‘American Idol’ Drops to 10: Who Went Home?

Erika Van Pelt and Shannon Magrane on American Idol (FOX)

Tonight, America righted one of its most common wrongs when voters ousted Shannon Magrane from “American Idol.” Girls like Shannon go very far in the competition–innocent, pretty, blonde and oh so naive girls who choose huge, emotional songs they couldn’t possibly relate to. This season, we had two such girls (we’re looking at you, Hollie Cavanagh), but now we are down to one.

Tonight’s elimination was an important one–the remaining 10 contestants would go on to tour this summer. When the final two were announced: Shannon and Erika Van Pelt, I was sure Erika would be the one to go–not because I wanted her to, but because Erika is unusual. She is older, she is curvier, she’s lived a little more–but she just doesn’t quite pull off that prom dress look. Shannon types just tend to stick around longer. And, despite Shannon misfiring last night on “One Sweet Day,” the judges continued to praise her, encouraging her to keep singing songs for which she is no match.

She did have a chance to “sing for her life” and convince the judges to save her (oh yeah, that judges’ save is back in play now). But she chose to reprise “One Sweet Day”–probably a better choice than last week’s disastrous take on “I Have Nothing”– but hearing the same song she sang yesterday, and still sounding just as mediocre, did her no favors. Afterward, Randy Jackson delivered the news that they would not be using the save just yet.

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In other news, tonight, Jimmy Iovine’s insightful, truthful feedback came with an inset of Randy (in a baby pink tweedish blazer) responding with his face. At one point, Jimmy basically had a direct conversation with Randy during his pre-taped comments, arguing about Randy’s instructions to Erika not to listen to Jimmy’s advice. The interaction, however disrupted by space and time, brought us one step closer to Jimmy officially joining the panel of judges, something we can only hope will happen at some point in “Idol”s second decade.

During the feedback on Deandre Brackensick, Jimmy went so far as to give a step-by-step account of how contestants wind up with their songs. He said they come to Jimmy with three songs prepared, sing them all, and then if none of them are working, Jimmy will suggest some more. But ultimately it is the contestant who chooses. In the case of Deandre, Jimmy said he rehearsed the song well, but simply didn’t deliver when it was show time.

Jimmy also said he is certain there will soon be an Asian pop music explosion, but he’s not sure Heejun will be the one to lead it.

His favorites from last night were Joshua Ledet (of course!), Elise Testone (who scowled briefly when she learned she was in the Bottom Three), and Hollie (except for the outrageously ugly see-through-gold-mermaid-prom gown she wore).

Also we had a moment with Demi Lovato, Chris Daughtry and a Ford-sponsored haunted house video. But no group sing of ’90s hits. And I thought this would finally be the night that we’d hear some Coolio on “American Idol.” Oh well.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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