And then there were four. And most people might have predicted the four from the very first week.
Certainly, they would have included Melinda Doolittle, LaKisha Jones and Blake Lewis. Perhaps they would have picked Chris Richardson instead of Jordin Sparks. But as the season progressed, LaKisha stumbled, Chris fumbled and Jordin, with the occasional misstep, got stronger. Phil Stacey had an awakening three weeks ago, but it was too little too late to keep him in it much longer. Melinda was a rock all season long -- not one false step to date, and Blake was, for the most part, solid. So even though Simon Cowell might be sitting with a smug smile on his face over having predicted that the final four would be Melinda, LaKisha, Jordin and Blake, it didn't take a psychic to predict it -- though we didn't. And we're still not convinced that the producers didn't play with the numbers (which is not illegal) to toss Phil out in order to spare LaKisha and have that divalicious finish they're panting over. C'est la vie. The contest continues.
Other highlights of the evening:
A very strange beginning with Ryan Seacrest first asking Randy Jackson why rock worked for the Idols last night. Randy said he hadn't thought it would, but that the contestants had all stepped up their game.
Next, Seacrest questioned Paula Abdul about why the original material seemed to work better this time around. As Paula started to answer, Simon began tweaking the back of her neck and shoulders (so that you could see the blouse of her collar moving), as if he were trying to get her to do something or control what she was saying (Cowell openly admitted on Ellen DeGeneres' show this week that he tells Abdul to say certain things and even physically tweaks her because she's like a puppy and lets him do anything he wants). Paula got flustered and blurted out, "Wouldya, wouldya, I'm not your lip puppet, OK!" Ryan jumped in with, "We've seen his puppet, you're much prettier." Simon, smiling but stunned, as everyone oooo'd, turned toward where his girlfriend, "Extra" correspondent" Terri Seymour, sits in the audience every week, then turned back to Ryan, still with a stunned smile on his face and said, "That was really rude."
After Paula finally got to answer, Ryan moved on to Simon, calling him the puppeteer and saying that Cowell always seems uninterested. Cowell told Seacrest that if he was going to be obnoxious that he wasn't going to answer him, and that Ryan owed his girlfriend an apology. Simon obviously took Ryan's comment about the puppet as an insult to Seymour. Ryan said he had been referring to something else. Watch video:
Once things settled down, Simon gave top performance marks -- partially for the risk he took -- to Blake.
Before breaking for commercial, Ryan said about the night's show, "I promise no filler ... sure." The filler included:
- Ryan's now weekly man-on-the-street interviews. With fewer contestants some of the people are now remembering their names (or at least a part of their names).
- Ryan chatting with the finalists on the bleachers: Blake said he has a cool software program to help him rearrange songs; Jordin said everyone has a bad week about her less than amazing performance Tuesday night; Phil said his minister father discouraged his kids from listening to anything other than gospel growing up, but they still sneaked a bit of "Slippery When Wet" into the mix; LaKisha said Simon was a good kisser and that she would do it again. Pan to Simon, who looks pleased, but goes into paroxysms of hysteria when Ryan said, "No, he has a girlfriend and it's very serious as we saw earlier." We're still scratching our heads over Simon's overreaction and have our own ideas that we won't express here. Watch video above.
- Idol Gives Back video pimping by Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Taylor Hicks. (BTW, a story in today's Newsday reveals that a technical glitch caused 6,000 of the night's 800,000 donaters to have multiple charges applied to their credit cards.)
- A recap of Tuesday night's show.
- A pretaped performance of "Lost Without U" by Robin Thicke, according to Ryan, "No. 1 on Billboard's R&B chart." Robin may be Alan Thicke's (best known as dad Dr. Jason Seaver on the '80s TV series "Growing Pains") son, but as far as we're concerned, Chris Richardson sings better than Thicke does, and you already know how we hate Richardson's singing. Watch video:
- The Ford commercial had the Top 6 singing "Paint it Black" as their car drove through a freak show-style circus. Watch video:
- The idiotic Idol Challenge competition. What was tonight's Ford video about? Duh!
- "American Idol" official Web site pimping for the Idols Live tour (click for schedule) and the voting on the songwriting contest. You have one week to vote on the 20 finalists to select this year's coronation song.
- Probably because they didn't want to use the same exit song (Chris Daughtry's "Home") twice in one evening, Phil's journey video was set to Carrie Underwood singing "I'll Stand by You." Watch video of Phil's encore performance of "Blaze of Glory":
- Bon Jovi performed "(You Want to) Make a Memory." They sounded great. The cut will be on their new CD, "Lost Highway," dropping on June 19. But they told Ryan they wouldn't be going back out on tour until January (with the exception of some New Jersey hometown performances). Watch video:
- Before eliminating Chris, Ryan spoke to him and Blake about their friendship. The two said they were best friends and both offered to go home so the other could stay. Blake said it didn't matter, they'd be together again on tour. They hugged. Awwwwwww. Watch "Best Friends" video:
Watch video of Chris Richardson's encore performance of "Wanted Dead or Alive":
- Ryan announced that Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees will be next week's mentor for "boogie sounds," which we guess means disco, or however else the producers decide to define it (the song choices rarely all stick to the alleged theme).