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American Idol Recap: An Exciting Twist, Almost

Something exciting almost happens on American Idol tonight! Ryan teases an exciting twist that will send shockwaves through the top five. So what do you think it is? Will they ask them to say out loud who should go home? Like they do on RuPaul’s Drag Race and probably all the shows RuPaul’s Drag Race is parodying that I’ve never watched? My interest is piqued, but I think that even if you sent actual shockwaves through Sam, Jessica, and Alex, they would still manage to look bored.

Speaking of boredom, I have an idea for a fun twist in these later-season shows: Since everyone’s going to do two songs, why not have them do two songs in a row? I mean, everyone talks a good game about how American Idol prepares these kids for life as a professional musician, but every rock show I’ve ever seen is comprised of more than one song. Make them do a little stage banter. Make them tell a story while they tune a guitar. Make them transition between a fast song and a slow one. Make them be pop stars for a night, maybe. If the reason this hasn’t happened is “it might get boring,” then let’s maybe think about that as we’re handing out our tickets to Hollywood next season.

Harry launches into a huge, long monologue about how proud he is of the Idols for being plucked out of nowhere onto “the biggest stage in music,” which, even though it’s in decline, Idol still pretty much is. And I agree; I do rib these kids, but they’re handling a high-pressure situation with a great deal of serenity¬†— sometimes a little too much, honestly.

In the “Roundtable Recap,” which I guess is what we’re calling the thing where the Idols reminisce about their night while they eat dinner in a silent restaurant, Alex gloats about having gotten a standing ovation from Keith. “Nobody’s ever stood up for me before,” he says. Sam replies, “I’m right there with you, man.” And it’s like: Well, not anymore you’re not.

And then there’s a Ford Non-Music Video where the Idols get ready for a wild party they’re gonna throw on some rooftop, and they talk about how crazy it’s going to be, and then all the people show up and you guys, it is one crazy party. There’s a rowboat in the pool and everything! These kids are WILD.

Keith Urban performs! Jennifer starts the intro, then Harry goes into his lines, then Jennifer gets tired of not being the one who’s talking, so she just yells “KEITH URBAAAAAAN” right in the middle of Harry’s sentence. They have a weird dynamic, these judges. Are the kids going to vote a judge off tonight, and is Jennifer trying to get as much screen time in as possible? Anyway, Keith’s song sounds like something a middle-aged man would have put out in 1986 (not to cross-promote or anything). The mid-’80s old-guy-music audience clearly all moved over to country. I get it now.

And then it’s time for the Randy Review! Randy says Jena killed it; Alex made him proud and he was in it “from jump to end” (because Randy never passes up an opportunity to slightly misuse slang); Jessica has a strong voice but didn’t have a great performance; Sam got it going by the middle of the song (which song, he doesn’t say); and Caleb tore the roof off the whole thing. So, pretty much exactly what I’d already said and you and the judges already thought.¬†

OKAY, SO EXCITING TWIST TIME. The Idols must choose: Does the person with the lowest vote count go home as usual, or does nobody go home, but next week, two people get eliminated? The decision must be unanimous, but they can confer with each other about it, and Caleb seems to want nobody to go home this week, and Caleb talks the loudest, so for me it’s a foregone conclusion. They count out the votes. Yes … yes … yes … and…¬† NO? (And then, for what it’s worth, another no.)

How was this not a unanimous choice? Who wants to break up this top five? WHO IS THE MOLE? Did people maybe not know what they were voting for? What was the point of any of this? Did the kids not know what YES and NO meant, like some people when they were voting on Proposition 8? (“YES means they CAN get married, or they CAN’T?”)

And going home is … Sam Woolf. That poor kid has had to endure all the trickery this season. He launches right into Imagine Dragons’ “It’s Time,” with the unforgettable chorus of “I’m never changing who I am,” and it’s like: “That’s kind of the problem, but God bless you.”

Who are the saboteurs within the top five? I’m guessing Jessica and Sam. Sound off in the comments. See you next week. We’re almost there.

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX