American Idol Recap: Rocky Horror

Randy Jackson, wipe that stunned expression off your stupid face. Jennifer Lopez, mop up your phony, ridiculous tears. And Steven Tyler, go back to bed. (Honestly, dude, you’ve been taking the world’s greatest public nap for the last six weeks — why get invested now?) Because while the three of you sat there Thursday night at the American Idol judges’ table, collecting your seven-figure salaries and expressing your anger over the obscenely premature elimination of the exquisite, talented Pia Toscano, you failed to acknowledge your own culpability in her demise.

Uh-huh. I said it. In the post-Simon Cowell era of Idol, the show’s everyone-gets-a-gold-star judging panel has ceased to act as a voice of reason, an antidote to voter apathy, a reminder that not all Idol finalists are created equal. (Oh, Jenny From the Block, you were doing so well for a minute!) And on Wednesday night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance telecast, 24 hours before Pia was left sobbing in front of millions of nauseated viewers, Randy, J.Lo, and Steven hit new, personal lows — spitting up critiques as withered as Iggy Pop’s hide, as grotesque as hand-picked frocks from Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. collection. (“You still wake up sometimes, don’t you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs.“) Jacob Lusk’s screeching, pelvic “Man in the Mirror” was praised as “perfect in every way.” Casey Abrams’ forgettable turn on “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” was labeled “revolutionary.” And Stefano Langone’s subpar “When a Man Loves a Woman,” complete with discordant falsetto foolery, was described as “amazing,” “magic,” “great,” and “beautiful.”

Idol‘s Pia Reveals Her Bottom 3 Prediction, Wonders Why She Didn’t Rock the Vote Enough

Meanwhile, Pia, who from a vocal perspective, owned those boys so thoroughly and completely that she’d already had ’em washed, dried, folded, boxed, and stored away in the attic next to an unopened box of J.Lo’s Glow perfume and a VHS copy of From Justin to Kelly, was told she needed to “research” the greats to learn how to work the stage. Did J.Lo and Randy have a point? Absolutely. (Or as the Dawg might say, “a billion zillion percent!”) It also needs to be pointed out that Pia should’ve shaken her groove thing instead of playing too cool/self-conscious to shimmy during the contestant hoedown that occurred as the credits rolled on Wednesday. That aside, by harping relentlessly on Pia’s weaknesses without ever acknowledging her weekly vocal domination of the bulk of the Season 10 lineup, the judges slowly and methodically painted her as less than the Top 5 shoo-in she deserved to be, and frakked up a crucial opportunity to get out the vote on behalf of a woman whose absence is going to resonate across the Idol stage for the next seven weeks and beyond.

Hell, you know there’s something stinky floating in Lake Idol when Chris Daughtry, David Cook, Jennifer HudsonDancing With the StarsMaksim Chmerkovskiy, and even Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson (!)  Tweet their shock and outrage over the results. And just like that, the “resurgent Idol” story arc that’s been building for the last three months seems to have come undone.

Is it naive of me to sit here and act surprised? Probably. Over the last two seasons, we’ve seen a grand total of two female contestants (the sublime Crystal Bowersox and the off-the-charts talented Allison Iraheta) crack the Top 5; now, with Pia’s elimination, Idol voters have sent home five consecutive women since the Season 10 finals began, not counting Casey Abrams, who — in a decision that seemed to favor Idol the TV Show over Idol the Viable Hit-making Machine — received the Judges’ Save after getting the lowest number of votes two weeks back.

You’ve got to wonder if somewhere in an oak-paneled Los Angeles bar, Jimmy Iovine, Will.I.Am., and a team of “all-star producers” (also 90 percent male) are knocking back scotches and cursing the cruel hand of fate and the inscrutable whims of Idol voters, and pondering what the hell kind of record they’re going to make should Stefano or Jacob (Pia’s fellow bottom-three dwellers this week) do one better than the hapless Jasmine Trias and claw their way to the final two. Good luck with that guys! I’ll be sure to download The Enunciation of Stefano Langone and The Man in the Mirror…Is Full of His Fabulous Self — if I’m not too busy watching The X Factor.

Anyhow, enough bitterness from this Idol recapper. The season must go on, even for poor Stefano, who looked so stunned when Ryan put down the final verdict that he might’ve pulled a Bruno Mars and caught a grenade for poor Pia — if Uncle Nigel would’ve allowed it.

