Another big night. Aren't they all? Well, sometimes. In tonight's case, yes. It's big because after this show we only have two left. Two recaps, that is. How will we cope?! Oh, and we'll be down to the last two singers as well. I guess that's important, too.
The ol' dramatic intro. So reassuring. As the important words play, we see a shot of our kids lined up. Kelly and Justin have nice easy smiles on. Nikki looks like she has other things on her mind. Like, "Where's my blue hairbrush? Did I pack it already?"
It's a special one-hour show tonight. So you know what? I'm going to put an extra half hour into this column! Just for you! Will it be worth it? Hard to tell at this point. But it isn't looking good.
Our hosts start out in the audience again. So, they start from the stage on Tuesdays and the crowd on Wednesdays? Good to know. Of course, with only two shows left, that information is basically useless.
Ryan reminds us that tonight is a specially extended version of AMERICAN IDOL. And "I am a specially extended Ryan Seacrest." Whoa. Back on up. And here's the other white meat, Brian Dunkleman. He said it, not me.
Their walk in tonight is the longest hike ever. Where are they coming from? Burbank? Seacrest is working the extra-long shirt cuff look again tonight. Is that in now? I'd better get a copy of GQ to see what's up.
Brian and Ryan chat and chat and chat to start the show. So, the extra half hour will be filled with snappy host banter? Great.
Hey! Look at that! All of the old kids are back. Even Adriel! Remember him? Even Brad Estrin! Remember him? I wonder what they've been up to. Mowing lawns, I guess. I gotta admit, I can't remember the name of the dude between A.J. and Brad Estrin. He looks kinda like the dad from Family Matters. I'm so embarrassed I can't recall his name. Boy, we really do forget these people after they get cut. Ah, I'm sure it'll come to me.
The hosts finally arrive at the judges table and Ryan tells Simon that he forgot his shirt last night. Then he holds up a tiny black shirt he stole from a doll. I hope that prop fits in the show's budget. Simon smiles, hoping the hosts will go away. Dunk says he'd like to see that little shirt on Paula. Right now! He's a bit pushy about it. I don't think he's joking.
Let's check out some clips of last night's show. Kelly was "consistently excellent." Nikki, not so much. And Justin saved his best for last, they say. Hmm? Anybody order the foreshadowing?
Like the past few weeks, it's now time for a group performance. Maybe this one will be better because there are fewer heads and voices competing for space. And now...here are your three finalists! Well, there's Justin, at least. Oh. There's our two girls. The gang's all here! Love! Love will keep us together! It sure will. I hope you all remember that in today's topsy-turvy world.
Justin has worn leather pants in the past, which really takes a man of a certain...well, it definitely takes a certain kind of man. Tonight, that kind of man is wearing a leather shirt. Or maybe it's vinyl. Either way, I bet it's cold and feels weird.
Each of our three gets a moment in the front. That's the best part. They still can't harmonize. Maybe they're all in different keys. Or registers. Really, I'm just throwing out buzzwords. I don't know all that much about music. As many of you have guessed by now. Anyway, another nice performance by the kids. Aww.
After the song, Ryan does an awkward impression of the kids' little dance moves. And that's putting it lightly. Then Dunk informs us that love can't keep this group together because your votes will rip them apart. Why do they give him all of the sour lines? Let Dunk spread his wings! Or don't. Either way is fine.
Coming back from the break, Seacrest is whispering with Dunk and the mics pick it up. Ryan says, "Yeah, I'm gonna fight him." What was that all about? I don't think that was supposed to go out on the air. Whatever it is, I hope they were talking about Simon and not me. I hate being punched in the face. I'm a lover, not a fighter. And I'm not even a good lover.
The hosts start talking about how hard it can be to get to this point. Then the big monitors fire up. Uh oh. Something taped is heading our way. Hey! There's Ryan Seacrest walking toward the front gates of CBS Studios. I wonder what will happen. The same way I wonder if gravity still works. Ryan gets held up by the guard at the gate. The kids breeze right in with their Ford Focii. Eventually, Seacrest can't get in and walks away. Hey, he didn't have it that bad. Dunk didn't even get on camera. That's two bits in a row in which Dunk was AWOL. Something's going on here. I'd get to the bottom of it, but I'm busy/lazy. You do it.
