Wednesday, April 15, 2009

American Idol Season 8 Top 7 Results

Bottom 3:
Anoop Desai
Lil Rounds
Matt Giraud

Anoop is safe
Lil is safe

NO ONE! The judges use their save to keep Matt in the competition. Next week, two contestants go home.

OK, no real surprise this week. Sure the Judges Save was employed, but even though Ryan Seacrest said there were two more weeks to use it, that was a lie Idolspeak. There was no way the producers were going to allow the save to be used next week. If they did, on the show when there are supposed to be five finalists left, there would be six (with two being eliminated that week). But that is the first week when each contestant has to sing two songs instead of one. If the director can't bring a one-hour show in on time with 7 songs, do you think they really want to go for 12? It'll be funny enough to see how they'll squeeze 10 songs into an hour. And they can't extend "Idol" to 90 minutes that week, since Fox is committed to six weeks of one-hour "Fringe" episodes.

A very savvy friend with music- and TV-industry ties told us that these overruns are not accidental. They are, in fact, planned in order to boost the ratings numbers for "Fringe." As soon as "Idol" overruns into "Fringe's" time slot, we've all become viewers of "Fringe" for that week. I believe this to be true because "Idol's" show content is not really overrunning its time slot. Consider: This week, the combined critique times for both judges was less than 2 minutes for each contestant. The videos, performances and interviews all stayed within their normally allotted times. Then how could the show go over? We suspect that Fox is invisibly extending the show by lengthening each commercial break. A one-hour show is allowed 18 minutes of advertising time. But if a show is scheduled for 1:01, as "Idol" was this week, can the producers now cut into the 18 minutes of advertising allotted to the next hour? To get around it legally, all they need do is shorten the commercial breaks during "Fringe" so that the advertising minutes equal 36 for the combined two hours. Clever, no? Perhaps not, if Fox starts losing both the viewers who record "Idol" and miss those important last minutes, or those who decide that watching the beginning of "The Mentalist" is more important than seeing the end of "Idol." Only time will tell.

Seacrest said there were 36 million votes this week. That's two million more than last week, when the show had its ridiculously long overrun. Still, it the same total they had for the two weeks prior to last week. Which means that "Idol" has not increased its voter total in the past month. That can't be a good sign as the competition rolls into its final month.

This week's opening melange of clips of Tuesday's show was way too artsy-fartsy. Either the producers got carried away or they let Quentin Tarantino make a video mess. If this is what they're going to start doing, let's roll back to the boring highlights reel instead.

The Ford video, set to the J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame" featured Matt at a newsstand where all the magazine covers featured the finalists' singing. Haven't they used this idea before? In fact, wasn't it just last season? Oh. Wait. That was CD covers in a music store. Ooooo, big difference.

Watch video of the Ford commercial set to "Freeze Frame"

Next came the group number, "Maniac," from the film "Flashdance." This has to be a new "Idol" record: Finding the only song where every single finalist sounded lousy during their solo, heh. Singing together as a group wasn't nearly as awful, but even Adam Lambert sounded bad during the solos. Paula Abdul said during a radi broadcast this week that she is choreographing next week's group disco number. Let's hope it's better than this.

Watch video of Group Number "Maniac"

It's time for Ryan's rehearsed impromptu chat with the finalists. They talk about working with mentor Tarantino and then about how exciting it was to go to the red-carpet premiere of "17 Again," starring Zac Efron and Matthew Perry. After the clip, Ryan introduces Efron, who is sitting in the audience. He thanks the contestants for attending the premiere. As if ...

Watch video of finalists attending "17 Again" premiere

Finally, it's time for the results. And, surprise! They're not playing the accustomed seven finalists left game -- dividing the contestants into two groups of three of making someone who is safe pick the group of three who is also safe. Instead, it's the traditional approach. Allison Iraheta is safe (yea!), as is Adam. But poor Anoop, who did so well this week, is told that he is the Bottom 3 for the third time. Sigh.

