Tonight we rightfully said goodbye to Jacob, after one of his worst performances ever on the “American Idol” stage. Ryan tried to tell us we might be “surprised,” but the only people surprised were probably Haley fans, who expected the bus she’d been run over with repeatedly to finally pick her up. Ryan said that a whopping 60 million votes had been cast, and it later became clear that the extra 10 million or so were likely from irate Haley fans who hated how she’d been unfairly dissed for her “risky” Gaga tune Wednesday night.
Self-Promotion to the Max
Tonight was all about pimping the celebrity judges, though Steven looked like he was too busy making notes to himself to notice that Ryan was actually pimping his book. “You really exposed yourself here,” Ryan teased. “Any area you haven’t touched?” Steven was befuddled as he searched for an answer that could be televised. He couldn’t find one. Then Ryan mentioned the J-Lo Show, erm, the results show would have a live performance from Jennifer and also a sneak peak at her next video. “And Randy is having a bake sale in Tarzana,” Ryan joked. Dude, that’s cold.
The “American Idol” Top 5 tackled “Happy Together,” which seemed to fit a lot better into the girls’ range than the guys’. All three male contestants sounded whispery on their solos, but as they got farther into the song, they all started to blend a little better. I’ve been enjoying the group numbers more this year, as these contestants seem to embrace the cheesiness and play up the ridiculousness of the choreography–so it just becomes a good time for everyone.
Tonight’s Ford product placement was probably one of the cutest videos this season, and one that makes the most sense for actually selling an aspect of the car. It focused on the theme of the contestants doing “magical” feats, and then showed Haley in the Ford that parks itself. The vocals still sound tinny, but it was a lot less corny than usual.
Chef Ramsay seemed to be trying to make amends for his diss of Stefano’s mom’s lasagna earlier in the season. Though he played the part of “angry chef” with the “American Idol” contestants, he was actually more goodnatured and silly than I’ve ever seen him. It made for an entertaining segment as the Top 5 tried to make an omelet–“Can you teach us first?” Scotty asked, before burning his eggs into a brown, rubbery mess.
James was told to “rock the omelet, not make it hard as a rock,” and Chef Ramsay had Jacob singing to his omelet–which won second place. Lauren nabbed first prize in omelet-making, and then she later picked up the trophy for guessing at food she and Jacob were given while blindfolded. Both Jacob and Lauren did their own Ramsay spit-outs with tofu, which Jacob guessed was “lard.” That’s certainly what the consistency is like. Lauren took the prize for guessing the terrible tofu and a hot dog–though Jacob wanted a recount since he guessed the latter as “sausage of some kind.” Ramsay wasn’t buying it.
Lady Antebellum performed “Just a Kiss,” and as usual, their harmonies were beautiful. Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott also have a nice chemistry, engaging with the audience but always returning to sing to one another. The song was good, the vocals were good, it was all good. One of the top performances on “American Idol” this year.
The “American Idol” contestants definitely seem more comedic than previous years. We got a cute segment where the Top 5 explained song choice (Scotty threw a deck of cards on the floor, and Haley drew song titles out of a hat) and wardrobe. It was pretty funny watching the two girls try on Jacob’s plaid jacket, which was basically like an oversized overcoat on both of them. Strangely, James actually looked pretty good in the plaid. It was a cute and entertaining segment, and at least focused on the contestants rather than J-Lo…erm, the judges.
J-Lo performed “On the Floor” on the “American Idol” stage. It’s fine club music, and makes for a cool dance video, but it’s not really live music material. Adding a few vocals and some choreography to a backing track, Jennifer strutted, danced, and shattered glass with a swift kick to a dancer’s cage. It was entertaining enough, and I’d venture to put it ahead of the Black Eyed Peas. On a completely superficial note, I can’t say I was enamored with Jennifer’s tight version of Hammer pants–not the most flattering sartorial choice. Mostly all I thought of during the number was that J-Lo should be a guest on “Saturday Night Live” sketch Deep House Dish with DJ Dynasty Handbag (Kenan Thompson).
