'American Idol' Plucks an Irish Rose
Carly Smithson and Syesha Mercado are the Bottom Two, with Carly heading home
8:58 p.m. Now I get it. The reason Back to You wasn't funny was the actress playing the daughter. No? Well, she's been abruptly recast in the clumsiest manner imaginable. No time to discuss, though... Idol is on.
8:59 p.m. ET. Was last night one of our most dramatic shows yet? Ryan Seacrest tells me it was and he only occasionally lies to me.
9:00 p.m. At least 38 million votes were cast last night, justifying Ryan's contention that however the votes went, it isn't his fault.
9:01 p.m. Ryan caps off his introduction of the judges by kissing Simon on the head, bewildering the judge, even after he explains that it meant nothing. Easy for Ryan to say. The Simon/Ryan 'shippers will have a field day.
9:02 p.m. Tonight's Group Sing, accompanied by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber on piano, is "All I Ask of You." That means that three of the seven Webber songs sung over two night were from Phantom of the Opera and none were from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. As a result, readers will hear no stories about what a brilliant Gad I played (or how acceptable and mediocre I later was as Joseph and Pharaoh, respectively). This was, incidentally, a wretched Group Sing choice, since it was never designed to be sung by an ensemble and it ends up being meek and mopey.
9:07 p.m. The Idol Tour will kick off in Arizona, probably in front of a half-empty stadium at this rate.
9:08 p.m. Again, Ryan repeats his contention about the alleged drama of last night's show. I know he's making a "drama=theatre" joke, but the most dramatic part of last night show was Brooke White's second mulligan of the season, part of her bid to become to American Idol what Nate Robinson is to NBA Slam Dunk competitions. Robinson can at least use being a dwarf as an excuse. Brooke's got nothing.
9:10 p.m. Since Webber isn't likely to break into song on the Idol stage, he sits down for a chat with Ryan, explaining the alchemy that comes from performing for three different levels of live audiences. Just as he was last night, Webber is smart and understanding. I'd say we could have Webber replace Randy next season, but then who would inform us that if you can sing, you can sing anything?
9:12 p.m. With Brooke looking on with an expression that yelps, "Do we really need to be talking about this again?" Ryan calls last night's boo-boo a unique occurrence on the Idol stage and gets Webber not only to say that it happens to the best of performers but also to offer testimony that in rehearsals Brooke was perfect. I'm confused as to why Ryan's ignoring that not only was Brooke's restart not unique for the series, but it wasn't unique for this season or for this contestant. Webber may be right that restarts can happen to everybody, but on American Idol, they seem to only happen to America's Nanny.
9:15 p.m. Look, it's not like I want to be piling on Brooke, but if this episode is just going to be a Brooke White Pity Party, what choice do I have?
9:17 p.m. After the judges' savage reactions to Danny Noriega's camp-tastic rendition of "Tainted Love," it's a little funny to see the song pop up in a glam-flavored Ford commercial. David Cook and Carly Smithson are most believably glam. Brooke? Not-so-much.
9:19 p.m. The Idol Gives Back figure stands at $65 million, $11 million less than last year, but still pretty good. I know this because President George W. Bush tells me so.
9:22 p.m. It's time to assign contestants to either the Divan of Destiny and or Satan's Stools. Ryan starts by calling out The Davids, who will doubtlessly be starring in an A&E reality season in around five years. Since just about everybody in America thinks that we're heading for a David vs. David Top Two, they're only asked to suffer through a couple minutes of inane banter before being sent to safety.
9:27 p.m. Which Idol veterans can you catch on The Great White Way? Diana DeGarmo! Tamyra Gray! Fantasia! It's typical that Tamyra's current run in Rent is acknowledged, while Frenchie Davis, a long-time Rent staple, is ignored. Clay Aiken has an album coming out soon, so he's decided temporarily to remember his Idol roots and take viewers on a backstage tour of Spamalot. How do we feel about Clay referring to himself in first-person plural?
9:30 p.m. Winner of the third season of England's The X Factor, Leona Lewis drops by to remind viewers that winners of talent shows like this one (though not necessarily this one in particular) can still find success on the domestic album charts. Paula quite enjoys Lewis' pyrotechnic display.
9:35 p.m. The next pair called out to battle suspense are Brooke and Syesha Mercado. That means several more mentions of Brooke's Blunder, countered cruelly with praise for Syesha's solid Tuesday performance. Both Brooke and Syesha are differently incredulous when Ryan says that The Nanny is safe.
9:38 p.m. Paula says that a "ginormous" fan base has kept Brooke around and that Syesha should be accustomed to her position in the Kristy Lee Cook Bottom Three Stool. Syesha appears to be justifiably annoyed.
9:43 p.m. Well, Carly and Jason Castro are up. Since Carly's performance was positively received and Clifford the Muppet's was torn to shreds, I can only assume that America decided to vote for Jason. Forced to relived the judges' insults, Jason just smiles blankly, squints and stammers.
9:45 p.m. Indeed, as feared, Jason is safe. Simon explains that Jason's charm and Brooke's humanity kept them safe. I guess those are valid substitutes for singing well.
9:46 p.m. Carly and Syesha will now both get to sing again, which is OK because they were both pretty good last night. Maybe America voted for Jason and Brooke to avoid hearing them sing Andrew Lloyd Webber ever again?
9:51 p.m. Syesha's encore is excellent and she ends with a "What else do I have to do, America?" shrug.
9:55 p.m. Who's staying and who's going? Randy's shocked, calling it "a bit of a popularity week in the vote." Paula says she's never seen more "relaxation and joy."
9:56 p.m. Carly's going home. Was she punished for shouting? For not knowing all of the lyrics to her Tuesday song? Being not being an American? Having a prior professional career? Just because I don't think she should be leaving this week doesn't mean Carly was ever going to win. We're just spinning our wheels at this point.
9:58 p.m. Simon apologizes for praising Carly last night, but graciously tells her she can leave with her head held high. Paula tries to babble something and everybody tries to shut her up.
9:59 p.m. If American Idol were actually a singing competition, tonight's results would really get my goat. But we know it isn't. If week-to-week performances had any relation to audience voting, tonight's results would feel wrong. But we know they don't. If the order-of-elimination made any difference who in the weeks leading up to the David-on-David American Idol finale, I might rant for a few seconds. But we know it doesn't. It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter.
10:00 p.m. Next week? Neil Diamond. I can't wait.
Pleased with this week's results? Disappointed? Or does it just not matter?
And follow all of our coverage over at Zap2it's Guide to American Idol.