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American Idol Recap: The First Eliminations Bring an Uncomfortable Truth

Last night’s elimination episode revealed which four contestants America deemed unworthy of their potential Idol worship. And voters sent what certainly seemed to be a clear message by making Ashley Rodriguez and Joe Muñoz the first ones sent home: You had better be in-your-face talented (i.e., Andrew Garcia, Allison Iraheta) if you want to make a splash on Idol while being, you know, Hispanic.

Admittedly, the usually impressive Ashley was disappointingly grave on Tuesday night, but the elimination of Joe Muñoz was just bizarre. When Ryan asked Joe and Tim Urban — whose Wednesday performance was easily the most painful and uninspiring of the week — to stand next to each other for one of those “who’s going home?” moments of suspense, the answer seemed as clear as Tim’s Clearasil commercial–ready skin. Tim missed every high note when singing OneRepublic’s “Apologize,” he exuded zero charisma, and when the judges flatly told him they had made the right choice by cutting him during Hollywood week, even he seemed to agree (he had been asked to come back when another male was disqualified from the top 24). Not to mention the fact that Muñoz easily outperformed the vocally clumsy Alex Lambert as well as Aaron Kelly, the 16-year-old boy who still looks embarrassed to be singing in front of any audience, much less one that numbers in the millions.

So when Seacrest told the fresh-faced boy-one-gated-community-over Tim he was safe, no one was more surprised than he was. The look on his face transcended shock, and to his credit he didn’t even look happy, seeming to sense the injustice and/or absurdity of his moving forward while Muñoz goes home. Check out Tim’s dumbfounded face while Joe sings a good-bye performance of Jason Mraz's "You and I Both" below.

Tyler Grady, the shaggy-haired Jim Morrison worshipper, also felt the cold sting of America’s rejection. The “American Woman” belter said he'd wished that he'd had more time to incorporate the judges' constructive criticism; once the words "constructive criticism" are uttered, all rock-god aspirations are rendered moot.

Janell Wheeler was also dispensed with, meaning she will not have the chance to follow in Kris Allen’s footsteps and extol the virtues of a Ford vehicle’s sound system during next season’s commercial breaks.

Speaking of the reigning champ, Allen showed up to sing a pleasantly rough-around-the-edges “Let It Be” while urging people to send money to Haiti (Idol Gives Back has returned after a one-year absence: This may mark the first time anyone realized it went away in the first place).

Allison Iraheta also popped in and sang about how we all had scars — the metaphorical kind! Eager to emotionally identify with the tune, high-school girls across America now begin plotting to dump their boyfriends.

Other Recaps:
Television Without Pity's Jacob thought "Tim literally looked like somebody just fired a shotgun at his face when they told him he's safe."
The AV Club's Leonard Pierce took a realistic approach to Idol Gives Back: "Seriously, folks, that country is fucked the fuck up, and if all this show's slap-happy bullshit results in just one person getting a goddamn bottle of clean water, then hooray for American Idol."
Entertainment Weekly's Michael Slezak expected the mulleted Alex Lambert "might beg Ryan to spare Tyler, thereby freeing himself from the indignity of ever again being likened to an unripe tropical fruit by Ellen DeGeneres."

Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX