Jermaine Jones' elimination and Joshua Ledet headline an otherwise underwhelming night
By Carla Patton
This week, the Top 12 perform songs from the year they were born. This can either act as a demonstration that the late '80s and '90s were not a great time for music, or it can allow some to shine by making a dated song their own. Each of the early weeks has its own pitfalls that the contestant needs to avoid -- singing the same type of song week after week, not making the song their own and, as always, poor song choice. The only reason I'm giving it such gravity is because I've been reading the "Hunger Games" trilogy, and now I see each of the Top 12 as tributes and Ryan Seacrest as the Head Gamemaker. Or maybe Caesar Flickerman. But I digress.
The drama has started Wednesday night before we even get a chance to hear them sing, because outlets are reporting that Jermaine Jones will be kicked off for lying about his criminal past. Where do we go from here? Will he still sing? Only time and Ryan Seacrest will tell.
Ryan tells us right away that producers have discovered information that forced them to eliminate one of their Top 12 from "American Idol." He tries to spin it: "Anything can happen on a live television show!" But it still comes off as strange. The judges walk out, as Randy playfully brings Ryan in tow. Ryan escapes just in time to go to the top of the stairs and walk down again. What a diva.
"One of our finalists had to be eliminated last night," Ryan reminds us. "But we'll get to that later!" First, let's see some baby photos of the judges! Predictably, Randy brings up Ryan's baby photo. He looks chubby, and Ryan notes, "Apparently I was a carb lover." Such a diva!
Phillip Phillips is up first, and we learn that he was premature. His parents, who are the sweetest ever, get choked up talking about Phillip's health problems. Phil has kidney stones now and has to have surgery right after nailing it in rehearsal. "Thanks for singing," will.i.am says. He's singing "Hard to Handle" (as performed by Toots & the Maytals). He sang it quite well, especially for just having had surgery. I liked this performance better than his moaning, groaning rendition of "Superstition" last week. Randy tells Phillip that he's unique and that he loves the song choice. Jennifer says, "It's in every cell of your body, not to get too medical right now." Steven also thought it was a great song choice. The '90s are working in Phillip's favor!
Jessica Sanchez made such an impact last week. She has a lot to live up to going second and singing a song from 1995. Apparently she used to cry and then faint? Is that a thing? Jessica is singing "Turn the Beat Around" (as performed by Gloria Estefan). The useless will.i.am tells her she is a "swaggernaut." Thanks for that. Jessica is wearing some very fun, sequined pants, and I appreciate that she chose an up-tempo song. I don't know about this song choice specifically, but she is having fun with it and still gets to show off her pipes. Her dramatic pause before the key change was successful, I think. Steven tells her not to stray too far from ballads, which she does best. He likes her pants. Jennifer agrees on all accounts, saying that the performance lost some energy and her vibrato is so big that it didn't totally work. Randy agrees, too, but really loves Jessica.
Heejun Han was born in 1989 to his completely adorable parents!
He's singing "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx. Heejun got will.i.am's autograph and Fergie's phone number. Will that brief rehearsal moment be enough to save him from this likely-to-be-boring performance? When he's singing, he is so earnest. He's so likeable that we can almost overlook the snooze-fest. I love his voice, but this performance was not exciting in the least. "I didn't really enjoy this at all," Randy tells Heejun, "It was pitchy … It felt like you were out of breath the whole time. It was just the wrong song, wrong time -- not a great performance for me." Jennifer stuck up for Heejun because we all want him to succeed. But the performance itself, in a vacuum, was not great. Aww, look at his cute girlfriend in the audience!
Elise Testone always used to get into trouble. She kept telling herself to appreciate the fact that she's here after last week's save, and will.i.am told her to smile more. She's singing "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green, made famous by Barack Obama. She's singing a mellow, slowed-down version to start. Then the music kicks in, and it's a great fit for her. The dress was kind of awkward, but the performance was redeeming. She even remembered to smile at the end. Jennifer liked it, and Randy declared that "Elise is back!" When it's right, it's right.
