OK, I’m going to cut to the chase: Paige “Against All Odds” Miles did not beat the odds on Wednesday’s results show. She got the fewest votes, and so she was the “American Idol” contestant who went home, narrowly missing a spot in the top 10 and her one big shot to go on this summer’s American Idols Live Tour.
Paige didn’t even get a chance to “sing for her life” in hopes of earning the much-ballyhooed Judges’ Save. Simon Cowell flat out told her, before Ryan Seacrest even handed her a microphone: “Regardless of your singing, we’re not going to save you. You’re going home tonight; we’re not going to give you false hope. This isn’t working.” Paige subsequently blamed her troubles on her recent bout of laryngitis, but considering that she sang better last week, when her laryngitis was atÂ its worst–and Aaron Kelly sang well despite his tonsillitis this week–such an excuse fell on deaf ears.
If only Paige’s singing had fallen on deaf ears this week!
Anyway, also unshockingly joining Paige in the dreaded bottom three was Tim Urban, whose memorable Efron-esque knee slide just might have been the thing that saved him, but not Andrew Garcia, whom I’d predicted would be on the chopping block. (Andrew was probably saved by the much-hyped Paula Abdul cover he performed like, almost two months ago.) The one surprising inclusion in the bottom three this week was supposed golden child Katie Stevens (whose dad was actually nervously boozing it up at a bar across the street while his daughter awaited her fate), but Katie only had to stand with Paige and Tim for maybe 14 seconds before Ryan sent her to the safety of the top 10 stools.
And with that breaking news out of the way, I have something to say. Indulge me…
Many of my indie-purist hipster friends and colleagues have argued with me that “American Idol” is some evil, anti-artistic force that has all but destroyed music. But those haters’ arguments have never held weight with me, as I have always insisted that the show has in fact educated younger viewers about music from before their time. For instance, past guest mentors and performers have included Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett, Barry Gibb, Dolly Parton, Neil Diamond, Lionel Richie, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Joe Perry, Rod Stewart, ZZ Top, Billy Preston, Bette Midler, Doug E. Fresh, George Michael, Meat Loaf, Al Jarreau, Prince, Queen, Kiss…all old-school legends whose music many youngsters probably discovered for the first time thanks to “Idol.” Additionally, past retro-themed episodes like ’60s Night, Motown Night, and Rat Pack Night introduced vintage music to millions of young uninitiated ears, and even the judges’ comparisons (Brooke White to Carole King, Taylor Hicks to Joe Cocker) and the contestants’ occasional left-field song choices (Jason Castro doing Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley, Adam Lambert doing Tears For Fears/Gary Jules, Chris Sligh doing MuteMath, Katharine McPhee doing the then-little-known KT Tunstall) helped educate the youthful masses. Surely that’s not a bad thing.
This is why I was disappointed this week. Nothing against Miley Cyrus or her Disney cronies (all of whom are better performers than most of the Season 9 contestants, sadly), but really, what about this week’s episodes–with Miley mentoring on Tuesday and then performing on Wednesday along with Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas–educated or enlightened America’s “Idol”-viewing tweens? Sure, I’d like to believe that Tuesday’s top 11 performances turned a few prepubescents on to the impressive back catalogs of the Box Tops, Linda Ronstadt, Marvin Gaye, or even Huey Lewis. But c’mon: Who am I kidding? None of Tuesday’s covers of those veteran artists were good enough to convert anyone–and probably only confirmed teenagers’ suspicions that their “parents’ music” is lame. And most of the top 11’s lackluster performances practically made songs like “Party in the USA” and “Kids of the Future” sound like venerable classics.
I just wish this week hadn’t been such a tween-centric affair…and if it had to be, then I wish producers this week had stuck to their original, aborted Teen Idol Night theme, which would have made more sense given this week’s underage guest stars. Miley & Friends probably brought in some decent ratings this week, but they didn’t exactly lend the show any cred–and this troubled season could certainly use a credibility boost right about now. Maybe next week’s somewhat experienced mentor, Usher, will help out with that on R&B/Soul Night. But I have my doubts.
And one last side note here: If the show were going to eschew all cred, then at least the aforementioned Teen Idols theme could’ve led to such amusingly gooey cheese-TV moments as Hanson’s “MMMBop” reimagined as a folk tune by Crystal Bowersox, Donny Osmond’s “Puppy Love” transformed into an R&B ballad by Michael Lynche, or Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth” turned into something delightfully oddball by Siobhan Magnus (although Siobhan probably would’ve been more likely to go for something by alterna-teens like Care Bears on Fire or Smoosh). Oh well.
At least I got an obviously Auto-Tuned top 11 singalong of an old Wham! teen-idol tune, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” which just might have been THE cheesiest group number in this series’ history. (The only elements that would have cheesed it up more would have been some CHOOSE LIFE tees, Day-Glo lipstick, and tiny neon board shorts. Epic fail, “Idol” stylists!) That number was admittedly awesome, in a so-bad-it’s-awesome sort of way, although a more fitting title for the song might have been “Wake Me Up Before This ShowÂ Is Over and Paige Go-Goes.”
And so now we have our top 10: Aaron, Andrew, Casey, Crystal, Didi, Katie, Lee, Michael, Siobhan, and Tim. Ironically, in a season that was supposed to be dominated by females, the top 10 only features four girls. But I still think Siobhan and Crystal are Season 9’s strongest contenders, so we may end up with a girl-girl finale in the end.