A week ago, the “American Idol” judges gave three wild-card spots to contestants whom the viewers didn’t consider to be among the top 10, completing the field of 13 finalists.
In the first week of voting since then, the audience gave one of them right back.
Ashthon Jones did not take advantage of her second chance, becoming the unlucky 13th-place finisher. Her Diana Ross number on Wednesday didn’t convince the skeptics that they were wrong on their initial assessment, so her exit wasn’t much of a shock, though it did cause all the fans of Lauren Turner, Kendra Chantelle and Robbie Rosen to note that their favorite runner-up couldn’t have done any worse.
Joining her in the bottom three were Karen Rodriguez and Haley Reinhart. Both were the victims of uninspiring song choices (with Rodriguez also citing technical difficulties). That indicates that the other two wild-card picks, Naima Adedapo and Stefano Langone, did a solid job of getting the support that was lacking in the semifinals.
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But Jones did not, and after the least convincing “but the judges COULD use their save” announcement ever from host Ryan Seacrest, she gave the same kind of performance that landed her in the bottom three in the first place. And off she went.Story: Vote: Rate the 'Idol' performances
One was missing
A savvy viewer, or a first-grader with basic counting skills, noticed only 12 singers onstage for the Michael Jackson group medley.
That’s because for the second time this season, Casey Abrams had to be hospitalized. He nearly missed his semifinal chance in late February, and has now bailed on his first chance to unconvincingly lip-synch to the King of Pop. Maybe he had a premonition of how awkward the routine would look and decided he needed a doctor’s care at the thought.
Here’s hoping that whatever is wrong with him is not something that will force him off the show. “Idol” nearly lost Crystal Bowersox to health issues early in the competition a year ago, and she wound up doing OK. So there’s hope.Story: Simon Cowell says 'Idol' is better without him
Don’t bother getting up
There wasn’t as much drama as usual in the selection of the bottom three. In fact, Adedapo, James Durbin, Scotty McCreery, Paul McDonald, Thia Megia and Pia Toscano didn’t even have to get up off the couch. Nice work if you can get it — particularly for Megia and McDonald, who had to be at least a little nervous.
Lauren Alaina, however, was not so fortunate. She had to go up onstage with Jones and Reinhart like a high-school truant and admit that she hadn’t sung very well on Wednesday and deserved detention. Mollified by the confession, Ryan mercifully sent her back before she also copped to smoking under the bleachers and writing mean things in lipstick on the other girls’ lockers.
One added incentive for the "Idols" to stick around: the luxury accommodations.
Thursday’s episode featured some scenes of this season’s “American Idol” mansion, and let’s just say that even Charlie Sheen might call the kids “winners” and consider his own compound inadequate by comparison. Those are some sweet digs.
But I’m not sure about how the “Idols” treated their new home. Jumping on the beds? Cartwheels on the carpet? Tossing around a football? Sliding down the stairs? That’s not a good way to be invited back.
The finalists also got to see their first movie preview, “Red Riding Hood,” and hobnob with the famous people on the red carpet. Amanda Seyfried returned the favor by showing up in the studio audience, probably noting that her singing in “Mamma Mia” would have been plenty good enough to keep her safe this week if she were a contestant.
Craig Berman is a frequent contributor to TODAY.com. Want the latest reality television and TV news? Follow us @TODAY_Clicker.
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