Deandre Brackensick was born in 1994, and nothing can keep his mom from showing the video of Deandre in his "Music Man" costume dancing at the TV. Deandre came in with "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" because he has probably seen "The Lion King." But Jimmy suggested "Endless Love" because … um, hello, Luther Vandross. It seems like a clear choice for Deandre. But as the performance goes on, it seems like it's showing off all his vocal weaknesses. If this is all he has to offer a ballad, I think I'll be ready to see him go soon. Jennifer didn't love the song choice but likes Deandre. Steven agrees it was the wrong song, and Randy thought it was boring and safe.
In the midst of Shannon Magrane struggling against a song choice from 1995, Jimmy Iovine plugged some phone with a "beat box" device. Jimmy, not you, too! Shannon landed on "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey. So boring. Jimmy advised her to work on her breathing. It was "aight," but Shannon really lost it once the song kicked into high gear. She pushed too hard again. "That was not an easy undertaking," Jennifer Lopez says, secretly glad that Shannon didn't choose any of her songs from the '90s. "You sing your best when you don't try so hard," Steven tells her. Randy is really into saying the original artists sang "the I don't know what outta that song."
Colton Dixon sings next, and he has selected the obscure "Broken Heart" by White Lion. Oh, but this week he met with Chris Daughtry for dinner?! Don't do that anymore, Colton. Daughtry told Colton to be himself and choose songs that people know. "Which will be put into effect next week," Colton says.
Apparently the band didn't even know the song. "It's now Colton's song!" will.i.am offers, as useless as ever. I think people will still like this performance, even if they don't know the song. He kind of nailed it, too. It was an enjoyable performance, to which Colton seemed committed. It was refreshing, in this land of the sleepy ballad we seem to have encountered tonight. Jennifer liked it, but Steven didn't feel the song going anywhere. Randy doesn't know who to agree with this time! He announces that Colton "performed it dope." Sure! I like a man with the audacity to wear jeggings.
Erika Van Pelt is one of the "older" ones in the competition, born in 1985. She's singing "Heaven" by Bryan Adams, which Jimmy thinks is a good choice. The arrangement is nice for her. She can sing, but the band is still giving it that edge that distinguishes Erika from Elise. She's wearing big wizard sleeves like Britney Spears circa "Crossroads." Steven thought it was too busy. Jennifer compared her to Janis Joplin (but what of Elise?) and thinks Erika is coming together as an artist. And Randy liked it, calling it an "8 out of 10."
Finally, Ryan tells us that Jermaine Jones has been eliminated. Humiliatingly, they taped Jermaine sitting down with the producers and are showing it to us. That is so low. Total Capitol move! Nigel tells Jermaine his charges, as if he didn't know, and the other British guy tells Jermaine that he has four outstanding warrants. And while they're not judgmental guys, Jermaine wasn't up-front with them. They call it "a delicate position, really" and then tell Jermaine goodbye. That's a bummer. To rub salt in his wounds (and ours), the judges tell Jermaine that he was the best he'd ever sounded singing "Somewhere Out There" in rehearsal. So this is a bummer, but on with the show. Let's separate the wheat from the chaff shall we?
Skylar Laine, who is wheat in my opinion, had a hard time picking a song from 1994. She chose "Love Sneakin' Up on You" by Bonnie Raitt, which I actually predicted for her! I am so proud of myself. Jimmy and will.i.am suggested all different kinds of songs as an alternative, but Skylar stuck to her guns. I don't know what their issue is: I love this song! She handled it as we all knew she would. Nothing completely surprising, but she is consistent. "You really killed that," Jennifer told her, and Randy defended the judges for "keepin' it real," but agreed that Skylar rocked it.
Joshua Ledet performs next, but not before he eats some of that crayfish the state of Louisiana sent him!
Joshua is the youngest of eight kids and born in 1992. His mother tells us he was a "rascal." He's singing "When a Man Loves a Woman" (as performed by Michael Bolton). Oh, man. Huzzah! Great song and great voice. I guess he "took it to church," but I'm totally fine with that. He sailed into the key change, took his jacket off like a pro and just absolutely killed it. The judges were on their feet before the song was even two-thirds of the way through. The first exciting performance of the night! "Yo, we need a moment tonight. Somebody needs to come up here and blow it out the box!" Randy tells Joshua he was just saying. And Joshua served that. Jennifer called it the "best thing I've ever seen on 'American Idol.'" All one and a half seasons!
