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TV Column
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 05/06/2011

‘American Idol’ 2011: Jacob Lusk goes home


How did Jacob Lusk fare on results night? (Michael Becker - Fox)

Tonight the five Idolettes will get trimmed to four on “American Idol.” Judge Randy Jackson is wearing more zippers than a travel bag; Jennifer Lopez is wearing a Renaissance romper. And Steven Tyler has dug out his aviator glasses to make everything look like the 60’s.

In rapid order, show host Ryan Searcrest plugs Tyler’s new tell-all book, JLo’s new single, and Randy’s bake sale in Tarzana. In fact, JLo will perform a live version of her video for her last single, “On the Floor” for us tonight -- which is a relief, because it was last March that we saw the “Floor” video on “Idol” and we’ve forgotten some of its finer points.

Sixty million votes were cast after Wednesday night’s show, Seacrest notes.

But, before we learn the results, all five Idolettes are pressed into service singing “Happy Together,” as Tyler’s aviator glasses merrily sing along.

Then, it’s time for [Car Company] Video in which James Durbin is shown juggling while balancing a chair on his chin, and Scotty McCreery pretends he can perform wheelies on a BMX bike, just so Lauren can be seen parallel parking a car with no hands. Because it’s a feature car companies seem to be pushing these days.

And still the producers are not done pressing the Idolettes into service, laboring so that others can make millions. Honestly, it’s like something about of a Dickens novel the way they work and work these kids, and then work them some more. This time they’re compelled to become props for a “Hell’s Kitchen” promo in which famously mean chief Gordon Ramsay says he’s going to judge them based on their omelet-making skills.

“Are you not going to teach us first?” asks Jacob Lusk. Good for Jacob! Ramsay looks at him incredulously.

Ramsay says Haley Reinhart’s omelet is “pitchy” – as in needing to be pitched into the trash. James Durbin was supposed to “rock” his omelet, not make it hard as a rock, Ramsay guffaws. Jacob Lusk’s omelet looks like vomit, Ramsay says, and he actually spits out Scotty McCreery’s omelet, it’s that bad. Only Lauren Alaina’s bacon and cheese omelet is pronounced up to snuff. Except then Ramsay, remembering he needs a runner-up for part 2 of this promo, pronounced Jacob’s vomit omelet to be okay as well.

Lady Antebellum performs “Just a Kiss.” We find something a bit off about a man and a chick singing a love duet about making out in front of a fire – while a third guy, on the piano over on stage right, harmonizes with them. Where does he fit in to the storyline? Is he peeping in the window or something?

And it’s back to work for the Idolettes – this time shilling for Bing. The Idolettes talk about how they choose their songs and their costumes while an animation of the search box from the search engine Bing appears at the top of the screen every so often. We kill time during this too-long promo by Binging NBC’s singing competition “The Voice.”

Finally, Seacrest starts the Process of Elimination.

“You might be surprised,” Seacrest warns. Not unless James goes home for making a hash of his Harry Nilsson tune on Wednesday and bragging about how ragged it was, Seacrest!

Seacrest calls James forward. We’re loving the new feature in which in-house mentor/music industry mogul Jimmy Iovine assesses performances on results night. Its’ like the show’s three judges have been busted down to traffic court, while Jimmy gets to be the Supreme Court and final judgment. Can’t wait to hear what he has to say about the judges having nicked him on Wednesday for giving Haley that unreleased Lady Gaga tune to sing, and for having insisting Jacob do a non-Luther Vandross tune.

And, thank you, Iovine, for pointing out that James tanked on his Harry Nilsson tune when he got all weepy and missed every note. “He was overcome by emotion and his voice closed down,” Iovine said, adding, “To become a great performer you have to be able to control emotion.” The judges, of course, had raved over the performance, saying that while it was off note-wise, it was “emotionally” perfect.

Seacrest tells James to stand at the far side of the stage.

Next up, Lauren Alaina, whom Iovine chastises for having bailed on the big notes while performing “Unchained Melody” on Wednesday.

“Her fear overcame the performance,” Iovine says. “That is her Achilles heel…I believe because of ‘Unchained Melody she will be in the Bottom 3 tonight.” The judges had raved about that number on Wednesday.

Lauren is told to stand at the opposite side of the stage from James. We know where this is going. The third and fourth Idolettes will be divvied up between James and Lauren and then Idolette No. 5 will be asked to go stand with the group he thinks is safe.

Time for Part Deux of “American Idol’s” Gordon Ramsay plug. Lauren and Jacob are subjected to blind taste tests. There’s steak, tofu and hot dog. Lauren correctly identifies all three, while Jacob gets all three wrong – he actually spits out the tofu, thinking he just ate a mouthful of lard. So we hear, anyway. In solidarity, we have donned our sleep mask.

When we wake up, JLo is re-enacting her music video for “On the Floor.” She’s in shape, that’s for sure. This is quite a workout for the “American Idol” judge: power walking, mat work, smashing a water tank and, best of all, keeping her balance while standing on a rising and falling pillar. It’s a catchy tune, kinda fun, so why does she look so somber all the time? Pitbull shows up – he’s the guy who does the patter in the middle of the song, but he’s really out of place surrounded by all the half-naked dancers wearing black pants and leather harnesses over bear chests. Did JLo owe him a favor or something?

Next, a teaser video clip of JLo’s next single, “I’m Into You,” in which we see her cuddle with a male model on a beach in what appears to be Mexico.

So now we have James on one side, Lauren on the other and we dim the lights to hear Iovine hand down a judgement on Jacob: “I think his nerves are getting the best of him…when you lose confidence, everybody knows it.” He rates Jacob a 6.

Jacob is sent to stand with Lauren.

Haley’s next. Definitely, this time Iovine has to slap the judges – particularly JLo who criticized Haley for listening to Iovine and singing an unreleased Lady Gaga tune.

“I felt she had to do something risky and dangerous” to get out of the bottom of the pack, he says, but instead JLo “grabbed me by the neck” for his song choice. He says despite the judges kicking her around, Haley “showed no fear…No question in my mind on all points, Haley gets a 10. She won the night.”

Haley is sent to stand with James.

And, finally, Scotty who, Iovine says, “came up a bit short but he is a great, great natural talent… I have no doubt he’ll have an extraordinary recording career whether he wins this or not.”

Since there’s no suspense here, Seacrest declares Scotty safe immediately – then demands he go stand with the two he thinks are safe. Scotty refuses so, after Seacrest is satisfied that Scotty’s squirmed enough, he pushes Scotty over to James and Haley – they’re all safe. James falls to his knees like a man who has just witnessed a faith healing.

Lauren is weeping and looking very shaken. “Hold tight girl, hold tight”, Seacrest tells her because it’s commercial break time.

Commercials done, Ryan orders the lights dimmed and – after 60 million votes, Jacob is going home.

“Now I can put out that great R&B record!” Jacob enthuses.

Roll some tape of the judges saying how much he moved them – back when he stuck to singing Luther Vandross and gospel, like they told him to.

Then Jacob sings his way out with Vandross’s “A House Is Not A Home,” including the longest vamping, riffing ending to a tune in “Idol” history. In fact, Jacob wasn’t finished with it when the show finally signed off.

(Photo Gallery: “American Idol”)

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 05/06/2011

 
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