And so now we have to brainstorm what kind of constructive advice Team Iovine and the judges can give Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina to try to carry at least one of them for another three weeks and into a Top 5 finish: “Hold the mic at a right angle to your head.” “Invest in some Crest Whitening Strips.” “Try slappin’ da bass!” “Arrogantly tell America that if they don’t vote for you, they have some kind of inherent sociological/psychological defect.” “Set a piano on fire.” “Get yourself a, um, boyzone?”

Hey, maybe that last one could work. After all, as “guest charisma coach” Russell Brand pointed out to James Durbin, a successful performer can’t be afraid of a little groin-centric action.

Okay, okay…let’s step away from that topic like I never even mentioned it, and do an abrupt subject change to a rundown of the night’s performances, with letter grades for everyone:

The Season 10 Top 9, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”/”The Letter”/”Sweet Home Alabama” medley: Not really sure about slamming “put another dime in the jukebox, baby” into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s southern-rock anthem, but I thought Pia’s solo verse was the best of the night — and came to this conclusion long before she was sent to the bottom three. Also: Was anyone else thrown off by the whiff of Lusky Stank for the last 45 seconds? Grade: C+

Constantine Maroulis, “Unchained Melody”: An interesting, drum-heavy arrangement from the Season 4 alum, although I felt like Constantine didn’t really know how to end things after nailing the fearsome falsetto crescendo. It’s funny, though, that six seasons after his Idol tenure, the man is still trying to impregnate the camera with his lovemaking-eye technique and plunging neckline. Dude, you already got a baby! Grade: B

Iggy Pop, “Wild One”: If Satan himself cooked up a claymation ad campaign for the California Dried Apricots, it might look like this. That said, ABC needs to immediately book this lunatic for the fall 2011 edition of Dancing With the Stars, right? Grade: [Bleeped by Fox censors.]

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

Most Noticeable Fashion Repeat
Pia’s aqua-striped “Grenade” shirt reappearing in the Russell Brand segment

Judge Who Should Never Say “Uber”
Randy Jackson

Judge Who Should Stop Trying to Make Charcoal Silk Genie Pants Happen
Jennifer Lopez

Judges Who Needs to Stop Knowingly Nodding When Ryan Reiterates His Performance-Show Critiques
Also Randy!

The “Why the Eff Are You Shocked Haley Is Safe and Jacob Is in the Bottom Three?” Trophy
A hat trick for…&#*&^%@#*^$#& Randy Jackson!

Segment That Made Me Want to Take a Silkwood Shower
The Idols visit TMZ!

Contestant Who Needs to Work on His Slouchy Bottom-Three Posture
Jacob Lusk

Least Effective Product-Shilling Moment on Idol Since Mike Myers Promoted The Love Guru During the Season 7 Finale
“Stylist” Gwen Stefani trussing up the Season 10 ladies in “flattering” ensembles from her L.A.M.B. label

Unintentionally Spot-On Comment of the Night
“Who am I to tell them what to wear?” –Gwen Stefani on her grim dress-code for Pia, Lauren, and Haley (Anyone else think Pia might’ve outlasted Stefano if not for the spatter-patterned, thigh-expanding pantsuit?)

And now I turn it over to you: Is there any possible way to make sense of Pia’s ouster? How would you divvie up the blame among the judges, the producers, Gwen Stefani, Will.I.Am, Jimmy Iovine, and Idol voters? If you think Pia deserved to survive, who should’ve gone in her place? What about the performances by Constantine and Iggy? Sound off below, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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  1. Miss M says:

    Agree with you on many things in the recap Slezak, except that who cares that Pia went home. She was boring. I don’t own any Celine, Mariah, Whitney, J. Hudson, or other boring artists in this genre. So I would never buy Pia, anymore than I would Thia who sounded like she walked out of an animated film. While I really like the new judges, I hate that they don’t judge at all. As long as Casey, Stefano, Jacob or Pia went and will go next, in whatever order they go, I’ll be happy. Love Lauren & Hayley’s voices & they’ve both got personality. Love Paul’s voice, vibe & wardrobe. Love Scotty’s voice but he doesn’t know how to perform yet which makes seem weird sometimes like Wed night. Love James because he’s a rocker, can sing and perform. Gwen Stefani, TMZ, Russell Brand & Iggy all stank and made last night’s show more bizarre and nothing but one long ad/commercial.

  2. Linda says:

    The name of this show needs to be changed to Teen Idol since the goal of the producers seems to be to cater to younger viewers. It’s all about the voting and who but the young girls are going to spend the evening speed dialing and texting their votes for hours. Most adults aren’t going to put that kind of time in no matter how much they like the contestant. The voting needs to be limited like it is on DWTS (like 10 per phone line or something similar). I’m tired of the judges blaming it on America when they or the producers have designed a voting system that favors the teeny boppers.

  3. JenD says:

    i’ve been fast forwarding a lot this season and now i think i’ll just check in on haley. i was rooting for pia. and i am troubled by the fact that 5 women have been eliminated and stefano is still there- what is J.Lo thinking?! c’mon america! it’s okay to vote for women! really! it won’t hurt you! and i don’t want to hear that Pia was cold or uninspiring. was casey really all that great this week? or stefano or jacob? pia was consistently hitting her notes, has a whopping work ethic and is the contestant i would wish my daughter to be the most like. and now we’re stuck with lauren coming on to steven tyler for the rest of the season? seriously? have you all compared lauren’s ‘natural woman’ to kelly clarkson’s? therein lies the reason i am over this show. bring on the x-factor.

  4. darcy's evil twin says:

    My, my, my – there are a few comments here saying, “Pia needed to go home”, but by and large viewers are upset! Even people that weren’t big Pia fans concede she had solid vocals. Everyone appears to believe –
    1. She didn’t have enough personality/connection with the audience.
    2. her outfit Wednesday night was dreadful!
    3. The judges are partly to blame since they haven’t been doing enough “Judging” and giving the voting public direction by pointing out problems.
    4. The voting is a problem – old women and teenybopper girls aren’t voting for women because the prefer cute guys and they’re jealous of the beautiful women like Pia. Plus, the teen girls are texting a million votes.

    When was the last time there was this much outrage? Was it when Chris Daughtry went home?

    • ys says:

      I don’t like Pia’s voice- nothing unusual to it at all. Someone in an earlier post gave an excellent technical analysis of why her voice didn’t work for me; always sang out of her range, unsupported lower register, and mechanical phrasing/intonation. Given that insight, she really isn’t that great, although I wish her luck and a good voice teacher for the future.

  5. mary says:

    Well it is over and done with but I for one will not be watching or voting again. It is not just because my favorite is gone, it is because I truly do not care for any of the other contestants. At this point I don’t give a Sh.t who wins. If they have good AND I MEAN GOOD
    guest on the finale I will watch. I will get my fix here and I won’t was my Wednesday or Thursday watching. Well if they think enough people didn’t vote Wednesday, that explains why they didn’t say a number, then wait till this week. I am probably not the only viewer they lost. Yes, it is obvious that she didn’t get enough votes, but the save was used as a Idol moment, not to save a artist that has no chance of winning and it it biting them in the AS… NOW I never thought this before but this is truly going to be a karokee ( I know it is spelled wrong) contest.

    • JenD says:

      i think i’m done with the show too. did you notice seacrest at the end asking people to ‘stay with’ the show? guess at least they’re aware of a problem.

  6. laurieb says:

    I stopped watching Idol 2 weeks ago, but I like to hear Micheals comments. I have watched Idol from the beg and always enjoyed seeing new artists, as I find they are the most truthful at that point, Whether they are “experienced” or not. And lets face it they are ALL experienced to some degree before they go on Idol. I stopped watching this year because it has become a “look at me”, “see how I can run around the stage and jump off of things”, “look Im smizzing in that joker from batman sort of way”. Its not about the voices, because frankly these contestants arent any more talented then the ones from last year,or maybe they are but I cant hear their voices,because there is some much clutter on the stage that we just havent noticed. Smoke and mirrors. Thats what is selling now. Look at all the top performers,Gaga,Katy Perry, if it wasnt for all the fan fair going on around them we would actually notice their average voices. There is a place for this kind of performing, OBVIOUSLY, but show us your singing talent first. The only ones who are actually show casing their voices are Scotty, Stephano and Pia. Voters are picking off real singers in lieu of circus performances. This show has become a comedy of errors and now its about everything BUT singing. Dont get me wrong, I love the theatrics, but it has to come from a real place and it HAS to have good vocals first and foremost, or it is just like watching Gong Show repeats. Idol needs to get back to honest critiques, good solid performances and put the vocals in front of everything else. True talent and charisma is just there, not forced and manufactured. All I see this year is manufactured singers, an assembly line of over produced clones, a bunch of confused, insecure contestants who are not being given the chance to showcase who they are. Get rid of all those “producers” and let these kids show us the talents that they were given from birth.

  7. JoeC says:

    But Michael, weren’t you very critical or at least partially critical of Pia yourself? Like you, I think she was the best singer, but obviously she didn’t connect with the people. And as far as Jennifer was concerned, the reason she cried was someone reminded her she made Gili. My theory, anyway….

