American Idol Top 10 Results Recap: Nobody Wins From This Misery

erika van pelt brunetteShed no tears for the 10th-place finisher on Season 11 of American Idol. (Well, unless you feel sorry for said contestant having had to endure the up-close sight of Randy Jackson’s sequined creepyface/Golliwogg/Tubby Toast pin during Wednesday’s performance show.)

But in all seriousness, this season, it seems there’s a little less sting following in the footsteps of such Idol footnotes as Julia Demato, Jessica Sierra, Lisa Tucker, Chris Sligh, and Chikezie — at least when you consider how incredibly deep and evenly matched this season’s Top 10 truly is.

What’s more, the evicted singer got one helluva consoliation prize: A spectacular live performance by Season 10’s shiningest star Haley Reinhart, debuting her jazzy fantastic new single “Free.” That birdcage! That slinky red dress! Those slinky red vocals! Honestly, if “Free” isn’t a hit, there should be some kind of Congressional act shutting down every pop radio station from Hawaii to the northern tip of Maine. (“No Earworm Left Behind!”)

Hang on one second. I need a second. Just a second to compose myself, take a few deep breaths, and convince myself that I’m not actually apopletic about tonight’s deeply annoying results, which ended with the ouster of a mature, subtle vocalist who — with a little more confidence and a little less unnecessary foolery from the judges — coulda been a top 5 contendah. Ugh. Let’s talk about some of the non-results aspects of the telecast before we get to the elimination:

* Kudos to the Top 10 for not going the lipsynching route on “For the Longest Time” — perfect choice for the group number! — and actually sounding pretty good in the process.

* Randy should never, ever try to be funny. That’s what he was trying to do with his “Steven and I chose that outfit for her” comment about J.Lo’s “super pink” dress, right?

* Some interersting notes from Jimmy Iovine this week. He’s right that Skylar needs to get creative and show growth if she wants to win this thing. (Which is exactly why she shouldn’t have taken the one country hit written by Billy Joel this week.) And I had to agree with him, too, that Heejun’s performance was nothing more than a “stunt gone wrong” — and certainly not the kind of performance that’s going to inspire Interscope to spend its money on recording and promotion. I disagreed, though, with his notion that Phillip should only take a stand and be himself once he’s out in the real world. The Idol viewing audience is savvy enough to spot when a contestant is making making music and fashion choices that don’t feel authentic, and that’s when they stop picking up the phones and voting. Not to say that Phillip shouldn’t be willing to stretch himself as an artist — and as a potential star — but that doesn’t mean he should have to hang up his guitar or perform to a gaggle of swaybots just because that’s what Diddy would do.

Okay, on to the results…

Sent Immediately to Safety (in Order of Announcement)
Hollie Cavanagh
Skylar Laine
Elise Testone
Jessica Sanchez
Joshua Ledet
Colton Dixon (Seacreast faked-out, again!)
Phillip Phillips

Bottom Three
DeAndre Brackensick
Erika Van Pelt (loved how she grabbed some maracas from Elise: “I’m bringing the party with me!”)
Heejun Han

First One Sent Back to Safety
DeAndre Brackensick

Lowest Vote Getter
Erika Van Pelt

Last-Chance Performance
Erika inexplicably chose “I Believe in You and Me” (as opposed to “What About Love” or something with a rocky edge), delivering it with husky bombast, but hitting a couple of rough patches along the way (maybe due to tears?). It wasn’t enough to score a Judges’ Save from Randy, J.Lo, and Steven (those are only for guys, as you all know), and thus it’s another woman down, another woman down, another woman — who brought some emotional maturity and sexy-ass hair to the table — who bites the dust.

Now it’s your turn. Did the right person go home? Don’t you think with a few more weeks under her belt, Erika could’ve grown into a serious contender? (Heck, even Jimmy said she should be at the top of the pack this week!) How the heck did Heejun survive? And what did you think of sleepy/cool Lana del Ray?

p.s. Sorry, Erika, if Idology led you wrong with that whole “dye your hair black” business! We really thought it might work.