Watch video of Anoop Desai in the Bottom 3

Before the eliminations continue, Oscar and Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson graces the "Idol" stage (in a precorded segment) for the first time since she got the boot during Season 3. After a video tribute, she sings her current single, "If This Isn’t Love." She looks fab-u-lous. Truth be told, we don't love the song, but we love, love, love her voice. Her vocals put most -- if not all -- of the Season 8 finalists to shame. And she didn't even come close to winning Season 3 -- though she should have. We still remember the night she got the axe: Hudson, Fantasia and La Toya London in the Bottom 3, while John Stevens, George Huff, Diana DeGarmo and Jasmine Trias sat safely on the bleachers. It caused Elton John to declare the United States racist and perpetrated death threats against John Stevens.

Watch video of Jennifer Hudson singing "If This Isn’t Love"

Ryan asks Anoop if he's surprised to be in the Bottom 3. Of course he is, after the judges told him how good he was the night before. And in the next few minutes, we'll begin to wonder whether he really did place there, or whether the producers are playing their Bottom 3 games again. Kris Allen and Lil are asked to stand and Ryan says one of them is safe, the other in the Bottom 3. Simon Cowell interjects to say that they didn't get to critique Kris last night, but he wants to let Kris know that he was brilliant. Logic dictates that the loser in this duo is Kris, but Lil is told she's in the Bottom 3. Now we're sure the fix is in, since Kris placed dead last on for two straight weeks, yet didn't even land in the Bottom 3, much less get eliminated. Meanwhile, Lil placed second from the top, right after Danny on DialIdol on Tuesday, more than likely due to her nasty little exchange with Simon. Again, notice that Ryan never says that either Anoop or Lil received the lowest vote totals.

Danny Gokey and Matt are left and told to stand. Ryan tries to do a head trip on Danny and make him think he's in the Bottom 3. Not even our dogs believed that. Matt has the look of a hanged man and he's right, especially after Kris was given a pass. Ryan assembles the Bottom 3 and tells them that one is going to be released to safety. We mutter "Anoop, Anoop, Anoop" are breathe a sigh of relief when he is told to go to the couches. Of course, he's not going to win, but of the three onstage, he most deserves to not be there.

Watch video of Lil Rounds and Matt Giraud in the Bottom 3

And it's time for a headache musical interlude. Miley Cyrus is live in the studio to sing "The Climb," from "Hannah Montana: The Movie." Good thing she never tried out for "Idol." Between her lack of enunciation and nasally whiny voice she probably wouldn't have made it past the audition stage. It must be good to have a daddy in the biz to keep you from having an achy breaky heart (and supply you with boyfriends). And BTW, how much does that crystal mic stand cost?

Watch video of Miley Cyrus singing "The Climb"

Simon says the judges might consider saving one person and that person would probably be surprised. Ryan asks, "So it would be Lil?" and Simon tells him let's wait and see. And it's time for the moment of "truth," a word thrown around very loosely on "Idol." Lil is safe. Matt has to sing for his life. The performance is not great. Vocally, it might be a tad better than Tuesday, but without the piano, it resonates less, if at all. Paula and Kara DioGuardi (who never want to eliminate anyone) dance through the performance. Ryan chats up Matt while the judges talk about dinner deliberate. The audience begins to loudly chant "Save Matt! Save Matt!" Is this staged? When did Matt become so popular? Oh, this seems sooooooo staged. Finally, Simon asks Matt how many times he's been in the Bottom 3. He says twice. Simon tells him, "Could I be honest with you? OK. I didn't think you were as good as you were last night. I don't see that you have really any chance of winning the competition." The other three judges start acting protesting. (Oh c'mon, we have a better chance of winning the competition.) Simon continues, "I'm being honest with you. (trying to talk over the noise) Matt. Matt. Matt. Matt. We've made a decision." Kara shouts, "No!" Simon holds us his hand to quiet her. Simon: "Matt, it's good news." The theater goes wild. Oh, really. We're saving Matt here, not Adam or Danny.

Watch video of Matt being eliminated and saved

And amazingly, the show ends exactly on time -- without the 2-3 minute journey video. How can that be? The producers couldn't have known that Matt would be saved. HA! What suckers we "Idol" viewers are to think any of this is real.

Next week, the theme is disco, which ought to produce numerous train-wreck performances. Eliminating two finalists could be way easier than it sounds. On Wednesday night, David Archuleta performs.

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