Hollie Cavanagh sings last, and we learn where her accent comes from -- her parents, who have that accent and are weird. She's singing "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion. Soon we will learn the Power of Hollie. Hollie gets the candle lighting effect again but is wearing a different dress so we don't get confused. OK, a few pitch problems at the beginning, but she still has astounding clarity on those big, long notes. And she improved as the song went on. She cracked a bit at the end, but Jennifer opted not to comment on those "one or two things." All the judges passively brought up those one or two things but admitted it was great.
Randy thinks Joshua Ledet is safe and Heejun is in trouble (especially if they don't know how to pronounce his name by now). Jennifer thinks Joshua is the safest and thought Hollie and Phillip did a great job (I don't know about Hollie in the top 3 on this night). Steven says Joshua is their Jessica this week, of course, and liked Jessica, Skylar, Phillip and Elise.
Did anyone "blow it out of the box"? This was kind of the night of a thousand snoozes. Who's next to go?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Jermaine Jones isn't the first (and probably won't be the last) contestant with legal indiscretions
- Who can forget Frenchie Davis, the Harvard theater major with a shorn head and talent of a young Aretha Franklin? The Season 2 "Idol" contestant didn't break any laws per se, but when it was made public that she posed topless for a seedy porn site, producers decided it didn't jibe with their wholesome image. In the years since, Frenchie's appeared in "Rent" and was a semifinalist on "The Voice," so she's managed to get plenty off her chest.
- Season 2 was certainly a saucy one. Corey Clark made it to the final nine but was soon kicked off the show after revelations of allegedly assaulting his teenage sister and his arresting officers. Alas, it wasn't Clark's first flirtation with bad behavior. In 2000 and 2001, he was caught trying to pass bad checks. Clark did release an album in 2005 but has also had several brushes with the law over the past several years.
- Did we mention Season 2? Semifinalist Jaered Andrews was celebrating his success when he made the ill-timed and tragic decision to assault a man, Thomas Blakeley, with whom he and his friends had been arguing. Blakeley died on the scene, and both Andrews and a friend were arrested. Andrews was eventually acquitted but was also disqualified from "Idol."
- Bo Bice brought his own share of controversy to Season 4, although he was permitted to stay on board. During the competition, it was revealed that the Alabaman had been arrested on felony cocaine possession and a marijuana charge in 2001. However, Bice did have the charges dismissed after participating in a "diversion" program. The southern-rockin' bad boy was runner-up that year to Carrie Underwood and released a gold-selling debut album in 2005.
- Stefano Langone had the ladies swooning and judges gushing throughout Season 10. He also won over America with the tragic tale of having been seriously injured at the hands of a drunk driver. Unfortunately, he was also arrested himself for a DUI between said accident and his ascendancy on "Idol." The news leaked during his run on the series but didn't lead to ejection or disqualification. Langone has since signed a contract with Hollywood Records.
An upcoming nose job leads to a brawl at Tamra's Bunco Party
The Bunco Party takes an uncomfortable turn when Slade and some of the OC men, invited by Tamra, join the party. Confronted immediately about the insulting things he said about Vicki in his comedy routine, Slade aggressively defends himself. And though Vicki tries to make a graceful exit, she soon finds herself drawn back inside to have the last word.
Jumping to Slade’s defense, Gretchen and Vicki get into a vicious screaming match, where Gretchen accuses Vicki of being a hypocrite. And just when everyone thinks the drama is over, Alexis gets defensive when Tamra and Heather call her out on her upcoming nose job. Later, once the party drama has passed, Alexis goes in for her surgery, and Vicki's daughter Briana heads to the hospital to have her thyroid removed, fearing the worst – cancer.
"The Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.
