Well the world waited with bated breath last night to see if their favorite was safe. Fans of American Idol are becoming polarized around their favorites, but long time fans know it is best to keep an open mind until, at least, the top twelve.
So what exactly did happen last night? Well-first, props to Ryan for doing his best to make those grueling eliminations interesting. It's a hard task.
This week we discovered that Americans had cast 32 million votes. If only elections could generate such devotion. Ryan introduced the cast and then the top twenty did a group song of "Joy to the World."
The first group of boys to face the judge were Phil, Chris Sligh, Sundance, Blake, Jared and Nick, with Nick going home. In my previous recap, I mentioned that Nick needed more umph in his performance of "Fever." It seems that America agreed. Nick has a terrific voice but he needs to work on those skills which make a performer interesting and exciting. I enjoyed the performance tonight better.
The first group of girls consisted of Stephanie, Gina, Sabrina, Miranda and Alaina and, as expected, Alaina got the boot. Note to future auditioners. Don't sing Dixie Chicks (although I like them). They are a controversial group. The girl contingent is strong this year, and we will lose some very good singers. Alaina tries to sing her good-bye performance, but struggles with emotions. The girls surrounded her to help her out... a very touching moment! Remember contestants, you are all going to get the axe except one. Was that Sundance crying?
Sean Jones from Wisconsin was in the audience last night, beaming from ear to ear. He was the first winner of the AI Challenge. Question for next week: Which of the former AI winners was a big winner at the Grammies this year?
Next up was pretty Kellie Pickler, who sang the song she co-wrote about her mother called "I Wonder." I had my tissues handy because she breaks my heart every time I see this. Who can look into those beautiful, tear-stained eyes without thanking God for your own mother?
Back to eliminations...the four boys left standing are Chris Richardson, Brandon, Sanjaya and AJ. Chris and Brandon are quickly told to sit back down because they are safe. A lot of people who thought Brandon was the next to go are surprised. I'm not! Sanjaya had done a poor job by all accounts on Tuesday night and he fully expects to go home. But he does have a faithful fan base already, so it is AJ who has to leave. He is very gracious about it and does a beautiful job of singing "Feelin' Good." Paula is disappointed and says tonight doesn't reflect a singing competition. Randy thinks that it's just not right.
The last group of girls, consisting of LaKisha, Haley, Antonella, Leslie, and Jordin, step forward. Leslie is told she is going home. Simon thinks that America may not have sent home the right ones.
Before Leslie sings, we see the usual video montage of the four contestants leaving. Good-bye and good luck.
Leslie takes the stage and gallantly sings "Feelin' Good," only she changes up the words at the end to "Why did I decide to scat; America don't care for jazz." Props for making that statement!