Recap: Casey’s Shocking Near Elimination
Wednesday night’s “American Idol” performance show started with a recap of the shocking events of last week’s elimination show. We saw Casey voted off and for the first time, really got a look at how the judges and other contestants responded to the news. We then went back to an hour before the show and heard Casey say there was no way they’d use the save. Luckily for him, and all of us, he was wrong. The question on everyone’s mind was what kind of performance he would bring to the table just one week after he nearly went home.
Introducing the Top 11 (Redux)
Because I’m sure none of us remembered how much pressure the contestants were under, Ryan reminded us all. Casey was saved last week so Thursday would mean a double elimination. What I want to know, though, is what the heck was up with Ryan’s hair? Was he in a rush to get to the stage? I know he has a billion jobs, but honestly – if he’s missing hair and makeup, maybe he should cut back on the workload. Regardless, he introduces the top eleven for the second week in a row. By the end of the night, we’ll be down to the top nine with two contestants going home. It’s a scary night, indeed.
The Theme: Songs by Elton John
The theme for the night’s performances was “Songs by Elton John”. I have to say, I was excited about this. It’s a shame Paul couldn’t have done “I Guess Why They Call It the Blues” again because that has, thus far, been my favorite performance he’s done on the live show. I was, once again, concerned for Scotty, but overall, I was excited. Elton is one of my favorite musicians. He embodies performance and passion. His music lends itself perfectly to this kind of competition.
The Performances: The Not-So-Fantastic
Once again this week, no one turned in a bad performance, but there were a few that didn’t really stand out as much as the others which, at this stage in the game, can mean getting sent home. I love Thia and I love Stefano, but the time the show ended, I couldn’t really remember their performances. Stefano’s “Tiny Dancer” was vocally beautiful and he did connect with the audience (and number one fan, Jennifer) a bit more, but after ending up in the bottom three last week, he really needed to wow us, and he just didn’t. Thia put a lot of emotion into her rendition of ‘Daniel’, but I don’t feel she made any sort of impact with the song itself. I feel like she took huge strides forward last week by giving us a little personality but with this performance, she took three leaps back.
The Performances: The Safe Bets
Of course, after last weeks near-elimination of early favorite Casey, we know no one is safe, but there are performers we know are going to turn in a great performance each time they take the stage. Jacob’s rendition of “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” wasn’t my favorite performance of the evening, but was incredible all the same. I got chills. I also got chills from Pia, whose performance of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” was just flat out ridiculous. I’m still hoping to see her pick up the tempo, but this was a beautiful performance. James’ “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” was my favorite of her performances of his thus far. He was energetic, hypnotizing to watch and stayed on key through the entire song. Fantastic.
Casey Abrams – the man who shouldn’t have been saved because there should never have been a need to save him. He showed us a kinder, gentler, less hairy Casey and it worked. His performance of “Your Song” showed off more vocal range and a lot less intensity. As much as I love bluesy, gutsy Casey, this was his best move to stay in the game. Scotty stayed true to himself with “Country Comfort” and he nailed it. Each time he hits the stage he seems to show off a little more range which is what I think will keep him in the show. Lauren also showed us a more tender side with her version of “Candle In the Wind”. She gave it her own unique flavor, but she also reminded us all that there’s a giant voice in her tiny body.
Where America and I Will Disagree
I loved Naima’s performance of “I’m Still Standing”. I absolutely loved it. I also think it will secure her ticket home on tonight’s elimination, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. If she wins, she’ll have so many people telling her what to do and what style she should be, she’ll lose all of her flavor and everything that makes her special. I’d like to think that won’t be the case with Jimmy Iovine at the helm, but under an Idol contract, I’m sure that wouldn’t be the case. Naima is, unfalteringly her own artist and I think that’s admirable. Paul’s “Rocket Man” will also likely be widely shunned and he could easily find himself on the way out, but just like Naima, I think that would be the best thing for him.
Holy Haley! I loved Haley Reinhart in her audition, I loved her last week but in the time between, I was pretty up and down with her. A few times, I’ve found myself hoping she would go home, but let me tell you this – she shut my skeptical mouth tonight. That was without a doubt the best performance of the night for me. I loved the arrangement of the song. She looked gorgeous and she sounded incredible. How that she’s found her stride, Haley is definitely a contender. It blows my mind that some people didn’t love this performance.
Overall, I felt good about Wednesday’s episode. There were some truly standout performances that I really believe could make serious contenders out of those who have been only mediocre so far. Some favorites slipped further down the list for me, though. I loved seeing the contestants doing their Entertainment Weekly photo shoot. While others don’t feel all of that is necessary, I think it helps prepares the contestants for what they’ll be getting into if they become pop stars.
