You know how writers like me tend to lapse into hyperbole, and use that hackneyed old phrase "Best ______ Ever"? Well, believe it this time. This ain't hyperbole here. Thursday's "American Idol" top 11 results show was in fact The. Most. Dramatic. Ever.
The show started out innocently enough, with a Motown-soundtracked birthday celebration for 63-years-young judge Steven Tyler (who doesn't look a day over fabulous), complete with a cake the size of J.Lo's dressing room and a surprise "Happy Birthday" serenade by Motown legend Stevie Wonder. Good times, good times. But I couldn't quite enjoy the spectacle, because at the back of my mind was Ryan Seacrest's ominous announcement from the top of the show: "Tonight's result might shock you." And with this being one of the highest-staked elimination episodes of the season--the one that determined which contestants get to go on the Idols Live Tour this summer--that didn't sound like cause for celebration at all. What a party pooper that Seacrest is.
Then Ryan, evil man that he is, nearly gave me my biggest "Idol" scare since that horrible night Adam Lambert was in the bottom two, when he told two of my favorites, Paul McDonald and James Durbin, that they were "not safe." But this was, thankfully, just an elaborate setup for a gag starring one of wrestling fan James's idols, Hulk Hogan, who crashed the stage to tell the boys that they'd actually made the top 10. Not cool, Ryan. I got my revenge when Hulk body-slammed Ryan into the crowd after that, but I didn't think that was punishment enough for such cruel fakery.
Little did I know, the cruelty had just begun...
I started to breathe a bit easier and put away the smelling salts once other favorites of mine--Naima Adedapo, Jacob Lusk--went through, along with presumed frontrunners Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, and Pia Toscano. And I can't say I was too disappointed to see Stefano Langone and Thia Megia in the bottom three. But then, dear readers, came the shocker Ryan had warned about: Haley Reinhart, the girl who'd been in the bottom three the last two weeks and was widely predicted to be this week's castoff, was safe. She wasn't even in the bottom three. Taking her place on the last stool? None other than...CASEY ABRAMS, who actually received the fewest votes this week.
Yes, Casey. The lovable lug who until recently seemed like THE guy to beat. How did this happen? What went wrong? Was it the fact that he sang first this week, in the kiss-of-death spot? That he was getting just too angry and angsty and growly and, well, kind of creepy? That the producers weren't letting him play his melodica or standup bass, which would have better showcased his immense talents and unique jazz-blues style? I just don't know. All I know is America got it very, very wrong this week.
Casey looked crushed, but he put on a brave face to sing for the Judges' Save. His song choice was "I Don't Need No Doctor," but I needed a doctor, because I felt like I was going to have me a heart attack...especially when the judges cut him off mid-song.
"We know who we you are, we don't need to see you sing any more," Randy Jackson interrupted. Casey looked like the one in need of medical attention after that, as his face went as white as Paul McDonald's teeth. But then Steven Tyler said: "This is crazy wrong! We've made a decision to keep you on!"
Upon hearing that the one Judges' Save of the season would indeed be used on him, a totally stunned Casey felt to his knees, shook like one of Scotty McCreery's awkward microphone-holding hands, looked like he was about to hurl, then let out a torrent of five-second-delayed curse words. (Where was Steven's little censor-paddle when Casey needed it?) "That scared the stuff out of me!" Casey exclaimed. "I can tell what the 'stuff' is, I know," snarked Ryan.
Casey was probably freaking out too much to even truly listen to Jennifer Lopez's sage advice--in fact, at one point he almost seemed to be talking the judges out of saving him, shrieking, "Why would you do that?"--but I hope he records this episode and plays it back later, because she had a valid point. "We want you to get back to being the musician that you are, no more antics," she said. "Let people feel your soul!" Added Randy: "You don't need to growl anymore."
I know only a couple weeks ago I wrote a whole rant on how the Judges' Save is a lame gimmick to create TV drama rather than help contestants, but I'll make an exception in this case. Casey is exactly the kind of contestant who deserves another shot, because an Idols Live Tour without his "antics" would be no fun at all. (FYI, it's now going to be a tour with all 11 contestants, so we'll still have to sit through Haley's set, or else use her onstage time as an excuse to hit the beer and merch lines.) I just hope that Casey--and my other favorites--step it up in the weeks to come, because now that the one Judges' Save is gone, AND there's a double elimination next week, there will be no more second chances.
And my heart can't take another night like this. Parker out.