Oh, come on now. Did you REALLY think either of the Davids would get cut tonight? Puh-leeze.
Yes, this just might've been the most anti-climactic episode of this season. I don't mean this as a burn on Syesha, who's definitely a genuine talent. But many viewers (myself among them) were shocked she made it this far, and it was hard to imagine she could go any farther at this point--not unless one of the frontrunning Davids a) pulled a Mario Vazquez and voluntarily withdrew or b) pulled a Corey Clark and entered into a scandal-mongering affair with Paula Abdul. (I could image the second scenario, maybe, with Cook...but not with Archuleta, of course. Yuck!)
But just because tonight wasn't a particularly suspense episode didn't mean the AmIdol producers weren't going to stretch the show out to a full hour, as usual. So tonight, the final pre-finale elimination episode began with the last three standing (David Archuleta, David Cook, and Syesha Mercado, for those of you living in caves not equipped with basic cable) disco-dancing their way through a kickoff performance of "Ain't No Stopping Us Now." Ironic, since one of them (Syesha, cough) was about to be stopped for good, in third place. All I knew is I wanted this dinner-theater disco number to stop, period. As soon as possible. Syesha did OK, since her style has always been kind of dinner-theaterish anyway...but Archie proved last night that booty-shaking is SO not his forte, and Cook is only good singing a song of this genre when he can switch it up and Cook-ify (or Incubus-ify or Cornell-ify) it. So this number really did not work.
Far more entertaining was the performance by season 3 champ (and Syesha Mercado heroine) Fantasia, now sporting strangely Nikki McKibbin-ish pink hair. Now this here was a real American idol, people. Fantasia (my favorite all-time Idol winner, for those keeping track at home) just killed it. There wasn't a single performance this entire season, by ANY of the contestants, that came even close to being as funky and fiery and fresh and just plain old FUN as Fantasia's performance tonight. Come to think of it, there's never been a single performance in any season, by ANY contestant, that's come as close to the greatness of Fantasia's "Summertime" performance back in season 3, so it makes sense that when she returned to the stage four years later, Fanny pretty much wiped the floor with Syesha and the Davids. It was so amazing, even Simon Cowell was rendered speechless. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but since Simon's motto is usually, "If you don't have anything nice to say, say it loudly," I'll interpret his uncharacteristic silence as high praise.
The rest of the show was padded with all the homecoming footage I had expected to see last night: Archie in Utah getting mobbed by sobbing fangirl cheerleaders, Archie subsequently sobbing himself, Syesha sobbing, Cook's old music teacher sobbing, Cook's brother (who also auditioned this year) probably secretly sobbing inside because he didn't make it, sob-inducing montages of each contestant's "journey," etc.
Normally this would be excruciating--"just tell us who got cut already, for eff's sake!!!"--but in this case it was all right. Since it was obvious that Syesha was going to be eliminated, why not be nice and drag it out for her a bit, and let her savor her last hour in the spotlight? Why not let her have one more hour of "living her dream," before she had to say goodbye?
But eventually, the hour was up. And so was Syesha's proverbial 15 minutes of fame. But here's wishing her a career that lasts a whole lot longer than that. Her idol Fantasia was a hit on Broadway, and I have a feeling Sy will do well there too.
On a side note, no one seemed too surprised that Syesha left...but Archuleta's Melinda Doolittle-esque shock upon hearing the news that he'd made it really annoyed me. Drop the faux humility act already, Archie.
Anyway, the countdown to David-vs.-David has officially begun! I'll be blogging at both the Tuesday show and Wednesday's finale next week, so please excuse me while I log off and start planning my outfits for the big back-to-back nights...