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American Idol Recap: Lost Boys

AMERICAN IDOL: The bottom three contestants wait to find out who will be eliminated on AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, March 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. L-R: Devin Velez, Amber Holcomb and Paul Jolley.

Twenty-four hours ago, American Idol made me resent one of the greatest bands in rock history, so why shouldn’t tonight’s show begin with menace? In a rare cold open culled from outtake footage, Jimmy Iovine tells his studio assistant that the vocals aren’t in his earphones, then takes a moment to warn the poor kid about how many former assistants he’s fired. Turns out the number is well into the triple digits, and after they’re gone, Jimmy mounts their pictures on the walls, so that “if people want to say hello to them, they can just look on the wall and see what happened.” So if you happen to make something like a human error around Jimmy Iovine, he will destroy your future and mount your head in his studio like you’re a moose. What a dick.

Too bad he’s absolutely on the money with his day-after opinions. He points out that the judges were far too lenient, that Angie needs to switch up her strategy, and that basic knowledge of the Beatles oeuvre is a job requirement for an American Idol contestant. Absolutely true!

Oh, but these are just hors d’oeuvres for the main course, and this shit is tasty: Last night, Lazaro said he had to learn “In My Life” the night before the show. But tonight, Jimmy releases video of Laz rehearsing the song five nights prior! The video is time-stamped and everything! It’s all very A Current Affair, and I love it. Faithful and hilarious commenter Mazeppa has been saying for months that ol’ Laz is a little bit of a stinker, and Mazeppa? Your story checks out.

We are shown some rehearsal footage of poor Amber trying to get through her song and navigate the disco stairs in what can only be described as a full Vincent Price movie of dry-ice smoke. (How has nobody bitten it on this show?) Ryan then tells her to stand up, and says “Amber ... after the nationwide vote ... YOU ... will have to sit back down because we’re getting to results later. Nothing to report yet!” I want to punch Ryan for her. And for you. And also because I want to see if he disintegrates into a tiny pile of Skittles.

The boys do Earth, Wind & Fire’s version of “Got to Get You Into My Life” and answer the question: What would N’Sync have looked and sounded like if all five of them were Lance Bass? Ryan beckons Paul over for a surprise, and it turns out that March 16 is now Paul Jolley Day in Paul’s tiny hometown of Suddenly Dealing With Diversity Issues, Tennessee. There’s a proclamation! The proclamation is gigantic and in a heavy frame! Ryan hands it to him and then immediately reveals that Paul is in the bottom three! So it’s like: “Happy You Day. Now drag this awkward heavy thing over to the stools of shame.”

Our first guest performance comes from Idol alumnus Casey Abrams, who screeches and spits his way through “I Saw Her Standing There” like a slightly belligerent street busker you’d encounter late at night in New Orleans. Also, there is scatting and his hair is in a bun and somehow the song ends with the line “HEY, whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Mama?” so I leave a dollar in front of my television and walk away quickly, pretending to look at something on my phone.

The girls’ group number is “Here, There and Everywhere,” one of the limpest songs in the Beatles catalogue. Now, listen: It’s our instinct to look down on these kids for being so utterly clueless with this category, but again, they are kids. Time marches on; you can’t get a One Direction fan to listen to the Backstreet Boys, much less the Beach Boys, very much less the Four Freshmen, and you know what? That’s okay. Maybe those kids are getting all the inspiration they need. Maybe that’ll get them to pick up a guitar or write a poem or approach a crush or do any of the things that great art can compel a person to do, and it’s not for us to say that it’s not enough. We know what we know, we love what we love, we’re all marinating in a culture we didn’t choose. If a group of young singers doesn’t worship the same stuff we do, that doesn’t mean they don’t have talent or deserve success. But for God’s sake, let’s stop making them stagger blindly through these songs, because we all deserve better. Beatles Night is over! (If you want it.) 

(On a related note, to those of you who insist that you watch Charlie Chaplin movies for pleasure in 2013: Get the fuck out of here with that shit. Go read your scroll of The Canterbury Tales in your mud hut of lies.)

Devin is in the bottom three! There is very little to say about this!

Lazaro is up next for evaluation, and everyone treats him like some kind of brave young soldier. Like “Hey, a couple of judges implied that maybe your performance wasn’t the greatest thing that ever happened; how are you bearing up?” He is not bearing up well; fighting back tears, he says he learned that he should only sing songs he loves, and then he gets a defiant look on his face, like he’s sticking it to THE BEATLES. It’s gross. He is safe, obviously. Like a good action movie, American Idol now has a villain with a speech impediment.

Ryan says he’s going to hit pause on the results, and he absolutely should, because he’s announced three names in 38 minutes, and I don’t know how we can be expected to keep up.

Jessica Sanchez comes back to sing her debut single! May I tell you something strange about Jessica Sanchez’s debut single? Jessica Sanchez is basically the backing vocalist on her own debut single. It’s an okay song — if a little similar to “Give Me Everything” — but Jessica is absolutely the supporting player here. It’s an odd choice for such a solid voice, that’s all.

Hey, remember how we were going to reveal the top three each week but not say what place they came in and then tell you who came in where from fourth place on down? Remember how much time Ryan spent explaining this season’s new twist? Yeah, well, we’re not doing it anymore. Now we’re just calling out names until we have a bottom three, just like we’ve always done. And with Kree, Candice, Janelle, Angie, and Burnell all safe, Amber is left in the cellar with Devin and Paul.

Of course it’s Paul who has to sing for survival, and of course he goes for Heart’s “Alone,” because he doesn’t realize this isn’t the time to bum people out. No save. No surprise. Dude is handsome and can absolutely sing, but if he wants to be the male Taylor Swift, he’s got to start figuring out how to have fun. Taylor herself didn’t start being a bummer until very recently.

Good luck, Paul Jolley. Happy Paul Jolley Day, if nothing else.

What do you think? Was justice served? Is Lazaro our new Sanjaya? Let me know in the comments.

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX