‘Idol’ Gives Back — and Takes Away

Kris Allen does the Beatles for Haiti, and the first four are sent packing

Last Updated: February 26, 2010 @ 7:29 AM

Oh how I’ve missed you. No, not you, Allison Iraheta. I mean you, “Idol” Elimination Show Group Number!

Sure, I was looking forward to the drama of Lacey Brown’s elimination and the comedy of Haeley Vaughn’s excessive accessorizing, but I had forgotten all about the Gleetastic vamps and random close-ups that comprise this “Idol” staple.

This week’s selection was “American Boy,” just in case we hadn’t seen enough clips of Janell Wheeler singing it during Hollywood Week. Highlights included Tim Urban singing with the mic glued to his hip during the “step touch” portion of the number and Crystal Bowersox trying to look fun and flirty while her inner monologue was clearly, “I’d much rather be rolling a joint right now than selling out to The Man.” 
Season 8‘s Iraheta performed her latest single, “Scars.” Not my favorite song, but I’ve gotta hand it to her — her voice blew this season’s girls out of the water. And look who else stopped by — Season 8 winner Kris Allen!
His performance of “Let it Be” (was this Beatles Week or what?) benefitted Haiti and other causes championed by the multimillion-dollar charity Idol Gives Back. In fact, he even visited the devastated country recently. What the heck did Kris Allen do for the people of Haiti, though? Sing them a Dave Matthews song? Regardless, the Idol Gives Back televised fundraiser returns April 21, after taking a hiatus in 2009.
Amid all of the distractions of Iraheta’s Ronald McDonald hair and Allen saving the world one song at a time was some actual information, too. That’s right, we sent four “Idol” hopefuls packing. According to Seacrest, the buzz among fans was that Simon was particularly harsh in his judging this week. I have to disagree, though. This first week of performances was a disaster and very few of the contestants deserved accolades, making it anyone’s guess as to who would be eliminated. Even Ellen, who empathized with their nerves said that they’ve “gotta step it up now.”
The girls leaving us this week were Janell Wheeler and Ashley Rodriguez. I was indifferent about Rodriguez as an Idol, and I feel that indifference is even worse than disdain (which is, by the way, what I feel for Haeley Vaughn). Apparently America felt the same way, though there are quite a few other girls for whom I feel the same indifference: Paige Miles, Michelle Delamor and Katie Stevens.
I would have been less surprised to see one of those three girls leaving than to see Wheeler go. Sure, I hated her cover of Heart on Wednesday’s show, but I think that she’s “better than that,” as Ellen might say. Perhaps if she would’ve stayed a little truer to herself with something more acoustic, she’d still be around. May the elimination of Wheeler serve as a cautionary tale to other contestants tempted to go outside their boxes and sing something unexpected, like the judges are always prodding them to do.
As for the guys, it was Joe Munoz and Tyler Grady who got the ax. I have to say that while Grady was utterly ridiculous in his grooviness, I was curious to see what kind of outfit he’d sport next week after his much-hyped trip to the mall. But when it came down to him and Alex Lambert, also in the hot seat, I’d sacrifice the entertainment value of Grady’s fashion and posing to keep little Lambert in the race any day. I feel like that kid is a natural talent and I find his nervousness — and mullet — endearing.
The real “Idol Shocker” this week was Munoz. In fact, it seems that no one was more shocked than Tim Urban, who escaped elimination at Munoz’s expense. While nerves seemed to get in the way of Munoz’s performance on Tuesday, it’s clear that he has a good voice.
As for poor (backed by VoteForTheWorst.com), he’s gonna have to get himself together this week and pick a song that shows off his voice. Yes, it may have been the teen girls calling in because he’s cute, but my suspicion is that it was more of an anti-Simon vote. I felt that he was a little too harsh on Urban (perhaps that was the “buzz”), regardless of how terrible his vocals were.
I am rooting for Urban to do better but my one fear is that he becomes a Megan Joy or a Nikki McKibbin, sticking around while more deserving people get sent home.