According to host Ryan Seacrest, the show received 53 million votes this week, the highest of the season.
Colton Dixon gets hugs from his fellow contestants.
For their group song, the Top 7 sang Martha and the Vandellas song "Dancing in the Street." Someone missed a mike cue for Jessica, and she wasn't audible for most of her solo, which at least proves once more that it's live. The group sang portions of the song in the same pairings they used when they did duets a couple weeks ago. At the end, a bunch of brightly colored balloons dropped from the ceiling. [TOP 7 GROUP PERFORMANCE]
For this week's Ford video, the Top 7 went stargazing and spotted themselves in the constellations, in the Zodiac. Some fabulous hair and makeup in that one. There's a contest being run for winners to appear in a Ford video with the contestants.
First up, best friends Hollie and Joshua Ledet were called down for results. In taped comments, music mentor Jimmy Iovine said of Joshua that he stayed in his sweet spot and was very comfortable. He also thought that Hollie came out of her shell last night, but he didn't think she'd stay out of the bottom three. He said that she took a giant step this week, but it would be a tough road for her to the finale. Joshua, however, merely needs to stay consistent and he could make it to the finale.
To Joshua, Ryan said, "Last week, you faced elimination. This week, you didn't get the right number of votes... to put you in the bottom three. You're safe." To Hollie, Ryan didn't draw it out but told her she was the first person in the bottom three. She headed to the tulip chairs.
Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks helped introduce Kris Allen, the season 8 winner, took the stage to sing his single, "The Vision of Love." He played a distressed upright piano on a revolving stage; I didn't know he played the piano in addition to the guitar. Then he got up and walked around, working the crowd. Nice vocals, and the song was catchy. He's grown a lot.
Next to be called to center stage were Skylar Laine and Elise Testone. Jimmy pointed out they had both sung Marvin Gaye songs, and while he felt Skylar delivered, he said Elise fell flat. Because of that song choice, he predicted that Elise would spend some time in "her vacation home, the bottom three, if not going home." He said that, if she stays around, song choice wouldis the only thing that be could help her pull things off. By contrast, he compared Skylar to the Little Engine That Could and said she's getting better and better.
Ryan asked Elise if she thought the judges are tougher on her than on everyone else. Elise said she thought they were and that perhaps it was because she was older, and they thought she could take it. She admitted she finds it disheartening. Ryan told Elise she was in the bottom three, and she bit her lip. Cutaway to her mom in the audience, who looks a lot like Elise. Skylar was sent to the couches, since she was safe.
Next up was video package paying tribute to the late Dick Clark, narrated by Ryan. It included lots of vintage footage of America's oldest teenager, showing him introducing tons of big acts.
LMFAO performed their song "Sorry for Party Rocking" next. They are just ridiculous, but I'm pretty sure they know it. Definitely not a group whose strength is vocals, but at least they weren't Autotuned. A lot of their song had to be bleeped out, though. Trying to be bad on "American Idol"? Wow, we're really impressed here. [LMFAO'S PERFORMANCE; NOTE: The video/audio quality is poor, but it was the only version I could find.]
Then Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon and Jessica Sanchez were called to center stage for their results. Jimmy said he'd finally realized that Jessica has been singing songs that are too old for her, and that the audience can't relate. He apologized and said that he should have caught that and given her songs more appropriate for her age. He thought Phillip did a great job with the Usher song, but he could take or leave the Wilson Pickett song. He thought that Colton's version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" was all wrong: from the look to the performance. He thought Colton had looked like a blend between the 1980s or Spider-Man on Broadway. Colton needs to regroup to get in the finale and find better songs. He said that Phillip is doing a good job of choosing songs, but Jessica could use more help with that.
Ryan asked the judges if they agreed with Jimmy's assessment. Jennifer Lopez said that she does, but maybe she doesn't, and she doesn't know.
Then, Ryan told Jessica, that tonight, "Unfortunately, there's no saving you... from the stress of this competition. You're safe." He reminded the audience that neither Colton nor Phillip had been in the bottom three before. "Tonight, that's about to change. The person at risk of leaving our stage tonight is Colton." Phillip was safe. Wow.
Ryan called, Hollie and Elise out as well to stand with Colton as the bottom three. He asked Randy if America had gotten it right. Randy conceded that it hadn't been one of Colton's best nights.
After the judges' comments, Ryan put an arm around Elise and drew her aside. "It was rough for you last week. Tonight, it's going to be rough for you again." As he was leading her over to the tulip chairs, he told her, "You're going to have to watch one of your friends go home." He spun her back towards the couches and told her she was safe.
After the commercial break, it was time for the final results. "The person whose 'Idol' journey ends tonight is Colton." Hollie was safe. Shot of Colton's sister, Schyler, in the audience looking bummed. Ryan asked Colton what the problem had been, and he alluded to the "Bad Romance" song while saying, "I apologize. I wasn't myself last night." He told the judges he would learn from their advice when he's making records.
As Colton sang his good-bye, a Christian anthem, Lifehouse's "Everything," he knelt on the stage in a prayerful pose and reached up towards the heavens. His emotions got the best of him, and he almost cried. Phillip wouldn't even look up for the first half of the song, apparently feeling bad for Colton. So much for the predictions of a Phillip-Colton final.
With both the judges and Jimmy predicting throughout the season that Colton could be in the finals, why didn't Colton even make the Top 5? First, let's look at his strengths.
Colton was a good-looking young guy who appealed to a lot of female viewers as a result. He was also original: consistently putting his own singer-songwriter spin on the songs he performed. In addition, he had a loyal fan base which included not only younger viewers, presumably, but also fans of Christian music.
Of course, like any contestant, Colton had his faults, as well. While he seldom got anything but praise from the judges, his performances could be uneven from week to week. While his loyal fans were willing to overlook a sub-par performance, it failed to attract new voters.
A bigger factor was probably song choice, as this week Colton chose a song, "Bad Romance," that may have alienated his Christian fan base. His second song, Earth, Wind and Fire's "September," was so heavily stylized that it barely resembled the original song. No doubt, that also cost him votes.
The final possible factor was simply that people were voting hard to rescue the contestants they wanted to save: such as last week's bottom three of Jessica, Joshua and Elise. It's always possible that they considered him safe and voted for others, as well.
There's little doubt that "Idol" has given Colton's music career a valuable boost. While he won't have confetti falling on him at the finale, he's likely to find himself fielding offers from Christian music labels, interested in exactly the sort of good-looking, sincere, contemporary artist that Colton represents.
All bets are off: anything can still happen this season.