April 5, 2012 at 10:23 PM ET
The “American Idol” judges may not be great at this whole criticism thing, but at least they’ve shown the ability to learn from previous mistakes.
A year ago, the judges used their lone save of the season on Casey Abrams. Abrams was an entertaining singer and all the other contestants seemed to love him, but he had no chance of winning. And two weeks later, when Pia Toscano was the low vote-getter, the panel had no recourse but to let her go.
Fast forward to Thursday, when DeAndre Brackensick was the singer in danger. Everyone seems to like him. The judges campaigned for him Wednesday night as if he were running for political office and was promising no taxes on iTunes downloads. Jennifer Lopez could not have sold him harder if she were officially his manager, bringing him up again and again as one of the stars of the night and urging people to vote for him.
And in fairness, he wasn’t the worst performer this week – that was Hollie Cavanagh or perhapsElise Testone, the two other singers in the bottom three. If this were a show like “So You Think You Can Dance” and the judges got to pick among the audience discards, they’d have been justified in keeping him around.
But the bottom line is that Brackensick has always been a tough sell among the fanbase. He needed Steven Tyler’s wild card just to make the final 13 in the first place, and was among the low vote-getters two weeks ago as well. J.Lo might be convinced he’s the next R&B superstar, but if they’d have saved him, odds are good that it would have been a short reprieve anyway.
It also couldn’t have made it easy that Jimmy Iovine called J.Lo out on her love for DeAndre in his video recap. The record honcho was in rare form. Of Cavanagh, he said, “Last night wasn't even a great high-school performance.” He told Testone that she picked the right song but "choked" once she got onstafe. He noted of Phillip Phillips, “It's very difficult to push yourself when everyone's telling you you're so great.”
All those comments were awesome. And all of which would have been much more meaningful had we heard them Wednesday while voting was open. Come on, “Idol.” If you’re going to st-r-r-e-t-t-ch the performance shows to the full two hours, give him the spotlight for a few minutes. At least it would interrupt the judges' cheerleading.
And come on, Phillip Phillips. Did you not read our “Idol” etiquette column? Ignore Iovine’s advice if you want, but don’t be a jerk about it.
Ignoring him may not be wise anyway, since based on this week, he’s more in tune with what the audience at home is hearing than the judges are. J.Lo can sit there with her arms folded and a sour look on her face all she wants. If the viewers aren’t buying what she’s selling, there’s not much she can do.
“I only get one vote. I’m sorry, we’re not saving you tonight,” she told Brackensick at the end.
It had to have been painful for her to say. But it was the right call.
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