“Tonight another one bites the dust” says an opening title card, in acknowledgement to last night’s tribute to Queen. Not Ryan Seacrest, however. He’s vertical and looking life-like, after Wednesday’s “Idol” performance broadcast, when Seacrest looked like something the cat had batted around, gnawed on, then brought in the house and proudly laid at our feet.
And here come the judges down the stairs in the audience again. Jennifer Lopez is wearing something from her new Mae West Contempo line. Randy Jackson is wearing another piece of jewelry from the Yo collection, and Steven Tyler has come to the party dressed as a riverboat gambler.
Last night the Idolettes received “a staggering 58 million votes,” says Seacrest – 10 million more than the same week last year. Phil is so gonna win this thing.
Tonight’s guest entertainer is Katy Perry but first — a Queen tribute band, The Queen Extravaganza! Why, you’d have to go to Henderson, Nev., to see such a thing as that, and here they are — right here in your living rooms!
The band, all nine of them up on stage, or is it 10 — well, anyway, however many it takes to try to be worthy of the name of “Queen” AND “Extravaganza” — were “hand-picked” after a “Web competition”(says Seacrest) by surviving band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, who join the performers (and probably meet them in person for the first time) at the end of “Somebody to Love.”
“Their bond is working like magic,” Seacrest rhapsodizes about the Idolette’s group chemistry, by way of introducing this week’s Ford music video — but really he’s trying to scrub from our minds the horror of the previous night’s series of backstabbery videos, in which the Idolettes expressed their real feelings for each other.
Ford threw in some special effects in the video this week, instead of the usual paper cut-outs and whatnot, so sales must be up.
The show sent the Idolettes to visit the offices of celebrity site TMZ so they could “thicken their skin a bit”, says Seacrest or, as TMZ leader Harvey Levin says, to learn “how to deal with people like us.”
Who knew the TMZ staff is so unambitious in its reporting? Here’s the exclusive “dirt” they’ve dug up on the Idolettes:
*Skylar Laine and the recently booted Colton Dixon are dating, only that’s a question they were asked on-camera by Seacrest just about weekly during the finals. She denies it, as always.
*There’s a male strip club in New York called Mantasia, the same as the nickname given to Joshua Ledet because he idolizes former “Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino. Josh looks on blankly.
*Joshua and gal-pal Hollie Cavanagh have messy rooms, but we saw that in last night’s show.
*Jessica Sanchez has some embarrassing videos of herself singing in her bedroom, except we’ve also previously seen that on “Idol.”
Elise asks the TMZ correspondents if she’s not connecting with the public because she doesn’t smile. Yup, the TMZ staff agrees. Elise asks them how someone is supposed to smile fakely without getting heat for looking fake. They got nothing. Elise rests her case.
The TMZ staff looks pretty sullen and captive, like maybe they’re not loving being part of the “Idol” promo machine — in marked contrast to last season during “Skin Thickening Week” when they seemed really into it. The field trip’s biggest question does not get asked: Why does Harvey Levin get so weirdly tanned? It’s like nuclear-accident tanned. Maybe next year.
We’re going to call forward the Idolettes in pairs tonight, one from the top three in voting, one from the bottom. First pair: Jessica Sanchez and Elise Testone.
Idol Mentor-In-Chief and Designated Truth-Teller Jimmy Iovine gives his taped judgments on last night’s performances, starting with Jessica. Her run at “Bohemian Rhapsody” was “a plain old mistake” but her second number, “Dance With My Father,” dedicated to her father who is about to deploy overseas, “tugged at the judge’s hearts and the audience’s heart strings… Clever plus real talent, that’s double the vote,” says Iovine.
Iovine didn’t like Elise on Queen’s “I Want It All” (“it comes off clubby” from “a nightclub somewhere in the back of beyond”) and says she followed it with a “a double down on bad choice” with Jimi Hendrix’s “Bad As Love,” which he thinks only works when the singer is also playing the guitar — brilliantly. “One without the other, it falls apart and that’s what we got last night.”
