Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol, Top 13: Results

Spoilers for the "American Idol" eliminations -- and the not-as-nauseating-as-feared new twist -- coming right up...

So, short version: Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez go home. Megan has to stand on stage with Jasmine, and Anoop has to stand with Jorge, even though DialIdol said Noop Dogg was safe(*).

(*) Note that Ryan never at any point suggested that Anoop was near the lowest vote-getter. They love to play semantic games with these results shows in order to create more drama. But are they trying to stir up the Noop Dogg Pound to vote even more, or are they trying to shame the audience into getting rid of him already?

But the bigger element of the episode -- other than another return visit by Kelly Clarkson, who as usual puts the current contestants to shame -- was the introduction of the "Judges' Save," based on a twist they used a while back on France's "Nouvelle Idol Star." Basically, at one point during the season (possibly only up through top 5, according to people paying closer attention than I was), the judges can choose to prevent the lowest vote-getter from going home. No one would go home that week, and the next week two people would go home, and if one of those is the person who just got saved, so be it.

As I said at length last night, I'm not crazy about anything that takes power away from the public and puts it in the hands of the judges. Sure, America sometimes screws up and puts Jennifer Hudson in the bottom three with Fantasia and La Toya, but two of the judges are Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, and I'm not so sure about Kara at this point, either.

But as a one-time-only thing, and as something that doesn't screw over any other contestant that week(**), it's not terrible. If people are right about it needing to be used before Top 4, it wouldn't have saved Daughtry, but maybe Jennifer gets saved and John Stevens and/or Jasmine Trias go home the next in season three.

(**) I'd argue that it does have the potential to screw somebody over. If you assume that the person deserving of being Saved was only going to go home because his or her fans got complacent, then they're going to be on extra alert the following week, which could basically gave them immunity two weeks in a row. That'd send home not only the person who ordinarily would have gone home the following week, but some other poor slob whose time wasn't up yet. And now my brain is starting to hurt as I try to work out the math on all of this.

One other question: were the contestants lip-syncing during the group song? Not only did they sound in better harmony than I can ever remember with a bunch this large, but I could swear there were a couple of spots (notably near the end with Michael Sarver) where someone's voice was way out of sync with what their mouth was doing.

What did everybody else think?

33 comments:

Lora said...

I definitely thought they were lip-synching during the group sing. It was just awkward and, um, bad.

Jennifer said...

Yeah, another vote for lip synching here. Also, it was really uncomfortable watching the contestants pull Scott around the stage during the group number. The show is being point-blank offensive with him.

JD said...

I caught Sarver lip synching at the beginning too, but I still think the group performances have improved (along with the Ford commercials so far this season) because of it.

I was actually cringing at the cruelty of this new twist. Jasmine looked ready to crack after having to sing for her survival, even though she probably knew she wouldn't get in. Jorge seemed ready to go, but this could be too much torment for some contestants. Thank God Tatiana didn't get to go through this. Can you imagine?

Theresa said...

Kelly Clarkson was amazing.

I also loved Michael Sarver's completely unprompted, unplanned segue into the Ford commercial. ;)

I'm fairly happy with who went home, though. It seems like the judge's save will only be used on someone who falls victim to people thinking they're safe and hence not voting, because repeating the previous night's crappy performance isn't going to save anyone from elimination. Although, of course, they theoretically aren't even paying attention to that performance as they "deliberate.

Linda said...

The "sing for your life" performance will have no bearing on the save. This season, I believe the save is reserved for Adam Lambert or Danny Gokey, if needed. I do not believe it will be used for anyone else, lest they use it and fail to have it available for one of those guys, which is one of a zillion reasons it's a terrible idea.

But another one is that now, it adds ANOTHER stupid moment of fake suspense over something that will be a foregone conclusion most of the time - that is, whether "the save" will be used. Did anyone wonder whether they were going to blow it the first week by using it on Jorge? Yeah, that was a tense one. It may be one time only, but it will hang over the entire season and it will ALSO have the effect of riling up the crazypants people who already believe this show can control people's minds using lasers.

Granola Mom said...

The mansion that they showed looked so familiar. Is that the Paramour? Aka the Rockstar INXS house?

Nicole said...

I was hoping the twist would have been the judges got to eliminate from the bottom three. I find it works well on So You Think You Can Dance because it keeps the most talented in much longer.

As Linda said, this twist will just give more fodder to the conspiracy theorists out there.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this what most people believe happened to Jordin, I think it was during 'gives back' week a few years ago? No bitterness or anything, she was my pick to win, but still...