  8. Casey says:

    Okay. Seriously, people. I read the same comments over and over again about how it’s the judges’ fault. The judges aren’t the ones calling in and voting. No one is being forced to agree with the judges, and if people can’t think for themselves, then that’s their problem. And how many people complaining actually voted for Pia? If you didn’t vote, then don’t complain. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of Pia. I didn’t see anything unique or exciting about her. There’s no denying that she had a good voice. I just wasn’t a fan. If you were, that’s your opinion, and I respect that. I’m not bashing your opinion or anything. But I think all that extra time spent on her elimination last night was unnecessary. They don’t give anyone else the chance to sing one last time before going home. All that seemed like favoritism to me. When someone gets sent home next week, I’m sure they won’t be given the chance to sing one last time. And I’m pretty sure all that booing made Stefano feel like absolute crap. I’m pretty sure he was certain he was going home, and then felt a sigh of relief when he was safe, but the rude audience took that moment away from him. It was all unnecessary in my opinion.

    • Elena says:

      The contestants used to always get the chance to sing one more time before they left which was a frequently cringeworthy event since there was usually a reason they got voted off in the first place. Not sure why they stopped doing that. I don’t remember it being done this year until last night.

  9. Casey says:

    And also, Constantine and Iggy were AMAZING. Love them! Hate Fox for censoring Iggy so much. That was ridiculous.

  10. Elena says:

    There’s nothing left for me to say, Michael. You’ve said it all quite succinctly. This never should have happened.

    Oh, well, looking forward to X Factor next year.

  11. Rae says:

    I really think the failure this year of Idol lies with the lack of honest critical comments by the judges. These three are more like fans than the professionals they are and contribute nothing to the show that we as the voting public can think about. I actually had voted for Jacob in the past until his utterly foolish comment prior to his Wednesday performance. I will continue to vote for James as I would like to see a real rocker win this thing and I think he has the talent to do it. However, I would appreciate some commentary from the judges that would make me seriously think about who could go all the way and who’s just not improving. And I do miss Simon’s raw honesty on the show. Some performances have sounded very karaoke to me but then when the judges go gaga stupid over them, I second guess myself. They are just not doing their jobs this year.

  12. Amy says:

    I gave up voting a few years back, after voting my fingers off for my favs who were front-runners that didn’t win anyway. I just watch for sheer entertainment now, happily not invested in all the voting drama…though obviously it’s a good thing someone is still voting since that is how the show works!
    That said…when I was voting, I can honestly say it was never one thing any judge said that affected who I liked, and how I would vote that week. I did then and still see the judges opinions, (even when seemingly contrived with and agenda) as interesting, entertaining and simply “their opinion.” Never affected my vote. And I find it hard to believe if many Americans are swayed from who they like based on what is said by the judges.

  13. Amy says:

    oops “an agenda.”

  14. Amy says:

    ..already made my points elsewhere here about Pia…
    but just thinking on the judges thing…and tho’ it will be an unpopular opinion..
    I have no gripe with them. I’m still liking JLo, Steven and well, Randy’s just Randy and even he’s ok…I need a little original Idol in there still. I still think JLo’s been constructive. I like Steven…for all his “seeming offbeat, flirty schtick” which I think is really just Steven and not schtick…to me he seems sincere, a true music fan, I like how he teases, brings humor and positive vibe…it’s needed too. I’m saying all this cuz I actually hope they bring them back again next year. And yes…still some nights I hear an echo of what Simon might have refreshingly said…but I’m still good with the judges this year.
    And I’ve already posted here….when I used to vote…anything any judge said never swayed me from what I liked or how I voted. So I’m just not one that think that matters…not the main reason anyone goes in my opinion.

    • JordanH says:

      Amy – totally agree with you about all of the judges. At times I wish Steven would share a little more of his knowledge and experience in the form of constructive feedback, and that Randy would have the confidence to stick with HIS constructive feedback and not back pedal when he gets some flack. Other than that I love the positive vibe, the way they get along, Steven’s charming mixture of smart and goofy and his love for music, the way J Lo really gets the emotional aspect of all of the pieces of performance and connection with the audience. I did NOT enjoy last night’s reaction to Pia leaving and agree completely with ys above – I just simply never felt Pia, could never stay with one performance from beginning to end. Have absolutely nothing against her, but I just never engaged.

  15. JordanH says:

    Yikes Mike!! Bitter, yes…and mean. Never experienced your critiques this way before. I kinda want to turn away. Please work it out and return to your sometimes snarky but nevertheless funny, insightful self. Thank you.

  16. Lali says:

    Silkwood Shower indeed! TMZ – WTF?

