American Idol Recap: Better Saved Than Sorry

If Haley Reinhart had an ounce of anxiety going into Thursday night’s American Idol results-show telecast, it must have dissipated as quickly and completely as constructive advice from Steven Tyler’s tongue by the time the first commercial break arrived. Indeed, right at the outset of the episode, stark messages blared across the screen (“No one is safe!” “Expect the unexpected!”) that all but guaranteed Haley — who’d been a bottom-three dweller for the first two weeks of the season 10 finals — wouldn’t be spending another night in the fantasy suite with her old suitor, the Silver Stool of Doom.

Moments later, host Ryan Seacrest seconded the motion by insinuating that the final vote tally for Motown Week would come as a shock to the Idoloonie Nation. As it would turn out, the eventual result — shaggy soulster Casey Abrams getting the lowest number of votes after landing in the bottom three along with a shellshocked Stefano Langone and “16-year-old Thia Megia” — was more a La Toya London-level surprise than The Full Daughtry. But what happened next was crazier than Haley’s side ponytail and Mr. Tyler’s psychedellic birthday portrait combined.

Right after Ryan (who had damn well better submit tonight’s show for his Emmy reel) broke the bad news to Casey, Fox broke out the seven-second delay and dropped the broadcast audio — though who was blurting what profanity (and at what kind of frequency) wasn’t entirely clear with Casey and Stefano’s heads buried in each other’s shoulders. When the sound returned, Ryan instructed Casey to sing for his life, the “doomed” contestant mouthed the word “wow,” and then launched into a growly rendition of “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” Seconds later, though, our host was back on stage, prematurely putting the brakes on Casey’s ditty while Randy dramatically waved his arms and shouted, “We know who you are, Casey! We don’t need to hear you sing anymore!” (Imagine how much different that statement would’ve sounded had it been applied to, say, season 9’s Andrew Garcia.) Cue Steven declaring the voting results as “crazy wrong” and telling Casey that the panel “made a decision here to keep you on.” And cue Casey, blurting the full expression of the abbreviation “OMFG” (again censored by Fox, though dude’s lips were totally readable), falling to his knees and clutching Ryan’s legs, staggering back to his feet, and grasping at his chest as if he might be experiencing the early signs and symptoms of myocardial infarction. (Seriously, I was worried for a minute there!) “Are you really?” Casey asked the judges. “I can’t believe it!”

Even better news for Casey and his fellow finalists? Because next week’s two-person elimination will leave season 10 with only nine contestants (not enough for the show’s summer tour), the good folks at 19 and Fremantle decided to break tradition and allow 11 singers to hit the road (and rake in healthy chunks of change) after the confetti is swept up from the Nokia. And while I’m not convinced that Casey has the goods to legitimately contend for Lee DeWyze’s crown and sash, his presence will certainly make for a more interesting tour experience, no?

What’s more, at least the guy is getting finally getting some pertinent feedback from the judges.”No more antics,” said J.Lo, gesturing to her own glowing visage in an effort to discourage Casey from turning into Scary McBeardyscowl on every one of his performances. “You don’t need to growl anymore,” added Randy, who 24 hours ago was telling Casey that his gruff reading of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was proof that “You can only do you, and that you is great!”

(I’ll pause here while y’all break out the side-eye.)

As for the night’s uninterrupted performances, let us recap:

Jennifer Hudson, “Where You At”: What else would we expect from season 3’s Oscar- and Grammy-winning diva other than a blistering, perfectly pitched vocal? J.Hud sounded tremendous on a ballad that I’m still not sure is catchy enough to be lead single material, but I’d be lying if I didn’t point out that our gal appeared to be treacherously teetering through the dry ice in a pair of absurdly steep heels. “Where you at?” Luckily for Jennifer, not flat on her face on the Idol stage! All that aside, though, this performance is Rated G…for Grrrrllll you sang it!

Sugarland, “Stuck Like Glue”: Cute little bug of a country ditty, sung with poise and good energy, even if Jennifer Nettles’ look appeared to be part of Chico’s Violently Garish Pastels collection.

Season 10 Top 11, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”: Once again, a group performance featuring at least some live vocals! Pia and James got a tad carried away with the holleration, but Jacob proved ludicrously entertaining by hurling himself wholeheartedly into the finalists’ tragic choreography. Anyone else notice how Stefano and Scotty got essentially muted on this number? Conspiracy theorists discuss!

Stevie Wonder and the Season 10 Top 11: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”: You could complain that Stevie’s surprise appearance — he emerged on a rolling piano platform from behind the stage — devolved into a series of melodic mumbles, or you could make like Jacob Lusk’s grandma and get your boogie on.

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

Best Possible Interpretation of the Ford Music Video
The Top 11 used their recycling to make a lovely tree sculpture.

Worst Possible Interpretation of the Ford Music Video
The Top 11 dumped their trash in a park.

Action That Should Never Again Follow the Words “This…is American Idol”
Violent Tearing and Removal of Speaker’s Shirt (Applies to Hogan, Hulk; Seacrest, Ryan)

None of Those Cats Dropped the F-Bomb, Right?
Was it my TV, or did the sound briefly drop out after Seacrest told Lauren, Pia, and Scotty they were safe — and heading out on the Idol Summer Tour?

Most Touching Response to Making the Idol Summer Tour
Naima’s barely audible “I can buy a house, baby!”

He’s Still Waiting for His Closeup, Idol!
Considering that it was charming George Huff providing backing vocals for the entirety of J.Hud’s performance, you’d think maybe someone in the control booth would’ve allowed us a single decent shot of the season 3 fifth-place finisher in action. #IdolFail

But Do They Get to Vote?
First thought that crossed my mind after seeing a “Guam Loves Thia” poster in the audience

Best Dressed (Insane Costume Division)
Jennifer Lopez as Cleopatra 2525

Best Accessory
J.Hud’s massive, sparkly teardrop earrings. J. Apostrophe. Adore.

Scariest Garment
Hulk Hogan’s “lightly worn yet mercilessly abused” t-shirt, gifted to James Durbin.

Proof That Wacky Hijinks Should Only Ensue Naturally, Not in the Petri Dish of the Idol Mansion
That whole interminable James-Paul-Stefano-Pia wrestling match.

Proof That There’s Great Entertainment Value in Watching a Grown Man Turn Into Adorable/Overwhelmed Fourth Grade Boy
James Durbin’s face when Hulk Hogan emerged from backstage to declare that he and Paul McDonald were safe

And now I turn it over to you: Did the right contestant face elimination tonight? Did the judges do the right thing in using the save? What about the performances by J.Hud and Sugarland? And what did you make of Marc Anthony’s tutoring session on the use of ear monitors? Sound off below, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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