‘American Idol’ Throws A Bunch Of Curveballs



So… did anyone out there win their ‘American Idol‘ Top 12 Office Pool?

To say that tonight’s ‘Idol’ results were surprising is probably an understatement. All four of the people dispatched could have stayed in favor of way inferior performers — bad singers, prematurely aged children, contenders who relied way too heavily on their overworn schticks to survive in the competition.

But was the dispatching tonight of the bewitching Lilly Scott, the shy Alex Lambert, the spazzy Katelyn Epperly, and the over-the-top Todrick Hall a way for America to tell the ‘American Idol’ judges that they didn’t want their beloved franchise to change and shape-shift in such a way that embraced unconventional performers? Maybe. After all, the singers who did surprise this observer by making it — Katie Stevens, Aaron Kelly, Andrew Garcia, and especially Paige Miles, who was an absolute wreck on Tuesday night — are all cut from familiar ‘Idol’ cloth. Young pageant-ready aspirants, coffeehouse troubadours, and — well, I’m not even sure what to call Paige, who up to this point has been lauded by the judges for qualities that have been strenuously hidden from the viewers at home.

Were tonight’s results, which had at least two (and probably three) Patented Idol Shock Eliminations among them, a sign that the viewers at home were embracing the tried-and-true ‘Idol’ formulas that have worked in the past, even if they haven’t sold all that many records? Were the fans of Lilly and Alex who flooded my Twitter feed and inbox with their gripes the sorts of viewers who would support certain singers, but not call in? Were viewers just getting sick of Ellen’s endless references to Alex being a banana? And finally, this season of ‘Idol’ just keeps racking up the type of mysteries and frustrations that cause people to speak in endless strings of rhetorical questions, huh?

Who’s Out: Todrick — OK, not too much of a surprise. Katelyn — her version of “I Feel The Earth Move” on Tuesday was placid, but she certainly wasn’t among the worst. But Lilly? And Alex?

Who’s (Inexplicably) In: Forget Katie Stevens and Aaron Kelly, both of whom have the “only a teenager” factor going for them and who probably got lots of calls from people feeling overly parental as a result. But Paige Miles getting through over both Katelyn Epperly and Lilly Scott is a travesty; her performance of “Smile” on Tuesday night was an absolute trainwreck, and the only thing that I can think of that saved her was her post-song confession that she picked that song in part because she was still mourning Michael Jackson. He was, after all, one of last year’s biggest pop stars. That’s relatable! She’s just like us!

And don’t get me started on Andrew Garcia, who pulled out his old “make a dance-pop song Serious Business through the power of my acoustic guitar” party trick with disastrous results last night. Apparently his shout-out to his “fans” in the wake of his terrible performance was enough to mobilize them into calling and texting for their hero.

Who’s Going To Be Super-Entertaining On Tomorrow’s Eliminated-Contestants Conference Call: Well, Lilly did have a snide comment at the end about her elimination being a sign that she apparently has no idea what, exactly, America wants to hear. I mean, who can blame her? Apparently America wants to hear sob stories about sick grandmothers and schlocky new country and dorm-room “depth” instead of people who can, you know, sing. Ugh!

Judging The Judges: I wish Simon would stop talking about Paige’s “potential,” because it has been so far invisible to anyone not sitting behind the judges’-table Coke cups.

Hey, Let’s End On A High Note: It’s probably telling that all the high points of these elimination episodes have come from Season Eight hopefuls visiting, isn’t it? Oh Season Eight. We never knew how good we had it. Here’s a clip of Matt Giraud and Scott McIntyre singing “Tell Her About It” on tonight’s show, so we can think back to happier times.


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