American Idol
Top Three — It's a Cliiiive!

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The Man Who Cried
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Tuesday

We're down to three, or so Ryan Seacrest tells us. He lies that this is the last time they'll be singing for us before the finale. If only. When did this season get so damn interminable? Roseanne is in the audience tonight. She'll be married to Taylor by week's end. Ryan reminds us that "everybody's still talking" about Chris getting voted off, which is accurate to the letter, if not the spirit, of the statement. I think if you see enough headlines screaming "Shocking AI Exit!" you're eventually going to ask, "What's with the big freak-out?" ["Or alternately, 'Ousted Bitter Idol Acts The Fool Everywhere'? Because all the talking I was hearing was about how hideous his behavior was after the fact." -- Jacob] Okay, Randy Jackson and I are going to have to have a talk about this booing Simon thing. I know the man likes his shtick, and when he finds a new club to put in his bag, he's going to want to play it. But check it out, dawg: it makes you even more of a Cowell puppet than you already had been. He's already got Paula, the audience, Ryan, and half the contestants on a string. The fact that he gets to Pavlov you into freaking out like a fourth grader? Just feeds the beast. Stop it.

Ryan says the first of three songs the contestants will sing tonight will be chosen by Clive Davis. Clive, looking about ready to battle Aaron Spelling for that last batch of life-extending sheep embryos, is in the audience this year instead of on the judges' panel. Because without Bo Bice to make out with, what's the point? The video package gives us the usual Clive signposts, including -- get ready, now -- Whitney Houston and Alicia Keyes. And I know you can't deny the awesome voice of yesteryear and everything, but you'd have to figure at some point "discovered Whitney Houston" is going to lose its luster, right? Also, as head of BMG, he's overseeing the careers of Britney and Justin Timberlake. Um. You think he might want to get a move on with the latter? And euthanize the former? Anyway, the point of the video package is to get to show this hilarious old black-and-white studio shot of Clive with his head resting on the palm of his hand. Aspiring recording stars? He's listening.

Elliott's up first, and we once again go to the videotape, where Clive is wearing a stunning crushed velvet collared shirt, in a royal shade of blue. Clive Davis: he can get you what you need, baby. The song Clive has chosen is Journey's "Open Arms," which is awesome, frankly. Not for Elliott, of course, but for mankind. Journey, right now, seems to be in that post-ironic place that Styx was in right after Eric Cartman sang "Come Sail Away," so Elliott knocking this song out would make him seem at least as cutting-edge as Aileen Wuornos. Which is an improvement for Elliott. It would also make me like him a lot, and God knows I don't need a last-minute change of heart. Elliott, as you might expect, is honored to be working with Clive, and is super-polite and gracious, because he was raised right and whatever. I was told the rules of polite society didn't extend to things that were mummified, but maybe that's just how I was raised. Anyway, lucky for me, once Elliott starts singing, you can tell that, while his voice is excellent in many of his chosen genres, it is not quite up to the Steve Perry challenge. He's also not entirely up to the "remembering the lyrics" challenge, though he recovers decently. I'll freely admit that I may be the only person alive who could call this song "cool," but what makes it cool is how Steve Perry is about to fall out all over himself with the deep emotion of the arena rock ballad. Whereas Elliott's just sort of...singing a song. Well, Leeza Gibbons enjoys it anyway.Randy reminds us that he was in Journey back in the day, and that it was "one of the greatest bands ever!" He says Elliott "kinda worked it out" despite a problem in the chorus. He does wish Elliott had taken more chances with it. Gee, maybe it would have been better to have told him this in any of the weeks leading up to now instead of mindlessly slobbering over him like Randy and Paula have been. Hmm? Speaking of Her Loopiness, she talks nonsense about how she can't wait to hear everyone else sing tonight, and that Elliott was great. Simon, closest to my own thoughts as usual, says it was a great song choice, not a very good performance, and too stiff and nervous. He calls Elliott "young man" as he advises him to start believing he can make the final two. Dude never believed he'd make the final ten. I think that ship has long since sailed. Ryan comes out to talk, and the words they say don't matter because the subtext goes like this: Ryan: "Elliott, you loose?" Elliott: "Fuck no, but I better get loose, right?" Ryan: "Do you believe you can win this?" Elliott: "Fuck no, dude. No. NO! ...Yes?"

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