Now that "traditional" American Idol
is in full swing with the Top 13, it's time for our first live single elimination show. Even though they almost always tweak the process to get us here, they largely leave the "America votes" portion alone, trusting us to more or less get things right.
Or completely screw them up and get stuck with Lee DeWyze, but hey, nobody's perfect. The judges usually maintain a save in case of voting disaster, but there's no chance of it being used this early this season. There are just too many singers packed together at this point that I don't think anyone has stood out enough to be considered indispensable.
To further that point, just look at who topped the performance rankings the last two weeks.
Outside of Caleb, it wouldn't be outrageous to see either of those girls go home despite their strong performances. Emily was a top pick to be ousted last week, and M.K. is probably the most hotly-debated love-her-or-leave-her singer in the competition. And No. 2 in the top 10 guys performance rankings? C.J. Harris, who is dangerously close to the bottom three bubble heading into the results show.
The Consensus Predicts...
Three BuddyTV staffers have weighed in on this week's performances, and there is a general consensus as to whose tickets to the Top 12 are most in jeopardy of remaining punch-free in Idol 1-3. Regular recapper John Kubicek (who I am filling in for -- and thanks for still reading, by the way!) put together the above rankings, and he rated Malaya Watson, Dexter Roberts, Kristen O'Connor and C.J. Harris as the four worst performers of the night.
Resident prognosticator Jeff Dodge predicted Malaya, Kristen and C.J. as being in the bottom three, with Dexter also "in danger" and Kristen ultimately being sent home.
My bottom three matches Jeff's, but my gut tells me C.J. is on the outs after his campy Hootie cover. Kristen has the hotness factor working in her favor, while C.J. is looking at a not-so-friendly split of the overloaded country vote.
So while anything is possible, we are all pretty much in agreement as to what should happen. Who is in your bottom three, and who do you think heads home?
Now on to reigning champ Candice Glover, whoever the heck Jake Bugg is and the results! And like the filler-packed hour-long show, the blog is live, so keep the comments coming and we'll get through it all together.
An Opening Diddy
The show kicks off with a group medley of OneRepublic's "Counting Stars" and Imagine Dragons "Radioactive," and the standouts are Jessica Meuse, Emily Piriz and (surprisingly) Malaya Watson. Also noteworthy is Alex Preston's bizarre suit/shoe combo.
An astounding 71 million votes were cast, which under the new rules represents approximately 37 people. The last-night recap doesn't so much cover the performances as what happened after the show. The girls all pester Sam Woolf about being a ladies man, especially over a girl who cried just because he touched her.
They all vote for themselves on the ride home (with Caleb accidentally voting for Sanjaya, Ben Briley quips), then they eat dinner and talk about the judges. They end with a cheers about being Friends Forever, and I assume they are referencing the Zack Attack hit single from the early 90s.
The save doesn't expire until the top six, which means we're not using it tonight.
The First Results
Malaya, Jena Irene, Ben and Alex are the first to learn their fates. The Dawg weighs in.
He wanted a complete performance from Malaya, but she didn't calm down enough on stage. The focus for Jena was harnessing the emotion of the song, and she had a good night. Ben's initial rendition was even faster, but they slowed it down to just moderately too fast. The struggle with Alex was when to have the band enter, which ended up adding to his great performance.
Ben Briley is safe.
Alex Preston is safe.
Jena Irene is safe.
Malaya Watson is in the bottom three.
No surprise there.
Jennifer Lopez is disappointed because Malaya deserves to be there, but even Malaya didn't like the performance, saying she could have done better.
Things We Don't Know About Keith Urban
He is named after a famous New Zealand race horse caller, his favorite Beatle is Brian Epstein and his favorite Harry Connick, Jr., song is "Jenny From the Block."
And now that we're all a little bit dumber, here's Candice Glover!
The American Idol 12 champ is singing a medley of "Cried" and "Same Kinda Man," both off her debut album "Music Speaks." Solid all around, just pleasant and a nice reminder of how easy this all can be. Pat yourselves on the back, America. You nailed it.
