'American Idol' Cuts to Nine


For this first time this season, the occasionally reliable,semi-scientific prognosticators at DialIdol are reporting that asinger other than Presumptive American Idol Winner David Archuleta got the most votes. That suggests that as Wednesday's(March 26) American Idol results show begins, it's anybody's game. Well,anybody except for the person eliminated Wednesday...p>

8:58 p.m. ET. It's another early start forAmerican Idol, though I correctly timed my arrival so asto miss almost all of Moment of Truth. Right away, I feelmuch cleaner.

8:59 p.m. Over 30 million votes were cast,which Ryan calls the most this season. Then he ruins my evening.No, I'm not sad about Kimberley Locke's performance. But I don'tknow if I can deal with the prospect of another call-insegment.

9:00 p.m. Is that Pizza Boy David Hernandezsitting behind Simon?

9:00 p.m. My indecent proposal: How aboutasking Josiah Lemming to write this season's Idolcoronation? I bet he'd come with something crazy.

9:01 p.m. Last night's theme of Songs From TheYear They Were Born could have made for a cacophonous Group Sing,so the producers wisely choose a single song that sort ofarticulates that theme, "Right Back Where We Started From." It'ssimple, offers no opportunities for harmony and therefore doesn'tsuck.

9:02 p.m. In fact, I may start liking the GroupSings, as they'll be the only opportunity we have to make fun of

Brooke White's dancing. My attempts to giggle at the lack of rhythmon Brooke's part are thwarted by the image of Jason Castro'sspinning, arm-waving, drunken dervish-like lack of awareness of hisown surroundings.

9:07 p.m. Last week we got a behind-the-sceneslook at the making of a Ford commercial. Tonight we see abehind-the-scenes commercial for the contestants' iTunes singles.Are they being paid 10,000 votes for each time they mention iTunesor their iPods? Carly Smithson's closing giddiness at seeingherself on an iPhone is particularly galling.

9:10 p.m. Ah last night. Good times. After seeing Presumptive American Idol Winner David [Cook]'s success with moody covers like"Hello" and last night's "Billie Jean," my former college roommateAndrew has a greatsuggestion: David's rivals should retaliate by doing poppy, peppy,upbeat covers of emo/goth/grunge songs. Think Britney Spears'"Smells Like Teen Spirit" or Justin Timberlake's "Hurt."

9:13 p.m. It seems early, but we're alreadypulling people to the Safety Couch and the Terror Stools. Up firstis Chikezie, who may not have done himself a favor by dipping intoballad territory last night. He's quickly sent off to the BottomThree. Brooke will let America stay up past its bedtime and eatcookies in bed, because America's Nanny is through. Carly isn'tpregnant (all radio and online rumors aside), but she will get toexamine herself on her iPhone for at least a week to come, as shejumps into Brooke's arms.

9:22 p.m. T-shirts, CDs, posters come to lifewith the image of our American Idol hopefuls in thisweek's Ford commercial, set to the tune of "I Want You to Want Me."How long before they find a way to work an iPhone into the Fordcommercials? After all, we know the new Focus plays MP3s.

9:23 p.m. Who will be next in the Bottom Three?It sure won't be Presumptive American Idol Winner David[Archuleta], even though he's working on three lacklusterperformances in a row. I noticed a lot of random indignation in theblogosphere that David "The Leader" Cook got credit for Chris Cornell's cover of "Billie Jean," even though Ryan took great painsto mention the Soundgarden frontman before Tuesday's performance.He does it again on Wednesday -- Cornell approves -- before sendingDavid to smugly deserved safety. Syesha Mercado, though, is sent tothe Bottom Three. After a Queen-fueled bounce-back week, Michael Johns is safe.

9:29 p.m. Why are Constantine Maroulis and GinaGlocksen everywhere together? [I'm told they host American Idol Extra. I guess that makes sense, then.]

9:30 p.m. For the call-in question segmentthey're nice or cruel enough to move Chikezie and Syesha over tothe Safety Couch for a different kind of torture. Chikezie gets thefirst question and says he's single. Then David Archuleta gets toprotest that his controlling stage dad didn't pick his song fromlast night, as Simon strongly implied. Simon puffs out his cheekswondering why Archuleta has gotten two different chances to makethis statement of independence on this show.

9:31 p.m. "The good news is you don't need alot of talent... so there's a chance for everyone," is Simon'sreply to a question about what a 16-year-old girl would have to doto take Ryan's job. Yawn.

9:33 p.m. Never again. Please?

9:34 p.m. If Kimberley Locke had appeared on adifferent Idol season, I wonder if she would have won.Last season, for example. The weight-losing restaurateur hasactually managed to release two solo albums that are available atreal world record stores near you (as opposed to via indie onlinedownload). Her new single is less interesting to me than the end of

the Celtics game, though. It's no "Eighth World Wonder." If youlike her dress and want to do something for charity, it'll be up for auction later tonight.

9:44 p.m. Don't worry jingoistic viewers. IdolGives Back didn't just give back to Africa last year. Americansbenefited as well.

9:47 p.m. So who's going to fill The Kristy Lee Cook Bottom Three Stool? Ramiele Malubay, last night's worst, looksa bit dazed and then relieved when she discovers that she's in theTop Nine. Really, America? Not even the Bottom Three? I don't wantto start resenting Ramiele, but she's pulled ahead in the race tobe this year's Sanjaya.

9:48 p.m. That leaves Clifford the Muppet andKristy. The strategy of whipping out "God Bless the USA" after along string of Bottom Three performances worked its panderingmagic. The Kristy Lee Cook Bottom Three Stool is actually filled byJason. His puppeteer is confused.

9:49 p.m. Paula can't bring herself tocriticize the Bottom Three. I can. Syesha should be safe andRamiele should be in the Bottom Three. The Muppet thinks his beingin the Bottom Three was supposed to be a shocker, but he doesn'thave to wait long before going to the couch.

9:54 p.m. Simon tells Chikezie that he's introuble because he chose the wrong song. Paula, though, says thatSyesha sang the right song and Randy misuses the word "brilliant"about her performance.

9:55 p.m. Syesha is safe. Chikezie's goinghome. To my mind, David Cook's "Billie Jean" and Chikezie's "She'sa Woman" have been the season's two best performances to date. I'mnot surprised that he's done, but he had a vocal presence andperformance quality that were unique among this season'scontestants and I'd have preferred to see him stick around foranother few weeks.

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