At a heated 'After the Final Rose,' Ben admits to a breakup
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
It's a "Bachelor" double feature this evening -- we have three solid hours ahead of us, so make some popcorn, find a comfy seat on the couch, and prepare to nap lightly through the first tedious 90 minutes of Zermatt, Switzerland, beauty shots (the tourism department clearly got their money's worth here) and faux-conflicted interviews from Ben about how tempted he is to make Lindzi his wife. Sigh. Zzzz.
Anyone who's been to a supermarket checkout (or anywhere else tabloid magazines are sold) probably has a pretty good idea of whom Ben will be proposing to tonight: Courtney. It was always, always Courtney -- and not just dating back to her first cringe-worthy appearance in US Weekly, but to her first, cringe-worthy appearance on this show, when Ben found out there was a model in the mix. After that first cocktail party, Ben remembered the model, the other women, and the lady on the horse, which is how Lindzi made it to the end.
Would that we could just skip to the foregone conclusion -- and to the relatively juicy "After the Final Rose" -- but first we have to make it through the rest of the journey. Because this is the finale, it means that Ben's family is showing up: sister Julia (who looks so much like Ben that he sort of starts looking like a girl himself) and mom Barbara, who seems like she'd rather be on a flight back to Napa. "My backup has arrived, and the questions I have will be answered will by someone I trust and love," Ben explains. Julia has a question to kick things off: "Was there a girl that was more dramatic, that the other girls didn't like?" You can basically see her reading the lines off a cue card the producers are holding up. Ben admits that there was, but he's focused on other problems: He wants to know if his family thinks Lindzi can ever "open up" and if Courtney's the raging terror the other women have suggested she is. (Not that Ben actually minds if Courtney is.)
Lindzi's up first, and Julia gives her a bit of advice: "I think he wants to dig a little bit deeper with you." Lindzi tries to refrain from bashing Courtney: "I'm more of a people person; she was very shut off in that situation. Why not try to make friends?" Why not, indeed. You can tell that Julia and Barbara are not particularly enthusiastic about Lindzi. Next comes Courtney. Julia's reaction to the news that she's a model is priceless: "She's a model? The idea of a model as a sister in law...oh God, Ben, come on." Why wasn't Julia at "After the Final Rose"? Of course, it's not for Courtney to go on the defensive when the offensive is so much more appealing: "I think some of the girls were a little judge-y of me," she tells Julia. "I'm big on first impressions, and I really tried with everybody. I kind of just gave up." Then Julia disappoints everyone by caving and giving Courtney her stamp of approval. "I found her to be a really kind person, and he looks like he has really fallen in love with her," Barbara adds. What could they possibly be thinking now? "As far as the complete package is concerned, I think Courtney is more of what you want," Julia says. Ben, apparently, has no one to blame but his sister for this. What was Julia feeling when she watched this tonight, besides a vague sense of nausea?
We move on to the dates that don't matter because we all know what Ben's going to do. Ben greets Lindzi with more horses, because that's the only thing they really talk about, for a carriage ride through Zermatt. They're going skiing in the Alps, and on the way up the slope, the gondola stops, and Lindzi is prodded into once again proving her "vulnerability" to Ben. It really is like watching blood drip from a stone. Self protect, Lindzi! Self protect! But she doesn't. Instead, she's pouring her heart out and working as many ski-relationship metaphors into the mix as she can: "I have no idea what I'm getting myself into," she says. "But it's like relationships -- it's a risk worth taking." Really going to miss that, producers. "Can you see an 'us' in your future?" Lindzi asks Ben. Sure, eh, yeah, kind of, he says. "This love that I feel is bigger than any love I've felt before," she sums up. It's that bad.
Next, we have Courtney's final date, which involves a "helichopter." Everything you need to know about Ben and Courtney, and why he chose her, is in this segment. It lasts as long as the "You look really pretty" he greets her with. "With Courtney, I'm completely and utterly myself," Ben continues. That "myself" is the kind of guy who baby-talks his girlfriend as they play in the snow: "Are those your widdle feet?" "They are!" Courtney fake-cries her way through another interview about having kids with Ben someday. "I'm terrified that Ben might do to me when Ashley did to him," she says. "My heart hurts just thinking about it."