What everyone really wants to know, though, is who is going home. As always, I have my predictions but after last week, I’m not feeling quite as confident. I loved Naima’s performance and I’m confident she has a long career in music ahead of her. I’m just not sure America will like her rendition of “I’m Still Standing” as much as I did. Thia, well, Thia just isn’t the strongest singer or the strongest performer in the competition. Finally, Paul is my favorite guy in the competition with no chance of winning. I call him that for a reason. I’m not sure how he has managed to avoid the bottom three so far. I’d hate to see him go, but as I pointed out earlier, I don’t think he has to worry about not making it in the industry. I think Naima and Thia will be the two to go, sadly.
Part Two: Elimination Night
With a recap of Wednesday night’s performances set to sad piano music, you knew it was going to be an emotional night. We’re told we “won’t believe who goes home”. I made a vow that if Casey went home tonight, I’d stop watching Idol and I meant it. No matter who goes home, though, it will be a tough night. It’s hard saying goodbye to just one contestant, but two? Definitely going to be a dramatic night.
Ryan starts the night’s show off in typically dramatic fashion. He once again reminds us two people will be going home but also gives us a bit of good news. Wednesday night saw an incredible 50 million votes cast – more than twice the amount of votes cast last week. In fact, the amount of votes was a record for Idol at this point in the show. Pretty impressive.
Performance One: Lauren and Scotty – “I Told You So”
Instead of starting the night off with a single group performance, there were several contestant performances throughout the show. Scotty and Lauren kicked things off with a sweet duet and they sounded lovely together. I blame their lack of chemistry on nerves which must have been kicked into high gear for both contestants. Scotty stuck to the low notes where he’s most comfortable, but their voices really complimented each other.
Results: Round One
Immediately following their performance, Scotty and Lauren were called to the center of the stage. If you were expecting another upset, you didn’t get it here with both Lauren and Scotty avoiding the bottom three once again.
Ford Commercial/Music Video: The American Idols – “Kryptonite”
I didn’t like the American Idol version of “Kryptonite” (one of my favorite songs), but I enjoyed the commercial. It was fun and lighthearted like “Val Kilmer” from a few weeks ago. It was a vast improvement over last week’s video. I loved the contestants as super heroes – especially Naima. Probably my favorite one of these glorified commercials so far.
After the Ford Commercial Ryan took a moment or two to talk with the contestants. First up was a discussion about Casey’s now trimmed beard and hair. I personally liked Casey’s look as it was, but he looks good a little more cleaned up too, and he seems happy with it as well. Next was a discussion about fan mail. If you follow any of the contestants on Twitter, you’ve probably already seen some of the things they’ve received from fans, but James’ gift definitely took the cake.
Performance Two: Jacob and Naima – “Solid”
At first, Jacob and Naima seemed like strange duet partners, but they sounded great together, had a lot of energy and did the Ashford and Simpson song justing. I really enjoyed it. Sadly I knew their performance meant they were next up for results and I had a bad feeling about where that was headed.
Results: Round Two
Despite last week’s shocking upset, I had a pretty good feeling there was no chance of Jacob winding up in the bottom three; especially considering last night’s performance. I was right. Although I love Naima and didn’t want to see her go home, Jacob has a real shot and taking this all the way to the end, and I don’t feel Naima does. Jacob is sent back to the safe seats while Naima takes the first of the “bottom three” chairs.
Performance Three: Fantasia – “Collard Greens and Corn Bread”
I have never been Fantasia’s biggest fan, but I liked her performance last night. I liked her advice to the contestants even more. While it might have been a little rambling, I thought it was excellent advice. I hope the contestants listened closely. While some of the contestants have already started showing signs the pressure may be getting to them, a good support system outside of their fellow contestants will make all the difference.
Performance Four: Thia, Haley and Pia – “Teenage Dream”
I didn’t like this performance. It just didn’t sit right with me. It’s always hard for American Idol contestants to cover current songs and I just think the ladies missed their mark. Plus, “The Dalton Academy Warblers” have already turned in the perfect cover of this song in their first appearance on “Glee”.
Results: Round Three
With two spots remaining in the bottom three, I was nervous when Pia was told she was safe following her performance with Thia and Haley, leaving Haley and Thia still awaiting their fate. As I mentioned in “Part One”, I’m not Thia’s biggest fan. I think she should be amazing, but she held back on us. Haley, on the other hand, is quickly becoming my favorite girl in the competition and I was concerned her last two performances, incredible as they were, wouldn’t be enough to keep her around. My fears were put to rest as Haley was given a spot back among the safe and Thia was sent to wait in the ‘danger zone’ with Naima.
