After Casey Abrams was recently saved (and later shaved) on "American Idol," Fox decided to get the series back on schedule in time for the May 25 finale by cutting not one but two contestants this Thursday. As Ryan Seacrest put it, in his typical dramatic manner, these were "the results that will end two 'Idol' dreams." Sigh. It was enough to make me wish there was another Judges' Save conveniently lying around. But alas, the Save is gone forever. And now, so are Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia, respectively the oldest and youngest females on the show.
Honestly, I wasn't so bummed by the loss of Stepford child Thia, who always seemed so young, so robotic, so out of her depth. But I will dearly miss Naima, the fiery reggae queen with the funky dance moves who was one of the most fascinating (if one of the most inconsistent) contestants of the season, and one of the most unique contestants in the series' history. This was the first elimination of the top 13 that truly saddened me--Ashthon Jones and Karen Rodriguez's cuts weren't nearly as upsetting--and I think "American Idol" will be a whole lot less exciting without Naima. Oh well, at least we'll see her on tour later this year.
But there was one surprising change to the results show format this week that made facing this bad news a little more bearable, or at least more interesting: Instead of performing their usual silly Up With People group numbers, all 11 contestants teamed up in duos, trios, and quartets throughout the night, with mixed results. Perhaps these combos served as a preview of the upcoming Idols Live Tour? If so, I know which numbers I'd like to see in concert this summer, and which just wouldn't work on any stage.
Country kids Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery's union on a cover of Randy Travis's "I Told You So" was near genius; the two truly sounded better together than they ever have solo. So it was no shock when they were told soon after their performance that they were both safe. (I told you so, indeed.) Naima Adedapo and Jacob Lusk then joined forces for Ashford & Simpson's "Solid As A Rock," but sadly, nothing was solid and everything was rocky about their attempt--despite their big, brassy personalities, on this dated disco number they somehow came across as the most generic of Bar Mitzvah singers. This was not the way Naima should have gone out, people. She should be remembered for "Dancing In The Street" and "Umbrella," not this snoozer.
Thia Megia, Haley Reinhart, and Pia Toscano formed a trio to warble Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream"--which was somewhat forgettable, except that it finally gave balladeer Pia a chance to pop/rock it up a bit and prove she can actually pull off songs that appeal to, well, teenagers. Timid, girlish Thia was completely outshined not only by Pia but also by the sexy Haley, so again, it was no Abrams-esque surprise when Ryan subsequently told her to take a seat on a stool next to Naima in the bottom three.
Last, and possibly least, Paul McDonald, James Durbin, Casey Abrams, and Stefano Langone debuted their new "rock group" for a performance of Wings' "Band On The Run" that never took flight. This band just should have run right off the stage. These are four talented men, separately, but together they simply didn't gel; they almost sounded like they'd never rehearsed, and this was the first time on "Idol" when I actually longed for lip-synching.
And if Steven Tyler was truly serious about inviting them to open on the next Aerosmith tour, then I'll start to doubt that he's actually clean and sober these days. Thankfully Paul, who rounded out the bottom three this week, didn't end his "Idol" journey this way, and he will be back next week to hopefully rock out more properly.
And finally, I hope all nine surviving finalists were paying close attention to this week's guest performer, Season 3 "Idol" champion Fantasia, who totally tore up the soundstage and showed everyone how it's done. Yes, her rambling music-business advice was a little difficult to follow or swallow (and all that talk about "keeping good people around you" was hogwash to anyone who's watched any "Fantasia For Real" scene featuring her married ex-boyfriend Antwaun Cook or her sponging brother Teeny). But with her voice, presence, and survivor's instinct, all "Idol" hopefuls could learn a thing or two from 'Tasia. For real.