    I voted for Pia on Wednesday night. I was worried about her with that insanely unflattering outfit, and that finally up-tempo, but not catchy enough song.

    I do wish the number of votes per person was limited.

    Pia will be just fine. The rest of the season may not be.

  17. Rich says:

    Michael you are being to hard on JLO.She recognized early that its the connection to the audience that prompts people to vote and talk you up.She early on spotted Pia and Stefano as lacking in this department.she has tried in a positive way (stefano open your eyes)(Pia study the greats)to get them to be where they need to be…..I thought technically PIA was a beautiful singer and beautiful to look at..but the most interesting thing she did all season was rough house with the boys in the mansion…..having said that someone needs to wake up crazy aunt sally next to JLo and have him give some constructive advice..there is a problem when Randy is the most honest and detailed in the judges criticism….

  18. H says:

    the night Pia got voted off…

    -rating is down 10% from last week when Thia and Niama got the boot

    -vote count is not even good enuf to be mentioned compared to the preceding week’s 55 million

    …when there were less people who cared enuf to watch and even much lesser who cared enuf to vote, then what’s slezak making a fuzz about!? slezak is much of a fangirl like those teenies that voted for the cute guys! PIA AS A FRONT RUNNER IS A MYTH THAT EXIST ONLY ON A FANGIRL’S BLOG LIKE SLEZAK! the show result is shouting-‘IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP!’

  19. Karyn blue says:

    Shocked and extremely sad to see Pia go!! Jacob, Paul and Stefano should go. I just don’t understand it. I would never buy by any music they make. I would buy something by Pia. Paul has no vocal range and sounds the same in every song. Stefano’s vocals just don’t move me. I think he should pursue broadway because I think it would help him develop. Jacob just turns me off. I’d don’t think of him as a sex symbol, so the hip thrust was really disgusting to me. Vocally I don’t care for him either. Just to much wailing for me.

  20. sally says:

    I personally think J Lo was harsh on Pia because she felt threatened by her, as well as Haley, whereas Lauren is country, fat and frumpy and not threatening to her. The only one J Lo defends to the death is Stefano, even when Randy tries to criticise him, she belittles him and argues with him, not to touch her Stefano.

  21. jane says:

    I am also tired of Steven beginning every week with “you know I love you Lauren”, even though she never fulfils her potential or ever blows him away.

  22. jane says:

    How did someone so beautiful as Pia get sabotaged by that revolting outfit. It did not even look like her. Compare that to the elimination night, when she was dressed like a movie star.

  23. Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

    I know this is way late, but I have to say that I will NOT be watching any more of this season of American Idol. I always new/felt that Scotty was going to win anyway, so at least I looked forward to listening to Pia sing and would have been “okay” with her going out as first or second runner-up. But now? There’s really no one left for me to bother with. Casey? Not that good. Who else? James? Adam was better. I can’t think of any reason to bother. See you next year.

  24. says:

    oh definitely jacob or paul on the guys’ side, the dreadful haley on the girls’ side…look, there are all kinds of fanbases out there: the country vote, the christian vote, the young girl vote, the gay vote, the ethnic vote, the rock vote, the family values vote, the older vote, etc…i never vote for paul or jacob…i’ve only voted for scotty once and this was this past week cuz he surprised me by being the standout and stepping outside of his box…i vote for my fave james each and every week cuz he usually brings it and gives a perf that u actually want to rave about the next day when recapping to friends…i’ve voted for casey…i voted for stefano cuz i like him even the he’s not gonna win but i knew he needed the vote…i’ve voted for pia off and on…i never vote for lauren she gets on my nerves and hasn’t yet hit her stride and totally let loose on stage and really given a standing ovation type 110% perf…haley i’ve never voted for i think she’s dreadful and should’ve gone w/thia…i’d rather have naima in the competish still instead of haley…pia had the voice and was consistent but boringly consistent…didn’t work that tina turner 110% like she should have…plus the horrible outfits that looked great on gwen but not the other girls and made them all look fatter than they really are, well mayb for Lauren…and the judges have a LOT to blame for this…had they given harsher critique and criticism ala the one and only very missed Simon, mayb Pia would’ve been more prepared for something like this…granted i felt bad for Pia after singing her swan song and collapsing and crying…must b terrible to never being in the btm 3 to getting the boot…but that’s the fickle business that is show…wake up to reality…that’s why this 10th season is def my last season to follow Idol…all my other reality shows are much better quality and more entertaining: DWTS, SYTYCD, ARace, PRunway, TChef, RPDragRace, etc.