Last night we said good-bye to another American Idol finalist.
At the top of the show, host Ryan Seacrest held up the envelope containing the results, promising they might shock us. But were they really all that shocking?
Before we heard the results, there were the usual time fillers, such as a video recapping the previous night's performances and then a group performance of "Trouble." Scott MacIntyre, who is vision impaired, played the piano during this number, while the other finalists danced around the stage. It will be interesting to see how they structure an entire road show, with Scott in the Top 10.
Then, of course, there was this week's Ford commercial, this time with the finalists tossing water balloons to the OK Go song, "Here It Goes Again." Cute. I wish it were warm enough in Philly for water balloons right now.
The producers must have really been hurting for padding, because they then showed a video of the good-bye party held for last week's eliminated finalists, Jorge Nunez and Jasmine Murray. Jasmine still hadn't stopped crying, but Jorge took in stride, telling the other finalists, "Don't be too confident right now, because we're not the only ones that are going to be eliminated." Snap! Ryan also took the opportunity to ask Michael Sarver how hard it is to be away from his family, allowing him to say hello to his daughter (video of good-bye party and Michael's greeting).
Of course, at this point, many viewers were thinking, "Well, Michael will get to see her soon enough." After all, many people were predicting he'd be the one to catch a plane home.
Finally, Ryan began the results, declaring Danny Gokey, Lil Rounds, and Anoop Desai safe. Next, he had Allison Iraheta and Michael Sarver stand: Allison was in the bottom three and called to the center stage. Just when Michael thought he was safe, Ryan had him stand back up and announced he was also in the bottom three. Cruel much, Ryan?
Then, Ryan took a break from results and Brad Paisley sang "Then," giving a subdued performance that proved country isn't just about hoe-downs.
From this point on, Ryan emphasized that those not cut this week were going on the tour. So pack your bags, Scott MacIntyre, artist formerly known as Megan Joy Corkrey, Matt Giraud and Kris Allen. Adam Lambert can pack his leather pants, too, but Alexis Grace was told to join the bottom three with Michael and Allison.
After Ryan declared Allison safe, Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis performed "I Told You So." It seemed a little odd for the two of them to be performing a love song together, but they sounded great. I have no idea, though, why Carrie was wearing a black corsage on her head.
Then, surprisingly, the final result was given, with Ryan declaring Michael.... SAFE??? The judges had hinted that they had talked about saving Alexis, and they were clearly deliberating as she sang one last time.
Afterwards, Simon said the decision was unanimous: "It was good, but it wasn't good enough." kthxbye
So now the big question: why did Alexis get sent home, when few people predicted such an outcome? Some even predicted she'd make the top five, so why did her grace period run out?
As much promise as she'd initially shown, her performance of "Jolene" this week received mixed reviews, both from on-site judges and from fans. I think it's safe to say this was her worst performance on the show. The previous week, the on-site judges raved about her performance of "Dirty Diana," but many Web reviewers were less effusive in their praise.
In fact, the last undeniably good performance from Alexis was way back during the semifinals, four weeks ago, which in TV time, is about an eon. The memory of that performance might not have lingered.
Not to mention, since she was seen as a producers' favorite, having received a lot of screen time during the audition weeks, as well as prime placement in the lineup on the semifinals night, she had to meet a higher bar than some of her fellow finalists. In other words, she had to bring it, and this week, she didn't.
Alexis also had image problems. In an attempt to follow the judges' advice and "dirty up her look," she added a pink stripe to her hair, as well as wearing dark lipstick and what she thought were sexy outfits. Clearly, she was trying very hard to look edgy. This is the same woman who, when she auditioned, looked just like the girl next door.
Alexis during the Louisville auditions and singing "Jolene"
Alexis in her "Dirty Diana" short-shorts
Now, while it's a good idea to follow the advice of the judges, the stylists, and the producers, in this case, Alexis might have gone too far. If a finalist doesn't seem to be authentic, viewers are less likely to vote for him or her.
Not to mention, it was disturbing to me last week, watching her doing a somewhat sexy version of Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" while wearing short-shorts, after we were shown a video of her with her young daughter. This was accentuated when someone in the audience held her baby up at the end of the performance. "See? It's your mommy being sexy and dirty!"
Of course, there are always other factors, such as the competition. Alexis was supposed to hold the position of the powerhouse female singer. Another finalist has emerged, however, to challenge that spot: 16-year-old Allison Iraheta, who has already shown a lot more vocal promise than typical for a "rock chick" finalist. Although she wasn't featured in the audition weeks, she has delivered solid performance each week. Plus, she seems more down-to-earth and real than the perpetually eager-to-please Alexis. As a result, many of the votes that might have gone to Alexis are probably now going to Allison. The vote splitting was also the likely reason that Allison found herself in the bottom three.
In fact, judge Randy Jackson even confused their names last night. When Alexis was standing with Michael Sarver, and Randy asked who should be part of the Top 10, Randy said it should be Allison. He had to be corrected before he called her Alexis.
Now, the judges did hint that they might use their power to save her, but a bad song choice is a bad song choice, and singing it again couldn't save Alexis. More likely, the judges are reserving their power for a week when somebody goes who's proved their mettle a little more than Alexis has so far.
So why didn't Michael Sarver get cut, when almost everyone predicted he would? Unlike Alexis, his performances have been consistent. While he might not be the most charismatic performer, blue-collar voters probably have his back.
Another finalist who had been predicted to appear in the bottom three, Megan Joy Corkrey, seems to inspire a love-her or hate-her response from viewers. The fact that she was noticeably sick and yet turned in a better performance than expected probably got her the sympathy vote.
So really, if you think about it, this result isn't all that shocking.
All video clips come from mjsbigblog.
When the bar is set high, you have to vault it, baby!