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Video: ‘Idol’ sends first finalists home

By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 3/18/2010 11:45:47 AM ET 2010-03-18T15:45:47
RECAP

After the wackiness of last week’s semifinal round that saw Lilly Scott among the surprising eliminations, it was a relief that there were no big shocks in this week’s “American Idol” voting.

It’s hard to argue with Lacey Brown getting sent home, or the judges’ refusal to use their save on her. She wasn’t great this week and never really found her rhythm while on the show. And if she wasn’t really the worst performer this week, she also wasn’t close to being the best.

It would also have been hard to argue with Paige Miles or Tim Urban — the other members of the bottom three — getting the boot. But ultimately there was a reason that both deserved to stick around. Miles had laryngitis Tuesday while she was performing and could still barely talk on Wednesday, while Urban at least tried to do something different by bringing the Stones to Jamaica and getting the reggae vibe going — even if it failed miserably.

Not only did America get it right this week, it didn’t even make anyone sweat who didn’t deserve it. Good job, voters!

And it was especially hard to argue that any viewers missed the group sing, mercifully absent from Wednesday’s episode. Bring back David Cook every week for a live performance, if that’s what it takes, but the lack of the 12 finalists looking like an off-off-Broadway musical revue was much appreciated.

Here’s one thing to argue with, however: the whole concept of an hour-long results show.

Nobody needs to slog through 55 minutes of filler to get to the payoff. (Apologies to Ke$ha and the Native American headdress she swiped from the Village People exhibit at the wax museum for her act; Orianthi, who performed “According to You,” just in case the three people who didn’t hear it on the radio today were going through withdrawal; and to Cook, as well as the fine folks at Ford who came up with another year’s worth of cars to force the “Idol” finalists to make commercials for.)

And it feels twice as long when Ryan Seacrest channels his inner Mike Wallace and asks questions to kill the clock. Apart from Crystal Bowersox, who usually can think of something to say, the rest of the contestants react by stumbling around for the right combination of jargon to satisfy him before he mercifully bails them out.

The judges aren’t much better, and it would be great if Ryan would stop asking Ellen DeGeneres questions such as whether she agrees that any of the singers in danger deserve to be saved. Of course she’s going to hem and haw — she’s the Nice Judge this season, for crying out loud. And never again ask Randy Jackson to explain why he likened a singer to Justin Timberlake, or he might once again react like he did Wednesday — by doing a vocal impression of what he meant. Did we really need to hear that? No, we did not.

So week one of the finals is officially in the books, and it went pretty much as expected. We learned once again that the secret to success is to have a “moment,” connect with the audience and figure out some catchphrases to have in your back pocket in case Ryan asks you a question.

And if the next time we see Lacey Brown she’s performing as “₤acey,” we’ll know she took the show’s lessons to heart on her way out the door.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/craigberman.

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