Last night’s results on “American Idol” were based on 60 million, the highest of the season. Clearly, a lot of people were weighing in (or registering multiple votes, more likely) to decide who would make the Top 4.
Host Ryan Seacrest spoke to the judges at the top of the show. Steven Tyler has a book coming out. Jennifer Lopez would be debuting a new single on the show. Randy Jackson has a bake sale coming up this weekend (ha!).
Then it was time for the cheesey-licious group number, “Happy Together.” Plenty of stage strutting and big arm gestures.
In this week’s Ford commercial, set to the song “Be Yourself,” everybody but Jacob showed off impressive feats (courtesy of special effects): Jacob walking down steps singing, James balancing a chair on his face, Lauren throwing cards at a board and making them stick, Scotty spinning around on a BMX bike, and Haley parking a car with no hands, thanks to Ford’s new parallel parking feature.
The next taped segment pitted the Top 5 against each other, making omelets for Gordon Ramsey. He called them out on their cooking with harsh language but a smile in his face. Lauren and Jacob finished first and second in the challenge.
Lady Antebellum, whom Ryan introduced as a country super group, performed a ballad, “Just a Kiss,” that sounded more pop than country. Perhaps they’re more of a crossover group?
In another taped segment, the Top 5 spoke about what went into choosing a song each week. Lauren said that she tries to pick songs that will appeal to a girl her age; nothing boring. Haley said you have to consider what the judges want, what America wants, and what you want. James looks at the lyrics, the feeling, the moment. Scotty claimed writes song titles on playing cards and just tosses them on the floor and picks one. Haley, likewise, claimed she just pulled them out of a hat. Obviously, Scotty and Haley were just having fun. Then they talked about choosing outfits. James said it depends on what the feeling is in the morning. Jacob defended his purple checked jacket, saying it was fun. The other idols took turns trying it on. Then the others tried on each other’s clothes, including the boot bling specially made for James.
Finally, it came time for the results. Ryan forecast, “You might be surprised.” This week, once more, each recap included a video package with comments from singing mentor Jimmy Iovine. About James Durbin, he noted that he was overcome by emotion in “Without You” by Harry Nilsson and this hurt him. “You have to be able to control your emotion.” Whereas normally, he thought James was a 9 or 10, this week he said he was an 8. Ryan sent him to the far side of the stage.
Then he brought out Lauren Alaina. In her recap, Jimmy said that she did great on her first song, but on “Unchained Melody,” she pulled back on the biggest note of the song because of her fear. “That is her Achilles heel. It will keep her out of the finals if it continues.” He predicted she’d be in the bottom two. Ryan had her stand on the near side of the stage.
In a second taped segment with Chef Ramsey, Lauren and Jacob compete in a blind taste test. They both gagged over tofu, but Lauren correctly identified it and edged out Jacob, who thought it was lard or grease or something.
Jennifer Lopez performed her hit, “On the Floor” in a performance that, sources say, was recorded last week. She looked gorgeous in a gold pants suit with coin adornments around her chest. The song is incredibly catchy, so I’m not surprised it’s become a global sensation.
After the break, viewers saw an excerpt of J. Lo’s new video, “I’m Into You.” Then it was time for more results.
Jacob Lusk stood to hear his recap. Jimmy felt both songs were “slightly off.” He attributed the problems to a lack of confidence and said last night Jacob rated a six. Jacob joined Lauren on the near side of the stage.
About Haley Reinhart, Jimmy was annoyed the judges ripped apart her performance of the unreleased Lady Gaga song, along with his decision to have her sing it. He said that she’d come forward “like a lioness” on “House of the Rising Sun,” and praised her confidence. She got a 10 for the night. Ryan had her join James on the far side of the stage.
This left Scotty McCreery. Jimmy thought he’d given his all with his first performance, calling it “stellar.” He thought the second number came up a bit short but Scotty “will have an extraordinary recording career, whether he wins this show or not.”
Ryan told Scotty that, although he stood with Casey on the stage during last week’s results, he’s never been in the bottom two, and this week was no different. He told him to stand with the group that was safe, and Scotty said, “Don’t make me do that.” He refused to choose, so Ryan led him over to James and Haley, who were also safe. This sort of move — where the contestants are divided into two groups and the last person is told to choose which group is safe — is popularly called The Huff, because the first time it was used was in season three, when George Huff was told he was safe and asked to choose the correct group to join.
The bottom two were Jacob and Lauren, and Lauren burst into tears. Commercial break. I don’t normally do this, but I’ll tell you why Lauren was in the bottom two. Like Jimmy said, her lack of confidence is her undoing. If she doesn’t get it together, she won’t last much longer.
Back from the break, the bottom two awaited their results. Lauren was very upset and smiled a little as an audience member called out, “We love you, Lauren.” Ryan announced the person going home was Jacob. He nodded with a slight smile, as if he’d been expecting it, and gave Lauren a big hug, as if she was the one who needed comforting. Throughout, Jacob has been one of the first people to offer consolation to those who were cut, so it’s ironic that the week he was cut, he had to comfort the contestant who was staying.
Following his tribute video, he sang “House is Not a Home” as his swan song. It was controlled at times, but at other times it was way out of control, with warbly runs and vocal acrobatics.
Why was it Jacob’s time to go? There’s little doubt that his performances of the previous night didn’t match muster, but he’d been given a pass on previous weeks for similar errors. The real question is, why did Jacob last so long, even past other performers (Pia Toscano), who were arguably better singers?
Like him or not, Jacob is interesting to watch. He put his heart and soul into every performance, and some voters likely responded to that. In his video segments and in his interviews with Ryan, he seemed like a nice guy with a positive attitude, and he often made funny remarks. On his best weeks, he showed incredible range and emotional intensity.
But Jacob had as many negatives as he had positives. On his worse weeks, his performances were untamed mish-mashes of sloppy runs and pitchy warbling. If Jimmy Iovine sat on the judges’ panel, rather than serving as a mentor, those vocal flaws would be pointed out, but with the judges praising everything he did (and even encouraging him to be over-the-top), viewers probably mistook these vocal acrobatics for good singing.
Perhaps a worse negative for him, increasingly over the past few weeks, Jacob had developed an ego. Several weeks ago, after he sang “Man in the Mirror,” he declared that anyone who didn’t vote for him was someone who couldn’t look in the mirror. More recently, he defended his song choices by picking up on a previous comparison the judges made: comparing him to Luther Vandross. He said that Luther sang in lots of different styles. Last night, he declared that he was the type of artist who appealed to everyone. This sort of ego probably eventually overrode the view of him as a nice guy.
And that’s why it was time for Jacob to go.