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Another Idol Shocker

The "American Idol" results show kicked off with a montage starting with video clips of the Top 9 in the audition stage, as well as highlights from last night.

Host Ryan Seacrest promised a "very shocking results night" on Idol. How shocking would the results prove?

Pia Toscano and Stefano Langone
Pia Toscano and Stefano Langone

The Top 9 started the show with a rock medley, starting with Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," where Pia outshone the other girls. Why didn't she sing something like this the previous night? The medley led into "The Letter," then "Sweet Home Alabama," mashed together with "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," with the guys singing the "Sweet Home Alabama" part and the girls singing "I Love Rock 'N' Roll." [Rock medley]

For this week's Ford video, the Top 9 did a mini action movie, with Pia and Paul breaking into a secure building and stealing a mysterious silver suitcase from a safe. Outside, some of the other stole it from them, but when they opened it, they discovered it was a decoy, and Pia and Paul still had the original. [Ford video]

In another video package, Russell Brand stopped by to talk to the contestants about their stage performance and hair. They asked him for his "best rock move," which is funny, because he's only played a parody of a rock musician, playing it for laughs. If the purpose was to get them to loosen up and relax, as it seemed to be, he did his job. "Loosen up, take your clothes off, you're fired," he told them as he walked off. [Russell Brand coaching]

And right to the results. Casey Abrams, Stefano Langone and Lauren Alaina joined Ryan at center stage. Ryan said, "Sorry to tell you that one of you is in our bottom three. After the nationwide vote, Lauren, it's not you." She went to safety on the couch. Ryan reminded them they'd be in this same position two weeks ago. After the votes tonight, "Casey goes back to the safety of the couches." Stefano was in the bottom three. [Casey, Stefano & Lauren's results]

After the break, season four finalist Constantine Maroulis performed "Unchained Melody," over a world beat accompaniment. With his long hair and his patented smoldering glances at the camera, he tried to recapture the old magic. He's grown a lot in terms of performance, but it seemed like, at least in the early part of the song, his mike wasn't mixed high enough compared to the band. [Constantine Maroulis' performance]

Ryan talked to him briefly, revealing that Constantine will be going on tour and is the father of a baby girl, whose picture was shown on the screen. Adorable!

This week, the female idols were styled by Gwen Stefani, and the next video package showed her working with them. Some of the items came from her own personal wardrobe, and you could imagine how she would look in them. They showed the process, with the idols trying on different outfits. [Gwen Stefani's style choices]

Then it was time for more results. Paul McDonald, Scotty McCreery and Pia Toscana were called to center stage. After reviewing the performances, Ryan sent Scotty to safety on the couch. He announced one of the two remaining contestants would be in the bottom three. "Just like last week, I'm going to send you to safety," Ryan told Paul. The crowd booed about Pia being sent to the bottom three, and somebody swore (it was bleeped out). [Paul, Scotty & Pia's results]

For media training, the Top 9 met with the folks from "TMZ," the show known for following celebrities. The TMZ staff gave them tips based on things that have happened in the show so far. One of the guys told Stefano that his Twitter is boring, and he encouraged him to start a Twitter war. They told Scotty he's been making a lot of funny faces. They recommended that Pia hire a lawyer because people are already putting her face and name all over everything. Harvey asked them if Ryan wears platform shoes, and Casey jokingly answered yes. [TMZ media training]

Ryan said, "Harvey, we're the same height, but I'm a quarter your age."

Then he called James Durbin, Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk to center stage with him. Ryan told them, "After the nationwide vote, James, you are safe." He was sent to the couch. "After the vote, I can tell you that Haley, you are safe." At this news, Jacob nodded briefly. A shot of Randy showed him looking stunned. Ryan reminded the booing audience that they've got to vote for their favorites every week. [James, Haley & Jacob's results]

Performing next, it's Iggy Pop! He sang "Wild One," and he did get a little wild, as evidenced by the fact that the camera cut away to a shot of a balcony, with no sound, at one point, and he was bleeped at least one other time. I wonder what it was like for him to sing "Wild One" on the "Idol" stage? A little bizarre, maybe? Shirtless and running around the stage, he looked like he hadn't changed a bit in 20 years. [Iggy Pop's performance]

Ryan remarked, "I've got to cut out carbs after seeing that." It's amazing that Iggy still has the abs he does, but I guess performing shirtless is a big incentive.

