To open the festivities, Ryan Seacrest on Wednesday night explained the “new rule,” which he referenced as Judges’ save. Apparently, the judges will have the option to “save” a contestant voted off, but it has to be unanimous and they can only use the “save” once a season. If the judges use the “save,” nobody goes home that week, but the next week, 2 are eliminated.
At the beginning of Wednesday’s show, the new digs for the “Idol” contestants were shown, and they were quite mansion-like, with hot tubs and bowling alleys. The contestants worked till midnight and then got up at 7 a.m. to rehearse their group number, which was a medley of Michael Jackson songs. The obligatory Ford music video was also displayed, since Ford is a major sponsor of “American Idol.”
During the lead-up to the announcement that Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez were going home, it was acknowledged by Ryan Seacrest that the standout performers last night were Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert.
First up, Michael Sarver was told he was safe. This probably thrilled him, but, to me, he is one of the weaker contestants, overall. Second Allison Iraheto, the 16-year-old redhead, was also declared to be safe. This seemed right. Jasmine Murray came up third. She was asked to come down to the center of the stage, without any real explanation. Matt Giraud was up next; he tried to join Jasmine center stage, but was declared safe, instead. Kris Allen, the heartthrob of the competition (and, also, a newlywed) was asked to stand and was joined by Megan Corkrey. Kris was told to be seated, although he, too, began walking downstage. Megan joined Jasmine center stage and was told that Megan was safe, which meant that the public voted off Jasmine, unless the judges chose to exercise their right to “save” a candidate. Jasmine then sang, looking beautiful as ever but not really demonstrating that she had the musical chops to compete against the likes of Allison Iraheto or Alexis Grace from Memphis. Maybe “Ill be there” just wasn’t the best song choice for the pretty young girl. The judges were consulted and they decided to send Jasmine Murray back to Mississippi. She became emotional and cried, but Ryan did some hugging and comforting and a video montage was shown of Jasmine being comforted and encouraged by her mother.
After Jasmine was let go—which, let’s be honest, was deserved—the camera lingered on the face of the crying girl before returning to the other contestants to see who else was going to be eliminated. A commercial break interrupted the emotional good bye, and we were encouraged to hold on for Kanye West, who was to perform following the commercial break.
Kanye West, from Chicago, is one of those artists who started out as very entertaining (“Golddigger” with Jamie Foxx was a favorite) but soon seemed to have gotten a big Hollywood head. The tragic death of his mother (during liposuction) earned him some sympathy for a while, but he behaved badly at a few awards ceremonies, and, presently, is supposed to be helping Chris Jones reconcile with the girlfriend (Rihanna) he beat bloody. I’m no longer a big Kanye West fan, …if I ever was.
But I hung in there past the commercial because, like everyone else hooked on “American Idol,” I wanted to know which other unlucky contestant was going to be sent packing, if any. (You may remember my money was on Jasmine, Jorge or Anoop, but, of the 2 now left, I would keep Anoop over Jorge based on last night’s performances. Although the judges really beat Anoop up over his selection of “Beat It” as his song, I found it to be enjoyable.)
Kanye West, on the charts 9 years, performed “Heartless” from his new album, with a dramatic silhouette effect prior to his entrance. Then came the technically altered stuff he is now doing, the dark glasses, Kanye’s giant ego, his generally tuneless rendition of “Heartless.” Every note he sang sounded like it had been technically altered, which was probably the case. The song certainly is not likely to become a classic: banal lyrics, repetitive rap. I couldn’t wait for it to be over, although I did enjoy the back-up singers. The male looked a little like Dennis Rodman and the female had huge shoulder pad things that made her look like she might take off in flight at any moment during a strong breeze like the ones we’re having here in Chicago right now. Other than that and Kanye’s appropriation of the judges’ table for a dance platform, I could easily go through life without ever hearing this song again. (Yes, I know. I’m not “with it.”) The song ended with Kanye on his knees. Considering that he is apparently instrumental in getting Rihanna to go back to the batterer Chris Brown, that seemed like a good place for him to stay for a while, saying a few prayers for the poor girl. (I agree with Oprah: “He WILL hit you again!”)
Then, we had yet another commercial for a Ford Fusion, featuring the voice that sounded suspiciously like that blonde guy on “Desperate Housewives” who is married to Nicolette Sheridan and apparently an escapee from some hospital for the criminally insane, since he has been busy killing people and blaming it on others for the last several episodes.
