oh, and also, the rule is that if you make the finals and you're a guy, you must run full-speed at Ace and Jack Twist him into the hardest hug you've ever given. It's awesome. The last spot comes down to Gedeon -- good singer, Rebecca levels of creepy as a public speaker -- and Bucky -- uninspiring, "authentic" petri dish. It's Bucky who gets to stay, sending Gedeon home to freak people out on his own time.
Next week: This show hates me so bad, because it's a Stevie Wonder theme. As if there are even any Stevie Wonder songs left at this point. But that's Jacob's problem, now, isn't it?
Ryan is dressed like Brandon Flowers after a long day at the office, as we lay our scene. Honestly, I wonder how long he had to stand in front of the mirror to get the tie loosened just right. However long it took, it was worth it. (Jacob: "Feel free to mention that I think he looks like a Paula Deen dish sizzling in very fatty butter.") Everybody's hair is different! Paris went curly, Lisa went straight, Melissa went for an entire can of mousse, Ayla has that bouffant poof on the top of her head that Paula so unfortunately opted for a couple weeks ago, and Kellie's hair is notably not all in her face like she just crawled out of a briar patch. Eight women left. Two of them will be going home. THIS is American Idol.
We're LIVE tonight, not that I think it makes a difference. Ryan mentions the Oscars, because you know he's as pissed about Brokeback Mountain losing as I am. We rehash last week and get still photos of Brenna, David, Heather, and Sway. I love the stills, like they're actually dead. Maybe include little "January - March 2006" captions. The women are all lined up on the staircase, Von Trapp-style, and Ryan gives them a "what's up?" before mentioning that two of them will be leaving by Thursday. Ryan: "Way to start with an awkward moment." Ryan, I don't care how handsomely you're dressed, it's still not cool to have witty little conversations with yourself. Now is the time on AI when we dance our way past the camera: Paris, dressed in turquoise and many sparkly things, is enthusiastic as always, and if we're still going with the "pick a Huxtable" visual motif from the last two weeks, she's now graduated to "Cousin Pam." You can actually see Lisa flip the switch to "on" as she approaches the camera. Melissa looks heroically trashy, and at this point I'm loving her for it. Ten years ago, she'd have been played by Amy Locane. Kinnik still looks like she's singing at a shit-kicker bar, even if she has lost the cowboy hat. Kat McPhee looks amazing and does a double-hand wave I find oddly endearing. Ayla still smiles dorkily and I wonder if, between her shoes and her hair, she wants to appear nine feet tall. Mandisa is wearing this lovely macraméd poncho number, and she makes what seem to be secret hand gestures to Jesus, even though I'm pretty sure he's busy making sure Carrie Underwood gets home safe. Kellie Pickler is dressed like Buffy on a patrol night, and it took me a looong while to make that connection, but I'm so glad I did, because it explains most of my reactions to her tonight.