As if the “live” performance wasn’t enough, we got another “look at me!” glimpse of Jennifer’s next video “I’m Into You.” On the plus side, we got an amusing scene of Ryan and Steven sharing a bowl of popcorn, feeding it to each other and the surrounding audience members before Ryan dumped the whole thing on Steven’s head.
The Jimmy Iovine Critiques
Tonight we got Jimmy’s attempt at Simon Cowell style commentary, which was either insightful or carefully tailored to match the actual voting results.
James Durbin: Jimmy pointed out that James had trouble with vocals on “Without You,” due to his emotion, and unlike the judges, said that he’d have to do better in the future. Then he declared that James had been turning in “9 or 10” level performances over the last several weeks, and Wednesday night’s was an “8.”
Lauren Alaina: Once again, Jimmy picked up where the judges left off and noted that Lauren had pulled back on her big notes on “Unchained Melody,” due to fear. He felt that lack of confidence would put her in the bottom 2.
At this point, Ryan sent James and Lauren to opposite ends of the stage, and no one was sure who would be in the bottom 2.
Jacob Lusk: Jimmy let Jacob have it, despite the judges’ earlier declarations of Jacob being the “best singer” ever. We got accompanying clips of Jacob’s wonky notes, and Jimmy said that the contestant’s nerves were “getting the best of him.” He labeled Jacob’s performances at a “6.”
Haley Reinhart: Haley was already biting her tongue so she wouldn’t let out another expletive after Jimmy’s critique, but for once, he had her back. Jimmy said that he’d chosen the “risky” Gaga tune because he felt Haley was in 4th or 5th place and needed to really make a dramatic move. He seemed put out that Jennifer called out both Haley and himself for the song choice, and he praised Haley for showing “no fear” on her second number: “She came forward like a lioness.” Rowrr. He rated Haley at a 10 and said if her confidence continued, she’d be a “lock for the final.”
Ryan put Jacob with Lauren, and Haley with James, which really scared Lauren and James even further, knowing they were each standing next to regular bottom-3 dwellers.
Scotty McCreery: Jimmy felt that Scotty’s performance of “Gone” was “stellar,” but he then added that Scotty “fell a bit short” on “Always On My Mind.” Jimmy was confident that whether Scotty won or lost, he’d have an “extraordinary recording career.”
The Final Result
Ryan then let it be known that the “random” order of last week meant that Scotty had, as suspected, never been in the bottom 2. Considering we already had two groups of two on stage, we also knew that Scotty was safe, which Ryan confirmed. He then cruelly told Scotty to pick which duo he thought was safe. Kudos to Scotty for deciding not to play that game.
It did set up a cute moment, however, when Ryan took Scotty by the arm and pushed him into Haley. Haley, who’d been apparently having an out of body experience, looked at Scotty with shock and asked, “Did you do that?” Scotty replied, “No, he pushed me.” When Ryan declared them all safe, James fell to his knees, then got back up to hug his fellow top-3 contestants.
Lauren then started crying, while Jacob looked fairly calm–no doubt he could see the writing on the wall the last couple of weeks. Ryan once again mentioned the 60 million votes, and then told Jacob he was the one to go home. With a little bit of a quaver in his voice, Jacob went out on a nice rendition of “A House Is Not a Home,” and then took a page from Casey’s playbook. The other contestants joined him on stage, and Jacob kept adding some glory notes for the end of his song, and all 5 just goofed around as the credits rolled. Jacob went out with grace, which helped deflect some of the arrogance of telling Ryan that “America fell in love with me,” and that he was ready to go out and treat us all to his magical songs.
Jacob definitely has talent, and strong pipes, and if he can get the right people to help him control his voice and highlight his strengths, he should be able to make a good album that will appeal to all those voters that kept him in the competition up to fifth place.
Watch “American Idol” on FOX, every Wednesday and Thursday at 8/7c.
Check out: ‘American Idol’ Top 5: Haley Steals the Show, Gets Dissed by Judges–Again