American Idol Recap: It's Reigning Men!

Nobody tries out for American Idol hoping to finish in a tie for tenth place. But the two contestants booted at the end of Thursday night’s Top 11 Redux results show have reason to take heart: After witnessing a harrowing performance-art piece titled “The Emperor Is Doing an NC-17 Strip-Tease” (by Academy Award winner Jaime Foxx and Grammy winner will.i.am), Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia can leave the Idolverse knowing all it takes is a shred of talent — combined with copious luck, first-rate schmoozing skills, impeccable timing, corporate marketing dollars, brightly adorned backup dancers, and a healthy dose of Auto-Tune — to become international recording superstars. Honestly, I bet that left to his own devices, even Randy Jackson would be capable of cooking up a more satisfying four minutes of televised entertainment that Mr. Foxx and Mr. i.am’s ode to animated parrots, lady midriffs, kaleidoscopes, male-pattern posturing, and possibly (and yet probably not) the films of Busby Berkeley.

But back to the topic of our evictees: Say what you want about Thia’s pretty/vacant take on “Daniel,” her often bewildered stage presence, her penchant for smiling in all the wrong places, but you could strap the relentlessly poised teenager to the hood of a Ford hybrid vehicle and drive it through downtown Los Angeles, and she’d still be able to cough up a better vocal than the not-so-fantastic Mr. Foxx did on the Idol stage this week (or what the Black Eyed Peas frontman has offered in two separate trips to the Idoldome this season). At the end of the day, Thia probably needed a good four or five years of life experience if she was ever going to resemble a legitimate Idol contender, but as a consolation prize, she’ll be on the Season 10 Idol Summer Tour.

Now here’s hoping the sound of Thia’s Idol dreams going “pop!” also signals the detonation of this year’s test balloon of allowing 15-year-olds to audition for the show. How about next year Uncle Nigel and his team raise the minimum age to 18?

As for Naima, I can’t lie and say I’m not sad to see her go. Sure, her affected Jamaican accent tarnished an otherwise happenin’, reggae-tinged cover of “I’m Still Standing” on Wedneday. And yes, she suffered from occasional pitch problems and a slight case of  multiple artistic personae disorder. But Naima also brought to the Season 10 stage much-needed doses of creativity, true musical passion, and a sense of the unexpected. And now I’m worried her early-ish ouster might discourage the season’s remaining nine contestants from taking risks going forward.

Speaking of taking the road less traveled by, The Talented Mr. Lythgoe shook up the results-show format for the first time in recent memory, nixing the often hideous group number for a series of duets, trios, and quartets that showcased the contestants’ voices to much starker (although not always more flattering) effect. This is the kind of change I can believe in! We also got a glimpse into the grueling day-to-day schedules of the season 10 finalists that I wouldn’t have minded being two or three times as long. (Show us how these kids picked their Elton John songs from a pitifully small list of 20!)

Oh, and did I mention a guest performance from the magical, talented Fantasia Barrino? (I can’t tell you how much restraint it took for me to hold off mentioning ‘Tasia till now.) Actually, why wait another second? Let’s do a rundown of the night’s performances, with letter grades for everyone:

Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, “I Told You So”: I think Lauren may have worked with Peggi Blu this week because I kinda thought she BURIED SCOTTY ALIVE ON THAT STAGE. Overall, though, this was more pleasantly inoffensive than combustably awesome, no? B-

Naima Adedapo and Jacob Lusk, “Solid as a Rock”: Yes, they did some Sonny and Cher Hour choreography (and Jacob loved every minute of it) but the vocals on this duet were kind of fantastic. Maybe Jacob should be forced to sing with Naima every week — her presence seemed to keep his caterwauling demons at bay. I just don’t know why Scotty and Lauren got the Standing O from the judges, but Naima and Jacob didn’t. Hmph. Well, at least they’ll get a higher grade from yours truly. A-

Fantasia, “Collard Greens and Cornbread”: I’m not going to pretend the brutal fit of that red sequined dress did my all-time favorite Idol any favors, but The Lady Barrino has a voice that sounds more delicious than Richard Blais’ cornbread dessert looked on Wednesday night’s Top Chef finale (which I happened to recap here). And her latest single is such a lazy weekend afternoon of an old-soul throwback that I smile every time I hear it. Pop radio, can you please set down the plastic tray of Black Eyed Peas and pass me some ‘Tasia? A

Pia Toscano, Haley Reinhart, and Thia Megia, “Teenage Dream”: Kinda glad Thia didn’t get a solo, especially on the lines “put your hands on me in my skin-tight jeans,” but did anyone on the Idol production team think for even a second that maybe that wasn’t the best song to assign the season’s youngest contestant in the first place? Meanwhile, the botched lyrics from Haley (oh how I wish she’d dropped in a “nuts of wonder”) cancel out the rich, sexy second verse by Pia. (Well, well, well…look who went uptempo  — and nailed it!) Nice harmonies at the end, ladies! B

Stefano Langone, Paul McDonald, Casey Abrams, and James Durbin, “Band on the Run”: Can we pretend that, much like Camile Velasco’s post-Idol single “Guava Jelly,” this never happened? D-

And now, on to our awards ceremony for the evening!

Most Hearbreaking Moment
Naima sitting all alone on the Silver Stools of Doom, clapping and bopping enthusiastically to Pia, Haley, and Thia’s group ditty.

Is Your Beard Covering Your Ears, Dood?
Two nights running, Casey Abrams has insisted producer Rodney Jerkins told him to trim his beard, not shave it — despite the fact that we’ve all seen footage that tells us the “Darkchild” mastermind did indeed ask for his facial hair to go the way of Clint Jun Gamboa.

Are Those Track Pants Covering Your Legs?
Oh Casey, why hath the Idol styling team forsaken thee?

A Quote from My Husband I Thought Was Worth Repeating
“Nobody likes to see Jamie Foxx. I f%$#&@* hate that wanker!”

Favorite Chyron Typo After Ms. Toscano Was Sent to Safety
Pia’ Family

Favorite Unexpected Sighting That Resulted in a Top Twitter Trending Topic
KRIS ALLEN!!! (#KrisAllen) (Eff Yeah Kris Allen!!!)

Thought I Felt Bad for Having
I wonder if those are tears of joy from Little Lauren now that two more female competitors have been bumped off.

Most Likely to Inherit Ashthon’s Diva Mantle
Mani-pedi aficionado Jacob Lusk.

And now I turn it over to you, dear readers, so start your engines: Did the right two contestants get booted tonight? If not, who should’ve gone in their place? What about the performances by Fantasia and those other two foolios?Sound off below, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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