Last night was eliminations night on American Idol.
Now that we were down to the Top 7, anything could happen. Who would be on the chopping block?
In the opening, host Ryan Secrest stood in front of the projection screen, which was showing leader tape. After all, these were the results for movie night. Ryan announced that the special guests would be Miley Cyrus (wuh????) and Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson (woot!). He then pitched the summer tour. While introducing the judges, Simon Cowell gave Ryan a sexy wink (get a room!).
Then came this week's Ford ad, which had the top 7 singing "Freeze Frame" on magazine covers (at least they didn't sing "Centerfold"). Matt Giraud, however, was the only one not on a magazine. Instead, he bought one that featured the other six. Hmm.
After that was the group song, "Maniac" from Flashdance. Kris Allen ran down the stairs to sing to the judges and Paula went under the table, to Simon's bewilderment. Perhaps she expected Kris to follow. Allison Iraheta sang to Simon. Based on the wavering melody, the group was clearly not lip-synching tonight. Anoop "Noop Dawg" Desai sang to the crowd, and walked through the audience. Matt suddenly appeared on the second stage with them. Where were the other three? Yet to make their appearances: Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey on the second floor (the anticipated final two?). Then Lil Rounds strutted across the stage. The producers' wet dream for a final three? I don't think they could have been much more obvious. As the group reconvened on the main stage, Matt tore up the vocals. He needs to do that on competition night.
Ryan interviewed some of the finalists, getting Adam's comments on Quentin as a mentor. Adam said that Quentin was encouraging and also talked about the power of music in his films. Allison's thoughts on going to the premiere of 17 Again? "It was so awesome." We saw video of them attending the premiere, which ended with Lil making a mean joke about Danny's age.
Zac Efron was in the house, wearing a knit hat (or as Season 5 finalist Ace Young used to call them, a toboggan).
Then, it was elminations time. Allison was declared safe. Ryan asked Adam if he was insulted by Simon comparing his performance to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. "No, I think it's a great movie. Did he mean it as an insult?" Simon said no. America didn't think it was a bad thing either: Adam was safe! Anoop, however, had to spend another week in the bottom three. He was sent to the tulip chairs. Ryan almost escorted him, then remembered that Anoop knew where he was going. Been there, done that. (video)
Jennifer Hudson, sounding and looking great, performed "If This Isn't Love" after a video recap of her career so far. Ironically, if the judges' save had existed the week she was cut from Season 3, she probably would have been saved. Which makes this evening's results more interesting; but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Back to the results. Kris and Lil were told to stand up. Kris fell for the fake-out again, told to take a seat... safe on the couch. Kris, we love how gullible you are. Lil joined Anoop on the tulip chairs. Matt and Danny were told to stand up, and Danny put a comforting arm around Matt. It was Danny's turn for the psyche-out: "This week, Danny, you are... safe." Matt was sent to the bottom three. After making him stew for so long, Ryan announced that Anoop was safe! (As he should have been, at least this week). He seemed a little surprised. Later, after the performance by Miley Cyrus, Simon said he'd be willing to save one contestant, and it might be a surprise to that person. Ryan asked him if he meant Lil, but Simon refused to say. There was an awkward pause as the control room missed Ryan's cue to go to break and he had to repeat it. Live television, folks. (video)
Then, wearing a sparkly champagne-colored prom dress, with her hair in a loose twist, Miley Cyrus performed "The Climb." She was surrounded by smoke from dry ice, and her microphone had bling, too! Her performance sounded very nasal and just a little bit like a young Stevie Nicks. As she performed, the smoke enveloped her even more, and her hair fell down progressively in her face. Someone should have told her you shouldn't toss your head around like that when your hair's in a updo. But she probably didn't know: I'm sure it was her first prom.
Finally, the moment we'd been waiting for, the results, based on 36 million votes. Ryan said, "Lil, I'm afraid you're going to have to endure the competition one more week." This meant Matt was cut.
Matt definitely had his fans, both in the audience and amongst the contestants, who all raised their voices to encourage him. Danny shouted, "Come on, Matt. Come on, Matt. Sing it!" Matt sang his heart out, although he lost the melody a few times, probably because of the pressure. The judges, unlike other eliminations, were clearly debating. Kara DioGuardi was actually in Simon's face, no doubt making her case for Matt. They seemed to have made a decision, then, as Kara and Paula Abdul started dancing. At the conclusion of the performance, the audience was shouting, "Save, save, save!" Again, this is something they hadn't done for any other contestant.
The conclusion did not seem so definite as soon as Simon began speaking. He asked Matt how many times he'd been in the bottom three. Matt replied twice. Then Simon told him that he didn't think he was as good as last night. He added, "I don't think you have really any chance of winning the competition." At this point, the other three judges, who were standing behind him, apparently to show unity, started saying, "No, no, no," perhaps thinking that Simon was going back on their agreement, which had to be unanimous. Simon said, "We've made a decision. Good news."
As the audience cheered, the other contestants ran onto the stage to hug Matt, and Ryan announced, "Idol history has been made: Matt G. saved!" Kris and Adam, who were first to hug him, seemed especially happy. Matt was in tears.
Simon, though, added, "I wouldn't be so quick to congratulate him. Two people are going home next week, and next week is disco week." Ouch.
Ryan: "Thanks for the buzz-kill, Simon."
As the credits rolled, in a rare show of emotion, judge Randy Jackson hugged Simon. The contestants jumped around, dancing. They have never looked so happy after an elimination. One more week to live and play together, and then it's over for two of them. (video)
So why was Matt saved? After all, the judges had panned his performance the previous night, and it was even weaker on elimination night. I believe the judges' save was designed for someone like Matt. While his performances haven't always been impressive, he's attracted a big following. Clearly, if you listened to the studio audience, there was a shock factor in the elimination. They probably would not have reacted the same way if Lil had been cut, and I'm not so sure the judges would have saved her. Unlike Lil, Matt has listened to the judges' criticism and worked hard to rise to the challenge. Along the way, he's also built up a loyal following, much like Michael Johns of Season 7 had by the time he was cut.
For the record, though, even if he'd been brought back, Michael Johns probably wouldn't have won last season, but saving him would have stilled the controversy over some supposedly less talented finalists staying.
Of course, Matt only gets a temporary reprieve, and two finalists have to go next week. Whoever wants to stay better sing like it's a Disco Inferno!
All video clips come from mjsbigblog.
Every once in a while, you get a second chance.