Clip Package: The Hectic Life of an American Idol Contestant
We were treated to the first clip packages of the episode about halfway in. We already knew Thia and Naima were in the bottom three, but better late than never. The clip packages are among my favorite parts of the elimination shows. Last night, we got to see a glimpse of the kind of life these kids are living. First, they got up and went to their recording session at Interscope Records. From there it was off to perform at a benefit concert on a private jet. At the concert they got to meet Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson and “The Greatest”, legendary Muhammad Ali.
During the clip package, we also learned the contestants were forced to move out of the Idol Mansion because the ceilings leak. During that portion of the package, we saw poor Lauren take what looked like a very hard tumble down the steps. What I love about her was how she responded when the woman (possibly a producer) rushed to her aid and asked if she was okay. “No… and that’s definitely going to be on TV.” Way to laugh through the pain, Lauren! Hope you’re okay!
Also in the clip package was more footage of the events following Casey’s shocking elimination and save last week. This is why I love Casey. He’s a genuinely good person. He felt so guilty after being saved, despite the fact that, otherwise, he would’ve headed home. He said he couldn’t look any of the other contestants in the face because of that guilt. After laying down for a while though, and being assured that he had nothing to feel guilty about, he was welcomed back to the group with lots of hugs. Sadly, there was still one spot in the bottom three and Casey hadn’t been saved yet. On with the show.
Performance Five: James, Paul, Casey and Stefano – “Band on the Run”
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. I just felt like something was missing. With a little more practice, though, these guys could really be onto something. Steven said they could “open up for Aerosmith”, but I have to think that was just Steven being polite. I could, of course, be wrong though. I think these guys could be really good if they didn’t have so much else going on.
Results: Round Four
I have to applaud Ryan for not drawing out Casey results and telling him he was safe right away, saying if he knew how many of the 55 million votes went to him, he’d “be proud”. I’d like to know, Seacrest. Just whisper it to me. Promise I won’t tell anyone. Anyway, that left James, Paul and Stefano on the hot seat. I was hoping Stefano would be in the bottom three, but alas, it was Paul officially meaning my two favorite contestants who had no chance of winning were in the bottom three.
Performance Six: Jamie Foxx and Will.I.Am – “Hot Wings”
Love the song and loved the performance. It was colorful, energetic and a ton of fun to watch. Looking forward to “Rio”, the movie the song is featured in.
Results: Round Five – Who Went Home?
Unfortunately, kind of, Naima and Thia went home with Paul staying to sing another day. I love Paul and I felt Thia’s time was up a few weeks back, but Naima’s departure just about broke my heart. She seemed to take it well and while I think she has a career ahead of her, I couldn’t help wondering if Paul shouldn’t have gone in her place. Perhaps not. I’m conflicted on this one, folks. I don’t know whether to be more happy Paul stayed or more sad Naima left. I’ll choose a little of column A and a little of column B.
Final Words On Thursday’s Episode
Each week that passes makes eliminations harder. As we watched the clips of Naima and Thia over the last few weeks, it was harder to say goodbye. Paul gave them warm hugs and, while he seemed happy for himself, one has to imagine it’s hard to feel entirely good about being chosen over people you’ve become close to.
Lauren has been having a rough go of it as of late, and that was evident last night as she broke down on stage. What viewers at home didn’t see was the tears she was shedding over the course of the night; starting with Thia’s entry into the bottom three and overflowing when Paul was added to that “in jeopardy” list. Some have been hard on her for letting her emotions get to her, but let’s remember, this girl is sixteen years old. Thia was her best friend and according to insiders close to the production, Paul has been like her big brother – trying to help her handle the pressure she’s under. At times it’s going to come to the surface, especially when two of the people she’s closest with might be leaving in one night.
Lauren is a beautiful, talented young woman who has also had to take a lot of flack from people for her weight. Come on, people. She’s a teenage girl. It’s cruel. I think she’s gorgeous and more importantly, incredibly talented. While appearance does matter, unfortunately, her talent should and will win out. She isn’t fat by any stretch of the imagination, even if she does have a few curves. Lauren looks the way real girls look. Let’s leave her alone, okay?
Send Your Favorite Contestant Words Of Support by Mail or on Twitter
One more thing, if you want send any of the American Idol contestants fan mail, you can do so by writing to them at the following address:
7800 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
You can also follow your favorite American Idol Contestants on Twitter (just click their name to go to their Twitter page):
- Casey Abrams
- Haley Reinhart
- Jacob Lusk
- James Durbin
- Lauren Alaina
- Paul McDonald
- Pia Toscano
- Scotty McCreery
- Stefano Langone
How did you feel about Thursday’s elimination? Were the right contestants sent home? How far do you think Paul will make it? Sound off in the comments section below this article and made sure you come back next Friday for my full recap of next week’s performances and elimination. And as always, sharing is caring. Share this article with your Facebook friends and your Twitter followers using the handy buttons at the top and bottom of the article. Thank for reading and see you next week!