Wednesday, April 2, 2008

American Idol:
The Top 9 Results Show

Bottom Three:
Ramiele Malubay ("Do I Ever Cross Your Mind")
Kristy Lee Cook ("Coat of Many Colors")
Brooke White ("Jolene")

Ramiele Malubay

Watch video of Ramiele Malubay being eliminated:

The group medley this week was Dolly Parton's "9 to 5." As we've previously noted, the group sounds really tight together, though this week David Cook definitely proved he is NOT a dancer. His "Dancing With the Stars" future looks about as bright as Steve Guttenberg's! But he did shine on his solos at the judges table, unlike Jason Castro and Syesha Mercado, who paled by comparison with their onstage parts. And Brooke White proved that if she had gotten a shot at this song instead of her lame rendition of "Jolene," if probably would have been Jason Castro in the Bottom 3 instead of her.

Watch video of Top 9 group medley, "9 to 5":

This medley was followed by the yada, yada, yada recap, which included Dolly Parton on the video telling us how she was honored by what a good job the contestants had done.

Since there were two musical acts plus the other scheduled fluff, Ryan Seacrest jumped right into the results. The nine were shown huddled backstage waiting to be called out, and when Michael Johns pulled the first straw, he made a face before proceeding onstage. Ryan talked him up on his feelings about Tuesday's performance. Johns, who scored high praise from the judges, said he felt totally in his element Tuesday night. No surprise, he was sent to the safety of the Big Couch, as was David Archuleta, the next contestant sent onstage. Ryan played a bit with Carly Smithson's head, telling her she was no stranger to the Bottom 3. She looked stressed. He asked her if given the choice, which direction she would rather head in. Well, duh, The Couch, of course. So he sent her over there. She is actually either a rather good actress or honestly surprised every time she makes it through to safety. She almost kissed Ryan.

Three up, three safe, meaning the remaining six each had only a 50-50 chance now of remaining safe. So of course, it was time to let them mull that over and move on to the stupid viewer Q&A segment, which, again was only the least bit entertaining when Simon was asked a question. We *learned* that Syesha Mercado misses hanging out with family and friends, that David Cook would like to be more organized because he's a slob, which his roommates, Jason and Michael, can attest to. (hmmm, "Idol" is tripling up the contestants this year. They're really getting cheap with those hotel rooms, aren't they?) Randy in answer to who he'd like to work with who he hasn't worked with before, dodges the question by answering whomever wins Idol this year. When Ryan pushes and asks for a name, Randy says a girl or a boy. Uh-huh. Michael Johns and/or David Cook are asked what song they would love to sing on tour. Michael answers "Islands in the Stream" with David saying that he'd take the Dolly Parton part. The last caller asks Simon Cowell why he feels the need to apologize after giving negative critiques. Simon answers that he likes the caller and will never do it again.

The Clark Brothers, who won "The Next Great American Band," produced by the same folks who bring you "Idol," performed next, followed by the Ford commercial in which the contestants sang Run-DMC's "It's Tricky" while playing basketball.

Watch video of The Clark Brothers performance:

Before Ryan returns to the results, he asks Carly what she thought was going to happen to her. She evades the question by saying that she didn't know, that Ryan is full of tricks. Seacrest next asks if she and Simon have made up. Carly said, "no," because he hasn't apologized and now, apparently, he never will after that last Q&A segment. David Cook comes onstage, and before being shown The Couch, Ryan asks him about the reports of him going to the hospital the night before. Cook underplays it, says to was overblown that he has high blood pressure and that his pressure had spiked. No biggie. Well, yes it is, especially for someone his age.

Ramiele Malubay looking nervous (there are still three Bottom 3 slots left and only five contestants to go) comes out and has reason to worry. She is the first to take one of the Bottom 3 silver seats. (Having three seats is totally symbolic as the third Bottom 3 contestant never gets to sit down; they go straight to the elimination.) Kristy Lee Cook knows where she's heading, but takes it with a bit a black humor. She enters with a note in her hand that says, "Kristy's Seat." Ryan asks her "What's that for?" and she tilts her head to where Ramiele is now sitting and says, "For over there." Ryan has to assure that studio and home viewers that nobody knows the results in advance, then sends Kristy Lee "over there." Paula Abdul tells them that they both had good nights (liar, liar, pants on fire) but they just don't connect to the audience. Well, at least that part was true. Two down, one to go. Will it be Syesha, Jason or Brooke? Que the suspense and move on to more fluff.

As promised by executive producer Nigel Lythgoe earlier in the season, next comes a segment where we get to see where former contestants are now. This segment focuses on Nashville, now the home to country singers Bucky Covington (Season 5), who has two singles in release; Phil Stacey (Season 6), whose first CD is dropping later this month; and rocker Bo Bice (Season 4). Bice, whose son is now 2, spent a year off recuperating from extensive abdominal surgery, but released his second post-"Idol" CD late last fall. He was incredibly gracious and thankful to "Idol."

