Okay, do we think we're all ready for this? Are we settled? Comfortable? Prepared? Something big is bound to happen tonight, and even if it's Nikki getting cut, which a lot of people are expecting, completely unaware of recent history, that still qualifies as something.
So, it's time for the dramatic intro, the normal start to this column, mainly because I can never think of anything more clever. "The final four performed like never before." And later, they'll settle the score and head for the door while asking for more. "Tonight, four become three on...AMERICAN IDOL!" And then three become two! And two become one! Oh my! The pressure! By the way, you and I? Our hearts beat as one. Damn, I'm romantic, baby.
Hey! Where are the hosts? Are they afraid to come out because I'm always ragging on their rags? Frankly, I should be more ashamed of that than they should. Oh, there they are. Hiding in the audience. As they walk down the steps, Dunk says, "Ba ba booey." Is he auditioning for a job on Stern after this show ends? He can be the guy at movie premieres who asks Elizabeth Hurley how often she goes to the bathroom. Or maybe he's giving a shout out to Howard for busting on him so hard. I don't know. S'weird.
Tonight, Seacrest is wearing a striped shirt that he bought at the yacht club. "You're a fine man, Seacrest, but are you really Foxworth Yachting material? Hmm? Hmm? That is the larger question to answer, my dear boy." Ryno's shirt is a different color on the right side, and his cuffs are another color still. Maybe the lighting is weird in the studio. Or maybe he's wearing four shirts. Whatever it is, either he got a little talking to after last night's show or his supply is running low, because he's lowered his franticness by about 1000%. Or maybe Dunk is rubbing off on him.
Let's meet the judges! Randy Jackson. Seacrest tries to give Randy a little soul shake and misses by a mile. He looked like Clark Griswold asking for directions in East St. Louis. Here's Paula, and here's, "My father, Simon Cowell. And no, daddy, I'm not crossing over to the dark side." Dunk launches into his Vader impression. "Luke..." Uncanny! Simon says, "Okay, I'll laugh." Then doesn't. I think he was being sarcastic.
Dunk gives Simon the scowling of a lifetime. "How dare you not laugh at my joke! Whatever!" There's such anger between Dunk and Simon. Not light, witty banter. More like clenched teeth, dysfunctional family stuff. He truly dislikes the Brit. Especially when Simon doesn't laugh at his jokes. Nobody laughs at this stuff, and I don't scowl at them. Then again, I often like to take the high road.
Why don't we end this tension with some clips from last night? We see all the singing we're familiar with from the night previous, and we also get a rerun of Paula's suicide note joke. I wonder if her comedy writer gets residuals for that.
Now the group is going to sing a medley of hits by '80s songstress...Paula Abdul! The kids come bouncing out like they're in the worst Menudo video ever. Although, no matter how bad Menudo got, they could never top the worst 1980s-era music video. I refer, of course, to Journey rocking out down by the wharf. What a badass that guy was on the keyboards! I would never mess with his plastic ivories! He'd knife me before I could even come close.
You know, one thing I've noticed about these group efforts is that the kids can't harmonize together. They're fine on their own, really good even, but terrible together. It's as if Jordan, Bird, Magic, Shaq and Dr. J. were on the same team, then that team missed the playoffs. They just can't bring it all together. The only time they did was "California Dreamin'." Which makes me think that maybe A.J. Gil's nimble guitar work was the linchpin of this whole operation.
Here's "Opposites Attract," with Justin playing the role of MC Skat Kat. I wonder if Keanu will come out and get a flat tire during "Rush, Rush." During "Cold Hearted Snake," everybody points to Simon. I did not see that one coming. Okay, I did. I was just trying to make Paula feel better.
Tamyra and Kelly try to pull off Kid 'n Play's old "foot touch" move. Next, one of them should try to jump over their own leg. Or write House Party 8.
The kids drag Paula up on stage, and she's quite reluctant to go, I might add. She does a little dancing, but when Nikki offers her a microphone to sing, she runs away like the mic was radioactive. I guess she didn't have the proper time to warm up. We should've told her this was happening back in June.
Now it's time for fun with the Focus. Seacrest delivers pizza to the mansion. I bet it's CHEESE pizza. Get it? Cheese? Ryan? Cheesy? Ho! Ho! Score one for me!
