(Like "sayonara", but with Ryan! Isn't that great?)
As we get underway tonight, we hear our usual dramatic intro. Bum-bah! "Last night, they sang for you. Last night, you voted." No mention of, "Last night, the Jaded Journalist was in the house watching it all unfold"? What the hey, man?
On the show previous, Nikki kept doing her little rock chick thing, which means she's a lock to end up in the tantalizing lowest three vote-getters section, just like the last two weeks. Kelly and Tamyra won't be anywhere near this group, but everybody is in at least a little danger. I tabbed Ryan as my sayonara yesterday, and after a restful night's sleep and hearty lumberjack breakfast this morning, I haven't changed my mind. I also predict that no more than five minutes after she gets cut, she'll be approached backstage by an "agent," whose gold chain is forever intertwined with his ample chest hair.
And here come the hosts! Seacrest is wearing a light gray suit tonight instead of his normal dark suit. Dunk is wearing about the same thing. His wardrobe selection rivals that of an old Russian peasant woman.
There are the kids! Sitting on the couch like normal! God bless the little ruffians! Everybody looks excited to be here, except for Ryan. She looks like she's waiting to catch a bus. In a way, she is. Dunk and Ryan say we got 9.2 million phone votes last night, a new record! I know I just mocked it, but that really is a lot of votes. I can't decide if that's great or terrible. Uh, let's go with great for now.
Let's meet the judges! There's Randy, wearing his blue shirt tonight. There's Paula. The tips of her hair have turned blonde. Somehow, I don't think they grew that way. And here's Simon! Boooo- Wait! Mostly cheers for Simon tonight. Will you people make up your minds already? He's the bad guy! Like the Iron Sheik!
One thing I've noticed is that all of the kids' clothes are fairly muted tonight. No colorful chokers. No shirts made out of potato sacks. Maybe my constant, witty jibes about the duds are finally getting through to these kids. Or maybe they just didn't put as much effort in because they're not performing tonight. It's probably the latter, but I'll pat myself on the back anyway. There.
The hosts want to ask our singers a few questions. Whoooooo! Christina, uh...Whooooooo!. Okay, okay. So, Christina? Whoooooooo! Do you...Whooooooo! Man, somebody corral these screamheads. They're downright nutty. The stagehands break out cattle prods and that finally calms the kids down.
Christina, you almost got cut last week, but last night you rocked. Why? She says that she sang that song last night from the heart. Well then, thanks for mailing in last week's effort. Nice to know you care. Ryan, "Who are you?" quiz the hosts. She says she's half rock, half pop, half r&b and a quarter of everything. That adds up to about 284%. Which is really giving yourself a lot of credit. She's pretty, though. Some sucker of a guy will do all of her adding and subtracting for her. "No, I'm sorry, dear, you can't have three halves. Just two. That's what makes them halves. Yes, I know you're Ryan Starr. Yes, I'll be quiet now. I'm sorry, dear."
You know what I could go for right about now? Some clips of the kids singing last night. Oh! And look at this! Right on time! There's RJ, busting out "Superstition". Well done. There's Ryan, disco dancing in thick, black army boots. Christina is praised for being the most improved, and the producers make sure we get another glimpse of Justin's apology. This guy is a lot more contrite than Joseph Hazelwood ever was, I'll tell you that much. Kelly was great, of course, and so was Tamyra. Who did I leave out? Oh. Nikki. Nikki has red hair.
Fresh off the success of "California Dreamin'", we present the AI Kids and their new smash hit cover, "Joy To The World". I remember learning this song in the sixth grade. I thought it was hilarious. A bullfrog? You don't say! Then we did a round of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and went outside for recess. Ah, memories.
For tonight's performance of the Three Dog Night classic, the kids have clearly put a lot of effort into rehearsing their singing and the parts they'll take. They must have been short on time, however, because they put approximately zero seconds into choreography. None of them are doing the same moves. It's just seven solo singers up there dancing however they feel like. Like if you grabbed Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira, Usher, Waylon Jennings and Wayne Newton and just threw them onstage and they all did their own thing, ignoring the others. It's hilarious! And confusing. Are they even aware other people are onstage with them? They keep cutting in front of each other and doing their little dances. Why didn't Paula map out some moves for them ahead of time? "Stutter, step, fake, turn, turn, shuffle, dazzle!"
Each of the kids gets a lyric all to themselves, and they turn it out the way they usually do. Justin, of course, does his bobblehead doll dance. I think he really enjoys the feeling of his hair flouncing around. It must feel terrific when he washes it. I wonder if he screams like those doofs in the shampoo commercial. "Yes! Yes! I'm Justin!"
And, as all songs not performed by the Grateful Dead eventually do, the tune comes to an end. Ah, that was fun. Thanks, kids! Where do I mail my check for whatever charitable cause this was for?
But the fun's over for now. Who's in our bottom three tonight? We go through the now-standard routine of rehashing the judges' comments, then teasingly letting it slip out whether voters agreed or not. Tension is good!
Tamyra, of course you're safe. Kelly, you too. Kelly looked genuinely happy and surprised. I think that's what everybody loves about her. Whenever people compliment me, I usually sneer and say, "Yeah, thanks, I know already." Then the complimenter gets mad and takes it back. But Kelly is truly happy every time. How does she do it?
