Last night proved to be plenty interesting as we saw the Justin Express - next stop, finals! - run off the tracks. And we also watched Ryan transform from a simple small town girl into a larger than life diva demanding an organic fruit platter and twelve bottles of water in her dressing room. Room temperature, and peel off all labels, please.
Which makes tonight a very big night indeed. Big. It's time to trim the fat a little bit more, and Ryan may be on her way out in the biggest shocker since...well, since the show started. On top of the world one day, flash a little too much ego, and you're on the discard pile. That'll never happen to me of course, since I keep it so real.
Let's get into it by starting with a quite dramatic intro bit. (deep voice) "One of these kids..." The point is, one of these kids will be cut tonight. But who will it be? We won't know for another thirty minutes. The serious music helps build the tension, which is its job, so everything is strictly aces to this point.
We pan across the kids standing in a line. Each of our buddies is making a funny face as we move across. Mmm, maybe funny isn't the right word. Let's just say faces and leave it at that.
Our hosting boys come out and the show officially gets underway. Ryan has gone right up to the precipice of black tie formal, didn't like what he saw and took a few steps back. He's wearing no tie tonight, and his jacket is flappingly open. Back to casual chic for this guy, as Vogue might say, if you can find it amongst all the ads for perfume. Dunk has different hair than last night. Not blond or anything, just styled differently. That guy always keeps you on your toes.
We got more than eight million calls last night, they say. So let's recap what happened the night before. It was definitely "Ladies Night". Girls good, boys bad. Which is my policy, too. They show Justin giving Simon a little dose of the sass mouth. That little bit certainly won't do him any favors, especially if anybody missed Tuesday's show.
So, kids, what do you think about last night? Any regrets? Ryan thinks her song didn't express her vocal range, or lack thereof, some people are surely thinking to themselves right now. Shame on you people! Be nice! But the song expressed who Ryan is, which she claims is a tough rocker girl. Maybe we should send her down to the Bowery around midnight and let her fend for herself, eh? I have a feeling some time next year, we'll be seeing Ryan on a syndicated cable show beating up guys with unconvincing karate. Girl power!
Justin, do you regret what you said to Simon last night? Apparently, Justin's "handlers" have had a little chat with him since Tuesday. He backpedals from his comments so much he ends up outside of the studio. "Well, what I mean was...you see...actually, I meant..." Come on back here, young fella! We won't hurt you.
Time for a couple of taped bits. In the first, we poll the kids on who is the loudest in the house. The first two pick Christina. Christina picks everybody. Hmm. I guess we have our answer then. Ryan picks Nikki, and not in a friendly, "hee hee" kinda way. More of a "God, she never shuts up and I want to shove a pillow in her mouth!" kinda way. Lesson: do not cross the luminescence that is Ryan Starr! She deserves special treatment! Kelly says A.J. is the loudest person in the house because he's always singing. I bet that got annoying after about twelve minutes. His cavalcade of brothers and sisters is probably happy to have a little quiet around the homestead for a change, with A.J. bunking in the mansion for now.
And now, a totally unrehearsed, spontaneous moment showing us what the kids do during their free time. Lucky for us, nine cameras and four microphones happened to be on hand to capture the magic. The kids have rallied 'round the campfire to belt out "California Dreamin'" A.J. does a fairly convincing guitar mimic. "Okay, I'll put my hand here on this thingy, and now it looks like I'm playing!" Justin and Ryan keep fighting for the lead. Share, kids! You'll all get a verse. It ends up being a nice moment, if only slightly manufactured. Luckily, nobody choked to death on a ham sandwich while singing Cass Elliot's part. Although, I think one of the neighbors tossed an old shoe at them from next door. "Pipe down, you crazy kids! People are trying to sleep here!"
So, let's get to the meat. Finally. Which three got the fewest votes last night? Let's recap the judges' comments as we give the results. We should all be familiar with this drill after last week. RJ. Randy and Paula liked you, but Simon said you weren't AMERICAN IDOL worthy. Wait. What am I doing? You can read all of this about five inches to the left. Get to the results, man!
RJ, you're safe. "Whew!" And your quilt shirt is the tops. "Hey, thanks." Kelly, you're safe. She doesn't seem very surprised by that news. Ryan. Her face portrays all the confidence of somebody lying in a guillotine right now. The waterworks may start flowing soon. Ryan, you are one of our bottom three tonight, sayeth the hosts. She gets up and jauntily skips over to her new spot. Maybe she doesn't realize that being cut is bad. Much like last week when she didn't get cut and started bawling. This girl's got it all backwards!
Tamyra, you're safe. There's a surprise. A.J. He looks a little confused. A common look for him, I imagine. He's in the bottom three, as well. I put his pants in the bottom one of all time. Justin, you're safe. For now. Justin looks genuinely relieved. Maybe he's learned his lesson. I guess we'll find out this Tuesday.
Nikki. Christina. One of you will join this group...after the break. Oh! Again with this? Heart wrenching! During the break, Natalie Imbruglia tries to sell me hair coloring. I don't need any because my hair is already lush and beautiful, but what I'm wondering is, does Natalie make music any more? Has she retired? Is she strictly a pitch girl right now? What's the story here? Ah, who cares? Let's go back to the show.
Back from the break, and Nikki and Christina are nervously holding hands as they wait for the other shoe to drop. Two shoe references in one column! Is there anything I can't do? What do they have against Nikki anyway? Are they going to leave her flopping on the hook every week now? It's excruciating. But hilarious. For me. Not her. I wonder if during the break, Christina asked, "Hey, you have experience with this incredibly uncomfortable situation. What should I do?" Nikki's response may have been, "Hope that it's you against Jim."