If only. After a (second) visit to Neil Lane, it's engagement day. And the first woman off the helichopter is...feathery Lindzi. "Good to see you," Ben says, after Chris Harrison deposits her. "You look great." Ben talks to everyone but Courtney like he's at a high school reunion, and to Courtney, he talks like he's in pre-school. It does not get any better for poor Lindzi. "I want you to know that I've fallen in love with you," Ben says. Just not as much as "someone else." Ben walks her out, and Lindzi, to her eternal shame, finishes her journey with: "If things don't work out, call me." Oh, poor Lindzi. What does she think about that now?
Courtney's next. Ben loves her. He had "a moment of past, present, and future on the top of the ruins in Belize," whatever that means. And he wants "to tell [Courtney] that [she is] my forever." Well, you know: Forever in the sense of four to six weeks. Is there no true love anymore? They kiss, Courtney makes weird faces, and it's happily ever after. Or is it?
That's why it's so great that "After the Final Rose" begins immediately after. It's like how romantic movies always end with a wedding -- because the morning after the honeymoon's over can be so alarming. Here are the facts: Ben says he did not cheat on Courtney, no matter what those photos in US suggested. But they did break up -- and sort of still are broken up. It's not quite as bad as Emily Maynard and Brad Womack, but it's sure on the way there. Chris Harrison's intro says it all: "What did Ben see in Courtney that nobody else did? What was it like realizing what Courtney was really like? Has Ben already had an affair? Are Ben and Courtney still together?" Answers: who knows, bad, "no," and ...ish. "On my father's grave I haven't cheated on Courtney," Ben says. But he doesn't say that he didn't mess around with anyone while they were broken up, does he?
The audience is not into this at all. Chris is feeling the hate: "Usually when we do this, there's thunderous applause and everyone's on the same page," he says, after Courtney arrives to some boos. He interviews them both separately, then together, and everyone has to sit through a replay of their vows. Ben and Courtney both cry. Chris says he's been carrying the ring around, and asks Ben what he should do with it now. Ben puts it on Courtney's finger with same enthusiasm evinced by a man walking up to the guillotine.
At long last, Courtney and Ben go off to their futures. Two separate futures, most likely. So Chris does what "The Bachelor" always does in difficult times: celebrate past successes. Ashley and J.P. come out -- and there's actually no way of doubting that they're a happy, regular couple, in which she sends annoying texts about wedding dresses and he gets to address the former dental student as "doctor." ("Does she make you call her doctor?" Chris asks. "I want to call her doctor," J.P. says.) They're getting married within a year, they say, and already have the baby names picked out.
True love and "The Bachelor"? Maybe it's not always an oxymoron.
Battle Round 2 loaded with upsets and regrets
Many fans of the series believed the judges got one or two wrong last week. I happen to think that's exactly what kicked off this week's episode. Christina Aguilera put Sera Hill up against Geoff McBride with Aretha Franklin's anthem "Chain of Fools." While advisors Lionel Ritchie and Jewel preached "character" and "emotion" respectively, a visibly shaky and clearly outmatched Sera walked away with just that ... the match. It was the evening's biggest upset. And it was just beginning!
Blake's initial bout saw two contestants more fit to fight one another: self-proclaimed Jersey Girl Charlotte Sometimes and Austin's Lex Land. Curiously, Shelton picked the first of a few odd song selections for the night, Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks." These two ladies absolutely stalked each other in "the ring," but it was Charlotte "This Time."
In what was positioned (wrongly, I say) as a can't miss win for Cee Lo's Juliet Simms, he put the gravelly-voiced rocker against Sarah Golden, whose rocking is exactly what got her into the competition in the first place, via Gaga's "You and I." Yes, Simms won (and is even my pick for the whole shebang), but Golden proved a formidable opponent, and just killed it. Unfortunately, "Stay With Me," with raspy Rod on vocals, proved too perfect a fit for Simms.
In more outmatched news, Levine had Whitney Myer square off with Kim Yarbrough on Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama," which is exactly what ensued -- drama. How could it not when it was so obvious the 50-year-old Yarbrough would own the tune, especially being twice Myer's age? That said, Myer went down singing, with Blake even commenting that it was like he "was watching one of those diva concerts," and even opting for Carson, as opposed to choosing between the two.
