Last night we said good-bye to another American Idol finalist.
The results were based on 36 million votes, which host Ryan Seacrest announced was the most votes ever for a Top 10 week in the history of the show.
Ryan then addressed the odd behavior of judges Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell the previous night: "What was with you two? You couldn't keep your hands off each other." He told them to "Get a room."
Simon quipped, "We did." Given their antics of the previous night, there were probably crayons involved.
The show kicked off with the requisite group song, this time a medley of Motown songs with photos cut in of the artists who made the songs famous. Was it just me, or did this particular week seem prerecorded? Maybe it was the lack of audience shots, or the heavy amount of editing (and lip-synching) evident.
This week's Ford commercial was set on a white soundstage. Everyone pulls out paintings, laid them on the floor to make a picture, while singing "Pocket Full of Sunshine." Then, as in Mary Poppins, they drive into it.
Season two winner Ruben Studdard performed his new single, "Together," wearing what looked like an oversized schoolboy uniform. He showed he's still got it, though, and hopefully the performance will build record sales.
Then it was results time. Ryan declared Adam Lambert safe and then, to the surprise of many, told Matt Giraud he was in the bottom three (whoa). He faked out poor Kris Allen, though, saying, "You, too are... safe!" Kris, who was headed for center stage, reacts accordingly. Ryan has Lil Rounds and Michael Sarver stand, declaring Lil safe and sending Michael to the bottom three (video).
Another musical break, then, as Smokey Robinson and Joss Stone sang "You're the Only One for Me." Joss sounds and looks so much like Megan Joy Corkrey (sans the tattooed arm) that I did a double take at first. Smokey had more vibrato in his voice than I'm used to hearing, but it was a very smooth performance by them both.
Back to the results Allison Iraheta, Anoop Desai and Danny Gokey were all declared safe. Scott MacIntyre and Megan Joy Corkrey were asked to stand, and Scott learned he was in the bottom three. Megan seemed shock by this result, audibly saying, "Oh, my God," and looking upset, then squeezing him before he headed for center stage (video).
Scott didn't have to sweat it out for too long, though, because Ryan almost immediately declared him safe. He hugged the other two and was guided back to his seat.
Simon announced that the judges would make their decision about whether to use the judges' one-time save based on the final performance of whoever was the bottom contestant. Ryan protested: "That's a little bit of pressure."
Simon replied, "I didn't make the rules up, Ryan." Perhaps not, but I'm certain the judges had something to do with the show instituting this new special power this season.
Then, while Michael and Matt awaited their fate in the tulip chairs, we were treated to a Motown medley from the quintessential singer, Stevie Wonder.
With only a few minutes left, Michael learned that he was out. This time, the judges barely seemed to be debating his fate. Paula and Kara danced to his performance while Randy and Simon talked briefly behind them. No surprise; they didn't use their one save on him.
Michael, the oil rigger who looked like everybody's next-door neighbor, should count himself lucky to have made it into the Top 10. Despite some early exposure during auditions week (which focused on his profession, rather than on his singing ability), he certainly did not receive preferential treatment from the judges. He also tended to face difficult placement in the show order, often performing near the beginning of the show, where performances tend to be forgotten. Yet, he made it into the finals based on viewer votes and now, he'll also be going on the summer tour.
Ultimately, you can say everything you want about Michael by using one word: nice. He seems like a nice guy, a hardworking father who misses his family, a salt-of-the-earth guy that many viewers would love to invite to a barbecue. His voice, likewise, is nice. He's got a pleasant tone, and he didn't tank as badly as some other contestants who have scraped by due to their fans. As far as I can tell, there isn't much Internet buzz about Michael at all. Nobody hated him, but nobody got excited about him. And that's the problem.
Simply put, Michael needed to create some magic on the stage. As Simon would put it, he needed his "moment." And despite turning in nice performances with workmanship-like consistency, Michael had not had that moment.
And so the nice guy with the nice voice bid us adieu with one last performance of "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." If he realized that the judges weren't seriously debating his fate, he didn't show it. Instead, he smiled a pleasant smile the whole time. While watching his exit video, he smiled broadly, clearly proud of what he'd achieved so far. Ah, Michael, you get the Mr. Congeniality award, for sure.
All video clips come from mjsbigblog.
Nice is not enough.