American Idol - Top Five Elimination Show, April 30, 2008
Over 45 million votes were cast this week, Ryan Seacrest says, admitting that he's still out of breath after last night's show. One thing that's fairly certain is if you were a Neil Diamond fan -- and go on, we know you worship His Sansabeltness -- Tuesday was a mighty fine night to play karaoke along with the contestants, who might as well have been video game avatars considering how lackluster the performances were.
In the audience: Kristy Lee Cook, looking like mom and apple pie. Later Ryan gives props to Constantine Maroulis and Gina Glocksen, who have a show on Fox Reality called "American Idol Extra." At Ryan's insistence, Maroulis gives his signature brooding glare or whatever you call it into the camera.
But before that, Ryan introduces the Final Five by way of pimping the summer tour (coming to a town near you!) and with that, we swing into...
Group sing! A Neil Diamond medley, with the boys starting out on "Cracklin' Rosie," each assigned a line to butcher. After a few bars of that, the tempo slows for "Song
Sung Blue" and the girls take over. It's...well, they gave it a shot. The kids bring it on home with "Brother Love's Travelin' Salvation Show" and Davids Archuleta and Cook holding the center as best they can, considering how spiritless the whole thing looked and sounded. Perhaps meaning to maintain some semblance of emotional continuity, Jason Castro appears to have checked out of the building and all but sleepwalks through the entire number. Or maybe this is his way of being really low-key.
Recap of Last Night: In playing his mentor role Neil Diamond, bless his shiny ankle boots, says that the kids are tops and they didn't make it where they are now by being
average. "My job is to make sure that these kids continue and stay with it." All in all we get to see why David Archuleta is probably going to be one of the top two, and why David Cook is giving him a run for that second slot. Or so offered Paula...but who can say if she's right? When it comes to this point in the season, the finale match-up is anyone's guess. Ask Mr. Daughtry.
Ryan addresses the online rumors concerning Paula without specifically saying what they were (for the blissfully, magically unaware: TMZ floated that she flubbed her lines because she was drunk) by saying, "The rumors are not true. She's part of our family. And we love her. And I think Simon still wants to hook up with her."
Then, the 40 minutes we've been waiting for...
Who's going home? We wonder. Ryan calls out Jason Castro, who sang "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn."
To remind us, Randy said it was an OK performance, Paula said she thought he played it safe, and Simon said the first song was a forgettable and added that he wasn't seeing the Jason they put into the competition. Ryan asks if Jason knows what Simon meant by that, and Jason responded that upon thinking back, the weeks that he received positive criticism were weeks that he chose songs that he already knew or that he really changed. He didn't really change last night's songs, he said, so that was probably the problem.
Ryan pulls out the dramatic tension like it's saltwater taffy, but reveals that America voted...Jason to the couches. Once again, his tendril-like tresses and dreamy gaze keep him in the game.
Ryan calls out David Archuleta, and reads back the judges' criticisms, but let's be real here: This chat was little more than a quick how-dee-do on the way to the couches. He even told Paula that he plans to work on his performance style some more, so he knows he's in there. And what a surprise -- he's safe, and ready to join Jason next week for the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame show.
Cut to commercial and -- sweet juicy jeepers, Bret Michaels is going to be on "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" Which makes us envision the night that "Idol" forces some poor youngsters to cover Poison. We're so there!
Upon the return, Ryan talks up the new season of "So You Think You Can Dance," which premieres after the "Idol" finale. Naturally, we see a clip, which includes a shot of a guy sliding on stage in his tighty whities and another guy standing rough and tough in his Afro puffs raging at the judges. Hooray summer. It premieres May 22, and "Idol" executive
producer/dance judge Nigel Lythgoe is standing on the sidelines. Ryan assures us that he'll be just as mean to talented dancers as Simon is to talented singers. Then he has Randy show off a viewer designed Coca Cola cup.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled axe swinging. David Cook! Ryan repeats the judge's assessments from last night, including Paula's assertion that she was looking at the American Idol. Ryan asks David what he thought about that comment, and David replies, "Honestly, the first thing I thought about was what Simon said to Carly last week, about it being the kiss of death, so..."
Paula interjects, "Not with me. Not with me!" This time she's right -- David Cook is safe.
Which puts Syesha Mercado and Brooke White in the danger zone. Ryan brings both of them out, and rubs their faces in last night's commentary from the judges.
Syesha sang "Hello Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime." Randy didn't think her first song was amazing, but liked the Broadway appeal of the second one. Paula liked her song choices. Simon disagreed with everybody and thought she might be in big trouble because of her song choices.
Then he talks about Brooke, who sang "I'm a Believer" and "I Am I Said."
Randy thought her first choice was karaoke, but liked the second song. Paula thought she had fun and connected with the audience. Simon called her first song a...? Brooke finishes his sentence by merrily chirping "Nightmare!" Ryan continued that Simon also thought she turned it around for the second song.
Ryan tosses them a few softballs about the increasing difficulty of the songs as the season went on. None of the answers sounded all that ominous until Brooke revealed that the reason she was able to remain poised in spite of Simon's harsh criticism was that she was happy to be here. "Finally last night I just kicked into that happy, grateful mode."
Too happy too late, maybe? Let's find out. But first...
The Performance, Part I. British singer Natasha Bedingfield performs "Pocketful of Sunshine." Piece 'o trivia: Barack Obama's camp has used Bedingfield's song "Unwritten" several times on the campaign trail. Another piece of trivia: Bedingfield ended her appearance by smooching Archie on the cheek.
Then came the audience questions, which were about as scintillating and enlightening as one would expect them to be. One must acknowledge that "Idol's" connection with its audience is the reason for its continued success, but the producers may want to re-think this feature....Hello, here's an interesting one. Tara, age 46, asks Simon Cowell which performance was more forgettable -- his kiss with her in his garden when he was 9, or his kiss with Paula.
Simon: "Is this Tara Miller?" Paula asks if she's over the rabies. Simon follows up by asking if she's still cute.
"This is my first crush!" Simon exclaims. Ryan informs all the kids out there that nine years old is too young to kiss. He gives absolutely no indication as to what the proper age for playing doctor happens to be.
The Ford Commercial-Slash-Video. Jason, driving a Ford Hybrid SUV, rolls the kids down a desolate, trashy street as they sing Donovan's "Catch the Wind." David Archuleta snaps his fingers, and an overturned garbage can sucks in all its refuse and rights itself. Brooke White walks by a junky old car and snaps, making its messy exhaust roll back inside the engine...and it's magically replaced by a shiny new Ford sedan. Animated flowers bloom all around them. A tree grows leaves. Ambien and Quaaludes rain down from cotton candy clouds. It's like Oz with product placement, maudlin tunes and no Lollipop Guild.
The Performance, Part II. But in truth, isn't this the real performance we've been waiting for? Neil Diamond, in the flesh, all in black...singing "Pretty Amazing Grace."
Not the best choice for this point in the season; this particular evening could have used a more upbeat tune. Still, the kids in the mosh pit (presumably) close their eyes and pretend it's Maroon 5 or Soulja Boy and wave their hands in the air...at first. Then they stand around looking confused until somebody instructs them
to clap. But at last, we come to the moment of truth...
The Elimination. It's 9:57, and Ryan gets right to it: Brooke is going home. Immediately she makes with the waterworks and hugs Ryan, sobbing loudly. Ruben Studdard celebrates her home to her clip montage, then she wetly attempts to croak her way through an exit performance of "I Am I Said" -- and has to stop twice.
Please don't cry for her America; we have a feeling that a Brooke White single will be in rotation on many adult contemporary stations before too long.