In what was positioned (correctly, I say) as the "most original performance of the night," Xtina's Lee Koch took on Lindsay Pavao with Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" (remember I mentioned odd song selections? Blake admitted to not even knowing the tune!). It proved a truly interesting and entertaining performance, and match. But Pavao sent Koch packing. Or should I say baking?
The next ... um, inspired...song choice was Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is," which Cee Lo assigned to friends Jamar Rogers and Jamie Lono, the latter of whom rocked some serious nerd chic. The friendship they kept speaking of was genuinely evident during the performance, which made the difficulty of Cee Lo's decision palpable. Jamar ultimately took it, although Lono did too ... in stride.
What did you think of Monday night's audition episode? Tell us on Facebook
"The Voice" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
A small mistake leads one team to the brink of disaster
By Diane Vadino
Special to MSN TV
Previously: Elliot and Andrew and Vanessa and Ralph battled it out for last place -- with the twin failing the bottle dance and going home.
Art and J.J. are the first team to leave for Turin, Italy, and they're as egregiously confident as they were on the last leg. "We really don't think we should be anything but number one on any leg," J.J. says. Teams are directed to book tickets at a travel agency (an instruction that will prove crucial in a moment) before heading to the airport -- so we're looking at some pretty massive bunching onto a flight that leaves at 9:15 a.m. and arrives at 10:35 a.m. the following day.
Apparently Art and J.J. powered through last week's leg so well that they have a four-hour lead on the next team, Rachel and Brendon. They're followed by Joey Fitness and Danny and Team Kentucky. Bopper says that the race is "the best opportunity I've had in my life to really better my child's life." This is, of course, the first sign that things may not go well for the Kentucky boys tonight, and so it is: When they arrive at the airport without consulting the travel agent, the border patrol agents kindly set them straight, and send them back into Asuncion. No one else makes this mistake -- so it's just Mark and Bopper on a flight 75 minutes behind everyone else. The remaining six teams make it to the airport without fuss -- including Vanessa and Ralph, whose meltdown last week means that they leave a massive seven hours after the pack-leading border patrol agents.
We arrive at Turin to greet a fleet of Ford Focuses! It's that episode, people -- and though it's not quite as exciting as last year's spin across the Ford Mustang proving ground, it's sufficiently car-centric to appease the advertiser. It's now that we begin to see some of the cracks in the relationships -- especially between Rachel and Dave, whom we've been reminded haven't spent much time together owing to his overseas deployment with the military: "Why don't you drive?" Rachel asks her husband at one point, as she steps out of the car to give him the wheel. "Wow, you are testy today." The team's first challenge is to drive to the Lingotta building, which was once a Fiat factory. Everyone runs up these giant ramps -- led by Art and J.J., who snatch the Fast Forward. Their task, which will allow them to skip right to the Pitstop, is to "land a helicopter on a building." The helicopter is a handheld one, and the building is on someone's head. It's harder than it looks: "I thought we were going to get to land a real helicopter," Art says, disappointed.
Meanwhile, the other teams busy themselves with the Roadblock: "Rappel 120 feet down the inside of the Lingotto building" and grab a clue on the way down -- all within two minutes, or teams have to run back up the ramps and start from scratch. Dave and Rachel's biggest problem is his sense that they should go for the Fast Forward: "Being a helicopter pilot, I could potentially be successful at that," Dave says. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Have you even ever flown a hand-held helicopter? You think it's a real one?" Rachel returns. Bicker, bicker, bicker.
Back to the Roadblock: It's actually hard to imagine this taking anything like two minutes, and indeed, only two teams (Nary and Jamie and Stacy and Kerri) are forced to repeat it. Everyone else goes straight to the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile, where they need to (a) park their Focus with the Active Park Assist feature and (b) search for the 1916 Tin Lizzie. At the car, teams find a two-cent Euro, with a picture on the back of the Mole Antonelliana -- their next destination. No one has trouble with this except for Rachel and Brendon -- you know they're in trouble with this simple-looking clue when Brendon starts listing his academic credentials, which include an in-progress doctorate in biomedical physics. Meanwhile, Bopper and Mark, the only team on the second flight, finally show up: "'Italy'," Bopper says. "That's all the Italian I know." Art and J.J. finally land the helicopter, and move on to the Pitstop, Piazza Castello -- where they arrive in first place and win $5000 each.
