American Idol Recap: Watching From the Sky Does Not Make It Better

AMERICAN IDOL: The Bottom 3: L-R: Josh Ledet, Elise Testone and Jessica Sanchez. Also pictured: Ryan Seacrest (R).
Photo: Carin Baer / FOX.

This is pretty much sweeps week for my American Idol recaps; last night I was in a delightfully tragic Bourbon Street gay bar, and tonight I will be watching the show on an airplane. It’s called keeping it fresh. And for extra pizzazz, I will intersperse this recap with some fun facts from the People magazine “American Idol: Where Are They Now” special issue, out now and considerably more embarrassing to buy at an airport Hudson News than pornography. You’ll find out who got married (many), who’s singing on cruise ships (many more), and who has a newborn child named Kayden (a startling 83 percent).

The opening montage is set to fun.’s “We Are Young (Except Elise Testone)” and tells us to expect the unexpected. So you’re going to sort out your sound issues and get us out of here in a reasonable amount of time? Alas, no.

Hey, do you like Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” but wish a smallish, mismatched choir had been forced to sing it under duress? Well, then tonight’s Idol is for you. The top seven sucks the life right out of this song, possibly owing to the fact that two of them are not of legal drinking age. But there is a moment in which Colton places his head in Phillip’s lap and Phillip strokes his hair, and it gives me confusing feelings. Was this gesture made especially for me? Let’s assume it was. I accept it.

Here is some happy news from the People magazine thing: Danny Gokey has remarried! His new wife’s name is Leyicet Peralta, which somehow sounds like two different antidepressants. Crystal Bowersox got married in a hemp dress; I’m pretty sure this is what the movie Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her was about. Tamyra Gray is married to one of the guys from Color Me Badd, and I’m not even going to try to top that.

I was told to expect the unexpected, and here it is already: The Ford Music Video actually has pretty decent production values. Some kid’s math notebook doodles come to life with photo-cutouts of Idol finalist heads on them! It’s kind of great, because it does not require them to move or emote.

Jennifer Hudson is here to shout at us, with special guest Ne-Yo. Also, James Durbin and his band will stop by, with his special guest heavy blinks. There will of course be no acknowledgement that neither of these people won their seasons.

And before we get into the results, we make time for viewer mail; Katie in Wichita, Kansas, has provided Colton with a booklet of reasons why he should accompany her to prom. And if your television tastes run toward watching someone silently read a brochure for around a minute, Idol has you covered. I know viewership is down, but is anyone rating the level of open, seething resentment toward this show? Because I’d bet those numbers are at a new high.

At last it is time to evaluate these people and assign them to groups. Since there are seven, my money is on them doing the two-groups-of-three-and-then-the-seventh-one-has-to-guess-which-is-the-bottom-three trick. Do you remember when they made David Archuleta do that, and instead he plopped down on the stage, right in between the two groups? Is it okay that I do? ANYWAY. Jimmy serves up a full rack of truth when it comes to Hollie and Jessica: Hollie has learned a bunch of habits that have made her stiffer onstage, while Jessica has studied some old soul singers and learned how to relax into her performances. So true! Hollie is led to one side of the stage, Jessica the other. We’re off to the races.

This People thing is sometimes hilariously vague. Vonzell Solomon was “recently in China.” Stephanie Edwards “has released at least three singles.” Melissa McGhee “has appeared as a mermaid and had polyp surgery.” It is so sloppy and half-assed, 19 Entertainment must have been closely involved.

James Durbin and his band do a song that sounds like something a rock star who’s about to be murdered on a CSI would sing, and the reaction from the finalists on the couch redefines indifferent. Man, do these kids need to cheer up.

Next up for review: Phillip and Elise. And more truthbombs from Jimmy: Phillip is a singer-songwriter type, but without the ability to perform his own material, he can’t help but just sound like Dave Matthews. At last, the name of Dave Matthews has been invoked! Jimmy thinks Elise was great, which she was. Phillip is sent to Hollie’s side of the stage, Elise to Jessica’s. The tension mounts, kind of.

Jennifer Hudson is the first Idol finalist to win both a Grammy and an Oscar, and with her performance of “Think Like a Man,” I’m fairly certain she becomes the first Oscar winner to sing a song based on a Steve Harvey self-help book.

Colton and Joshua are last on the block, which will leave sweet Skylar in the Archuleta Position. Jimmy thinks they both did well last night. Fair enough. Colton laments that the judges haven’t given him a standing ovation yet, but he should know by now that those are totally arbitrary. Ryan sends Colton over to Phillip and Hollie, Joshua to Elise and Jessica. Skylar is told she’s safe, and then runs to give consolation hugs to the Colton/Phillip/Hollie group … who turn out to be safe, which makes our bottom three Joshua, Elise, and Jessica! Steven punctures whatever tension that may have accidentally built up by saying: “We’re gonna use our card tonight.” Well. I will point out here that Steven Tyler looks like both Patsy and Edina from Absolutely Fabulous, crossed with every iguana.

Ryan says, cryptically: “Elise, hang tight for a second, because Josh, you are safe.” Ryan is sometimes not very good at this job. And the lowest vote getter is … Jessica! Who we already have explicitly been told will be saved! She gets about four seconds into her Save Me song before Jennifer straight yanks the microphone out of her hands and says, “THIS IS CRAZY! OF COURSE WE’RE GONNA USE THE SAVE!” Randy then chastises America: “Yo! This girl is the most talented singer in the world right now! Vote for the best!” But Randy, voting for the best gets confusing when you tell everyone they are the best.

Here are my favorite lemons-into-lemonade passages from the People “Idol” issue: Tim Urban is said to have “just released a YouTube video of himself singing Adele’s ‘Someone Like You.’” Lil Rounds is “hard at work on an indie album.” Taylor Hicks is pictured. All kidding aside, every one of these former Idols looks happy and seems like they’re leading interesting, productive lives. Nobody is going to die from rejection. Most of these kids are not megastars, but they’re making a living doing what they want to do, and that’s a beautiful thing. So Jessica might not win this season, and Phillip still probably will, but everyone is going to be just fine. Maybe we should all settle down. Next week.

American Idol Recap: Watching From the Sky Does Not Make It Better