The show started out with the Top 11 performing Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go," which is the type of song they'll probably be performing on the tour. It was fairly standard as group numbers go. Somebody tell me why they're lip-synching all of these this season? [VIDEO OF GROUP]
Next, the obligatory Ford commercial, this time showing the top 11 turning a fountain into a sea of balls and diving in. Wow, Aaron Kelly can juggle! I might have to revise my feelings about him. Andrew Garcia is left behind. Hopefully, this is not foreshadowing. [VIDEO OF FORD COMMERCIAL]
Host Ryan Seacrest interviewed the contestants for a while. We learned that Casey James had forgotten his song lyrics during dress rehearsal but was relieved he did fine in the live performances. Siobhan Magnus's boss has sworn not to shave his beard until she wins. But the dad of Katie Stevens can't stand to watch her competing, so he's probably across the street right now drinking. Moral support fail. Plus, pictures of Mike with his newborn baby strapped to him in a carrier.
Then, it was time for eliminations. Siobhan was asked to stand up first. Ryan asked her about Simon's comment about her screaming at the end of songs. She defended it but said she's willing to change things up in the future. Randy pulled a fake out: "Siobhan, you're going to have to pack your bags... this summer, because you're heading out on tour." Lee Dewyze and Casey were pulled out next. Ryan summed up the judges' comments and asked the judges if they still thought they were right. They did. He made both of them continue standing and pulled up Tim Urban and Paige Miles, summing up their critiques. He asked Tim if he'd have done it differently if he had a do over. He said he wouldn't. He asked Paige what happened last night, and she said, "I didn't stop competing, but I definitely lost myself in the song." Randy asked which of those two were in the bottom three: "Both of you guys last night were not good." But he said it would be Paige. Ryan announced Paige was in the bottom three tonight, "And so is Tim." [VIDEO OF PAIGE AND TIM]
After the break, this week's mentor, Miley Cyrus, performed "When I Look at You," starting out playing the piano and then taking command of the stage. Her vocals are never my favorite, but Katie Stevens would be wise to study her and learn how a teen star performs. [VIDEO OF MILEY]
Ryan asked Miley what she thought about the show last night, and she said she thought the judges were a bit harsh, but she thought they were just trying to help the contestants.
After the break, Ryan announced that a site called Help Me Give Back is already accepting donations for the now-annual charity event, Idol gives Back.
He finally announced that Lee and Casey are, indeed, safe. Back to the eliminations. Ryan had Aaron Kelly stand up. First, he asked if he was feeling better from his tonsilitis, and then he told him he was safe. Didi Benami was called up next. He asked her if she was frustrated at taking a risk and being criticized, but she likened it to confusion, instead. After asking Ellen and Simon what they thought she should do if she stayed, and they advised her to pay attention to song choice, Ryan told her she was safe.
Michael Lynche was next. He was safe (natch). So was Crystal Bowersox. This left Katie and Andrew Garcia. He asked Andrew about his harsh criticism this week, and he said he does know who he is as an artist. Katie was told she was in the bottom three.
She wouldn't be there long, though, as she was declared safe and sent back to the couches. [VIDEO OF KATIE]
A couple more teen idols took the stage, then, Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato, singing "Make a Wave." If they were competing, Joe would move on and Demi, possibly not. Just another treacly pop song. It felt very '80s to me. The screaming girls in the audience, though, loved it. [VIDEO OF JOE AND DEMI]
Finally, it was judgment time. Paige and Tim were called back to the stage, and Ryan announced that Paige was the one leaving tonight. Before she could sing for her life, Simon told her the judges had decided, unanimously, that they weren’t going to save her. She reminded everyone that she's had health issues (laryngitis, which didn't keep Aaron from sailing through), and that she'd made bad song choices. She forgot to mention that she couldn't hold a note to save her life! The montage of her American Idol journey rolled, and she sang out on "Alright Now." [VIDEO OF PAIGE]
So why was Paige cut this week? Vocals, vocals, vocals. Yes, she came in with a disadvantage, having received very little screen time during the auditions episodes and Hollywood week, but she could have overcome that easily if she'd simply measured up. Don't forget: both season 8 finalist Allison Iraheta and season 8 winner Kris Allen came into the live shows with very little previous screen time. Paige has the look, and she has the confidence, but from the first week, she lacked consistency. Despite the fact that the judges were singing her praises, her singing simply failed to measure up.
Other factors matter, but ultimately, it's a singing competition.