After the break, the bottom three held hands and waited for their news. Ryan told Jacob, "I can tell you now, Jacob, that you will be leaving us..." Jacob nodded, "and going to safety on the couches." Whoa. Now, the final result: "The person who leaves us tonight after the nationwide vote is Pia." Cut to Randy looking amazed and upset. The audience booed.

The judges were stunned. In tears, Jennifer Lopez said, "I have no idea what just happened here." Randy and Steven were equally shocked, both saying that she did not deserve to leave the competition. Steven chided America that "lack of passion is unforgiveable." Of course, that might be exactly what happened to Pia, as her "Idol" run often lacked emotional strength. [Bottom three results]

Ryan invited Pia to sing one more time, asking Randy what she should go for. She chose "I Stand By You." The band, clearly not prepared for this, began with a clashing chord. As soon as she was done, she collapsed into Jacob's arms, sobbing loudly as the other contestants and judges joined her onstage. [Pia's swan song]

So why did Pia get cut? Many viewers are enraged, wondering why someone with such vocal strength was eliminated this early in the season. I can explain it in two words: song choice.

From the beginning, Pia has opted for ballads, which she would croon while solidly rooted in place. While critics raved over her solid vocals, they often complained that they were bored.

For weeks, the judges have been trying to get her to do something else, to challenge herself. This week, she tried, but on a rock night, she chose a song that almost seemed more of an upbeat pop song. What's more, her performance of it was flawed: her command of the stage was weak as she moved stiffly around, and more importantly, she faltered on her notes.

Perhaps if the judges had been harsher, they would have scared some viewers into voting to save her. But they raved about her performance and told her to watch some of the greats to learn more about how to perform onstage. Overall, her performance wasn't so bad that her fans feared for her safety; nor was it so good that they rushed to vote for her. And on a night filled with strong performances, that proved her undoing.

It's more dangerous to be boring than to be bad.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 8th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
I was hoping it was Jacob who'd go home and on to the next season of RuPaul's Drag Race and yet when I saw it was between her and Stefano, I thought Chris Daughtry on S5 and Michael Johns on S7, and I knew she was going home. It's outrageous, but that's what happens when people don't vote/get overconfident.

I think they should revamp the voting system with the judges' opinion accounting for 50% of the vote or something. Bet you they're regretting using the save on Casey now... (And I hope they get blunter with their criticism next week!)
Apr. 8th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
You know, I was actually very optimistic about the potential for this year because of the changes they did make to voting. People in my demographic (let's just say I graduated college in 1996), don't have the patience to vote for long hours on the phone or texting, but I'll happily click on the form 50 times on the Web site to vote. I thought that might help balance out the power voters, but I'd imagine they're finding ways to do both now.

Pia did not deserve to win, but I kind of understand it. The other contestants really rallied this week, and that made people vote for some contestants who otherwise were headed for the bottom three. And as far as Jacob is concerned, I think his fans suspected he was in danger and voted harder than usual.

ETA: I meant that Pia did not deserve to GO HOME. But I also hadn't picked her for the winner, unless she had stepped up her performance to match her vocals.

Edited at 2011-04-08 02:54 pm (UTC)
Apr. 8th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
I am glad you explained all this. I was seeing page after page of outrage on facebook last night, and had no idea what they were all ranting about.
I do not watch Idol, (mostly because it does not interest me at all,) so I did not know why these people were screaming and yelling.
Apr. 8th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
No problem! There's a shocking result every season without fail. This season has had two so far, but since the judges already used their save, this one had to stand.
Apr. 8th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
while i have to admit ive often found pia's performances to be boring, she was still my favorite female contestant and i dont believe she should have been cut yet. i was glad to see her do something a little more upbeat, but i feel the particular song choice probably wasnt well-known enough by the audience who actually votes.

one of the issues i have with the judges not giving enough criticism this year and loving everyones performances make it just seem like a popularity contest and everyone just votes for who they like best, which doesnt necessarily mean that person is the most talented. plus the way voting is so easy how you can send unlimited texts, vote by website, too, now, i think that skews the voting a lot.
Apr. 8th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
At least the Web voting is limited to 50 votes. I prefer to vote that way, because it takes a lot less time than calling, and my texting plan doesn't allow me to vote tons of times.

