Sanjaya lives! Remember, the order in which people leave doesn't really matter in the early rounds. As long as the person who is sent home deserves to go, then it's all good. Brandon certainly fit that bill. He looked poised and professional last night, much more so than when he performed and forgot his words and brought no color or interest to his song. It's also VERY dangerous to perform in that first slot. Why? Because the people performing later will be seen by millions of extra viewers. If people don't see you perform, they're a lot less likely to vote for you. Here's a breakdown of the shows viewers by each half hour, according to MediaWeek's Marc Berman:
American Idol Tuesday March 13:
8:00 p.m. -- 25.76 million viewers
8:30 p.m. -- 29.44 million viewers
9:00 p.m. -- 31.17 million viewers
9:30 p.m. -- 31.18 million viewers
As you can see, viewership jumps significantly in the second half hour and then again at 9. Through no fault of his own, Brandon was seen by 6 million fewer viewers than the people who performed throughout most of the show. The producers are well aware of this. When choosing the order of performances, they want to balance out the most popular with the least popular, create momentum, space out the really good performances and yes, protect or spotlight the contestants they like -- hence the valuable, closing slot for sweet 17 year old Jordin and the unlucky opening slot for likable but bland Brandon. Nothing guarantees anything, of course, but it certainly doesn't help to go first.
GROUP SONG -- A truly atrocious medley of songs by Diana Ross & the Supremes. Non one came off good, I thought, with the guys dancing with each other, the dorky attempt at 'tude when the gals sang and so on. To cap it off, it ended with one of those ludicrous shots into the audience, where we spot celebs and are told we're looking at "The cast of 'War at Home.'" On the other hand, Chris Sligh wisely took Simon's advice and popped the glasses back on. His face simply looks better with them.
FORD AD -- forget the ad, what bothered me was the shot of the final 12 after the ad aired, all of them giggling maniacally as if there was nothing funnier in the world than that ad and they just LOVED filming it. Are they drinking the Kool Aid or just determined to seem good-natured?
DIANA ROSS -- Her voice just isn't what it used to be. I'm glad the judges didn't speak after she finished "More Today Than Yesterday" or they would have had to point out how sharp and harsh it was. But she struck that classic Diana pose, worked the crowd like a trouper and basically acted as if it were 1972. I loved the shots of Paula dancing like the ultimate fan while Simon looked bored, sipping his drink.
GOODBYE BRANDON -- He looked very good tonight and was graceful saying goodbye though his performance certainly didn't make anyone think a miscarriage of justice had occurred. He might in fact be a backup singer -- he can sing and hit notes; he just doesn't have a lot of vocal personality. That's perfect for someone who needs to fill in on choruses and not overshadow the star. Hey, it's more than most people ever accomplish.
SHOT OF THE NIGHT -- Seeing Sanjaya slump back to his seat, looking very unhappy. I think he's been resigned to going home for weeks and knows he doesn't have a chance in hell in winning. All credit to the kid: it's got to be humiliating to hear people in the audience boo when you're saved and know millions of people think you suck and are staying on because of your hair ie your personality. How hard would it be to go on stage if you saw 1/1000th of what's been written about him online?