So now, let's recount the tumultuous journey of Nikki McKibbin. On the couch, Ryan mentions to Nikki that she said she thought she would be eliminated the past few weeks. I wonder why she would think that. Maybe because she's always in the bottom two.
During the montage of Nikki moments, we see her getting dumped in the bottom group for four straight weeks. What are they trying to say?
We're back from the clips. Do you want to hear Nikki sing? Yeah! Ryan says this could be her last song ever on AMERICAN IDOL. Man, they're going hard on her tonight. Nikki will be reprising her version of "Black Velvet." I wonder if Alannah Myles is repeating her performance from last night as well. It stands to reason that she's still hammered. She is a Canadian with a lot of time on her hands, after all.
Nikki is wearing one of those bottle cap belts I see in stores. Those things have to be impossible to get through belt loops. This is a pretty good effort from Nikki tonight. Better than last night, actually. It would be pretty funny if she got cut on the night of her best performance. But good for her anyway!
Time for a commercial, and when we come back, Ryan and Brian try to promote something. I can't tell what since they keep interrupting each other. I think they're riffing now. Nothing good can come of this.
Let's bring out Justin! Before they get too far, Seacrest feels the need to run out into the audience again. He loves it out there. Dunk glumly says, "There goes Seacrest again." Oh, that wacky imp! Seacrest's mission was to track down Justin's father in the crowd. I'm glad. We hardly ever see what that guy's up to.
Justin, has your dad given you any advice during this experience? Justin says his pop told him to, "Always smile, because if they're running you out of town, if you're smiling, it looks like you're leading a parade." That's actually pretty sharp advice. Seriously. Somebody should put that on a sugar packet. I think I like Justin's old man better than Justin now. It's not like he had a long way to go, anyway.
During the montage of Justin's journey to this point, we see his first audition in NYC. Man, his hair was way shorter back then. He almost looked like a jarhead compared to now. They show all good stuff during Justin's clip. They certainly don't show him ending up in the bottom three in four straight weeks. Although they did rehash the night he went over Simon's head. When the crowd cheered, he said, "That's the opinion that matters." I'm glad I finally figured that out. Then they show his sheepish, showy apology from the following night. Hilarious moment. And not on purpose.
Ryan asks Justin about the rumor that he's cutting his hair next week if he's still around. Justin laughs and denies it. Not even a trim. You know, that wouldn't be the worst idea ever. Kid's starting to look like he has a bathroom mat on his head.
"Let's Stay Together" again. Again, Randy and Paula start dancing. It looks like Randy's dancing with his daughter. He dwarfs her. Over on the couch - correction, the Red Room couch - Seacrest starts breaking it down. Hip! After the song is over, Justin makes it clear that "I love you. I love you so much." We voted last night, guy. That won't help now.
Time for another commercial. Go get some chips or something. "Welcome back to your AMERICAN IDOL results show! It's on, baby!" Then Seacrest does a weird little jig and runs to nowhere. What is with this guy? Doesn't he have any kind of internal editing system that clicks on and says, "Hey, don't just do everything that pops into your head,"? It sure doesn't seem like it.
Now it's time for Kelly's journey. In the Dallas auditions, Kelly offered to take Simon's place at the judging table. That's pretty forward. I'm usually bashful around new people. I guess that's why she'll be an AMERICAN IDOL and I'll be dead in six months.
Will this montage of Kelly moments have anything bad in it? Is that possible? Maybe they'll toss in some of her acting to balance things out. Oh, here we go. After "Walk on By," Randy says it wasn't her greatest performance. I guess she was only really good, instead of amazing. What a nadir she bounced back from there.