The squabbles continue. Rachel accuses Brendon of having "raised [his] first at [her]. This isn't even worth a million dollars." Brendon, who did no such thing and appears to have a very high threshold for dealing with crazy, replies: "Can you ... stop yelling?" Dave and Rachel are still fighting about driving: "Kill it right now," Dave says. "I'm going to keep my mouth shut so I don't say something I regret." Joey Fitness and Danny are the first to the building, which is beautiful, and they take an elevator to the top for the Detour clue: Clean that Statue (self explanatory) and Name That Salami (which involves identifying 14 different kinds.) "I haven't had that much salami since high school," says Vanessa, on her way to the statue challenge. This is when Brendon calls her and Ralph the "ogre and the trifflin' ho."
Neither Detour challenge looks particularly intense. Dave and Rachel are done first with the statue challenge first, followed by Joey Fitness and Danny and Vanessa and Ralph -- positions that are duplicated on the mat. The salami one looks harder -- like a slightly easier revamp of the tea challenge that drove Luke crazy on Unfinished Business, and it gets Rachel crying again, though this seems like not a very difficult thing to accomplish. "I might purposefully jump in front of a car," she says. Nary and Jamie check in -- and at last, the two trailing teams, both busy with the salami, check in, with Rachel and Brendon just ahead of Kerri and Stacy.
This leaves Bopper and Mark, who have trailed all day. As they get more emotional, their accents get thicker and thicker. "I still feel good about what we accomplished today," Bopper says. After finishing the statue Detour, they arrive at the mat, where Phil tells them that they're in last place. "I know you fought really hard," Phil says. I literally cannot understand anything else the Kentucky guys say, except that it's all very moving, and Mark and Bopper are shaking hands and tearing up. Then Phil tells them that the border patrol agents have something they want to tell them: Art and J.J. want to share their $5000 bounty! To help Mark's kid! Chris Harrison would die to have this kind of drama on "The Bachelor." It's not a crazy-intense footrace to stay in the game, but this has got to be the most touching and unexpected conclusion on this show, ever. Everyone's crying and hugging. "You're a good man," Bopper says. "We're friends for life," someone says, and I honestly can't tell who it was because the screen is filled with one big mass of crying, hugging men. Oh, and? They're not out. It's the season's first non-elimination leg. I just hope Art and J.J. don't regret their gift now that the guys are back in it.
"The Amazing Race" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Comedian castaway spills on the surprise council, Colton's puppeteering and why he was the target
Judges make wild-card choice Jeremy Rosado the first finalist to get the boot
By Carla Patton
Well, "America," if that is your real name, the Top 13 have performed for your votes and one goes home Thursday night, but not for lack of trying. Everyone tried so hard Wednesday night. That is undeniable. But some were better than others, several tried too hard, and some were just beaten by a really tough song catalog. One might suspect that Elise Testone didn't try as hard as the rest of her competitors, and we're still trying to figure out whether she gives a whit about this whole competition. It's one of the best things about her.
In a "one-time only twist" (Nigel trying to figure out what will work to mix up the show while keeping the ratings), the bottom girl and guy will each be revealed Thursday night, and the judges will choose who stays and who goes. We think it might be Jermaine, because he "thought it was pretty good," then basically shrugged and walked off stage. And he went third! I suspect that, despite a reaching performance from Shannon Magrane, the judges will make an effort to keep the girls around this season.
Last week, they became stars. And on Thursday night, we shoot one of them down! Isn't it fun? Or are you kind of ready for some of these people to get out of the way, so we can get down to the real competition? Not to say that they aren't all immensely talented (which they are). And doesn't Jennifer look lovely? Lauren Alaina is performing on this night, so we can see what she's been up to. Wearing more jeans under dresses, perhaps?
