I hate hour long results shows, but when you've got 24 contestants, it doesn't seem like such a stretch. They announced the guest coaches/stars for the season in advance for the first time and the list was pretty good.
Diana Ross - I'd love to see her coach the kids...in what, diva training? Jon Bon Jovi -- he felt like a young choice. Gwen Stefani -- another very current act, which definitely felt like Idol was shaking off the senior citizen route so many of their guest judges fit into. Martina McBride -- that was the best country artist they could pull? Not a SINGLE clap from the audience. I don't think they even know who she is. Tony Bennett -- an old fogey of course, but how can you criticize them choosing Tony Bennett; he got tons of applause. I predict he'll say they're ALL wonderful. And then he'll thank his sponsor Target. J-Lo -- now that really feels like "Idol" has pull to bring her in. Lulu and some guy from Herman's Hermits -- hmm, which one of these guest judges does not fit? Sure it's the British Invasion, but the kids are gonna have NO idea who these people are. Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees -- fine choice. All in all, a good group that felt a lot more contemporary, thanks to Bon Jovi and Gwen and J-Lo.
GROUP SONG -- Tears For Fears' "Sowing The Seeds Of Love" -- as always, the group song is terribly cheesy and felt very Up With People. LaKisha already sounded and looked more confident, putting most of the others to shame.
Chris Sligh -- the best recovery as Chris said he didn't mean to show disrespect to Simon when he mocked Simon's artists and successul albums by Il Divo and the Teletubbies. Uh-huh, so what were you trying to do? Compliment him? Chris joked "I love Simon," causing Randy and Paula to gag and Simon to smile and joke (off camera) "I like this guy."
PAUL KIM-- Going home. "It hurts, man. It hurts." The he sang "Careless Whisper," proving again why he was going home. And why didn't he kick off his shoes before performing? Wasn't he the no-shoes guy? He had one distinctive gimmick and abandoned it at the end.
ANTONELLA -- during a lineup of six girls, it was just her and Melinda left standing and everyone KNEW Melinda wasn't going anywhere and Antonella looked absolutely miserable because of course she deserved to go home...but was spared. Maybe it was the almost-topless photos that surfaced online.
AMY KREBS -- deservedly going home. She briefly asked if she could sing another song, perhaps the first person to ever ask if they could do something other than the song that sent them packing. But Ryan asked the band and they wanted to stick with the tune she'd done the night before. Too bad, since you think the band could be more nimble than that.
FANTASIA -- came out and announced the not-so-shocking news that she would be taking over the lead role in Broadway's "The Color Purple," a smash hit for the first eight or so months of its run that suddenly dropped precipitously at the box office this winter. Quincy Jones was in the audience to give his blessing and Ryan asked Quincy if she would do well in the show. Quincy said, "Absolutely," gave a thumbs up and then said, "The Color Purple is about..." when Ryan cut him off and said, "OK" and asked Fantasia to perform. That was definitely the low point of the night. Didn't they arrange with Quincy whether he would speak or not and if he was going to speak, wasn't he going to be able to say more than one word? Very uncool and it made Q look foolish and the show indifferent. There goes any chance of bringing Quincy on some week to work with the kids. Fantasia's "I'm Here" was very good, polished and a nice buildup to the climax. I hope she's got a vocal coach to help her prepare for eight performances a week, though. Her voice always sounds like it's on the edge of blowing out.
GINA -- Like Antonella, she looked super-nervous before she was made safe. We also saw one of several shots of Simon in the second half where he had his eyes closed or looked exhausted. Late night last night?
NICOLE -- going home. Hardly unexpected and her performance of Chaka Khan's "Stay" again had a weird feel to it. Not quite like an imitation, but definitely something odd, even if she could hit some seriously high notes with ease.
RUDY -- The Venezuelan with hips that lied. It was down to him and Sanjaya and I was happy to hear Sanjaya was in the top 4. As I expected, Sanjaya's youth and deer-in-the-headlights reaction to criticism and general appeal kept him very safe indeed. It was Rudy and Sanjaya and AJ, so you knew the gay quotient of the show was going down. When Rudy lost, he turned to shake hands but Sanjaya was having none of that and gave him a big hug. The montage of their journey played with a song called "I'm Going Home" but I don't know who sings it. Then Rudy said, "I'm going to go out with a bang, if that's alright!" Baby, I love the spotlight. Actually, his performance of "Free Ride" was better than the night before and the only one of the four going home that might make people think he was eliminated too early. It sucks to be first on Idol, especially during the two hour shows where five million fewer people watch the first half hour.