Nikki. Guess what? You should probably start off the show standing center stage because once again, you're in the bottom three. "Dammit", whispers Nikki. Into the microphone on her chest. Every week, this girl is put on the hook, but she keeps coming back. She's like Rasputin. Or one of those gag birthday candles that you can't blow out. Ryan, you're also in the bottom three. I told you! I told you! Ha ha! Oh, wait. She's not cut yet. Just in the bottom three. Let me hold off on the hysterics for now.
RJ, you're safe. And hunky, if 13-year old girls are to be believed. Christina. Justin. One of you will join our group of almost-cuts. Justin looks like he's about to cry. He has no experience with this situation whatsoever. His brain is racing to figure out how to process disappointment for the first time ever. It probably doesn't help that those puka shells are cutting off the oxygen to his melon.
And Dunk says we'll find out who's in danger...after the break! Christina and Justin seem to be shocked by this news. Apparently, they haven't been paying attention when this move has been pulled every other show.
Okay! We're back! And the person joining Nikki and Ryan is...Justin! Christina is absolutely, completely, utterly and totally shocked and stunned it was Justin and not her. So are a lot of other people. I call them Americans. Here's a pretty healthy lesson in humility for Justin. He stands up and has no idea where to go. This is a new experience for him. "But...but, I always get to stay on the couch! Where am I going?" Nikki comes over and shows Justin her well-worn path to the maybe pile.
Judges? Surprised by who is up here tonight? Randy isn't. Paula hems and haws and uhs and ers in an attempt to avoid saying anything even as remotely negative as, "You could have been better." Instead, she talks about how everybody has been great so far. Except for last night, I imagine.
Simon says the show finally started last night because the three people cut to this point had no talent. Boy, Jim can't even catch a break two weeks after he went home. The two that stick around after this will be in great shape, he says. Also, song selection is key in every other show. Yes. All very good points. Thank you very much.
Let's make this easier on one of you, says Seacrest. Justin thinks, "Okay, I'm done here. They've made an example of me and I can sit down now." Nikki, you head back to the couch. Bwuh?!? Now Justin's mind is really racing. "What am I doing out here? Could I really be cut? Could people really not like me? No, that can't be possible. Look at my hair! What should I do? Help!"
If Justin survives this harrowing moment, look for a lot less attitude next week. Somewhere in the neighborhood of zero. If Ryan survives, look for her to sleepwalk through another performance next week as she tries to figure out how to get the heck out of here.
As the tension builds while we wait to find out who didn't make the cut, Justin's innate smugness starts creeping back onstage. It's possible that this is the only emotion he's capable of expressing. Or maybe he's starting to realize the show is just making an example of him. Regardless, he looks pretty comfortable for a guy on the chopping block.
And...Justin...you're safe this week. Relief! I guess Seacrest didn't want to say the actual words, "Ryan, you're cut," in order to keep any romantic possibilities alive. Smart move.
And here...oh. Not yet. And here come...oh. Not yet. And here come the waterworks! There we go. Seacrest says Ryan is a great performer and will be a star one day. I can't wait to buy whatever products she instructs me to. I hope they're tasty and/or useful and/or enhance my sex appeal, which is considerable, judging from some of the e-mails I've received. Before she goes, let's get a Ryan video montage, shall we? Lots of low cut pants, lots of belly. Lots of bow ties, lots of goofy faces. Lots of cleavage, lots of smiles from me. It's safe to say she has her look all mapped out.
Randy tells her to keep working. Paula says, "You're great and I love you," or something like that. Simon says call me any time you want for any help you want. I was thinking the same thing. In fact, if she wants to replace my chucklehead of an assistant, I'll boot that kid out the door so fast he won't know which way is up. He has enough trouble figuring that out already, anyway.
So, Ryan's run has officially come to an end. Well, she had to go sometime. Unless, of course, she won. Which, of course, she didn't. So there she goes. Man, I will miss that body. And I imagine she will too when she's 40.
Dang. Throughout this contest, I had been hoping that Ryan and Christina would be the final two. Then, the votes between them would be a tie, so they'd have the girls take on each other in a makeout contest. Now that's a recap I would've loved to write! But, it'll never happen now. Except for when I'm asleep and drop into a little R.E.M action.
Goodbye, Torsonia, Queen of the Bellies. I have a feeling that within an hour of the end of tonight's show, the editorial staffs (why isn't it "staves", anyway?) of Maxim, Stuff and FHM will be tripping all over themselves to land her as cover bait. We'll get a picture of her in a slight bikini, rolling on the beach, giving us a lecherous, pensive glare. And next to her leg will be an oh-so-clever caption like, "Ryan! Our Favorite Starr!" Or, "Super Starr!" I'll see this headline and think, "Way to go, dudes. Nice effort." I've got it all mapped out already.
And now Ryan Starr is back to being just a plain ol' small town girl, albeit the hottest girl by a mile in said small town. It'll be interesting to see her in the future. Will she become a model? A sultry actress? The top right box on "Hollywood Squares"? A coffeehouse waitress? A hash slinger at the local diner who's bitter because she never made it and her auto mechanic husband keeps her in a dinky town? It remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether she'll be going by "Ryan" or "Sweet Lady Gloria". That's my favorite so far. I hope she goes with it.