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American Idol Recap: We Are Not A-Meused

Okay, so right now I am in New York City, staying just a few blocks up from the NFL Draft, which has utterly immobilized midtown. Was the NFL Draft always like this? I’m not the world’s biggest sports guy, but I seem to remember it taking place in the conference room of some airport hotel, everyone making their picks at a podium with a Marriott logo on it. Now there are searchlights and camera cranes and fat guys in jerseys behind barriers and all of it is in my way while I try to take a Citi Bike downtown to grab a burger at Corner Bistro. It is deeply irritating, but I have to say: After this many months of American Idol, I am happy to see so many people genuinely enthusiastic about something. 

Season 13 of American Idol has turned into a real dud, and as promised, here is where I lay the blame squarely at Randy Jackson’s feet. Listen, I do not like Randy Jackson, and I never have, but when I learned that he was taking a pay cut and accepting a reduced role this season, I was willing to give him a fair shake. He has experience in the music industry, after all, and maybe once he was released from the pressures of screen time, he would show his worth.

Turns out no. Turns out he just tells everyone to do their best, reminds everyone that everything is the most important thing, repeats the best things the guest mentors and judges say, and then shouts whenever the camera is on him. He is officially useless. And continuing to have him around, when this year’s judges panel started this season off with such promise, has only served as a reminder of this show’s worst impulses. It’s like the new producers are saying: Sure, Harry Connick Jr. is giving you music theory lessons and murdering you with charm, but ultimately this is Randy’s world, and in Randy’s world, we just say dawg a million times and hope for the best.

ANYWAY. Ryan tells us that tonight is the cruelest cut of the season, because whoever gets voted off tonight doesn’t get to go home for the top-three home visits. I’m sure that’s true. But also, whoever got voted off at every other vote-off also doesn’t get to go home for the top-three home visits, so pretty much every cut is the cruelest cut of the season. You can lay off on reminding us about the stakes, American Idol. We get it.

In the Ford Non-Music Video, Caleb reveals that he misses his record collection, which NO, HE ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT, because he is maybe 24 at the most. I don’t miss my record collection, and I am old enough to have collected records. Also, Jena misses hot dogs or whatever, and then they take her to a hot dog truck. What I’m saying is that kids today don’t have an opportunity to miss anything.

Also: Can we discuss the fact that Alex Preston referred to his girlfriend on last night’s show, and the camera cut right to a sobbing Jillian Jensen? Are Alex Preston and Jillian Jensen a thing? If so, am I wrong to be concerned about a potential Mad Love kind of situation, and also which one is the Drew Barrymore?

Okay, and then Ryan hands a giant tray of beignets to Harry, who starts to throw them out to the crowd in great clouds of confectioner’s sugar. What could enhance your live American Idol experience more than getting chunks of hot, wet pastry in your face and hair? While he talks about how great they are, Jennifer straight Penelopes him. Like, he’ll go: “Beignets are New Orleans’ favorite pastry,” and she’ll go, “I love them too. Probably a little more than you do.” But, like, over and over. She will not be outshined by a donut, not our J.Lo.

And then it’s time for Randy’s Roundup, which I’d have sworn they were calling the Randy Review, but I guess they’re not paying attention either. He says Jena was on fire with one of the best performances in Idol history, Caleb is coming into his own (how, and why now, exactly?), Jessica had mixed results but nailed it in the third performance, and that Alex had a decent night. And then they cut to Randy onstage after the package so we can watch him clap for himself.

Okay, so: Jena is safe, Caleb is safe, leaving Alex and Jessica, and finally there is justice in the world because Jessica goes home. The good news is the bad news, which is that she finally shows a little bit of emotion; for the first time this season, someone is taking the bad news horribly. But she gets to sign off with her own original song, “Blue-Eyed Lie,” which even on an American Idol in decline will still benefit from massive exposure.

You know how Randy has been coming up onstage at the end of these final performances and whispering some good news to the rejected Idols? Like, last week, when Sam was sent home, Randy said: “Your life starts now. You’re ready, right?” Tonight, Randy walks right up to a sobbing Jessica, whose dreams have just been Red Wedding’d before her very eyes, and says simply: “YEEE-uh.” Twice.

God dammit, Jackson.

Photo: Michael Becker / FOX