It's official: America hates Anthony Newley. The two performers who sang Newley's "Feeling Good" were sent packing, whether they did the Nina Simone arrangement or the Michael Buble arrangement. The show became a cry-fest. I have NEVER seen so many tears flowing, with Sunshine an unexpected source of sobs and virtually ALL the women breaking down at one point or another. Did they really like these people or was it the nervous tension of so many cuts? What are they gonna do to top this when it gets closer to the finals?
JOY TO THE WORLD -- Another group song began the show and this one wasn't so bad. Maybe it's because "Joy To The World" is so easy to sing? Chris Richardson had a styling white belt. And the producers must have giggled when they arranged AJ to sing the lines, "You know I love the ladies. I love to have my fun."
NICK PEDRO -- Going home. Very reasonable choice since he made no impression and his voice -- despite the comments of all the judges -- is unremakable. He crawled on the floor to sing "Fever" one more time, hi-fiving the guys with a group hug at the end. Frankly, when he messed up for a moment, I enjoyed his performance more than ever. At least then he seemed to wake up a bit.
ALAINA -- Going home. Very deserved. Watchboy aka Aaron hates how the performers have to sing one more time after being cut. But it sure can make good TV. Has anyone ever completely failed to sing the way Alaina did when asked to reprise "Not Ready To Make Nice?" Before singing, she told the girls, "Sing your butts off. I love you all!" And then the tearducts opened. "Oh God." she said. "Sorry." And more before she simply gave up and the backup singers carried the song while they indulged in another group hug, with tears streaming down Alaina's face. We got our first glimpse of Sunshine turning into a puddle.
KELLIE PICKLER -- Boobs, boobs, boobs. Maybe she DID have a boob job. She chatted with Ryan, her ample chest more on display than ever before, with a VERY country hairdo. (I almost thought it was a Dolly Parton wig.) Kellie confessed she spent money on shoes, with Ryan retorting "Just shoes?" Damned if I didn't think he was talking about her breasts. Then she sang "I Wonder" with a performance that was pretty weak and tentative, especially towards the end. Kellie immediately acknowledged it sweetly, saying she teared up and did better in rehearsals, turning it from bad vocals to genuine emotion. That's why she got as far as she did and her real future may be in that sitcom deal. Still, her album has gone gold. While she was singing (weakly), they had a shot of Melinda Doolittle, and I fantasized that Melinda was thinking, "Yeah, this is the sort of person I HATED singing backup for all those years." At the ned of her song, Paula was dishing intently to Simon and again, I assume the conversation was about augmentation, but I have no basis for saying so. She was always ample, wasn't she? Maybe it was just the dress. They certainly didn't have the plastic-y perkiness of fake books.
AJ -- Going home. Not right. He was actually yanwing before the elimination began and remained his cool throughout. I kind of knew he was in trouble when it was down to him and Sanjaya ("It's a Gay-Off!" I thought) and of course Sanjaya was completely shocked when he was safe -- and rightly so. "I'm shocked!" Sanjaya said. Randy told AJ, "Keep on truckin', maybe this is not the train for y'all." Words to live by. But AJ was very composed, the exact opposite of Alaina and took the final performance as an opportunity to show people wrong for voting him off so soon. He performed the doomed number "Feeling Good," which no one should ever perform on Idol ever again. It's cursed! AJ sang, "You know how I feel" directly to the guys. Are all these people BFFs now? AJ had seemed a big supporter of Melinda, dancing the most during her songs and she was crying and holding up her hands during his song as well. Sunshine of course was also weeping. But I've got to hand it to AJ -- you go, girl. His performance was by far the best he'd ever given of any song, right down to the disco club move of putting both hands in the air and a triumphant big note towards the end. He was FIERCE. And yes, I am being coy with all those gay references. He might have gone home early because he seemed too gay, but more on people leaving the show before their time at the end. And who was he talking to when he looked into the camera and said, "Call me?"
LESLIE -- Going home. Antonella looked like she was going to pass out, when she should have been calm as a cucumber and resigned to the fact that she was going home. But it was Leslie, who has a very funky speaking voice indeed. And then the tears really flowed. Gina was WEEPING almost uncontrollably. Jordin was crying. I assume Sunshine was crying. Everyone was crying. Leslie saved it all with a hilarious improv at the very end of the show. "Why did I decide to scat? she sang. (Indeed, her scatting was weak.) "America don't care for jazz!" she sang again right before they faded out. Hilarious.
Now as for the patent unfairness of Sanjaya and Antonella staying on while others went home. This happens every season, where some travesty of justic occurs. But it doesn't really matter at this stage since NONE of the people we're talking about has a chance of being in the finals. America might get the order wrong, but they almost always eliminate the right people up to the final four or five. So sure, Antonella should have gone home this week. But she'll leave next week or the week after. Sure AJ was way better than Sanjaya. But he wouldn't have made it to the finals. (Though that final performance was pretty impressive.) Yes, he might have deserved to be in the Top 12. But it's all about the winner and when discussing who was the 14th person to be cut when they should have been the 10th person to be cut is pretty meaningless. All the people we're talking about -- AJ and Antonella and Sanjaya and Leslie and Nick and Alaina -- were going home long before the finals. That's all that matters. The particular order only seems like a scandal now. In a few weeks time, it won't matter in the least.