You're so right about the judges. I can't help thinking that Simon would have told her she was "old-fashioned" and awkward, and he might have prodded her into a better performance, or spurred her fans to vote.
Apr. 8th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC)
i didnt know there was a limit on the web voting, thats a start at least. i rarely use all of my text messages so i dont mind voting that way, but i do have an issue with people voting repeatedly and each time counting.

i think simon wouldve told said was boring after 2 or 3 ballads, change up a lil. maybe she wouldve made a better choice, maybe not but either way i still think she was booted too early. ah well.
Apr. 8th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
Simon probably would have also told her that he was waiting for her "moment," which might have put the pressure on her to make more of an impact.

The thing is, people expect singers to grow on this show. She was so good coming into it, but she didn't really go anywhere, so viewers lost interest.
Apr. 11th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
i definitely agree.

that is also very true.
Apr. 8th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
one of the issues i have with the judges not giving enough criticism this year and loving everyones performances make it just seem like a popularity contest and everyone just votes for who they like best, which doesnt necessarily mean that person is the most talented.

This is the same point I was trying to make last week only I didn't do it so well--the judges aren't giving the audience any guidance on who did well and who didn't so all the audience has to work with is "I like so-and-so".

The judges are also not giving the performers any guidance on how to get better. I know as a writer that "wow! great!" is the least helpful comment of all when I can tell that something's wrong but I can't figure out what or how to fix it.

Simon's caustic bite does seem to be missing here.

I'm frankly amazed that people can vote an unlimited number of times by text and phone. What makes that seem like a good idea? It seems like it would be easy to program in some cap on the number of times a vote can be registered from the same phone number or something.
Apr. 8th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
Of course, when one of your sponsors is the phone company that hosts the texting, there's no incentive to curb voting!
Apr. 10th, 2011 12:22 am (UTC)
That does explain the unlimited voting, yes. :D
Apr. 8th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
i agree that it is terrible to allow unlimited voting because all it leads to is some people voting a zillion times and they count each of those votes as if they were that many people voting. even if someone is willing to spend the entire 2 hours when voting is open texting or calling to ensure that so-and-so gets 9,324,545,446 votes as opposed to the ONE actual vote they should receive from each person, if they actually traced the calls or texts then at least we would know the voting was legit.
Apr. 8th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
In a season where everyone is so good, you have to vote every single night as if they're in danger. I voted for my favorite as hard as I possibly could, and they ended up safe and completely out of the bottom 3 at all. I'll be doing that every week until they go, because you can't just assume someone is safe. I don't know why Pia's fans did.
Apr. 8th, 2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
Reading all the comments on various blogs, I'm beginning to think that Pia didn't HAVE a strong voting camp. There were people who liked her, and people who thought she was talented, but few people seem to be personally upset about her elimination. Instead, there's a lot of people talking about how it was unjust, but that they didn't see her winning anyway. As talented as Pia is, she didn't find a way to connect with the audience.

I agree with you that this is one of the most talented groups I've seen. It's rare when there are this many contestants left and I'm torn about who should be in the bottom three.
Apr. 8th, 2011 05:37 pm (UTC)
This could be true, especially since I know a ton of people who like Pia, but she wasn't their very favorite. Also, people tend to vote more for guys on these shows, so it's kind of understandable. Which is not the case for me, but I digress. No, I didn't see Pia winning, and no, I didn't want her to win, BUT she shouldn't have gone this soon.

It's crazy, honestly. Every week I have NO idea who's going. It really boils down to fanbases, I think. And I know Stefano has a HUGE one, that votes like crazy. Let's just hope another girl doesn't go home next week.
Apr. 8th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
This is the first time this season where I felt like America got it wrong. I love Casey, but he's had some weak weeks. Pia seems like the only girl who could have gone the distance this season. I think Stephano and Paul were probably weakest, with an edge towards Stephano going home because Paul is pretty entertaining.

Overall, this may be the most talented group of nine I've seen in a long time (possibly at all) on AI, but I would have liked Pia to stick around longer.

Also, I can't really gripe too much. I never vote. I'm so busy that I can't watch the show live and usually watch Wednesday's show while Thursday's is airing and then follow my viewing with the results show. I may have to change that practice!
Apr. 8th, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
I love Casey, too, but when he did "Smells Like Teen Spirit," I found myself wondering, "Are you TRYING to get sent home?" Paul is definitely more entertaining than Stefano, and he also has the ability to smile through his mistakes so that people hardly notice them.

I've been voting regularly ever since back in Jennifer Hudson's season. The week I DIDN'T vote, she was sent home!
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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