The last two singers selected to be among the 24 semifinalists were among the first to be eliminated, as “American Idol” began the unpleasant business of whittling down the larger group on Thursday’s results show.
On last week’s selection show, Joanne Borgella became the final woman picked to sing this week, and Colton Berry the 12th man. But ultimately, all that bought them was an extra week, as the viewing audience heard them sing, looked at the telephone, and then went to bed instead of calling in their votes.
Joining them on the sidelines are Garrett Haley and Amy Davis. Song selection and nerves, the traditional bogeyman at this stage of the competition, got the best of all four.
The need to sing well every night and pick songs that aren’t exceptionally dull was the night’s big theme, but the results also conformed to a larger trend that’s been a constant in previous seasons. Older men and younger women tend to be the ones who stick around to the end, while younger men and older women have a harder time sticking around.
Out with the old…
The judges seemed to take that into account when picking the 12 women for the semifinals. Though the age limit allows singers as old as 29 to be selected, Borgella and Davis were the two oldest women picked, and both are just 25. But the ageism of “Idol” voters when picking their favorite women still held firm.
On the other hand, the guys this year are younger than usual. Six of the 12 are under 25, and four are teenagers. Two of those four are Berry and Haley, who got cut. Meanwhile, older singers who struggled, like 29-year-old Luke Menard and 28-year-old Jason Yeager, didn’t even have to sweat for a few seconds in the spotlight before being told they were safe.
That was because “Idol” did away with some of the results show drama. After all, it only had an hour to work with, and between the recap of the Tuesday and Wednesday shows, an extended return of the dreaded group performance, and the official premiere of Paula Abdul’s new video, there wasn’t much time to waste.
After the group’s ’60s medley, Ryan Seacrest looked at the 12 men sitting on stage, called up Haley, and … bam. Out he went. The cut came with surgical speed and precision, unlike the ripping off of the band-aid that Ryan usually goes with in that situation.
Ryan was slightly less nice to the women — or at least, one of them.
Kristy Lee Cook was the first called to center stage, as Ryan talked about how she had the flu and wasn’t feeling well and it was bad timing — all the usual excuses for someone singing poorly. But just when Cook was ready to grab the microphone for her farewell performance and abandon all of her dreams of buying back that barrel horse, Ryan said, “Well, you should rest up — you’re safe.” Instead of Cook, he announced, Davis would be the first woman to go.
Rock ’n’ roll nurse escapes
The second elimination for each gender had more drama, but just barely.
Borgella and Amanda Overmyer were called to the stage, and everyone else got told that they’d be back without ever having to get up off of their comfy chairs.
“That’s a lesson learned … you can’t blow your way through it. We’ve heard you better,” Simon Cowell said, as the camera cut to the traditional scene of all the other female contestants crying.
For the guys, Ryan called up the single-named Chikeze along with Berry, thus giving Yeager a second chance to impress his son and Menard another week to figure out a better song-selection strategy.
Instead, it was Berry who got sent home; he also suffered the unkindest cut of the night. Ryan asked the judges if Berry should keep on singing, and of course Randy and Paula were supportive. “That should be a question that never enters your head,” Paula said. “You are young, and you are talented. Now it’s up to you to go for it.”
Simon had other thoughts. As Berry stood shell shocked on stage trying to cope with the emotions of his elimination, the judge said, “I would say, get a good job and then enjoy singing, because I don’t think you’ll make a successful career out of it.”
At only 18, Berry has a lot of time to prove Simon wrong. But for him and the other three eliminated contestants, it won’t be on “Idol.”
And for Cardin McKinney and Kyle Ensley, the two singers cut from the competition in favor of Borgella and Berry, it was a night to turn off the TV and lament, “If only they had picked me instead.”