TN said...

In theory, after auditioning thousands of people for this competition, any one of the final twelve is supposed to be up to the challenge of becoming America's Next Top Idol. And if the judges weren't so busy messing around with the Tatianas and the NickNormans and the roughnecks who can't sing but have charming backstories, they wouldn't need a "Judges Save" to avoid the "wrong" person getting sent home any given week, as every elimination would be a real loss. Like you said, it probably will work to rally the saved contestant's supporters and boost them beyond even the following week, sending some other unsuspecting schmuck home instead ... thereby creating.another.upset. The contest should be allowed to play out in its natural order, upsets and all. I'm pretty sure Jennifer Hudson is pleased with how things turned out for her. Same with Daughtry. And Pickler. And Tamyra Gray. And Clay Aiken. These people will go on to have great careers or they wont. You cant change the future, has Lost taught us nothing. (besides, this smells like the producers still can't believe the audience didn't fall for the whole Michael Johns thing ... and the producers don't like it when the audience doesn't follow orders ... cue the picture of the dead wife)

Michael said...

I was expecting that the twist was going to be that the bottom two vote-getters were presented to the judges, who would then pick the one who would go home from those two.

I don't recall whether they said it could be used up to the final five (meaning they couldn't use it once only five were left) or through the final five (meaning they could use it to save someone in the final five).

Hyde said...

Isn't this what most people believe happened to Jordin, I think it was during 'gives back' week a few years ago? No bitterness or anything, she was my pick to win, but still...

That supposition came about because Jordin had performed poorly that week, and because the fake elimination ceremony that week saved her for last. But I'm positive they never revealed who would have been the person voted out.

I don't think the new twist is a huge travesty, in part because I suspect it won't be used at all in the average season. But I don't really see the problem it is designed to solve. The fact is that "surprise" departures are a big part of the lore of American Idol. How much could they really want to eliminate controversy? And I also seriously doubt that there has ever been a plausible winner of the show who could have ever been preserved by the judges' save. Jennifer Hudson wasn't going to win her season, and Michael Johns had at most another week or 2 last year. And Daughtry couldn't have been saved, because it was too late in the season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Per Fox's press release about the eliminated contestants, theme next week is country music, with Randy Travis as mentor, and Travis, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood performing on the results show.

Adam said...

Jordin was actually at her best during Idol Gives Back week -- it was her "You'll Never Walk Alone". She couldn't have been at risk

Castaway said...

Did everyone really like that Kelly Clarkson song? "My Life Would Suck Without You"? I mean, obviously trying to do a many-years-later sequel to "Since You Been Gone", but I thought it was terrible. Obviously she can sing, but I thought it was tunelss junk. It was interesting that they're back to promoting her after the non-promotion of her last "dark" album that she released against the wishes of Clive Davis (and which flopped).

Anyway, the eliminations were easy to call, the twist is no big deal, maybe even a good idea.

Alan, they've been lip-synching for most if not all of the group sings this year. I guess they're trying to make them less awful, if that is indeed possible.

Sonia said...

It's possible that they may NOT use the veto also. I agree with the person that said they will only use it for Danny, Adam (or maybe Lil). I think that's who they want in the top three at this point...unless someone else starts stepping up.

They were definitely lip synching.

K J Gillenwater said...

1) Kanye West's performance was terrible. Not sure why this guy is so popular. In comparison to some of the Idol singers, he just isn't so great.

2) Kelly Clarkson was incredible! However, I liked most of the songs on her 'dark' album. I think they are better than most of the songs on her new album. What really is dumb is a couple of the best songs on her new album are only available if you purchase the whole album. I'm not falling for it iTunes.

3) What I find rather hilarious about the 'save' vote is now we really get to find out if the judges think any of these contestants are truly worthy of winning. LOL.

Bobman said...

I don't think the new twist is a huge travesty, in part because I suspect it won't be used at all in the average season

Agreed. It's one single veto, it's next to irrelevant. Except :

But another one is that now, it adds ANOTHER stupid moment of fake suspense over something that will be a foregone conclusion most of the time

I'm pretty sure Jennifer Hudson is pleased with how things turned out for her. Same with Daughtry. And Pickler. And Tamyra Gray. And Clay Aiken. These people will go on to have great careers or they wont.

