You never know when an American Idol shock-bomb is about to get dropped. Oh, sure, the show can lull you into a false sense of security with its familiar patterns — Ryan Seacrest faking us out with an “after the break” misdirect, J.Lo wearing a dress with less coverage than a hospital gown, Randy burping up clichés about how “it’s fourth and goal, with one play left” (ugh) — but the show’s trail of fulfilled dreams is undeniably littered with “Wait! What?” carnage.
Tonight, however, suspense took a holiday — at the exact moment J.Lo strutted on stage in a flaming red dress. It’s not like La Lopez was going to wear such a celebratory color on a night where front-runners Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene were walking to the guillotine. And even an Alex Preston ouster didn’t seem to be a party-dress kind of occasion for Cruella de Lipsync.
Nope, that tiny swath of crimson fabric could only mean one thing: Jessica Meuse was a dead rocker walking, the cat who’d used up nine consecutive results shows since Top 13 week, the one who actually got referred to as “a this and a that” during the course of Wednesday’s performance telecast. (No disrespect intended, I am so flippin’ sure.)
Oh sure, executive producer Per Blankens let the masquerade play out as planned. We got footage of prior seasons’ hometown visits — Elliott Yamin’s mom, you never cease to make me teary. We got not only the contestants’ post-show dinner, but an additional time-wasting chit-chat in a Los Angeles-area park. (And yet the show hasn’t found a way to invite Melinda Doolittle back to perform a track from her You’re the Reason EP?) We sat through “Randy’s Round-Up,” also known as a moment of penance for those of us who ever dogged the work of his predecessor Jimmy Iovine.
And then it was time for somebody — though presumably not Kieran — to dim the lights.
Sent to Safety (in Chronological Order)
Suddenly, the stoic, pink-haired rocker from Slapout, Alabama was sobbing, hands over her face, trying to maintain a shred of composure as we heard her famous audition quote about how she’d either wind up as “a successful musician or a broke one.” (Still love that sound bite.)
Somehow, some way, Jessica found the strength to grab the mic and perform her terrific original track “Blue Eyed Lie” — do check it out on iTunes, if you haven’t already — and she sounded damn good, too, despite a couple tense seconds at the start, as she tried to figure out the band’s cue without her trusty guitar in hand.
The cameras repeatedly cut to the judges — no tears, no looks of stunned frustration, no freakin’ surprise.
And then, there were three. Hometown visits, here we come!
Jessica, defiant, doled out hugs to Randy and her fellow contestants, but deflected the embrace of the woman in the red dress. Hey, just because there’s a ghoul dancing on your grave doesn’t mean you need to reach up and shake its hand.
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