‘Idol’ Shockers! America, Just What Is It You Want?

Oh, how naive I was before Thursday night at 8 p.m.

Last Updated: March 12, 2010 @ 6:52 AM

I should’ve known something was up at about 6:45, when my phone started blowing up with texts from the East Coast. A sampling: “Idol Shocker!”; “I am done”; and the always-classy “WTF?!” I am usually not an advocate of spoilers, but I almost wish someone had told me the results so that I wouldn’t have been so shocked. (On that note, spoiler alert! “Avatar” is lame … You’re welcome.)

When Seacrest mentioned at the top of the show that “we could be in for a surprise or two,” I was thinking that maybe the Idols would actually be singing their group number live or — I don’t know — in tune.
Oh, how naive I was back then! You know, last night before 8 pm.
 
Idol Shocker, indeed! The folks eliminated this week were Katelyn Epperly, Todrick Hall, Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott. America, you got it wrong — insultingly, appallingly wrong. So many have called this the worst season ever and getting rid of some of the strongest performers just doesn’t make sense. 
 
Katelyn was the first to go, amid bewildered expressions from the other contestants. She held it together for her swan song, but as soon as it ended, she was heard sobbing into her lavalier mic. (Seriously, producers, give these kids some privacy!) 
 
Epperly had been growing on me more and more each week. Yes, her choice of wardrobe on Tuesday was very “Romper Room” and the stand-up keyboard added a whole ‘nother layer of cheese, but the girl’s got talent. Even during the saccharine-filled group numbers, her energy made her stand out; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. This is even more impressive seeing as how she doesn’t quite seem like show choir type. There were at least three ladies in my opinion who should’ve gone home before Katelyn: Paige Miles, Katie Stevens and Lacey Brown.
 
Although Paige is the best female singer in the group according to Simon, there is nothing about her that screams “star!” In fact, everything about her says “snore.” She is all over the place as far as her song choices go and the most interesting thing we know about her is that she likes to color and that she’s still really, really, really bummed about the death of Michael Jackson. For her sake, I hope she develops a personality for next week’s interview package.
 
I do feel that Lacey bought herself another week after her (first) strong performance on Tuesday, but she shouldn’t have outlasted Katelyn. Both she and Paige seemed to sense that they were on borrowed time and looked guiltier than Sandra Bullock accepting an Oscar for a trite football movie. 
 
As for little Katie Stevens, I think that she is benefitting from being a high-school student in a small town. I can just see the posters all over school: “Vote 4 Katie 2-Nite on Idol!” Gag. There is nothing remotely interesting or unique about this girl, but America still seems to like her. Hmmm, vanilla is also the most popular ice cream flavor in America. Could there be a safe and boring connection?  I predict that after making it to the Top 10, she will go the way of Jasmine Trias and Chicken Little….which is WHERE, by the way?
 
Then there was Todrick. I haven’t been a huge fan of his but I have to say that his performance Wednesday night was probably his strongest to date … until his final performance last night (not that it mattered at that point). Todrick has always come off as a little cocky to me, with all the “I know Fantasia” and “I’m on Broadway” stuff. The whole “alleged scam artist” title wasn’t doing him any favors either. Did America get it right with him? Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they got it wrong. Hall was never in the running for a Top 4 position. At least now he can go back to his first love, dance (or was it stealing money from stage parents?). 
 
Alex Lambert’s elimination actually made me (and Siobhan) a bit teary-eyed.  How could this happen? To me, people like Lambert are what “American Idol” is all about. He is someone who, up until now, has only played in coffee houses and the like. He is no professional but just watching him grow has been riveting. His story is not of the “grandma has Alzheimer’s” or “I like to color” variety. His story has been his journey on the actual show. (And his voice is not too shabby either!)
I was really pulling for this kid, but I guess being featured on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List just didn’t help. (Neither, it seems, did the 12 votes I cast for him on Wednesday.) Watching him trudge through his final performance was heartbreaking, but at least it sounded good. 
 
I was still coping with Lambert’s elimination when it was announced that Lilly Scott was out of the running, too. Was this a joke? In my eyes, Scott had been a frontrunner from the very beginning and I expected to see her in the Top 4. It seems I wasn’t the only one shocked, as Kara was caught shaking her head and Todrick’s and Katelyn’s body language read as “pissed.”
 
Could it be that Middle America is not ready for such a quirky Idol? The indie rock crowd probably doesn’t watch a whole lot of “AI” and, even if they did, would they admit to voting? Also looking pretty upset and disillusioned was Crystal Bowersox, who must be thinking that it could just as easily be her next week, seeing as she’s not the pretty pretty princess Top 40 type either.
 
At the risk of sounding angry or cocky, Scott summed it up best herself: “I thought i did really well. I thought I was appealing to a lot of people … It’s surprising. a lot of incredible talent is going home tonight and I don’t know what America wants to hear.”  
 
At this point, I don’t either.