By the way, watching Ryan wash these cars, I can only think of one thing. Doesn't this show have two hosts? Where's Dunky for all this fun? Was he busy? Isn't this his only job? Or is this his form of nonviolent protest against the goofy skits? Maybe he's with Justin, who's also nowhere to be seen. Chances are, Justin's jumping into the pool with his clothes on for the tenth time.
So, it's time for the bottom two tonight. Kelly, you're safe this week. Why is she so surprised? She's heard those words six other times before tonight.
Nikki is crying already. These Wednesday shows are just absolutely gut-wrenching on her. She's cried for the past three weeks now. The last time I cried three straight weeks, I was 8. Okay, it was last month. But I had good reason. Nikki isn't really bracing herself for the news too well. You have to think you can win! Think positive! "Nikki, you're in the bottom two this week." Oh, never mind that power of positive thinking stuff, then. Nikki walks over to the spot marked, "Reserved for N. McKibbin".
Justin. Tamyra. One of you is safe and one is not. And we'll find out...after the break. No surprises there. We're all used to this. Okay! We're back! All of us. Are you ready to buy the various goods and services you saw advertised? Good, that's the point.
Justin, you got mostly good comments from the judges. Except that Simon didn't like your Michael Jackson impersonation. Tamyra, the first song wasn't your best, but the second was great. Nothing we didn't know already.
And...Justin is safe? Teenage girls across the country exhale in unison. But what I don't get is, if Justin is safe, doesn't that mean Tamyra is in the bottom two? Tamyra? Tamyra Gray, you mean? Huh? What now? Tamyra doesn't seem to have as much problem with this as the rest of us do, because she happily skips to center stage. "La, la, la, la. This can't be so bad. It's probably fun down there."
Paula looks like she's about to cry. She's not the one getting cut. She realizes that, right? Tamyra isn't showing much emotion right now. Maybe she's so used to being on the couch she doesn't know how to react in this situation. No big deal. She's with an old pro. Nikki will talk her through the commercial break the same way a 10-year Wal-Mart veteran explains to the new, 17-year old cashier how the break room candy machine works. "Okay, sigh, we stand here, then, sigh, they come back from the break and, sigh, tell us. Pretty routine stuff. Nothing special."
So we're back and...Tamyra...you have been eliminated. Gwuh? Holy nuts! I'll be back in ten minutes after I've determined whether that actually happened. Paula is completely stunned. The audience boos like a Russian wrestler just came out to face the Hulkster.
Judges? Randy says he's disappointed for the first time. Back in Georgia, EJay shouts, "Hey! What about me?" Randy also says he'll do anything he possibly can to help Tamyra's career. Paula says it was like watching Muhammad Ali get knocked down for the first time. I think that was her own line. Simon says, in so many words, "Don't worry. My label will be signing you tomorrow morning."
Which brings us to the good news and the bad news for Tamyra. The good news is, I absolutely guarantee she gets signed to a record contact, possibly before the end of the week. If that doesn't happen, I'll sign her myself. And I don't even have a label, surprisingly enough. Although maybe I should. I bet JJ Records would release tha phattest trax, y'all!
The bad news for Tamyra is that it's going to take 45 minutes to hug all of her family members. I guess she can get over that, though.
Really, you can't feel too bad for Tamyra. She's already landed on her feet. In fact, she gave the best send-off performance to date. Her send-off song was better than most people's regular performances. The person you should feel bad for is Nikki. The conspiracy theorists are already taking their torches up to her castle. Let me just say this. There is absolutely no way in the world the producers would let Tamyra go off if they thought the voting was flawed. Trust me. I know because...uh...well, because I'm a columnist and we're all very smart. Except Jim Mullen. He sucks.
You know, Nikki has been in the bottom two about five times now, and she came out clean every time. Tamyra tried it once and got booted. Not a great batting average for T. Gray. My new name for Nikki is "Bronze", because she sorta wins every time. Like a bronze medalist, you see.
So with that, Tamyra has now left our realm. No, it's not the end of the world, but it's still a shocker. Almost as shocking as the fact that people still read this column.