I believe these two comments illustrate the real reason for this change. First, it allows for much more padding and faux drama in the elimination shows. And second, while I'm sure the successful artists who were eliminated early are happy with how things turned out, the Idol producers are not, because (I believe) only the winners are locked into an oppressive contract. This isn't conspiracy theory, just simple economics. If Idol is going to squeeze the most money from the franchise, they want the most marketable person to win, so if they see a cash cow going out early, they can "save" them.


And Ryan definitely said it could only be used up until week 5 (not sure if it's week 5 inclusive or not).

Bobman said...

Kanye West's performance was terrible. Not sure why this guy is so popular. In comparison to some of the Idol singers, he just isn't so great.

He's controversial and arrogant, an amazing number of people buy into that kind of attitude.

Davy said...

Just a note, but the French show is called "Nouvelle Star," not "Nouvelle Idol."

I thought the sound was horrible during the guest songs. Kanye I understand being bad/ I like that song on the radio, but it's horrible when performed live because his bad vocals outshine the auto-tuner. The same thing happened when he performed live on SNL).

But even Kelly, who sounded much better than Kanye, still didn't sound as nice as the original track does -- it was too noisy, or something.

And btw Castaway, yup, I love that song. It's been playing in my truck for weeks now.

ETM said...

You people actually watch the group sing, rather than skipping through it with TiVo? Masochists.

KC said...

Does anyone else think it cruel to have a blind guy on stage trying to do a group dance number?

He's a trooper but I feel bad for the guy.

Anonymous said...

No, the save was clearly never going to be used last night. Indeed, as Jorge was singing, Kara was spacing out, Paula was "dancing," and only Randy and Simon were having a conversation. That was clearly not the judges in the process of "deliberating." But:

it will ALSO have the effect of riling up the crazypants people who already believe this show can control people's minds using lasers.

This assumes, though, that the show does not want to rile them up. But why would it not? Even though conspiracy theories about the show, websites devoted to mocking or even "subverting" the results, etc can all come across as "bad" for the "credibility" of the show and its contestants, I doubt that AI cares. Indeed, fanning the flames of conspiracy is probably just another way for 19 to keep people talking about, and interested in the show.

Annnnd with that comment I may have just become one of the crazypants.

maura said...

I thought Kanye was much better on SNL, which isn't saying much. He was so awful last night I muted it.

Did everyone really like that Kelly Clarkson song? "My Life Would Suck Without You"? I mean, obviously trying to do a many-years-later sequel to "Since You Been Gone", but I thought it was terrible. Obviously she can sing, but I thought it was tuneless junk.

The best thing about that song is the title, and that's only in a "so ridiculous it's funny: way. I think Kelly is an exceptionally good singer, but I hated the song so much, I had to mute her too.

Ditto to TN's entire post. Everyone in the finals should be equally talented. Jasmine shouldn't have been there. I say that because, although I think she has a lot of potential, she wasn't ready. And it was just painful to see her crying when she was eliminated.

I don't think they should allow anyone under 18 in the competition. If you can't sign a contract, you can't get in. Sixteen is too young to handle the rejection, and the criticism Simon dishes out.

Kelly said...

Does anyone else think it cruel to have a blind guy on stage trying to do a group dance number?

But are the alternatives any better for him? It really only leaves two other choices, not including him in the group dance number or changing the format of the show so there isn't a group dance number. If I were Scott, I would feel frustrated and humiliated and singled out if I had to either a)sit out the group dance number or b) watch them change the format of the show because I was blind.

And I was surprised by an earlier commenter who found it offensive the way the other contestants "dragged" Scott around with them. I really didn't see it that way at all. Once they made it clear that he's participating in the group dance number how else would they have done it? Would you rather have seen him completely on his own and possibly embarrassing himself by tripping or losing his way on stage? I was impressed by how they managed to include him in the group number and by Scott's dance skills. He didn't do a lot of fancy moves but he certainly busted out a couple that I liked.

TWOP has an interview with Scott where he discusses the group numbers. I can't remember it word for word but it did fall along the lines of how he was glad they were giving him the chance to participate in it and he thought it would be fine.

Did anyone else tear up a little when Ryan was consoling Jasmine? I know many people think Ryan's a tool, but seriously - the guy does this job well. He knows exactly when the contestant is going to lose it on stage and instantly goes from smarmy to genuine concern and warmth for them. I love that about him.

As for the new twist - eh, I don't hate it; it could have been much worse - but I think it's a pretty useless twist and would have preferred for them to leave it alone.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Did anyone else tear up a little when Ryan was consoling Jasmine? I know many people think Ryan's a tool, but seriously - the guy does this job well.

