Didi and Tim in the bottom two
This show was part results show, part promotion for the upcoming movie, Clash of the Titans, so the show kicked off with a montage mixing scenes from the movie with last night's performance show. Hmm. Guess it's a FOX movie...
Then, to get things started, season 2 winner Ruben Studdard performed "Don't Make 'Em Like U No More," his new single. It was a typical R&B tune, and while his performance was a little uneven, he's got mad performance skills. As he told host Ryan Seacrest, he's also lost a lot of weight. He's now a vegan and is exercising regularly. This summer, he'll be touring with season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken on "The Timeless Tour." [VIDEO OF RUBEN]
For the requisite Ford ad, the finalists wore Kung Fu outfits with either red or yellow details. Casey James, dressed normally, is just trying to buy groceries, ducking past the clashing groups. Lots of action shots around Casey, who gets into his car and knocks them down with the door before driving away. Cute. [VIDEO OF FORD COMMERCIAL]
Ryan interviewed the Top 10 about a few things, first talking to Mike about his hair. He'd had the stylists put a purple extension on the back of his bald head. I like him; he's silly. Ryan asked Crystal when the first time was she'd played piano. Crystal answered when she was about 6, and that she'd played until 10 when she picked up the guitar. Ryan asked if she'd been nervous performing the piano. She said yes, but she'd practiced. Then he asked Andrew about the judges saying he's boring. Andrew's answer: "They don't really hang out with me. I think I'm pretty cool." Ryan went to Andrew's mom in the audience, who was wearing a red and black plaid shirt. He asked her for advice, and she said, "Just be himself, because Mama raised him right." (This must have been planned, because she was miked.)
This was followed by another schilling session for The Clash of the Titans, since the Top 10 had gone to a special screening.
Finally, it was time for the results. First to hear were the back row. Ryan asked Lee Dewyze to stand and talked to him about the performance. Lee said he felt better about this one than previous performances. He was declared safe. Next Casey James, who didn't know how to respond to Ryan's question about what he's going to do in coming weeks. Casey, said, "I'm just doing what song I want to do," performing that song well and not worrying about "getting crazy" with it. Time for a fake-out: "I'm going to have to ask you, after that vote, to take a seat. You are safe." Aaron Kelly was next (skipping Katie Stevens, seated before him on the couch). Ryan put him in a semi-awkward position: "Have you ever been, really, in love?" Aaron replied, "At 16? Not really." Then it got even more awkward, as Ryan tried to get Simon to talk about being in love. Simon's response, "This is not the Oprah Winfrey Show." After all that, Aaron was safe.
Next, Siobhan Magnus and Katie were asked to stand up together. After reviewing their performances, Ryan announced that Katie was in the bottom three. Siobhan dissolved into tears, and judge Kara DioGuardi could be heard saying, "That's not right," followed by a heated discussion amongst the judges. Ryan went down to the judges' table and talked to them, and Simon said that, while Katie had done well a couple weeks ago, he was disappointed in this week's performance. [KATIE IN BOTTOM THREE]
Ryan talked to pop star Justin Bieber in the audience in order to introduce Usher, performing "OMG," with Will.i.am. The heavily dance-based performance had been recorded earlier and was a trifle of a song, about checking someone out. Annoyingly, Usher's vocal was autotuned. He's so much better than that; I can't wait until this fad disappears. [VIDEO OF USHER AND WILL.I.AM]
Back to the results, with the bottom row. Ryan had Didi Benami stand up and asked her, if she stuck around, she would go back to playing guitar. She admitted she's only been playing it a short while and it's scary for her to play it onstage sometimes. Ryan told her she was in the bottom three.
Next, Ryan turned to Michael Lynche, and after reviewing his results, said, "This is surprising. Mike, would you walk over here please?... You're safe." His family called from the audience, "Pick him up and throw him." Mike did pick Ryan up, cradling him like a baby, and then set him back on his feet.
With very little delay, Ryan told Crystal Bowersox she was safe. Afterwards, she claimed she could pick Ryan up, too. "You could because I weigh 95 pounds. Thanks," Ryan said.
Finally, Tim Urban and Andrew Garcia stand up, observing, "Tim is already happy. Tim's already smiling." Kara remarked that maybe he smiles because he doesn't get what the judges are saying. Countering that, Tim replied that every time he steps out on the stage, he knows it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even if it's his last performance, he still has to smile. Not a bad attitude, actually. Andrew was declared safe, meaning Tim was in the bottom three.
Ryan drew the bottom three to the center of the stage before sending Katie to safety. Tim and Didi went back to the tulip chairs to await their fate. [DIDI AND TIM IN BOTTOM THREE]
Time for another performance, Diddy and Dirty Money singing "Hello Goodmorning." Again, this was a flashy production with lots of dancing. I actually didn't realize for a while that it was Sean "I Change My Name Every Five Seconds" Combs. My reaction was, "Hmm. A Kanye West wannabe." I guess, though, since Diddy was on the scene first, he's more likely to be an influence on Kanye. [VIDEO OF DIDDY & DIRTY MONEY]
Finally, Ryan announced the results: "The person in danger of going home after the nationwide vote is Didi Benami." For her final performance, she sang "Rhiannon," not doing it as well as she did a couple weeks ago, getting ahead of the band at one point. The judges seemed to be joking around rather than seriously discussing whether to save her. Afterward, Simon told her, "Didi, it's bad news, sweetheart. We're not going to save you. But it was a million times better than what you did last night." [VIDEO OF DIDI]
The show ended with a montage of her time on Idol, with inset shots of both Didi and her friend, Siobhan, crying.
Why did Didi get sent home? In her case, consistency has been a big problem. She has occasionally chosen songs that did not fit her unusual, indie-folk voice. "Rhiannon" was probably the one week she truly was in the zone, not that you could have told that from her reprise of it last night.
In terms of other factors that contribute to appeal, Didi is a beautiful girl with a sunny smile, but she didn't make a very strong impression other than that. We can't level all of this on the producers, either, since every contestant is now getting plenty of opportunities to shine in their video packages preceding their performances. Plus, unlike Paige Miles, sent home last week, Didi got a fair amount of screen time during the auditions and Hollywood Week. But other than the fact that she can be emotional for reasons she won't state, what did the audience truly know about her? Probably not enough to feel connected, partially due to her subdued attitude during her interviews with Ryan. She always looked a little pained, as if she wished the cameras would just turn away and leave her alone after she sang.
The fan base she'd built during Hollywood Week probably did not grow as much as it has for some of the other contestants, such as Siobhan, who got very little screen time before the live shows. This week, it was probably her friend Siobhan who spelled her fate: as people dialed in to save Siobhan, whose performance was far off her usual standards this week. Voters who might otherwise have cast some votes her way might have, instead, been voting furiously to save this year's "dark horse."
What does the future hold for Didi? It's completely up to her. If the summer tour helps her get past her camera-shyness, and she finally comes out of her shell and owns the stage, she might do very well.
Next week, the Top 9 will take on the Lennon/McCartney songbook.
You've got to bring it every week.