Who is Joining Malaya?
Harry Connick, Jr., always wanted to be a football player, loves to fish for tuna, used to be a boxer and earned a first-round knockout in his only amateur fight, has never seen Keith Urban naked and would like to see Keith Urban naked.
Next up for judgment are M.K., Majesty Rose, Sam and Dexter. With as many as two groups left, all four of these might be safe.
Randy had to work on M.K.'s stage presence and appearance, while Sam needs to up his performance to match his vocal power. Majesty and Janelle Monae were a perfect fit, but enunciation was her key. Randy suggested Dexter make the song his own, but he didn't take all the advice.
Dexter Roberts is safe.
Majesty Rose is safe.
M.K. Nobilette is in the bottom three.
Sam Woolf is safe.
It's a surprise, but not that much of a surprise. If she manages to stay in the competition, which she should, this will hopefully light a fire under her. Keith says she needs to broaden her performances to make a stronger connection and garner a wider appeal. It's always going to be overcoming the vocal gap for her.
Who the Heck is Jake Bugg, and Do I Need to Swat Him?
The press release only describes him as a "critically-acclaimed singer" (by his mom?), and he's a guy Keith Urban randomly told the other judges about in Salt Lake City. Apparently we're featuring a little battle of the unknowns this season, with each judge and Randy Jackson getting a chance to give some love to a potential star.
The British Bugg is singing "Me and You," and he's kind of a poor man's Harry Styles (in appearance only). Artistically, he might be Passenger in a younger man's body. Bonus points for having trucker Bernie Lomax on the guitar, though. It's a catchy little tune that I expect will make it's way to the radio soon, and he'd better buy some barbie shrimp for Keith. Or bangers and mash. Either way, they're both better than Vegemite.
Malaya, M.K. and?
J-Lo's kids are her life, she eats a chocolate chip cookie every day, loves giving makeovers and is a workaholic.
The judges point out that Ryan Seacrest is the only one who hasn't been subjected to this maddening waste of time, so next segment be damned, do it in camera three! His first pet was a goldfish named Sheila, he loves to eat at mall food courts, he played the recorder ("Hot Cross Buns") in school, eats the whole cookie while J-Lo has the willpower for just one bite and has also never seen Keith Urban naked.
Next up, we're judging C.J., Kristen, Caleb, Emily and Jessica.
Randy had to adjust the key for C.J., Kristen didn't live up to the Kelly Clarkson comparison, Caleb continually shows who he is, Jessica commands attention but needs to work on the emotion and Emily did great with a tough song, but didn't harness the Pink energy (thus the "yin-yang" reference).
Kristen O'Connor is in the bottom three.
Everyone else is safe.
Let's blame the 5 Things You Don't Know About Ryan for the rushed reveal.
Who is Going Home?
No country in this bottom three, just three ladies who all had rough nights. M.K. has to be safe, and either Kristen or Malaya is deserving of elimination. Let's get to the final results.
M.K. Nobilette is safe. All is right in the world.
Kristen O'Connor is going home.
Malaya Watson is safe.
Kristen is singing her Rush Week song, Adele's "Turning Tables," but the judges do all their conversing before she even starts singing. It's all over the place, and there's no debate to be had. I'm gonna miss the gams and bare midriffs, but America gets it right again. It's a touch ironic that the last line of the song is "say goodbye."
Harry draws it out for some reason, but it's a no. The goodbye song is apparently unique to each contestant, and Kristen's is her rendition of Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway." Hopefully she'll be able to make a bit more of her potential moving forward, because the track sounds great.
Were you surprised by the results? Are you sad to see Kristen go? Why do you think she couldn't get it together? And who is standing out for you so far? Who are you ready to say goodbye to?
We're down to our top 12, which means we've only got 16 months and 137 episodes before we crown the season 13 winner. Thanks for letting me be part of the ride.
You can watch American Idol every Wednesday and Thursday at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)