Last night was eliminations night on American Idol. The results were based on a record 47 million votes.
This is my quick and dirty summary of last night, since it's another very busy Thursday!
At the top of the show, host Ryan Seacrest announced the evening's special guests. Jamie Foxx, who currently is riding high on a wave of popularity, got bigger applause than either Taylor Hicks or Natalie Cole.
In this week's Ford video the top five raced across a desert in slow motion, black and white. The car (star of this commercial) was in color and, once it passed them, turned them to color. While the beginning was more like a magazine photo shoot, the ending reminded me of the Beatles.
For the group song, they did "I Don't Mean a Thing" and "I Got Rhythm," staring out on the steps, with the song started by Allison and the guys snapping. As they each performed, they got a chance to showcase their own vocals.
In the next video filler segment, we learned that Danny's birthday was last Friday, in addition to Allison's being on Monday. We saw a video of them baking a cake and then getting into a sloppy good fight. At the conclusion, Ryan presented a joke gift for Danny, who Allison said started the food fight: a bill from the maid service for $6,000 to clean up the mess. Cute.
For the results, Ryan had the group join him on center stage. He put Matt on one side of the stage and Danny on the other side. Allison was placed next to Danny and Kris next to Matt. Then, he asked Adam where to stand. Adam (who believed he was safe), said, "Based on last night, probably with these two" (Allison and Danny). But so much for the birthday curse: Allison and Danny were the top two, leaving Matt, Kris and Adam in the bottom three (both Allison and Danny looked dumbfounded). After performances by Natalie Cole and Taylor Hicks, Kris was sent to safety, making Matt and Adam the bottom two. During this whole experience, Matt looked like he was about to cry. Adam, however, took it in stride, continuing to smile and to give reassuring pats to Matt's shoulder (video).
Natalie Cole, in keeping with the jazz standards theme, sang "Something's Gotta Give." Dressed in a gold-belted dress, she had a lot of poise. She really reminds me of her father, Nat King Cole (especially since she has his eyes and a very similar facial structure).
Then Taylor Hicks performed a song from his new album, "7 Mile Breakdown," playing guitar as he did. I'm a card-carrying member of the Soul Patrol, so I love me some Taylor Hicks. It was good to see him on-stage again, even if this song was a little too country for my taste. He did, however, receive a standing O from the judges, even from tough judge Simon Cowell. Ryan noted that he's lost some weight and asked him how. "From working hard," touring and performing, Taylor said. When asked his advice to the remaining contestants, he said, 'It's about song choices and making the right moves on stage." He added that it's about "performing and letting America know you have the best voice and the best entertainment quality to win the show." He of all people knows that, since he always put on a good show and brought a vitality to his performances that made people excited about voting for him. He also praised this year's contestants.
In the third performance, this week's mentor, Jamie Foxx performed "Blame It." I was a little disappointed that he was using a voice modulating device, similar to what Kanye West does. Jamie has a good voice, and it's hard to tell when you manipulate it so severely. However, he was definitely working the stage, and there's no doubt he's got stage presence.
When asked his opinions about the finalists, Jamie called them five of the most talented people he's met recently. He said that "no matter who wins this, these people are true artists." Ryan pressed him for his view on the bottom two, and Jamie refused to weigh in, saying that it doesn't matter who's eliminated, because what's more important is the career's they're going to have after this show. Very politic, Jamie.
When it came time for the results, Ryan teased Simon about the fact that judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi were more on their game last night, critiquing both Matt and Adam, while Simon praised them. Simon laughed and said, "One week out of 12 isn't so bad."
After a painful (for me and other Adam fans) delay, Adam was declared safe, meaning it was good-bye to Matt. As he sang his swan song, he did much better than the night before, but as soon as he started the riffs, he lost it a little bit. He said that the thing he'd remember most was "being the cat with nine lives."
Since they actually came in under time, Ryan gave all the judges a chance to give some last words to Matt. Nice judge Paula Abdul predicted "you'll be able to do anything you want to do," telling him he's "got at least 40 million fans" (well, considering there were only 47 million votes last night, and he lost, that seems a little unlikely). She said she was honored to have the pleasure of working with you.
Kara said that "one of the best things we did this season was save you." She added, "You're going to have a brilliant career."
Randy advised him to "continue to make it hot, Matt."
Perhaps fearing that Simon's last words to Matt wouldn't be so kind, Ryan asked him instead about his advice for next week, when the theme is rock 'n' roll. Referring to his critiques not affecting the results this week, Simon joked, "Don't listen to me." He also told them, "Have fun, enjoy. Always remember the people who pick up the phones."
The mentor next week will be Slash, who definitely knows rock 'n' roll but who I don't think is a singer, so it should be interesting.
Did anyone else see Kara leaving the judging table in a rush and pushing Randy aside? I wonder if she was miffed about something?
Now, before I get to the reasons Matt was eliminated, let's talk about why Adam was in the bottom two. His presence in the bottom is probably an indication of how close the voting totals are right now. As the season reaches the end and there are fewer finalists left, traditionally the margins narrow. After all, each of the Top 5 had to secure some sort of a fan base to make it this far. We have no way of knowing just how close the totals were, but it's likely there wasn't much of a difference between him and the third place finalist.
Other factors likely came into play. A lot of Allison fans probably voted for her to keep her in, figuring that Adam didn't need their support. Kris has gradually been improving and thereby attracting new fans. And Danny excited his fan base for the first time in weeks with an electrifying, genuine performance.
Not to mention song choice. Adam's performance of "Feeling Good" was a little campy, which probably cost him some support from mainstream voters. I predict, though, that after this scare his fan base will rally to get him into the finals.
Why is Matt going home? Well, he had already been cut once, saved by the judges, so his days were numbered. Matt's main problem has been consistency. His better performances have received rave reviews, while his weaker performances have been torn apart by critics and viewers alike. I've heard Matt compared to both Justin Timberlake and Elliot Yamin, but I don't think he can compare to either. He doesn't know enough to leave a good melody alone: instead adding embellishments that then get him into trouble vocally. Plus, I've been less than impressed by his falsetto. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
If you look at the entire package, he struggled to come up with an image, with plenty of ill-fitting, boring clothes. In more recent weeks, he seemed more put together and more comfortable on-stage, as well.
The big question is: did he ever have a chance of winning it all? I don't think he did, and he stayed a lot longer than some predicted. The bright side is, as Jamie Foxx pointed out, he can benefit greatly from this experience in the future.
All video clips come from mjsbigblog.
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