As happens whenever "American Idol" is up against an original "Lost," I left last night's "Idol" recapping duties to Vicki Hyman, so you can read her take on what went down, who went home, etc. What I want to talk about, after the jump, is the Huff...
The Huff is a time-honored "Idol" tradition going back to the infamous night in season three when Jennifer Hudson went home and Fantasia and La Toya were in the bottom three with her. Basically, at top 7 elimination night -- and occasionally on top 5 night -- the contestants are divided into two groups, with one left alone, told they're safe, and asked to choose which group he or she belongs with. The Huff is named for the first victim of this maneuver, gospel-singing, dip-dancing George Huff, who looked terrified and confused for about 18 hours before finally walking over to the three R&B divas -- only to be told, as the studio audience gasped, that he was standing with the wrong group.
The Huff proved so memorable that the producers have brought it back in one form or another every year since. In season four, the Huff was Bo Bice, who wisely recognized that the only way to win that game is not to play, and stood immobile between the two groups. In season five, the Huff was Taylor (the only Huff to date to eventually win the contest), who went towards one group, shook Chris Daughtry's hand, then moved over to the other, correct group. (Fans who were in the studio audience that night allege that Nigel Lythgoe told Taylor to do all this, which is why he looked so miserable, and why he shook Daughtry's hand to apologize for being part of these shenanigans.)
The Huff of season six was Melinda Doolittle, who took a page from the Bo plan and sat cross-legged at center stage. Season seven's Huff was Young David Archuleta, who looked even more terrified and confused than George Huff himself, then sat down on the stage, and then was joined by surrogate big brother David Cook.
The Huff didn't turn up at Top 7 this year (perhaps because the producers knew the judges might use the Save?), but it did last night, with Adam Lambert as the designated Huff. That makes sense: whether he actually wins or not, at this point he's so obviously the frontrunner that making him part of one of the groups to choose from would take all the suspense out of the game. Only this time, there was a twist: the Huff was not safe! (Cue more gasping from studio audience.) While Ryan was very careful to never identify Adam as being in the bottom two, he was definitely in the bottom three, since Danny and Allison were identified as the top two.
Now, being bottom three when there are only five contestants left really isn't that big a deal. Adam is more polarizing than many previous frontrunners, and he didn't have one of his most memorable performances on Tuesday. Fanbases get complacent sometimes. If anything, this is a very good thing for Adam, because his fans will now be motivated to vote like crazy and make sure he makes it to the top 2 and doesn't get knocked out early like Daughtry or Tamyra or Melinda.
Meanwhile, Matt's exit proved the ultimate pointlessness of using the Save on him. He didn't get voted through by the public in the semis, wound up in the bottom group several times, had to get Saved, and then went home before any of the people who were clearly better than him. All the Save did was prevent one of Anoop or Lil from getting an extra week on the show. It feels like the judges and producers were looking at the vote totals, knew there was no real danger of any of the favorites going home through top 5, and felt they had to use the Save on someone to justify its existence.
What did you think of the results show?