'American Idol' Cuts to Nine
Bottom three includes Chikezie, Syesha Mercado and Jason Castro
8:58 p.m. ET. It's another early start for American Idol, though I correctly timed my arrival so as to miss almost all of Moment of Truth. Right away, I feel much cleaner.
8:59 p.m. Over 30 million votes were cast, which Ryan calls the most this season. Then he ruins my evening. No, I'm not sad about Kimberley Locke's performance. But I don't know if I can deal with the prospect of another call-in segment.
9:00 p.m. Is that Pizza Boy David Hernandez sitting behind Simon?
9:00 p.m. My indecent proposal: How about asking Josiah Lemming to write this season's Idol coronation? I bet he'd come with something crazy.
9:01 p.m. Last night's theme of Songs From The Year They Were Born could have made for a cacophonous Group Sing, so the producers wisely choose a single song that sort of articulates that theme, "Right Back Where We Started From." It's simple, offers no opportunities for harmony and therefore doesn't suck.
9:02 p.m. In fact, I may start liking the Group Sings, as they'll be the only opportunity we have to make fun of
Brooke White's dancing. My attempts to giggle at the lack of rhythm on Brooke's part are thwarted by the image of Jason Castro's spinning, arm-waving, drunken dervish-like lack of awareness of his own surroundings.
9:07 p.m. Last week we got a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a Ford commercial. Tonight we see a behind-the-scenes commercial for the contestants' iTunes singles. Are they being paid 10,000 votes for each time they mention iTunes or their iPods? Carly Smithson's closing giddiness at seeing herself on an iPhone is particularly galling.
9:10 p.m. Ah last night. Good times. After seeing Presumptive American Idol Winner David [Cook]'s success with moody covers like "Hello" and last night's "Billie Jean," my former college roommate Andrew has a great suggestion: David's rivals should retaliate by doing poppy, peppy, upbeat covers of emo/goth/grunge songs. Think Britney Spears' "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or Justin Timberlake's "Hurt."
9:13 p.m. It seems early, but we're already pulling people to the Safety Couch and the Terror Stools. Up first is Chikezie, who may not have done himself a favor by dipping into ballad territory last night. He's quickly sent off to the Bottom Three. Brooke will let America stay up past its bedtime and eat cookies in bed, because America's Nanny is through. Carly isn't pregnant (all radio and online rumors aside), but she will get to examine herself on her iPhone for at least a week to come, as she jumps into Brooke's arms.
9:22 p.m. T-shirts, CDs, posters come to life with the image of our American Idol hopefuls in this week's Ford commercial, set to the tune of "I Want You to Want Me." How long before they find a way to work an iPhone into the Ford commercials? After all, we know the new Focus plays MP3s.
9:23 p.m. Who will be next in the Bottom Three? It sure won't be Presumptive American Idol Winner David [Archuleta], even though he's working on three lackluster performances in a row. I noticed a lot of random indignation in the blogosphere that David "The Leader" Cook got credit for Chris Cornell's cover of "Billie Jean," even though Ryan took great pains to mention the Soundgarden frontman before Tuesday's performance. He does it again on Wednesday -- Cornell approves -- before sending David to smugly deserved safety. Syesha Mercado, though, is sent to the Bottom Three. After a Queen-fueled bounce-back week, Michael Johns is safe.
9:29 p.m. Why are Constantine Maroulis and Gina Glocksen everywhere together? [I'm told they host American Idol Extra. I guess that makes sense, then.]
9:30 p.m. For the call-in question segment they're nice or cruel enough to move Chikezie and Syesha over to the Safety Couch for a different kind of torture. Chikezie gets the first question and says he's single. Then David Archuleta gets to protest that his controlling stage dad didn't pick his song from last night, as Simon strongly implied. Simon puffs out his cheeks wondering why Archuleta has gotten two different chances to make this statement of independence on this show.
9:31 p.m. "The good news is you don't need a lot of talent... so there's a chance for everyone," is Simon's reply to a question about what a 16-year-old girl would have to do to take Ryan's job. Yawn.
9:33 p.m. Never again. Please?
9:34 p.m. If Kimberley Locke had appeared on a different Idol season, I wonder if she would have won. Last season, for example. The weight-losing restaurateur has actually managed to release two solo albums that are available at real world record stores near you (as opposed to via indie online download). Her new single is less interesting to me than the end of
the Celtics game, though. It's no "Eighth World Wonder." If you like her dress and want to do something for charity, it'll be up for auction later tonight.
9:44 p.m. Don't worry jingoistic viewers. Idol Gives Back didn't just give back to Africa last year. Americans benefited as well.
9:47 p.m. So who's going to fill The Kristy Lee Cook Bottom Three Stool? Ramiele Malubay, last night's worst, looks a bit dazed and then relieved when she discovers that she's in the Top Nine. Really, America? Not even the Bottom Three? I don't want to start resenting Ramiele, but she's pulled ahead in the race to be this year's Sanjaya.
9:48 p.m. That leaves Clifford the Muppet and Kristy. The strategy of whipping out "God Bless the USA" after a long string of Bottom Three performances worked its pandering magic. The Kristy Lee Cook Bottom Three Stool is actually filled by Jason. His puppeteer is confused.
9:49 p.m. Paula can't bring herself to criticize the Bottom Three. I can. Syesha should be safe and Ramiele should be in the Bottom Three. The Muppet thinks his being in the Bottom Three was supposed to be a shocker, but he doesn't have to wait long before going to the couch.
9:54 p.m. Simon tells Chikezie that he's in trouble because he chose the wrong song. Paula, though, says that Syesha sang the right song and Randy misuses the word "brilliant" about her performance.
9:55 p.m. Syesha is safe. Chikezie's going home. To my mind, David Cook's "Billie Jean" and Chikezie's "She's a Woman" have been the season's two best performances to date. I'm not surprised that he's done, but he had a vocal presence and performance quality that were unique among this season's contestants and I'd have preferred to see him stick around for another few weeks.