In case you had any worries, Ryan Seacrest’s sadistic streak is not only alive and well, but “wonderfully” reinvigorated after a 10-month hibernation period. On Thursday night’s American Idol Top 13 results show telecast, our host played Road Runner to MySpace Contestant Karen Rodriguez’s Wile E. Coyote, lulling her into a false sense of security just to dangle her back out over the precipice of possible elimination. “You are all safe!” he gleefully announced to Karen and fellow contestants Jacob Lusk and Stefano Langone at the midway point of the show, before taking a deep breath and adding this gut-kick of an addendum: “Except Karen, this evening.” Talk about dropping an anvil on top of a gal’s head!
Lucky for Karen, she’ll live to have her emotions toyed with again next week, as (to no one’s great shock) it was Ashthon Jones who was marked for Idol extinction after her tepid take on Diana Ross’ “When You Tell Me That You Love Me.” Ashthon, whose one-shouldered pink-ruffled blouse looked like the country-club cousin of the one Steven Tyler wore on last Thursday’s Wild Card episode, admitted that in hindsight, she wished she’d picked a song more familiar to the voting public; then, minutes later, season 10’s resident diva went and chose the same exact number for her Judges’ Save performance/funeral ritual. Granted, it’s not like there was a Tara Reid’s chance at the Oscars that J.Lo, Steven, and Randy were going to overturn the public referendum on Ashthon for a second straight week, but I still held out hope she’d break into a rendition of “Hit Em Up Style (Oops!),” the ear-candy Blu Cantrell track she tackled during Group Week in Hollywood. Oh, Ashthon, I’m gonna miss your on-stage swagger most of all!
Joining Ashthon and Karen in the bottom three this week was Haley Reinhart, who greeted the bad news (also presented by Ryan in cruel fake-out fashion) with a full-body slouch and a one-word response: “Cool.” (Somewhere in my brain, I could hear Modern Family‘s Cam asking, “Is it cool, Haley? Is it?”)
But I digress! Results were hardly the only thing on the agenda for the 60-minute telecast, as the top 13 received valuable lessons in hawking merchandise (spots for Ford and this weekend’s big-screen Red Riding Hood; lipsynching (a Michael Jackson medley that I’ve got to admit was significantly less painful than I’ve come to expect from these sorts of things); and maintaining their post-show popularity (a gorgeous live performance by Adam Lambert and a stellar new “exit track” from season 7 champ David Cook).
To be honest, this week’s Ford Music Video was edited so frantically that my old-man eyes pulled a control-alt-delete in order to avoid a potential seizure, while the red-carpet schmoozing among the Idol finalists ranged from innocuous to downright depressing. (I wonder if Naima drew the short straw for that “Anybody could’ve been the wolf!” exclamation. Then again, “the wolf” just makes me think of Molly DeWolf Swensen and how we never got to hear her sing this season after her riveting rendition of “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”) But let’s move on to stuff that matters…
* Adam’s joyous, unplugged “Aftermath” was something of an oasis in the midst of the compulsory results-night activities. Looking particularly fresh-scrubbed in a simple black jacket, the season 8 runner-up took away so much of the overbearing production of the original “Aftermath” (from Adam’s For Your Entertainment set) and put the emphasis back on the song’s lovely melody and important lyrical message of self-acceptance and self-empowerment. Proceeds from Adam’s new dancefloor-driven “Aftermath” remix (available for download at his official site) will benefit The Trevor Project (which seeks to end suicides among LGBTQ youth). You know you’ve got to check it out, if for no other reason than to hear the “Aftermath” rendition that makes Seacrest do “The Dougie.” (Combined with Ryan’s rendition of “The Paul McDonald” on Wednesday, our guy is turning out to be quite the hoofer! How about a DWTS stint during Idol‘s off-season?)
* In other alumni news, Idol viewers finally got to hear a snippet of David Cook’s remake of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me,” which buoyed Ashthon’s exit reel. Who knows, maybe next week Ryan Seacrest & Co. can keep a closer eye on the clock and give us more than a minute of Cookie’s delectable rasp? Dude’s sophomore album release cannot get here quickly enough!
And now, let’s finish up with some special awards and titles:
Enthusiastic Dancer of the Week (Non-Seacrest Edition)
Um, has anyone ever seen an Idol contestant dig into his or her group-performance choreography with the insane gusto and undeniable infectiousness of Jacob Lusk? All he wants to do is…dance like there’s no tomorrow!
Contestant Who Seriously Needs to Cover Some Michael Jackson — Stat!
Ooh la la, did Stefano sound great belting “Rock With You” or what?
Contestant Who Needs to Get Healthy ‘Cause Season 10 Wouldn’t Be as Interesting Without Him
Casey Abrams, who missed the telecast with his second hospitalization of the season. Get well, shaggy sir!
Best Fashion (Men’s Edition)
Not exactly sure how Steven Tyler managed to successfully pair a blue leopard scarf with that snow-leopardy lining of his dramatic duster, but hey, if it were that easy, we’d all be rock stars.
That’s Not “Country,” It’s Just Hideous
Bad enough that Scotty McCreery brought back that heinoustry of a camouflage visor, but the fact that he wore it upside down during the Idol Mansion tour? Now he’s gone too far!
Comment About the Idol Mansion That Should Have Been Used by a Judge to Describe Jacob Lusk’s Wednesday Night Performance of “I Believe I Can Fly”
A tearful Haley declaring “this is too much!”
Way to Not to Get Too Caught Up in the Hollywood Scene
Paul McDonald asking “Is she a famous actress or something?” after meeting Nikki Reed at the Red Riding Hood premiere
Attempt to Rebuild Competitive Momentum With Possibly Overzealous Self-Critique
Lauren tearfully saying that after watching back her performance of “Any Man of Mine,” she realized “[The judges] were right. It wasn’t good. It was bad, and I’m sorry.” [From where does this fiction originate that Randy, J.Lo, and Steven somehow eviscerated Little Lauren’s performance in the first place? Kid, they offered some mild criticism, not the Full Simon!]
Attempt to Rebuild Competitive Momentum With Decidedly Downplayed Self-Critique
Jacob admitting he “definitely messed up,” then trying to convince Ryan and the audience that he pulled the performance back together by the time he’d finished. Not for these ears, dude!
That Performance Slot Could’ve/Should’ve Gone to Melinda Doolittle!
“Diddy Dirty Money” (Is that possibly a long-lost synonym for “Ke$ha”?)
And finally, an important rule for our Top 12…
Fist-Pumping in Front of Your “Bottom Three” Comrades Is Not Acceptable — No Matter How Much Ryan Seacrest Encourages It and No Matter How Psyched You Are to Advance One Step Closer to the Idol Summer Tour
This one goes out to Paul McDonald, James Durbin, and all their neophytes Idol buddies who came uncomfortably close to tap-dancing on Ashthon’s grave after Ryan told them all they were safe. Remember, like Santa Claus, our eyes are always upon you!
And now…what did you think of the Top 13 results show? Did the right person go home? Who dodged a bullet? And what do you want to see from the judges and contestants next week? Sound off below! And for all my Idol coverage, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.