We also were treated to the Verizon “Friends and Family” advertisement. I was so gullible as to purchase a Verizon Blackberry Storm, which I returned after 9 days muttering never again.” Subway got in a few licks. Kraft Tuscan House Italian salad dressing: up next. The Osbournes Redux with a new really low-brow comedy in which a blindfolded young man is tricked in to making out with a grandmotherly type.
Back to the eliminations: Scott McIntyre was asked to stand up. He was pronounced safe and sat down. I couldn’t help but notice Scott during the “tour” of the mansion. He’s a blind guy and they’re showing him around. (Weird.) Alexis Grace sang “Dirty Diana” last night and was up next after Scott McIntyre and was found to be safe. Danny Gokey was pronounced ‘safe” next, which surprised almost no one. Anoop Desai came up next and was sent to center stage. Adam Lambert was judged after Anoop and the crowd went wild. He was pronounced safe. Now, the last 2, front row, bottom left, were Jorge Nunez and Lil Rounds. Jorge’s song (“Never Can Say Goodbye”) was not well received. Lil Rounds, clad in a much better outfit, was asked to stand alongside Jorge. Jorge was asked to join Anoop center stage, and Lil Rounds was declared safe.
My guess, at this point, was that Jorge would be out. Milking this final cut for all it was worth, a commercial once again intervened. Target (ties, pillows, etc.). T-mobile ad that features the same character actor who plays a totally cold-blooded murderer on “Damages,” which is unsettling for me, anyway. An ad for “Role Models.” An ad for Reese’s, which, given the fact that peanut butter has been killing people (finish that thought)…. An ad for 11 new episodes of “Bones.” An ad for Fox Chicago news. A McDonald’s ad for McCafe Latte. An ad for Jewel-Osco. (How many ads is this, so far?) A talking Billy Bass fish ad (also McDonald’s) and then, blessedly, we were back with “Idol” hearing Kelly Clarkson singing from “All I Ever Wanted,” her new album. Kelly returned to the stage clad in a black pants suit with a gold top. She looked chunky, but it might well have been the style of the outfit. Kelly was never the most svelte of the winners, but she has been one of the most successful. “My Life Would Suck Without You” was discussed, one of Kelly’s new songs. Kelly chose to let us know that she was “not in a relationship” right now and sang “My Life Would Suck Without You.” At first, she sounded like she was stuck in an echo chamber. That effect stopped after about 4 notes. I wondered if it was a leftover sound effect from Kanye’s previous turn at the microphone. Kelly strode the stage in her black pants looking pretty substantial through the waist, hips and thighs. She almost looked like she had selected an outfit that would hide a pregnancy, but I decided that was just my imagination. Her singing was certainly far superior to Kanye West’s technically altered digital turn and her song at least had a melody. So, rock on, Kelly, …but hurry it up so that the rest of us can say good-bye to Jorge (or Anoop). (My guess, right now, prior to the announcement, is that Jorge will be returning to Puerto Rico and I just want to say to the person who left me a message in Spanish on my last article that it wasn’t me who was mean to Jorge on Tuesday night.
Now come the never-ending commercials again: Ford Hybrid(s). (It’s about time you got around to making hybrids, Ford. I’ve been driving a Prius since 2002, 7 years ago). Then, an ad for an animated movie (“Hey, hey, we’re the monsters”), “Monsters vs. Aliens. Then a bra ad for Victoria’s Secret. Then, Minute Maid. Following Minute Maid came squirrels playing guitars with CG singing actors advertising Comcast. Then, Fox Mondays (“House”) were touted. A local spot notified those of us in Chicago that it was going to get colder in Chicago. Chef Ramsey (“Hell’s Kitchen”) was also advertised for Fox’s own line-up.
Now, Anoop and Jorge were awaiting the outcome of 33 million votes and Anoop, indeed, prevailed. Jorge, who had a better singing voice, was left to the judges’ mercy and sang his song again (“Never Can Say Goodbye”). I had a feeling (prior to the announcement) that Jorge might be spared. He really does have a good voice. He is Latino. He cried in pure emotion during one performance. Have we seen the last of Jorge?. I type this as he is singing. Paula likes him. (She is up dancing). The two male judges are consulting. When asked if they are going to “save” Jorge, Simon says, curtly, “No.” A video montage of Jorge’s journey is shown. I feel worse for Jorge than I do for Jasmine, even though, this night, it is Jasmine, not Jorge who cried. Jorge was actually very talented vocally.
And that was it. (Picture me waving at Jorge and Jasmine as they depart). Good luck to the remaining 11 contestants.