American Idol, do you even have a clue?
I mean, you’re absolutely maddening. One step forward, one step back.
The bad: Last week, in a refreshing, long-awaited development, we were told who finished in the top three and the precise order of finish for the remaining seven contestants. This week? It was back to Idol of old. We found out who landed in the bottom three. We have no clue who was the next lowest vote-getter to Paul Jolley. We weren’t told who finished at the top of the heap. So what happened? Did one of the show’s pets fail to make the top three? Or does Idol just want to keep us guessing. Whatever the reason, it comes off as very amateurish.
The good: Idol featured not one but two returning contestants in performances last night. In addition to hearing the new single from Jessica Sanchez, Season 10’s Casey Abrams returned, bass in tow, to give us a jazzy rendition of “I Saw Her Standing There.” I’m not sure I love the new look for Casey. I loved the fact that he changed up the song in a way we’ve seldom seen from the Season 12 cast. I just hope they were paying attention. Risks sometimes pay off. Had it come last night, I would have put Casey’s performance in the top 3 on originality alone. Oh, and Casey does have an album out. In fact, he and Haley Reinhart have both released excellent albums, my favorites among the music released so far by that year’s Idols.
The bad: Jimmy Iovine said he wasn’t happy with the judges’ critiques Wednesday night. He indicated they were too kind to the singers. Then he offered up his own critiques. But … hold it, exactly where did they differ? He praised nearly everyone but Lazaro. He said Angie needs to be less dramatic, but said she could win if she fixes that problem. (Newsflash, Jimmy: Given her popularity, she can win just the way she is.) He said Devin should be in the middle of the pack, then didn’t put anyone else in the middle of the pack with him. Not one of Jimmy’s finer moments.
On to what should be the show’s focus … the singers …
Whose stock is rising: Don’t look now, but Janelle Arthur has put together two very solid performances after sounding pretty shaky in Vegas. She’s got one of the most engaging personalities in a cast lacking Casey-like characters, so solid and very likeable could take her deep into the competition. Next week’s Motown theme might be a challenge though.
Whose stock is falling: Devin Velez finished next to last a week ago and in the bottom three Thursday. Here’s betting he was one spot from elimination. Keep putting us to sleep with those ballads, and your Idol time is going to end quickly, Devin. And I’m not sure Motown Week will offer the best opportunity to go back to singing half the song in Spanish.
Very, very lucky: Every review of Wednesday’s show I read came to the same conclusion — Lazaro Arbos’ performance was easily this week’s weakest. So what happens? Lazaro doesn’t even land in the bottom three. I could say I told you so, because I did. But as Nicki Minaj pointed out, he needs to regain his confidence and his footing. Quickly.
Didn’t deserve his fate: I think he’s got a long, long way to go to reach his aspiration of becoming the male Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift. But I still think Paul Jolley delivered the best performance among the guys on Wednesday. One that should have allowed him to avoid elimination. Clearly, he was not a judges’ pet. A similar performance would have gotten Burnell Taylor rave reviews. Perhaps even a standing ovation.
And a bit of trivia: Paul’s elimination, following Curtis Finch’s last week marks the first time since Season 1 that the first two contestants voted off the show were guys. The first two contestants to leave in Season 11 were guys — Jeremy Rosado and Jermaine Jones — but Jermaine was disqualified, not eliminated by voters. The first two males to go back in Season 1: Jim Varraros and EJay Day.
Check back Friday evening for an exit interview with Paul Jolley.
And check back Monday or Tuesday for the new rankings of the remaining eight on American Idol.