The American Idol Judges’ Save is kind of like that panini press in the back of your pantry. It seemed pretty nifty when you got it back in 2009, but you’ve ended up using it only once every 12 months, and now you’re like, “Is it time to put this contraption out on the front stoop and hope somebody takes it off my hands?”
Of course, once you get the thing out and dust it off, you think, “Oooh, I might have a little hunk of gruyere in the cheese drawer. Maybe I should make me a sammie.”
I figured that might be the prevailing attitude behind the Idol judges’ table tonight: Keith, Nicki, Randy and Mariah knew they had to use their veto power before Top 5 week, or put it back in storage till next year. The only question was: Had the gruyere passed its expiration date?
There was a five in six chance that we’d hear the hiss and sizzle (and electrifying audience roar) that accompanies the
making of a hot cheesy sandwich Save. After all, the judges have been heralding Season 12′s quintet of female contestants for months on end — and this week in particular, the chicas lived up to the hype. You might be #TeamCandice or #TeamKree, but you also know there are genuine merits to being on #TeamAmber, #TeamJanelle and #TeamAngie.
Which left only Lazaro “Last Man Standing” Arbos as the giant question mark. Indeed, if the worst-performing contestant ever to advance to the American Idol Top 6 — and yes, I’m well aware I’m saying John “Crocodile Rock” Stevens, Jasmine “It’s Raining Men” Trias and Nikki “Never Forget Tamyra Gray” McKibbin were better — finished No. 6 in America’s vote this week, how could the judges possibly justify using the ol’ J.S.? The discomfort of his botched lyrics, ill-chosen notes and frozen smile in the face of brutal criticism was about as fun as, well, having one’s hand pressed between two piping hot metal plates. But then again, knowing how the show’s producers love trumped-up drama, could they leave such an opportunity unused?
Let’s cut to the results and find out. Ryan started by separating the contestants into three groups:
FAR SIDE OF THE STAGE
CLOSEST TO THE SEACREST
Turns out Candice and Kree were the week’s Top 2 (though we don’t know in which order). Anyhow, America got that part right. (Hip, hip…hurrah!) Janelle and Angie were the midpack players. And it was Lazaro and Amber in the Bottom 2. Any possibility of suspense evaporated when Ryan told Lazaro he was the lowest vote-getter, and the kid with the heartbreaking backstory about struggling with a stuttering problem began singing “Feeling Good” with all the enthusiasm of a devout nun at an Insane Clown Posse concert.
The judges quickly said “Nyet!” to their final chance to use the Save, and Lazaro — his armor already up around his eyeballs — grinned weakly. “Sounds good,” he shot back. “No problem, guys.”
“Keep that smile on your face!” said a perky Ryan Seacrest, unwilling or unable to detect the pain and disdain percolating beneath Lazaro’s expression.
And with that, Idol‘s Lazaro Epidemic is finished. We’ve got ourselves as solid a Top 5 as we could’ve hoped for, and I say let the games begin! How about you?
Before I sign off, a few quick thoughts and observations:
* I’m guessing Nicki Minaj spent more time in makeup and hair this week than the Top 6 did rehearsing that listless Bacharach medley. Okay, a few individual moments were pretty — and Amber and Candice nailed “One Less Bell to Answer” — but nevertheless it’s clear there’s not time in the kids’ schedules for these results-show ditties. Why not scrap them and make room for one additional Idol grad per episode? Crystal Bowersox, Katelyn Epperly, Paul McDonald, Blake Lewis, Brooke White and (gasp) even Lee DeWyze all have relatively recent releases to promote. Plus, wouldn’t it be a travesty if we went yet another season without a performance from my Idology cohost Melinda Doolittle? Come on, Nigel! Make it happen!
* Jimmy’s “Notes from the Idol Message Boards” segment felt a tad rushed this week, and if I’m being honest, I think his “more personality needed” critique for Kree was poorly timed after her Top 6 Week performances. (Maybe Rock Week and Motown Week, her vocals lacked the proper oomph and connectedness, but she upped her game on Wednesday and deserved more credit. Or at least that’s what my ears believe.) As for ranking Lazaro No. 10 out of six, it felt a little unnecessarily cruel — at least after asked the soon-to-be-doomed contestant about his nervous giggle. “I thought his comments were really funny, so I laughed,” said Laz, in one of the least convincing line readings since Khloe and Mario ended Season 2 of The X Factor.
* Scott McCreery hit a few rough patches on “See You Tonight,” but the lyrical content and melody were a significant improvement — and felt decidedly more genuine — than most of his freshman album. I didn’t really need Ryan commenting on his “big guns,” though. Blech.
* I like how Idol’s been flashing back to its performing graduates’ own experiences on the show before they come back to perform. Kelly seemed as goofy and charming back in Season 1 as she does now with her 20 million albums sold and trio of Grammy awards. Not surprisingly, she sounded astonishing on “People Like Us” — and dare I say this might be my favorite single of hers…ever? Or at least since “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” anyway.
* Yes, it was well past time for Lazaro’s exit. And yes, someone behind the judges’ table needed to offer him a few kind words. But how tone deaf and phony was it to have his harshest critic Randy Jackson calling him “a treasure to the show”? Ugh, Randy: Still the worst after all these years. The less said about Lazaro’s “Feeling Good,” by the way, the better.
Okay, your turn: What did you think of Season 12 Top 6 results night? Are you glad Lazaro is gone? Were you surprised to see the Save left on the table? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!