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American Idol Recap: Speeding Up

AMERICAN IDOL: L-R:  Judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson on AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, March 1 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

So much happened tonight! The top ten! A whole new slew of performances and eliminations! The wild cards! For a show that has plodded along for what seems like months, it’s suddenly all moving way too fast. Yet it all could have happened in about half the time. Such is the paradox of American Idol.

 

Quick question: Was Ryan’s grin always so menacing? Each show this week has started with a quick zoom into his big, toothy mug, and suddenly I feel like he’s angry with us all. This Sasha Baron Cohen run-in has really changed you, Ryan.

Oh, but there is business to plod toward, so let’s get into it. Ryan says, “First, we’re going to focus on the guys.” Which is great, because that’s what I say anytime I enter a bar. On the chopping block first: Chase Likens, Jeremy Rosado, and Phillip Phillips. Ryan asks if they’re nervous, and Chase replies: “It’s a hard way to keep composure but also stand here at the same time, so ... ” Well, great job so far, Chase.

Tonight, we will be cutting to bonus commentary from Jimmy Iovine, who is in some kind of bunker under the stage. His job tonight is to provide the criticism the judges can’t bring themselves to, all in the “[adjective] is not enough for American Idol” format. Regarding Chase: “He’s a handsome guy, but handsome is not enough for American Idol!” Jeremy “seems like a nice guy, but nice is not enough for American Idol!” Phillip, Jimmy and I agree, is just right.

Ryan takes his sweet-ass time revealing who has made it, and as if to top The X Factor’s thrumming heartbeat sound effect, there is a cardiograph readout on the Stage Oval. We get it, guys. Tension. Ultimately, Chase and Jeremy are not in the top ten, but sweet Phillip is. Chase looks particularly bent out of shape about it, but he keeps his composure and stands there at the same time, so ...

Hallie Day, Hollie Cavanagh, Brielle von Hugel, and Jessica Sanchez are called up together as a group. Jimmy feels the same way I do about Ms. von Hugel — face-chappingly obnoxious is not enough for American Idol! — which gives me faith. And indeed, Brielle is not in the top ten. Neither is Hallie. But Hollie and Jessica are! Of course. This process takes about 37 minutes.

Joshua Ledet, Heejun Han, and Adam Brock are up next. Jimmy hits it all right on the head here, by which I mean he agrees fully with me. He points out that Adam’s Inner Big Black Woman didn’t show up for the performance, he chides Heejun for turning into too much of a character too soon, and he praises Joshua but adds, “My job would be to keep it from turning into Sister Act 3.” So Jimmy’s either agreeing with my assessment of Joshua as too churchy, or he’s calling him a big old queen. I hope it’s the former. Whatever — Joshua and Heejun are in! And they could both dial it back just a touch.

Baylie Brown, Skylar Leigh, Shannon Magrane, and Chelsea Sorrell comprise the group whose outcome is the least surprising. Shannon can’t help but pretend to cry, which she need not because (a) it is the worst thing a person can ever do, and (b) she’s in the top ten. So is Skylar Leigh. You knew all of this.

Oh, there is just no pleasing Jimmy Iovine when it comes to Creighton Fraker, Aaron Marcellus, and Reed Grimm. Jimmy calls Aaron Marcellus “too Don Cheadle,” which is weird, but you’re the millionaire, Mr. Iovine. He also calls Creighton’s upper register too shrill and Reed’s whole shtick too corny, which you can’t really deny. Back in the studio, Reed is all cuddlin’ up on Creighton in a way that is not un-adorable, though I’d advise you not to imagine the sex noises they would make together. Aaron doesn’t make it, and neither does Creighton, and then Reed has the quickest moment of victory ever, until Ryan tells him he’s out too. WELL.

Boy, does this show need a Jimmy Iovine. Even very astute, kind criticism is so startling this season!

The way they send Haley Johnsen up with Jen Hirsh, Elise Testone, and Erika van Pelt for the last girls’ spot makes it seem like it’s going to be one of those fake-outs where only Haley makes it. But they’re not even making that kind of effort in season one-one. Elise is in. Good for her.

Colton Dixon, Eben Franckewitz, Deandre Brackensick, and Gentle Giant Jermaine Jones, because that is his full name now, are up for the last two boys’ slots. Jimmy agrees with me that Eben is too young and that Deandre needs a vocal coach. Ryan gives us a strong contender for clunk-ass head-fake of the season when he says: “Colton ... you are not ... going to be disappointed, because you made it!” And the last spot in the top ten goes to ... Jermaine. Oh Jesus! I got it all wrong with the boys tonight. (Incidentally, that’s the last thing I say just before I leave a bar.)

And now on to the wild-card picks. Jen Hirsh is up firsh, with a version of “Oh Darling” that you can already hear if you imagine it. Very desperate and yelly and over-the-top. I had high hopes for Jen, but you know what? Her family owns a vineyard in Malibu, so I suspect she will land on her feet.

Jeremy Rosado of course gets a wild-card performance, which he spends on a Carrie Underwood song that ends with him crumpled on the stage in tears. There is a lot of crying in tonight’s show. Where is that angry vocal coach lady when you need her? 

The third chance at the wild card goes to ... Brielle? Oh, come on. But I guess a show like this needs a villain. She tells the judges, “You don’t understand that this is my life, I do it all day.” You know, as opposed to the other singers up there, who just wandered in off the street. Cool it. And you know what? Maybe you should make time in your busy day to read the lyrics of the songs you’re singing; Adele’s “Someone Life You” is a melancholy song of resignation, but she growls and shouts her way through it. Brielle doesn’t listen. Steven does, though: “I didn’t hear it tonight,” he tells her. Randy agrees. Jennifer pretty much recuses herself.

Next up: Deandre, who ejaculates all over "Georgia on my Mind." Not much more to say about that.

Jennifer chooses Erika van Pelt, and Erika chooses Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” a perfect song for her. And she slays it! Randy says: “This girl has gotta have it! She’s singing like she’s gotta have it!” Which seems sexual-harassy, but he’s right.

Last up: REED GRIMM! Who immediately strips to his undershirt for some reason. Ryan sputters: “As long as you stop there, I’m fine!” Got it. Ryan = not gay. MESSAGE RECEIVED.

So that means everyone else is definitely out, and they’re trotted across the stage for one last good-bye. Everyone is taking it well, except Chase and Adam. So much crying tonight, you guys. We are at tear level “Bachelor.”

Back to Reed, who instantly wears out his welcome. You know how the first few Michael Jackson albums deployed the occasional “ee-hee” or “HEH,” but by the time we got to Invincible there were about four actual words per song? Reed truncates that whole process with a take on Bill Withers’s “Use Me” that is 95 percent hiccups and laughs and YEAHs. But at least he’s enjoying himself! This season could stand more of that!

I predict it’ll be Jen and Erika, and then probably Jeremy. Randy chooses Erika, J. Lo goes for Jeremy as you knew she would, and ... DeAndre lives to whip his hair for another week. 

So there it is! I think Jen got a raw deal, I’ll miss Reed, and Brielle is also a person who was involved in this competition. I think we can all agree they’d get a little annoying kind of quickly, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get to work on my pro-Phillip sign, which will contain my contact information. Too much?