Ryan spoke at the top of last night's American Idol of how the contestants were "fighting to take their place in history," which seems grandiose even by Idol standards. I was hanging out with an actual Idol fan last week -- a woman who watches every season -- and she couldn't name all eight winners. If taking the crown won't even get you remembered, what does that say about the people getting booted this early on?
The show opened with more boring banter between Ryan and the judges, including the continuation of the joke about how much Kara loves Casey, to the point where Ryan asked how her marriage was and Kara threw to her husband in the audience. On one level, it's just a cheesy and boring joke. On another, it's insane they'd consider it worth making given past allegations and weird rumors about Paula sleeping with a contestant. I didn't mention it last time because I thought they'd come to their senses and drop it, but apparently Idol's memory is as short as its viewers.
Being a results show, the action was padded at every turn, starting with a horrible group version of "American Boy" that felt like watching the cast of High School Musical perform on a cruise ship. Then it was time for the first girl to be cut. After running through half the girls one at a time, Ryan brought it down to just Janell and Katie, milked a bit more fake drama from the silence, and dropped the bomb on Janell. Then (and I didn't know they did this) Janell had to sing her song again! How humiliating is that? Just let the loser go already, at least until the losers get more talented.
Then Alison Irahita sang. Wikipedia tells me she came in fourth last season. She looks terrible and sounds worse, and having once again made the mistake of watching the show live without any DVR delay, I just muted the TV. I unmuted when she finished to hear her talk, but then quickly muted again.
Ryan moved back to the girls and ran through the remaining singers (Crystal Bowersox, happily, is safe for now, as is Houston's Paige Miles) until he got to Ashley and Didi. Neither was great, but voters wanted Ashley to go. Her barely restrained anger was kind of amazing to see, and she was somewhere between tears and pure rage as she forced herself to talk to Ryan and sing her song one more time. And of course it was a terrible performance, because how do you focus in that moment?
The guys were next, and though half the group could have gone home after last night, it came down to Tim and Joe, who sucked equally but in different ways. Joe got the boot, leaving a shocked Tim another week to find a song that didn't require falsetto.
Then it was time for an announcement break about April's "Idol Gives Back," which promises to be as indulgent and horrid as the others. Just give the money; don't make me watch it. Last year's Idol champ, Kris Allen, came out and sang a weird version of "Let It Be" that seemed to ignore the song's basic chords while a slideshow played of his recent trip to Haiti. As my sister tweeted, "Who needs food or shelter? Haitians got to meet an American Idol!" Preach. Again, I think donating to the Haiti relief fund is a great thing. I just don't want to watch cloying music videos about it.
It was then time to cut the second guy. Casey was safe (with another joke from Ryan about Kara), but it came down to Tyler and Alex. Tyler's 1970s revival and Alex's constipated shouting were on the same level last night, but I'd pegged Tyler as having slightly more potential and marketability. And yet he was the one to be sent packing. Before he could sing his tepid "American Woman" one last time, we were treated to a montage of the four losers gleefully describing how their dreams were coming true in Hollywood. I haven't done the research, but this might be the most sadistic show on the air.
So now we're down to 20. Honestly, though, I don't think things will get interesting -- or at least a little more so -- until we're down to the top 12, a couple weeks away. Until then, it's all about endurance.