It’s Elise to The Stools, Jessica to Safe Couch.
Look — it’s last season’s medical trainwreck Casey Abrams, who hasn’t cut his hair in a really, really long time. He’s come to dispense words of wisdom on the Idolettes. His advice: when you go on tour together, you’re going to play pranks on each other.
While the Idolettes chew on that one, Stefano will perform. He’s the artist formerly known as Stefano Langone from “Idol” past. He’s lost his last name, and found his inner boy band.
Seacrest brings Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet to center stage.
Hollie’s performance of Queen’s “Save Me” was a “subconscious plea to the public,” Iovine says. Funny, we thought it was a very conscious plea. Anyway, he says she started strong, ended with pitch problems and scored an overall B+. Her performance of “The Climb,” however, was “a great choice” and she did as well as she could do.
Joshua, on the other hand, made a believer out of Iovine this week, dispelling Iovine’s oft-spoken concerns about Joshua’s commercial viability. He was “really impressed” with Joshua for showing his ability to “cross over to pop” on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” while his second number, “Ready for Love” was “emotional, restrained, and moved all of us right where he wanted us.” If he keeps delivering “with that kind of intelligence, it will take him to the final.” But, “if Joshua gets voted off tonight, there is something wrong with the competition, the voting — the whole ball of wax,” Iovine raves.
Hollie gets The Stools, Joshua the Couch.
Time for Katy Perry! Her theme tonight: Black Hawk Down Beach Party. She and her posse descend to the fog-filled stage on ropes, like they’ve been lowered from the military helicopters projected on the back screen. Katy and the girls are all wearing camo short-shorts. She’s singing her new single, “Part of Me,” and she’s angry at her boyfriend, as are so many chick pop singers these days; she stomps around the stage till she runs out of breath, or maybe the tune ended — it was hard to tell.
Skylar Laine and Phillip Phillips are called forward, which means one of these two erstwhile popular singers is in the Bottom Three.
Iovine was not so taken with Skylar this week, as were the judges. Her Queen tune performance was “very competent,” but her song of choice “Tattoos On This Town,” which she said she picked in honor of her home town, was “self-indulgent.” “If you do a song for one town, it has to be a strong enough song to appeal to the entire country. And I don’t think that song cut the mustard. In my opinion, she got knocked out in round two.”
Iovine makes excuses for Phillip: “Ryan was not the only person not feeling well on this week,” he says. “Phillip really is having a rough time and it’s starting to show.” As a result, Phil didn’t have the energy to pull off “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Then, Phil made a tactical mistake singing a song by Dave Matthews, the singer Phil is constantly being compared to. That left an opening for someone other than Phillip to be in the finale, Iovine says. He doesn’t even mention Phil’s nasty turn dishing on his fellow Idolettes during Wednesday Night’s Get To Know Your Idolettes tapes.
But it’s Skylar who gets sent to The Stools. The waters of forgiveness must run deep among Phil’s fans. Did I mention he is so gonna win this thing?
When we return from a commercial break, the three safe Idolettes are standing with the Bottom Three on stage. Seacrest tells them they will have to go back to the Couch of Safety which, he says, he knows will be hard because “this group is very, very close” — contrary to the view into their inner thoughts about each other that the producers showed us Wednesday night.
In the end, to the surprise of no one, Seacrest announces that Elise got the fewest viewer votes and is getting the hook. In this likeability contest, the wonder is that she got so far with her dour demeanor. They roll tape of her “Idol” journey, including the memorable appearance by actor Jason Segel via satellite — in which, after he introduced himself and paused, she responded, “Is that all you got?” That’s our Elise — only that part has been edited out. The producers also don’t show the time she said the judges were singling her out for criticism to the point that she felt “discredited.”
“I remember Stevie Nicks said she’s gonna hire you; let’s take her up on that,” Seacrest says by way of consoling her and pre-empting her from grabbing the microphone, just in case she feels moved to say something searing to the judges — or “Idol” voters. Cue the band quick so Elise can rock her way off the show with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”