Seacrest has his legs crossed like a dandy as he talks to Kelly. Just putting that out there. You do what you want with it. Then he asks her about the new highlights in her hair. Please see above. He mentions that he gets blond highlights too. Kelly sardonically says, "Really? That's great." Man! In three words, she summed up what I've been trying to get across for weeks. She does everything well!
So here's Kelly's encore performance of "Without You." Again, not the Crue version. Man, this is good. Top notch. How does she keep doing this every week? Continually blasting out those big notes? I'm waiting for her larynx to pop out of her mouth and try to crawl away to safety one night. "No! No more, Kelly! Leave me alone! I can't take this much more."
During the performance, Randy has his eyes closed and is doing some weird head bob thing. Is this what he looks like in the studio? You know, when he's with Whitney, Aretha, Mariah, Celine, et al?
You know, this has been a pretty fun show so far. A lot peppier than most Wednesdays. It's almost like they're not going to rip out somebody's heart and stomp on it on live TV. S'nice.
Back from another break, and now it's time to break the news to Nikki, Justin and Kelly. Oh. Never mind then. You know, technically, they're all in the bottom three tonight. And the top three. Mindbender!
Nikki doesn't receive the best comments in the world. Again. The music is suspenseful here, but the moment isn't. Let's just shuffle Nikki over to the "in trouble" side and be done with it. On the other hand, there are lots of good comments for Justin the Great. Kelly? Eh, why bother? You can imagine what her comments were like. Here's a hint: They rhyme with "very, very good."
And we'll find out who's heading home...after the break. You know, I thought there was a lot of time left in the show. I think they fooled them that time. Really. Having Ryan say it was a nice twist. Well done!
So, Nikki has gone head to head and survived against Ryan, Christina, RJ and even Tamyra. But can she take down Justin and/or Kelly? Well, we're back from the break, so let's find out.
But first! America got it wrong when they voted off Tamyra, says Ryan. Judges, what should they have done last night to get it right? Randy says they should've voted for the best two. Nice dodge. Paula evades too. Simon says it's very simple. If Kelly and Justin are on the Kodak stage next week, America got it right. Geez, I can't believe he said that. I mean, we're all thinking it, but he actually said it.
And when he did, Nikki had a terrific look of contemplation of her face. It was like some chick in a roadhouse bar just spilled a beer on her, and Nikki is deliberating whether to smash a bottle or a pool cue over the offending chick's head. A look of, "All right. Okay. You had your turn. But how about this?!!!!!" Crush!
Please step forward, Nikki. Uh oh. It can't be good for her to be separated from the group. They couldn't be doing a super double twist on us, could they? Nikki takes a couple of reluctant steps forward. She might as well keep going, because America has voted and Nikki, you have been eliminated.
The crowd gives her a standing ovation. Simon VERY reluctantly joins in and angrily looks offstage at whoever coerced him to do so. Paula is so heartbroken, she forgets to open her left hand to clap. Instead, she pounds a fist and a palm together.
In the audience, we see a shot of Nikki's mom. She looks like she's plotting some revenge on Simon. Something that probably involves inserting things into him and twisting them. Don't mess with Texas!
Nikki definitely opts to see the silver lining. She sounds like she's thanking somebody for inviting them to a party. "Thanks, I had a really great time. It was a lotta fun." And she's not even crying for the first Wednesday in months. Wait. Wait. There she goes. Okay.
Judges, any parting words for Nikki? Randy says she made it very far and shouldn't give up. Also, she should tip her hat to herself. I wonder what that would look like. Paula tells Nikki to be proud because she never compromised. Maybe it hurt you here, but it'll propel you to superstardom. Or at least a bar band in Austin. Either way, she's going farther than me. Simon tells Nikki it's time for a reality check. Oh, this may not be pleasant. "Out of 10,000 people, you finished third." It's no time for tears. Oh, those British and their practical outlooks!
So now Nikki can head back to Texas and look after her kid again. I tell you, her babysitter must've racked up a ton of overtime pay. "I don't know where your mother is. She said she'd be back by 11. That was in June."
There you have it, folks. Two kids left, two recaps left. Everything is so much more important now!