The even worse part is that the person that loses this mini-battle has to go right back into another war, being one of the three potential cuts. And, on top of that, they have to stand near Ryan, who looks really, really pouty and uncomfortable right now. She could snap at a moment's notice.
The third one to join our potential losers is...(long pause)...Nikki...(longer pause)...you're safe! What a twist! Christina, come on over. Man, that's a lot of talent standing together right now. Not singing-wise, but nice.
Judges, are you surprised by the three people standing here tonight? Randy isn't, but Paula throws it in reverse and runs away from any potential criticism at 100 miles per hour. Um, I think these kids have done amazing to this point. Simon rightly says Paula must be joking. Christina wasn't at her best, Ryan was appalling and A.J. isn't worthy of being there. He's only slightly more direct than Paula in these matters. Paula tries to disagree, but Randy says he thinks Simon's right. Whoa! Are the unholy alliances shifting?
Ryan is hating Simon right now, by the way. No man talks to her like this! I'm Ryan Starr! She looks fully resigned to being cut. And she's very pouty about it. Great attitude!
You know what? Let's let one of these kids off the hook. What do you say? Christina, you're safe for another week. She looked awfully relieved. Another lesson learned, potentially.
A.J., Ryan. One of you will be safe again this week. And it will be...coming up after this break! Oh! Again! They're killing these kids! I love it!
During this break, I'm trying to envision the glares Ryan is giving the judges, hosts, producers, cameramen, assistants, crowd members, lighting guys, ushers, ticket takers and anybody else within a 10-block radius. I don't imagine they're very pleasant. Not very pleasant at all.
We're back! Okay, who's going and who's staying? It's...Ryan mouths "Ryan" before Dunk reads the card, as if it's completely inevitable that she's leaving. Boy, she does not handle adversity very well. Or at all, for that matter. And...(long pause)...Ryan...(long pause)...(real long pause)...(okay, already!)..."You're safe". Now there's a heaping dose of humility, and it was force-fed with a giant shovel. Let's see if she learns her lesson for next week. She still looks furious that they would dare make an example of her. How dare they! Don't they know I'm Ryan Starr, America's Crush?!
Let's have a few A.J. moments before he goes for good. It's a touching video tribute. Man, now I feel bad that he got cut. Maybe I shouldn't have badmouthed him so much. Eh, I'm sure I'll have forgotten by tomorrow.
Dunk and Ryan are fawning over A.J., and Randy and Paula give him a standing ovation, although Simon doesn't budge. Or smile. Apparently, A.J. is the greatest guy on Earth. I thought it was me, but I guess I've been bumped down to the two spot.
A.J.? How are you feeling right now, little buddy? "Well, this, you know, was my first audition, and, um, you know, it was a great experience, and, uh, erg, you know, I hope to keep trying, and, you know, um, have a lot more experiences that I, um, you know, experience." This kid might eventually make it as a singer, but I think we can rule speechwriter out of the equation.
Any advice for A.J., judges? Randy says keep trying. Paula claims A.J. is better than Simon because he's experienced the high of performing, and the only high Simon will ever get is if he "smokes his own shirt". Huh? Seacrest tells Simon he has to admit that A.J. has improved since we first saw him. I wonder what Simon will do with this softball of a setup. Maybe he'll shock us and say, "You know, Ryan, you're right. I never really thought of it that way. Let's bring back Jim while we're at it."
Instead, Simon advises A.J. to "get better". Well, that was straightforward. And here we go! Judge spat! Simon says that words are hollow and cheap. I assume he doesn't mean mine. These babies are priceless!
Paula, you're a choreographer, work with A.J., chides Simon. Paula reminds Simon that she also won a Grammy, and if she brought that up any more forcefully, she would've just shoved the little statuette right up Simon's how do you do. In Simon's defense, Starland Vocal Band once won the Grammy for Best New Artist, and Toto once won for Album of the Year. So maybe Paula shouldn't put all of her eggs in the Grammy basket. Yeah?
Seacrest gets on Simon's case too. Simon's retort? You love him so much, put him on your radio show. Seacrest freezes dead. His face says, "Uh, um, let's talk about you again, please." I guess Ryan doesn't love A.J. so much after all.
Paula says to Simon, "This is what happens when you're breastfed by your father." That's better than anything I've ever said. Or dumber than everything I've ever said. I can't decide. I'll let you know later. But what's gotten into her lately? She protects these kids like a lion over her cubs.
So there's goes A.J., and, if you believe popular opinion, all of the dead weight has been trimmed from the finals. Every cut after this week will be devastating. Isn't that right, Ryan? Geez. Better not ask her anything right now. She looks like she was hoping to get cut so she could just get out of here and start sorting through her offers to pose in magazines. She resembles Jennifer Lopez after she finds out her trailer was stocked with cantaloupe instead of honeydew. She looks like...ah, you get the drift.
Big group hug at the end, and Ryan may or may not have mouthed "I want to go home". I might just be starting a rumor for the fun of it. But you'll never know! Ha ha ha ha! Oh, I'm so clever! Unless you have Wednesday's show on tape, in which case I'll have been foiled again! Drat!
On one last note, my assistant is faithfully sorting through your e-mails to me and picking out the best ones for me to read. And ladies, don't be shy about including photos with your messages. I want to see who I'm dealing with here. So keep those e-mails coming! I'm paying this kid almost $88 a week to read my press, and want to make sure I'm getting my money's worth! If you don't get a response, it's because this kid can't figure out how a keyboard works. The letters aren't in order, he claims. He's not the sharpest knife, but he'll do, I guess.
Carry on, everybody!