Thank goodness we got our results before Friday’s government shutdown! Just kidding. There is no way that we, the people, would ever stand for a forced closing of the government agency in charge of “American Idol.” It’s intrinsically American, after all.
Ryan teased that it “could be a very shocking results night,” and he wasn’t kidding. Of course, the bar is so high this year that it’s shocking to think of any of the Top 9 as “losers.” Each of the finalists could probably wipe the floor with more than a couple former winners, not to mention sub-par alumni like Jasmine Trias, Sanjaya Malakar and Megan Joy. The list goes on and on...
The Idols’ rock medley opened with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘N Roll.” (No, kids, Britney did not originate that song.) Until watching the contestants in their gender-separated formations, I didn’t realize that there were only three women left in the competition -- Haley, Pia and Lauren.
What an eye-opener.
The contestants transitioned into “The Letter” by the Box Tops before finishing semi-strong with a mash-up. Belting out Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” the six guys invaded the judges’ mini-stage, with James performing a jaunty goose-step as Bama native Paul did his hot herky-jerky.
The three girls, on the other hand, were relegated to the colossal mainstage, where they delivered a thin-voiced “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” reprise. They shook their hips as if they were singing karaoke at a bachelorette party and the awkwardness was only reiterated by the enormity of the stage.
Then -- pleasant surprise -- we learned that actor/comedian/Katy Perry spouse Russell Brand had stopped by earlier in the week to give the contestants “charisma coaching.” Rather than plug his two new movies, “Arthur” and “Hop,” he opted to dole out sage advice. When asked by Paul how to best loosen up for the show, he simply offered, “Crack.” He also gestured towards James’ crotch and told him that “this area should inform what you’re doing” when it comes to rock moves.
Those crazy Brits.
As for the results, Casey, Lauren and Stefano walked the plank first. But, more importantly, Ryan informed us that Kelly Clarkson herself has tweeted of her admiration for Casey. (Insert tween squeal!) Her words were: “I might have a bit of a crush on Casey on ‘American Idol’ this season. He's super cute and obviously super talented. Great job tonight man!” (OMG!) Casey’s feelings were unclear, as he deflected Ryan’s prodding with uncomfortable mumbling.
Lauren, a stranger to the Bottom Three, escaped yet again. It came down to Casey and Stefano, one of whom was in the Bottom Three. This one seemed like a no-brainer .. .until you remember that Casey narrowly survived elimination just two weeks ago, thanks to the Judges’ Save.
“After the vote,” announced Seacrest, “tonight Casey goes back ... to the safety of the couches.” No huge surprise, Stefano was in the Bottom Three again.
Proving that “Idol” alums are so much more than just Oscar and Grammy winners, Tony-nominated Season 4 finalist Constantine Maroulis performed a rockin’ version of “Unchained Melody” and plugged his “Rock of Ages” tour.
But the star power didn’t end there! We watched footage of Gwen Stefani dressing the three remaining girls in clothing from her L.A.M.B. line. Don’t get me wrong. Stefani’s style is one of the things she is known for, but it’s also uniquely hers. The girls seemed uncomfortable in the clothing; but how do you say no to a superstar? Lauren’s gingham bustier was a little too “Lolita” for my taste, but then again, she was singing about being a (16-year-old) “Natural Woman.”
With most of the superstardom out of the way, it was time for more results. Paul, Scotty and Pia stepped forward. Ryan sent Scotty to safety first, but not before making him rehash how all the kids thought he was weird for singing Elvis on the bus when he was “little,” which was probably about two months ago. One of the remaining two were danger of elimination. With powerhouse Pia left going against the only survivor of last week’s Bottom Three, the outcome was predictable.
Or was it?
“Paul, fresh off the appearance last week in the Bottom Three, unfortunately,” started Ryan, “and just like last week … I’m gonna send you to safety, which means … For the first time, Pia is in the Bottom Three.”
Then the never-ending star coaching continued with trial-by-fire media training at the hands of Harvey Levin and his team of TMZ gossipmongers. They tactlessly threw insult after insult at the Idols -- berating James for looking like a Bieber-loving teenybopper when producers surprised him with Hulk Hogan and telling Stefano to his face that he was “kinda boring.” Tacky, tacky, tacky.
At least an unamused Casey got a jab in. When Levin asked him whom he was dating, he calmly replied, “Your mom.”
Back to the results! James, Jacob and Haley -- one of whom would round out the Bottom Three -- formed the final trio. James was sent to safety first. Then as Haley chewed on her nails, anticipating the worst, Ryan gave the news.
“After the vote I can tell you … that Haley … you are safe. Jacob is in the Bottom Three tonight.”
After the break, a shirtless Iggy Pop performed “Real Wild Child” and I have to say, he’s surprisingly fit for an 80-year-old. There seemed to be a few censorship issues, but that is to be expected from a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer.
The Bottom Three was so shocking that it was difficult to say who would be leaving. Stefano would be the clear choice, but like last year’s Teflon Tim, he has survived week after week. Pia is arguably the best singer of the entire season but she hasn’t quite grasped that “it” factor that J. Lo keeps pushing. As for Jacob, his downfall may have been telling the world that if he landed in the Bottom Three, it was because of their psychological issues, not his singing.
After reminding the audience of that statement, Ryan delivered the news: “I can tell you now Jacob,” he exhaled,” that you will be leaving us .... and going to safety on the couches.” Oh, Ryan!
Then the real news.
“The person who leaves us tonight after the nationwide vote is … Pia.” WHAT?!?! “Stefano, you are safe.”
With that, the audience erupted into jeers and boos, as the shell-shocked contestants on the couch looked on and the judges shook their heads. “You can hear the reaction in the studio,” said Ryan. “I’m sure you’re having that reaction at home as well … What a shock, what a surprise.”
Then he turned his attention to the judges. “I have no idea what just happened here,” said a baffled Lopez, fighting tears. “I’m shocked. I’m angry. I don’t even know what to say.”
Randy agreed. “I’m with Jennifer and I think with Steven. I think we’re all in shock. I mean, I’m gutted I mean, you’re one of the best singers in this … Dude, I mean, I’m never upset on this show and I’m never really mad … but this ... like, this makes me mad.”
“America, man, you know, a mistake is one thing but lack of passion is unforgivable,” scolded Steven. “Theyr’e wrong. I don’t know what happened with this. She’s beautiful. When she sings she’s a bird.”
As they cut away to her “Idol Journey” video, the entire audience, including the judges, gave Pia a standing ovation. Proving that she is a pro, Toscano kept it together while listening to herself talk about how she was singing for her grandparents.
In a twist, Ryan put the ousted singer on the spot, telling her that he was certain America would love to hear her sing one last time. She chose to reprise “I’ll Stand by You,” appropriate since that was the first song that really made America recognize her talent. She kept it together until delivering the final note, after which she collapsed into sobs on Jacob Lusk’s ample bosom.
It’s like Randy said: “No one is ever safe. If you thought that she was safe, look at where she is now. You didn’t vote so you’ve gotta vote for whomever you love.”