Ryan Seacrest kicked off Top 4 results night on Season 12 of American Idol with a speech that — depending on your outlook in life, or at least reality television — sounded either incredibly hopeful or deeply ominous: “I will announce some shocking news that will affect the judges and turn the competition upside down. It’s gonna be another serious night of drama.”
Ryan, who’s hummed along this season as quietly and efficiently — and with as little fanfare — as a high-end refrigerator, had already hinted at a “surprise twist” in the Idol proceedings at the end of Wednesday’s Top 4 performance show. And, of course, with TVLine breaking the news on Tuesday that the Judges’ Save had expired — and the knowledge among Idol watchers that at its current pace, Season 12 was on target to end a week short of the scheduled May 16 finale — all signs pointed to a non-elimination week, with the next ouster slated for May 2 and based on two weeks of voting tallies.
But if that was the case, how come Ryan was talking about the implications for the judges’ panel? Did executive producer Nigel Lytgoe have some nefarious card up his sleeve? Would RuPaul emerge from that trademark seam in the backdrop and demand that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey “lipsync for their lives” — with the loser being asked to “sashay away” from the proceedings? Was a quartet of semi-good-looking, semi-talented white guys about to storm the stage and engage in individual sing-offs against Angie, Candice, Kree and Amber, the better to placate hormonal teenagers whose texting fingers have gone idle since the elimination of Elijah Liu back in Vegas? Or maybe there was just a simple plan to present Randy Jackson with the thesaurus that Santa never ever seems to bring him — despite it being No. 1 on the Christmas list of every Idoloonie of every religious denomination for the last 11 years.
After performances by Season 10 grad Stefano Langone (charmingly cheesy as ever) and Season 9 champ Lee DeWyze (freed from the 19 Machine and able to actually release a catchy, self-penned tune!), it was time for the results:
“And the person who could be at risk tonight is…no one!” said Ryan, revealing that indeed, the schedule demanded a non-elimination week, and that Wednesday’s 38 million votes will be added to next week’s numbers.
Before I turn things over to you, a few additional thoughts:
* Please tell me I’m not the only one who was moved to tears when that cute little boy at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles grabbed the mic from Candice and joined the Top 4 on “Just the Way You Are.”
* The group rendition of “Girl on Fire” was — dare I say it — one of the least atrocious group numbers in Idol history. Despite an outfit that was lacking in both sophistication and fabric, Amber sounded particularly potent on the Alicia Keys track though (brace for Slezak Conspiracy Theory No. 477) I swear something weird was happening with the volume on Candice’s mic. Weigh in below if you caught that, too.
* I could make fun of the Ford Fiesta “Cloning Ryan Seacrest” spot, but let’s just be glad it didn’t end with the Idol host/E! reality series producer multiplying his stable of a Kardashians, yes?
* Amber may have “won” the “5 things in 20 seconds” battle by managing to fit in six fun factoids about herself in the allotted time, but it was Kree who won the war with her charmingly self-deprecating “I suck!”
* How could Jimmy note vocal strain from Amber’s “Power of Love” on Wednesday, then assign it an A+ on Thursday? That said, I don’t think it was fair of him to tell the audience she didn’t know the meaning of “MacArthur Park.” I needed Alicia Florrick to stand up and shout, “Objection: Hearsay!” Srsly, if it wasn’t captured on camera, then did it actually happen in the Idolverse? I say “no.”
* Jimmy’s evisceration of Kree’s choice of “Whiter Shade of Pale” made me want to dial 1-800-Trying-Too-Hard.
* I had to roll my eyes when Stefano went on and on about ladies to his left (the Top 4) and ladies to his front (Nicki and Mariah) before singing “Yes to Love,” but he plays his Mack Daddy Jr. role with such goofy obliviousness that I find it hard to root against him. Still, as far as dude’s singles go, I preferred “I’m on a Roll.” (Woo hoo hoo hoo.)
* Interesting to hear Jimmy reconfirm his belieft in Candice — and then publicly ask for her to “speak less” and save her voice for these next few weeks of competition. Do we trust Old Man Bieber? I’m not sure. But I’m 10 percent less angry about the judges’ ghastly treatment of Ms. Glover on Wednesday after they brought out her idol Drake to thank her for covering one of his tunes. Bonus points for the way Kree, Angie and Amber went berserk with excitement over seeing their competitor’s dream come true. I buy that these gals really do dig one another.
* Lee’s “Silver Lining” sounded very au courant, no? It was like if Mumford and Sons’ “The Cave” made a baby with Phillip Phillips’ “Home,” and then that baby grew up and became a motivational speaker. I know I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Season 9 champ — or his win over Crystal Bowersox — but it’s always nice to see any artist reclaim their artistry after getting steamrolled by the major-label conformity monster.
And with that, let me turn things over to you. What did you think of Season 12 Top 4 Results (Part 1)? Did you see the “twist” coming from 10 miles away? What did you think of Jimmy’s comments? How about the Candice-Drake moment? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol-related news, recaps, interviews and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!