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New ‘Idol’ rule doesn’t save departing singers

Young Jasmine Murray was the first to be sent home, and Jorge Nunez, the first Puerto Rican finalist, soon followed as "American Idol" pares down to 11.
/ Source: contributor

A new rule revealed Wednesday gives the “American Idol” judges the power to save one singer voted off by the fans, but that wasn’t enough to keep the first two finalists from getting the boot. Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez were sent home, reducing the number of contestants to 11.

Saved by Simon?: The much-hyped new rule is “The Judges' Save.” It’s a one-time only do-over that allows the judges to keep the lowest vote-getter around for another week if all four agree the unlucky loser was voted off too soon. Nobody would be eliminated under that scenario, with two getting kicked off the following week instead, and it has to happen before the field is reduced to the final five. Ryan noted that it could have saved Jennifer Hudson back in season three, although the judges would have had to be able to peer into a crystal ball and foresee that she would become an Oscar-winning star who would remain bitter about her early exit.

She’ll be elsewhere: Jasmine Murray became the first of the 13 to get sent home. Though she sang “I’ll Be There” better the second time around, the teen wasn’t compelling enough to be one of the top 11 voters. Considering she hadn’t been voted into the finals in the first place, and instead was a wild-card pick by the judges, they decided that was enough of a second chance for her, and didn’t spend their veto to save her.

Bland enough to say goodbye: Jorge Nunez also was the victim of being bland on a night when too many of his rivals were memorable. His performance of “Never Can Say Goodbye” was surprisingly flat for a singer who thrived on emotion, and it didn’t help that the Tuesday show was rushed and didn’t give his personality a chance to shine. Still, the pride of Puerto Rico became the first male eliminated.

Stress tested: Anoop Desai has spent a lot of time this season fearing he was about to be eliminated, and he’s two for three so far in surviving. First, he was knocked out of his semifinal heat by a slim 20,000-vote margin, and was sent away while Michael Sarver celebrated. Then, he thought he was out the door in favor of Matt Giraud on wild-card week, only to hear that he was actually the 13th finalist. This week ,he stood alongside Nunez and survived again. Given the amount of lives he apparently has, maybe “Anoop Dog” should be called “Anoop Cat” instead.

Prime real estate: The “Idol” finalists may have a lot of work to do each week to prepare for their performances, but at least they have some palatial digs. The Beverly Hills mansion they live in features a bowling alley, indoor basketball court, multiple pools, a steam room, and a home theater. “I’ve always wanted to live in a house like this. That’s why I’m on American Idol,” Adam Lambert said. Given the state of the housing market in California, he should be able to afford to buy it if he wins.

No need to rush: It was a sign of nerves or a lack of confidence that struck some of the boys in the back row. After Ryan called Jasmine down to the danger zone, Matt Giraud was the next singer called upon. He started to go down to join Jasmine on the floor before Ryan started his comedy routine, then got told to sit down because he was safe. A few seconds later, Kris Allen did the same thing.

Audience 1, Judges 0: A week ago, the judges made four wild-card picks. Three of them ended up among the four lowest vote getters in the first week of the finals.

Crue cover: Wednesday was also the debut of the new “Idol” exit anthem, Carrie Underwood’s cover of Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” No word on whether the Crue intends to repay the favor with their own version of “Before He Cheats.”

Wardrobe malfunction: Paula Abdul played it fast and loose with the FCC censors, wearing a low-cut top and bouncing up and down as she swayed to Jorge Nunez's final performance. If too much skin wasn't actually revealed, that was due to luck much more than her clothing choices.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.