I didn't tear up, but that was a nice moment for Seacrest -- especially since the way the sound was mixed I don't think he knew anyone but Jasmine could hear him. He was just doing that for her.

Seacrest can be smarmy, and the homoerotic banter with Simon is so, so, so old, but he doesn't seem like a bad guy and he's very very good at the job they ask him to do.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It may be one time only, but it will hang over the entire season and it will ALSO have the effect of riling up the crazypants people who already believe this show can control people's minds using lasers.

I'm not saying it's a good idea, but since I had spent most of the 24 hours leading up to the announcement fearing something much worse -- like the judges having weekly veto power, and/or the ability to send the next-lowest person home, or any of a few dozen scenarios in which the public would feel like their votes didn't matter at all -- my expectations were so low that when Ryan explained what the rule actually was, I felt I could live with it.

amysusanne said...

With the exception of the occasional leading question designed to give Simon the opportunity to say something obnoxious (i.e. "do you regret making it thirteen?") his handling of the contestants is the reason I like Ryan. I remember the instance last season where the little blonde chick got cut and just broke down. Even *she* was appalled at how she couldn't get herself together. She kept apologizing to everyone. I recall him getting a little choked up himself and giving her a pep talk about how well she did and how proud she should be to have made it to the top 20 out of all those people who auditioned. It was a nice, genuine moment. He can be a douche sometimes, but I think the contestants are pretty lucky to have him there with them.

As for Scott...I was thinking last night that he should be happy that he's up there with a bunch of weird, uncoordinated spazzes. In a better season a guy who can't see would be a liability to the group sing, but not this year. Those people are a mess. And they're lipsyncing? Why. Couldn't be any worse hearing them sing live than it is watching them stumble through the lipsync...could it?

Wordnerd said...

I find the group sing to be the worst part of the show. I'm no fan of Scott, but there are some other contestants up there that could use a little help as well. They are obviously lip-synching (I swear, last week, I saw a couple of them doing the old "watermelon-watermelon" choir trick because they didn't know the words AT ALL). It's just disjointed and awkward as hell.

I think the "save" is going to be a one-season mistake. The judges aren't going to use it this early, and I agree -- they'll use it to help out a favorite -- but it takes away the whole "America voted, and..." Besides, singing for your life is just cruel.

Had to laugh at the person who commented about how it would be if, say, Tatiana had to sit out the results show in its new format. I'd have to turn it off. And NOT TiVo it.

Kelly said...

Seacrest can be smarmy, and the homoerotic banter with Simon is so, so, so old, but he doesn't seem like a bad guy and he's very very good at the job they ask him to do.

I never mention the homoerotic banter because I like to believe that if we all keep ignoring it, it will eventually just fade away. ;)

Al said...

I was underwhelmed by the singing show and the results -- pretty much as expected. (Except I was only joking when I said "Somebody should do 'Rockin' Robin'")

My fave pointless moment was Tuesday night when Simon whirled around to the audience to demand what Gordon Ramsey thought, and when of course, the un-miked Ramsey just moved his lips, Simon just dismissed him: "He doesn't know what he's talking about."

I guess we know now that if these two FOX TV big-mouth arrogant Brits ever took it to the streets, Cowell is favored.

Anonymous said...

My fave pointless moment was Tuesday night when Simon whirled around to the audience to demand what Gordon Ramsey thought, and when of course, the un-miked Ramsey just moved his lips, Simon just dismissed him: "He doesn't know what he's talking about."

Lol! That was unintentionally funny when it happened, and your recap really made me laugh.

I also loved the bluntness of Simon last night when Ryan asked him if the judges were going to save Jorge.

"No."

Since Jorge was singing "Never Can Say Goodbye", I was fully expecting Simon to tie that in by saying that Jorge would be saying goodbye, but I guess you can't have everything.

Linda said...

No, Alan, I agree it could be much worse and isn't as bad as most of the speculating. But I guess I never thought they would really change it for every week, so I wasn't pleasantly surprised, which, considering the brains behind this enterprise, I probably should have been. (Wow, that was...illogical.)

I also agree with you about Seacrest, who I think is actually a decent guy who's just kind of silly. I do think he genuinely feels for the contestants.

Has anyone figured out what Megan Corkrey said to Jasmine? Because it seemed like she was saying something cool and encouraging, and I was curious about it but couldn't convince myself I could make it out.

amysusanne said...

As best as I could tell she said something to the effect of "they really like you, you've still got a chance". Which I thought was really sweet, but wondered if she actually believed what she was saying.