Bring out the judges: Steven Tyler is decked out in velvet and shrink-wrap leather, and Jennifer Lopez has put on a sexy cocktail dress for her date with Mr. Rogers, aka sweater-vested Randy Jackson.
The entire population of Idolettes perform Stevie Wonder’s “As,” after which, in a Ford video, all the Idolettes get scaled up to the size of Jermaine “Gentle Giant” Jones and stomp around Los Angeles, stepping over buildings, to Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time.”
Roll tape of Super Mentor and Second-Guesser-In-Chief Jimmy Iovine, who will begin his weekly critiques of the Idolettes’ performances from the previous night.
“God mass-produces billions of people — in my opinion too many,” he begins.
What? So now we’re jumping into the Limbaugh versus Fluke birth-control debate?
“But in the case of Whitney Houston, he stopped everything and made one by hand,” Iovine continues.
Okay, now we know where this is going. Jimmy is addressing the notion that occurred to many on Wednesday — that the girls got a harder assignment when they were told they had to sing Whitney, compared to the boys, who had to sing Stevie Wonder.
Anyway, Iovine continues, because of God, “it’s difficult to sing these songs” — though singing Stevie “is no walk in the park, either.”
So let’s whack some Idolettes — there are too many people anyway. Elise “The Dour One” Testone, Hollie “Big Voice Little Girl” Cavanagh, and the enormously talented Jessica Sanchez are called to the front by Ryan.
Elise “didn’t rise to the occasion,” Iovine chides.
Hollie, however, “delivered on the promise.”
And Jessica tackling “I Will Always Love You” was “probably the best performance I’ve ever seen of anyone on ‘American Idol,’ ” Iovine proclaims. But, Mr. Glass Half Empty Iovine worries Jessica will “believe the applause too early” and grow overconfident.
Jessica and Hollie go through, Elise gets sent to The Stools, as Ryan calls the penalty box.
Next, double threat comedian/singer Heejun Han, Jermaine, and Colton “Lestat” Dixon.
Stevie Wonder songs show up all of Heejun’s flaws, Iovine mourns.
And Colton hasn’t found his truth yet.
Jermaine was thinking too much, Iovine says, and takes issue with Tyler having said Jermaine’s Wonder tune fit him “like an Armani suit.” Armani suits, Iovine says, don’t come that large.
To The Stools with Jermaine — Colton and Heejun are safe.
Next a performance by Lauren Alaina, last year’s “Idol” country cutie. Alaina has spent the past year releasing her debut album, dropping weight, and losing that charming shyness. She does a brassy rendition of her single “Georgia Peaches”.
Call forward the interesting but uneven performer Erika Van Pelt, Shannon “Stretch” Magrane, and Skylar Laine — this year’s Lauren Alaina.
Iovine thinks Erika needs to work on her “presentation.”
Nerves “tightened” Shannon’s vocal cords, Iovine says, while Shannon insists her voice only cracked on one note. She is not remembering correctly.
Plus, JLo needs to get used to Skylar sounding “nasally,” because Jimmy likes nasal.
Erika is sent to The Stools where a mike picks up either Erika or Elise saying “it’s the old ladies.” However, they’re soon joined by the teenage Shannon.
Skylar and her nasal passages are safe.
Four boys are brought to center stage: Philip Phillips, Jeremy Rosado, Deandre Brackensick, and, probably the best voice among the guys, Joshua Ledet.
Ryan notes a report (TMZ) that Philip was “not feeling well” and asks if he went to the hospital. Philip says he didn’t. On the other hand, neither did TMZ — it just wrote up its report for maximum hysteria. Philip says he went to see a doctor.
Joshua is “very good” doing an uptempo song, Iovine says, but he also predicts people will get tired of his voice, without explaining why.
Deandre, on the other hand, was “a pleasant surprise” Wednesday night.
And Philip “came really knowing who he is, which is a big advantage,” Iovine says. He feigns concern that “these girls have a lot of vocal fireworks and that could outshine him in weeks to come” — as though he isn’t aware that the past several seasons of “Idol” have been won by safe, scruffy white guys with guitars.
Stevie Wonder tunes are custom-made for Jeremy’s voice, but he “did not deliver at all,” Iovine says. “I think Jeremy will go,” he forecasts.
Philip and Deandre are safe, but Joshua and Jeremy go to the holding pen.
And then, just like that, Ryan pulls Joshua and Erika away from The Stools and sends them to safety. “On this show anything can happen — and it will!” Ryan giggles.
Guest Super Mentor Mary J. Blige performs her new single and shows the kids how to sell the emotion in the song, and yet, it’s a forgettable number. Thinking this is not going to be another “I’m Going Down” for her.
So now we have Elise, Jermaine, Shannon and Jeremy center stage, and Ryan asks Tyler who he thinks should go and — because the producers have been getting notes from the producers, telling them to toughen up — Tyler responds, abruptly, “Jeremy.”
That shock over, Shannon and Jermaine get sent to safety, leaving just Jeremy and Elise awaiting their fate.
Ryan the Relentless now wants Randy to be the tough judge. “Did America get this right?” he asks. “Not exactly right, but probably, I’m thinking,” Randy says definitively.
Enough with the prevarication. Ryan asks Jennifer to deliver the Judge’s decision. This one must have cost JLo some reverse goosies, because their judgment is against Jeremy, who was her Wild Card pick and who she said was “blessed by God.”
But on “Idol,” we have to answer to a higher authority.
Wednesday night: Top 13 perform Whitney and Stevie tunes
Last week: Top 13 finalists revealed
Last week: Wednesday night: Top 12 girls perform
Last week: Tuesday night: Top 13 guys perform