Before we get to the important stuff, Seacrest announces the following special guests who will be showing up throughout finals: Diana Ross, Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Lopez (ha!), Gwen Stefani, Tony Bennett, Martina McBride, Lulu and Peter Noone, and Barry Gibb. A little underwhelming after all the Mariah and McCartney talk, not that I'm not counting the days until Diana Ross gets unleashed on these poor kids. And then they all sing "Sowing the Seeds of Love," and as always, 24 is far too many for a group sing. It's such a mess.
Before the first guy is eliminated, Chris Sligh dons his "damage control" afro and "apologizes" to America for being a smartass to Simon. On the one hand, he's refreshingly upfront about how he's doing it so he won't lose votes, but on the other hand, it's not so much an "apology" as it is a "...but I love Simon." Anyway, Brandon, Sundance, Chris R., Nick, and Blake are all safe. Paul Kim and his nasty, sweaty feet are not. Not entirely expected, but not unwelcome either. For the first girls' elimination, Ryan calls up Jordin, Stephanie, Sabrina, Leslie, Melinda, and Antonella. One by one, Ryan tells them all that they're safe, then he rounds on Amy Krebs and tells her she's going home. Oooh, sneaky! Not surprised. She was the least memorable.
Then Fantasia shows up and announces that she's going to be starring in The Color Purple on Broadway. Quincy Jones is there too, and he gets cut right the hell off, which is pretty funny.
The second girls' elimination sees Haley, Gina, and Lakisha deemed safe. It's down to Alaina and Nicole, so, you know, flip a coin. It's Nicole who's going home, and Lakisha's attempt to turn her sing-out into a giant group number is thwarted. The second guys' elimination sees Chris Sligh, Phil, Jared, and wee little A.J. all declared safe. Down to Rudy and Sanjaya, Ryan says one of them finished in the top 4 guys, and one of them is eliminated. Well, that certainly takes the suspense out of it. Like Rudy was going to marshal the teen vote. So Rudy goes home, and Sanjaya instantly becomes the Covais that WE JUST CAN'T GET RID OF even though it's only been a week. Poor Paula, too. She really championed Rudy and Nicole. Oh, and this year's "You Had a Bad Day" is a song by Daughtry, which should rile up all the right people.
What appears to be six thousand people stand at the center of the Idol stage, awaiting the first four eliminations. Okay, so I'm told it's substantially fewer than six thousand, but I don't quite buy it. There are at least fifty of that Amy Krebs girl anyway. Ryan's dressed like an undertaker tonight, which is what I recall him dressing like quite a bit last season. Dude, they're not dying. Well, okay, Alaina might actually die if she's eliminated, but the rest of them? Unlikely. Ryan tells us "our" votes were the deciding factor, but "Were [we] influenced by our judges?" Well...probably. Though I remain unsold on the whole Lakisha thing. Randy tonight is wearing a blue shirt, of the color of which I greatly approve.
Ryan gets right down to the hammered-home truth of the week, that the guys were majorly shown up by the girls. He asks Randy if he thinks there's still a chance that a guy can win this season. Which is so weird, because before semifinals began, I thought the general crop of guys was so much stronger than the girls. Of course, I didn't count on the fact that Stephanie and Sabrina were stealth awesome, for one thing. I do still think a guy could win, even though Randy disagrees with me. He says the flak the guys took was justified and that it's "a girl's race to lose." Simon says right now he sees about three guys with "potential." Huh. Blake, Brandon, and Phil? Probably, since he's not letting Sligh off the hook so easily and he can see Richardson's vocal limitations. Paula's asked for her advice, and she gets glassy-eyed for a minute before slurring, "Bring it! The only way you can go is [points up]." Oh, Paula, you were doing so well. The other three react like, "Um, not," and move on.
Next, Ryan announces the guest mentors/performers/theme generators the show has lined up for this season. They are as follows: Diana Ross (awesome! You couldn't find a crazier person to unleash on these kids), Jon Bon Jovi (who is, like, halfway towards franchising a fleet of look-alike Jon Bon Jovis who he can dispatch to mall-openings and morning talk shows around the country), Jennifer Lopez (WOO! I maintain an odd affinity for J-Lo, for reasons I can't recall, and even though she did just show up at the Oscars in what I can only describe as Greek goddess drag, her drag-king husband in tow), Gwen Stefani (who's been slipping, so I hope she's really cool in person), Tony Bennett (looking strangely Elliott-like in his photo), Martina McBride (two seasons too late and, hello, no country singers this year!), a couple Ryan describes as "'60s legends Lulu and Peter Noone" (yeah, yeah, "Herman's Hermits," don't email me), and finally Barry Gibb (who is such an obvious choice for this show, it's scary). You figure from that group, Diana Ross and Barry Gibb could have theme weeks devoted to their own music, Martina will do country night, Tony will do...whatever, crooner's night, Gwen and/or J-Lo will cover actual recent music and/or dance music, and Herman's Hermits will do whatever the hell involving Britain and the 1960s. Those of you waiting for Bjork to show up for Icelandic Electronic Ambient Pop week will have to wait another year. Also: no Sir Paul McCartney? No Mariah? After weeks and weeks of speculation and wink-wink "can't say for sure" statements from the producers? That's depressing. Though if they can somehow finagle Mariah to horn in on Diana Ross week, I may not be able to handle it and would probably revert to poisoning Jacob so I could recap it.
The video recap for the week's performances breaks down like so: Rudy, Nick, and Sundance are all sacrificed on the altar marked "The Guys Sucked This Week." Stephanie, meanwhile, is singularly credited for putting things back on track once the girls began. Melinda, Leslie, and Sabrina are grouped under the banner of Aretha, with Sabrina getting an extra pinch of "That was hot!" from Randy for her "power vocals." Gina and Haley both covered Celine, but Gina's McKibbining gets the happy whitewash while Haley's Marie Osmonding gets the backhand. Jordin and Nicole were both "soulful," though I'm puzzled why, given what'll go down later, they only show Paula's complimentary remarks to Nicole. Meanwhile, Jordin, who I've decided looks like America Ferrara crossed with Callie O'Malley, is maybe my absolute favorite contestant so far. Love her. Antonella and Amy are grouped under "not good," essentially. Antonella was vocally sub-par, and Amy was boring. Alaina's not-nearly-as-charismatic-as-she-thinks rendition of "Brass in Pocket" got panned, and then when Ryan tried to intervene, Simon got off the best line of the night: "Are you trying to date this girl?" Alaina's "huh?" face after that is still fun to watch. Then Lakisha gets the montage's pimp spot, and once again, I can see that she's good, but I do not understand the heaping of praise. If you're essentially trying to steal Jennifer Hudson's Oscar thunder by performing the big Dreamgirls song, wouldn't you have to be pretty confident that your version is better? It's not. Sorry, Randy. Sorry, Simon. It's just not. And...that's all. No Blake. No Sligh. No Brandon. Don't we normally get a rundown of everyone on results night? I know the guys were boring, but damn.