Back to the results. Syesha Mercado comes onstage next, which automatically means she is safe, because the drama of the last Bottom 3 contestant is always left to the last two contestants to come out. At this point, we're banking on it being Brooke White, since Jason Castro was in the Bottom 3 last week and we know the producers think the public will assume it's him again and not dear, sweet, nanny Brooke. But, ha! We knew it, since she was no better than Jason was the night before. So three women -- Ramiele, Kristy Lee and Brooke -- are the Bottom 3 this week. Ryan turns to Simon and asks if America got it right. Cowell answers yes, that he doesn't think that anyone from the couch should be there instead. Cowell also tries to make nice with Carly over the highly insulting remarks he made the night before about her choice of onstage clothing, saying he was just trying to be helpful, that he thinks she's a cute girl (oh, puleeeeze!) and she just needs to start looking more like a star. Uh-huh. Wonder who told him to apologize? So, who's gone this week? Oh, wait, we have to torture the Bottom 3 some more first, with two more fluff segments.

It's now time to pimp next week's "Idol Gives Back" begathon with a clip about two sisters in Africa who have been reunited -- because of your dollars -- after living in the streets. No matter how cynical you are about Idolgivesbackpalooza, if clips like this don't grab you, you're made of stone.

What didn't grab us was Dolly Parton's performance of "Jesus and Gravity," from her latest release,
"Backwoods Barbie." We don't know if the aging country star's voice is finally beginning to go or if her overly Botoxed face is keeping her from being able to move her mouth enough to sing well, but it was not impressive. Pair that with the cheesiest lyrics we've heard in, like, forever:

And I've got somethin' lifting me up
somethin' holding me down.
Somethin' to give me wings and keep my feet on the ground.
I've got all I need, Jesus and gravity.

Besides, everyone knows that the somethin' holding Dolly down isn't gravity but those humongous honkers.

Watch video of Dolly Parton singing "Jesus and Gravity":

After her performance, Ryan did a little schtick with Parton about letting Simon back into Dollywood (Cowell began his negative review of Jason Castro's performance of "Travelin' Thru" Tuesday night with, "This is the point where I lose my season pass to Dollywood because I didn't like that at all."). Dolly defends Simon saying that he just tells the truth and someone has to do it. She adds that there are no hard feelings and he's got a free pass to Dollywood, to Ryan tells Dolly to make Simon pay. She also tells Cowell she loves him, then says she loves Paula and Randy as, so as not to insult them. Dolly wants everyone to feel loved. Even if her performance was less than expected, we've met her and she not only appears to be, but is a genuinely sweet person.

Finally, the three women were given their fates. We have to give credit to Brooke. Someone we know said if she was in the Bottom 3 she would turn on the waterworks to assure she wouldn't land there again for the next three weeks, and sure enough, she did. When Ryan asked her, "Brooke this is your first time in the Bottom 3, and clearly you're very emotional (she verging on tears at this point with her arms around Kristy Lee and Ramiele) ... she said, "I'm emotional for a variety of reasons. We throw everything we have into this thing, here, at 'American Idol,' um, and then you watch that 'Idol Give Back' portion and you think, 'Gosh, there's a whole other meaning of difficult in that, and then Dolly comes out here and talks about Jesus and gravity and it was really amazing, she's great." Applause, applause, applause. Boy, does Brooke know how to play the audience and the cameras. Heh!

Brooke was then sent to The Couch. Kristy Lee was next told she was safe, but almost smothered teeny Ramiele in her breasts she held her so tightly. Ryan pretty much had to break them up it went on so long. Ramiele clearly was very upset (no one has cried this much since "the other side of her heart," Danny Noriega, was booted off).

But, like a tiny trouper, she sang her song one last time, and, free of the burden of having to be judged, sang it better than she did on Tuesday night. It's sad how many times this happens. You can't help but wonder how many contestants could have saved themselves if that had sung their song that well the first time.

And so it goes, onto three episodes next week: Tuesday the performances, Wednesday "Idol Gives Back" and Thursday the results show.


Some "Idol" news stories broke yesterday. First, Mariah Carey posted on her Web site that she would perform, what we affectionately call this year's "Idol Gives Back" dead duet with Marvin Gaye, singing "What's Going On" (obviously nothing with Marvin). Remember Elvis and Celine Dion last year? But on a conference call about the show yesterday, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told the press that the duet is off:

"Unfortunately, it's not [happening]," Lythgoe said. "We couldn't get the rights to music with Marvin, so we had to cancel it."

Then there was the bombshell was that Ellen DeGeneres was no longer hosting the portion of the show to be taped this Sunday before a paying audience in Los Angeles. "Ellen, we were told, couldn't do it due to a personal production pressure," Lythgoe said. Five days before the event? Hmmm, we smell a rat. Wonder what the producers, or someone else, did to upset Ellen so much that she backed out of the show?

The new host? Ryan Seacrest, the busiest man in show business. Lythgoe said, "We've got a lot of co-hosts, so it isn't like last year. There are a lot of really good people coming on that stage to introduce people."

He also addressed the rumor that seems to be becoming an annual event that an 11th previously eliminated contestant will join the summer tour, when he was asked whether the producers had considered using a "carrot" to get viewers to tune in next week:

"Yeah, of course we did. For my money, this isn't about a carrot. I don't want to cheat the audience here. This is about a wonderful show with incredible talent involved with it, asking you to do something about what's going on in the world, end of story. After that, carrots are just misleading the audience and stink."

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