American Idol: Double-Down

I realized last night that the upside of the eliminations for the rest of this season of American Idol will be slightly more efficient now that the judges have used their save. Now, when someone hits the end of the road, that's it. They're done. It's almost shocking to have that level of finality injected into the show at this point in the season, which is probably the side effect of the save that producers were banking on when they instituted it.

Because of the dual elimination, Wednesday's results episode moved right along, with only a few distracting performances, and even those weren't as grating as the ones in the past. There was, however, another awful medley form the contestants, this time an Elvis Presley set that was stunning in its lifelessness. Later, there was a duet by Brooke White and Justin Gaston, and I won't embarrass either of us by pretending that I remember their significance, but they sang well enough despite a few vocal hitches at the beginning. Their song, "If I Can Dream," is the kind of bland anthem for peace we can probably expect a lot more of in the next couple weeks: Tuesday is "Inspirational Night" on the show, and the following week is the congratulatory orgy of foreign aid known as "Idol Gives Back."

The other performance came from Adam Lambert, last year's runner up, and that guy has some serious pipes. I'd never heard him perform before, having never watched the show before this season, but his was the first guest performance of the season that showed legitimate power. It's easy to see why he's got a career.

As for the eliminations, they went as could be expected: Andrew Garcia bit the bullet early on, but bless his heart, he didn't even sing a good song for his farewell tune. I was hoping he'd get his guitar and do "Forever" or even "Straight Up," but he opted for one of the treacly ballads that did him in.

At the bottom of the episode, Ryan had narrowed the next group of potential losers down to Tim, Mike, and Katie. Tim got an instant reprieve, which was predictable, but then Ryan tipped his hand by revealing that of the remaining pair, one of them hadn't even been in the bottom three for the week. Given Big Mike's comeback last week and strong turn this week, coupled with Katie's flagging performance, it wasn't a big surprise when Ryan announced that Katie was the other loser.

Katie's swan song of "Let It Be" was, sadly, her most emotive performance yet, full of sadness at having to sing even though she knew she'd gotten so close to the finish line before losing. But Idol always has to twist the knife, so after she sang we still had to watch her and Andrew watch the montages of their experiences to date. When Katie saw the clip of her grandmother watching her perform, she just broke down completely. I felt sorry for the girl. Getting your dreams ground down at age 17 in front of 25 million people is not a great way to start the weekend. I'd like to think that these beheadings will be less masochistic as the season progresses, but I know better than that by now.

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