Last week's American Idol featured the only judges' save of the season, when they wisely opted to keep Michael Lynche around for a while. Ryan wasted no time reminding us of this at the top of last night's episode, since this week's elimination round promises to be equally contentious: To stay on schedule, two people will have to go home. So while this week feels a bit like a rerun of last week -- still nine contestants to deal with -- at least we'll get to see a double-down on the eliminations. This week's mentor was Adam Lambert, which meant Ryan Seacrest got to have fun toeing the line but never coming right out and reminding people that an Idol runner-up likes to kiss boys. His voice-over description that Lambert has "fascinated audiences" worldwide was probably what passes for subtle at Fox, though Ryan got slightly braver with his in-studio riffing with Lambert: When Lambert told Ryan to stick his tongue farther out to sing a higher note, Ryan said, "My tongue is not nearly as out as yours."
Maybe it was the fact that we were still dealing with nine contestants, but much of the episode felt like a rehash of last week's. (Though it was, blessedly, half an hour shorter in order to make way for the return of Glee, which continues its first season through early June.) The top-level singers were still on their game, meaning it's going to probably be down to another shuffle at the bottom to see who goes home.
Crystal opened the night with "Saved," a bluesy gospel number that nobody managed to top, so it's best they got her out of the way at the beginning. Lee's "A Little Less Conversation" was a nice blues version, too, and proof that he'll be around a while yet. I was actually surprised at the power with which Big Mike pulled off "In the Ghetto," which is such an overheated song I usually change the station if it comes on the radio. Those three have to be long-term contenders.
Tim elevated himself a bit this week with "Can't Help Falling in Love," though he did feel a bit like the guitar guy at the party. But he was better than last week, which shows just how far contestants like Andrew and Siobhan have fallen. Andrew's "Hound Dog" was slowed-down and lacking in every way, and Siobhan's "Suspicious Minds" felt like being trapped in a karaoke bar. Simon told her she should've picked a song that suited her voice and disposition, and rather than take a moment to absorb the advice of a producer who prints money, Siobhan took a stand and expressed a weird level of pride in not knowing what kind of artist she is or wants to be. On one hand, that kind of individualism is understandable. But if she wants to get adopted by the machine that is the music industry, she needs a hook. Just ask Adam Lambert.
Casey's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" was solid, though it felt like a bit of a cop out to pick a deep cut rather than put his stamp on a big hit. However, he's safe for a while. Trailing the pack were Katie, with a forgettable "Baby What You Want Me To Do," and Aaron, whose slender build and neon virginity made "Blue Suede Shoes" an impossible sell. Why that kid didn't just pick "Love Me Tender" and give it the old Rascal Flatts sheen is beyond me, and he's probably kicking himself and thinking the same thing.
So two of them are going home. I'm terrible at handicapping these things -- I never would've guessed Big Mike would risk elimination before the top three round -- but I can say that I'd be happy if Andrew, Siobhan, Aaron, or Katie went home. They're not terrible, but they don't have the juice and skill to win, and certainly not to beat people like Crystal. Here's hoping the teens of America voted my way.