Early in Thursday's "American Idol" top nine results show, Ryan Seacrest presented contestant Paul Jolley with a framed certificate declaring March 16 "Paul Jolley Day" in Paul's hometown of Palmersville, Tennessee--right before ruining Paul's current day by informing him that he was in the bottom three. Poor Paul then had to drag that plaque all the way to his stool of shame. This wasn't quite as cruel a bait-and-switch as the one Ryan pulled on Chris Daughtry or Michael Johns the nights those contestants went home, but still, it wasn't very nice.
And now Paul's going to have to haul that heavy wall-hanging all the way back to Palmersville, because he was eliminated in ninth place this week. However, he took the news admirably well, declaring, "Hey, I have my own day! I think that's pretty great, right?" So Jolley stayed jolly till the very end. Good for him.
Given the negative critiques that Paul's Lennon & McCartney Night "Eleanor Rigby" performance garnered this week--compounded by his season-long identity crisis, as he repeatedly insisted that he wanted to be a country singer while one of country's biggest superstars, Keith Urban, insisted that Paul wasn't country at all--his elimination was not a shock. Nor was it an injustice. But the way the rest of the top three panned out kind of was.
Joining Paul in the bottom three were Devin Velez and Amber Holcomb, two very excellent vocalists--but not Lazaro Arbos, this season's far-and-away weakest singer, who gave what Randy Jackson called his "worst performance ever" on Wednesday and received even harsher criticism from Jimmy Iovine on Thursday. (Jimmy also implied that Lazaro had fibbed about only learning "In My Life" the night before he sang it. Whoops.) The audience boos that resounded when Amber (who Jimmy said should've been in the top three) and Devin were sent to the bottom-three stools must have made Lazaro feel pretty lousy. And if this keeps happening, week after week, he's going to feel lousier, as he quickly morphs from sob-story sweetheart to Sanjaya-style punching bag and Vote For The Worst posterboy. Lazaro, who seems to be a little thin-skinned and has dealt with enough bullying in his life already, needs to leave "Idol" before that happens--for his own sake, as well as the show's.
Anyway, midway through the episode, Season 10's sixth-place jazzbo Casey Abrams and his bassy made a very welcome return to the "Idol" stage, to perform a scatty version of the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There." And it was some of the most fun I'd witnessed all season. Casey's wild performance was a sad reminder that while some of this year's contestants are stupendous singers, none of them are as interesting or entertaining as the kids from Casey's cast, when the show had big talents with big personalities like Casey, Haley Reinhart, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, and Naima Adedapo. Those were some good times.
Last season was more interesting as well, with unique contenders like Phillip Phillips, Joshua Ledet, Skylar Laine, Colton Dixon, Elise Testone, DeAndre Brackensick, and even Heejun Han. Last year's runner-up Jessica Sanchez also hit the "Idol" stage this Thursday to perform her insanely catchy, refreshingly uptempo debut single with Ne-Yo, "Tonight," and her performance was just the jolt of energy that "Idol" needed.
(Oh, and don't even get me started on Seasons 7 or 8, aka the best "American Idol" seasons ever…)
My point is, something is missing for me this "Idol" season. Will the remaining eight contestants be able to fill that void during next week's Motor City Night? Eh, probably not. I'm dreaming of them covering nothing but Iggy & The Stooges, the MC5, and the White Stripes, of course, but they'll probably just rehash the same tired old Motown covers we've been hearing since Season 2. Sigh. I'm going to have trouble revving up my own motor for that.
Until then, Parker out.
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