Unless you’ve seen it elsewhere, or you’ve followed Oscar’s live thoughts, or you’ve got some other way to sense what’s going to happen, the next words in this paragraph is a major American Idol spoiler: Matt Giraud has been saved by the judges.

This week somehow rattled everyone to the core.  Matt, who is still living up as a dark horse with his piano prowess and his soulful voice, got panned by half of the judges.  (I still stick to the conspiracy I floated after the show.)  On the other hand, there’s Lil Rounds, who’s been losing the plot over the past weeks, and finally gave us a reason to toss her.  Despite Simon’s brutal honesty, Dial Idol still had her ahead in the vote.

But everything fell into place earlier, when Matt was announced as the lowest vote-getter—and, after cleaning up his performance (because he’s singing for his life), Simon comes in and says he’s safe.  But not without the drama.  “I don’t see that you have really any chance of winning the competition,” he said amidst a frantic judges’ table.  He then proceeds to enumerate his reasons.

And then, “it’s good news, Matt.”

The judges have used their only save for this season.

So Matt gets to live another week, and for once, we end the American Idol week on a high rather than a low.  Ryan’s even selling it as history in the making.  But there are always ramifications: next week, we get another double elimination, and all of this drama could be rendered moot.

Now that the save is used, then, what next?  A few things, off the top of my head:

Matt has to swing it next week.  While Matt is one of my favorite contestants this year, he’s been struggling with some of his performances, although it’s more of misreading his song—his attempts to spin Bryan Adams last night wasn’t a success, obviously—than a sign of his shortcomings as a performer.  Him getting saved just puts more pressure on him.  And disco is a particularly hard genre to get by, especially now that everybody’s got their niches—Allie with her rocker edge, Kris with his bluesy stylings, and do we have to mention Adam?—so he’s got to spike up the game now.

Everybody else have to swing it next week, too.  Two eliminations next week means twice the chances of leaving earlier than hoped for.  The save being used tonight should shake everybody out of their complacency.  Danny Gokey, for example, hasn’t really done much performance-wise, and it’s been six weeks!  While they can expect the fan base to tide them over, that doesn’t mean they can be comfortable.

I used to think I had the next few weeks mapped out.  I thought either Lil or Anoop gets eliminated first, and then it’d be either Matt or Kris, or if worse comes to worse (and forgive me on this), Allie.  Of course, this week was different.  If it proves anything, nothing is certain on Idol, and more the reason for them to work harder for the favors of the voters, or at least those who still vote objectively, and not because they’re fans of someone in particular.  Nothing will save them anymore if they fall into the pit—which means, if Allie flubs and finds herself crashing down, then she crashes down, period.

Finally, do not reward complacency.  I probably just broke my previous point about fans voting for their favorites regardless of how they performed, but Idol is still for who sings the best, not for who sang the best in the past.  I’ll go on a limb and say that Lil should go home next week—I don’t think one performance would be enough to change my impression of her.  Whichever case, vote because they did well, not merely because you like them.

(As an aside, though, I had another conspiracy in my head: that Lil is actually the lowest vote-getter, and they only had Matt “eliminated” so they can use the save and make some history in the process. But Dial Idol, despite the stains its reputation has had in the past couple of weeks, will quickly refute me.)

But that last paragraph’s slightly useless, right?  There’s no use changing the American Idol culture.

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-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Fox)

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Henrik Batallones

Staff Writer, BuddyTV