How can the judges possibly be already working on who to send home? They don't know a single result, do they? Let's distract ourselves from that matter with a group performance! Who shone in this mediocre performance? Erika Van Pelt seemed comfortable as usual, in a very awkward context, and Elise Testone seemed like she would rather be smoking behind the building. I mean, just a little. It's not that she seems ungrateful; she is just clearly on to the fact that Thursday nights are the nights for nonsense.
Before we get any results, we have to watch the Ford Music Video. Or should I say get to? They are giants in the city, literally! It was not difficult for Jermaine to imagine. Look at him peer around that building. "Don't be scared, guys! It's just me, Jermaine!" Precious.
Next, Jimmy Iovine has a quick message. "Hey Ryan, just a minute now!" Jimmy pipes up from his little cubicle. He wants to talk about how great Whitney Houston is, to say how the world has too many people in it and to tell people to spay and neuter their pets. Thanks?
Elise, Hollie and Jessica are first to the stage. So Elise is in danger, right? But first we watch the night in review. Jimmy surmises that Elise got "hit with the Whitney Houston stick" and might be in trouble. Hollie and Jessica were at an advantage with Whitney songs, but they delivered. He said Jessica's performance was the best performance he has ever seen on "American Idol."
Jessica is safe, of course. She is also darling in that outfit. Elise is in the bottom three girls. Hollie is safe. What was Elise saying through gritted teeth? Was it "This sucks"? Yes. Yes, it does.
Heejun, Colton and Jermaine hit the stage next. Jimmy Iovine likes Heejun but thinks Stevie Wonder is the worst artist for him to sing. Colton doesn't know what type of artist he is yet (Let's nurture him, America!), and Jermaine was struggling internally and lost both battles. Jimmy also managed to get a joke about Jermaine's size in there then snickered at it.
Jermaine tells Ryan that he "kind of" disagrees with Jimmy, but it's "OK." Colton is safe and wearing a boatneck zipper tee! A bold choice. Heejun is safe. Jermaine is in the bottom three guys. This could go on forever.
Did anybody else note two J.Lo-featured commercials in a row during this break? She is overextending herself, I worry. Ryan congratulates Jennifer on the success of her new show, "Q'Viva!" And I bet the best part of it isn't hanging out with her ex-husband.
Speaking of "Didn't We Almost Have it All," here is Lauren Alaina! She's singing a song called "Georgia Peaches," and I could not be less excited to hear it. Girl's hair/weave is looking good, though! This song is terrible. Can I just say? This could be one of you next season, Top 13! She sat flirtatiously with the couch of guys and then stayed there a little too long. When it was over, everyone stood and clapped for her -- to be polite.
Erika, Shannon and Skylar are next to center stage. So it will be Erika and Shannon rounding out the bottom three, right? I think we all know where these contestants stand. Even Jimmy knows. Jimmy thought Erika was believable, but she needs to focus her presentation. Shannon seems to think that only one note was wrong in her performance, which is why I think she should go home. Jimmy thinks Shannon needs more experience, and he likes the nasal aspect of Skylar's voice. Kieran, dim the lights! Erika is in the bottom three, where she hugs her buddy Elise. Their mics were on, and I heard them say, "The old ladies"! I love them. Shannon is also in the bottom three, with the old ladies. Skylar is safe.
Joshua, Deandre, Jeremy and Phillip are next. Jimmy is worried that the viewers will get bored with Joshua's voice and found Deandre a pleasant surprise. Jimmy loves Phillip, as if we didn't know it. But he's nervous that the girls will outshine Phillip. It's clear that Jimmy wants Phillip to win. Jimmy thinks that Stevie Wonder ballads are written for Jeremy's voice, but he didn't live up to it. The girls outshone Jeremy last night, according to Mr. Iovine. And he is bold enough to say that Jeremy will be eliminated. So casual about it, too!
Phillip is safe. Jeremy is in the bottom three. Deandre is safe. And Joshua Ledet rounds out the bottom three guys. So, here's the pecking order for the rest of the show, America! Just before the break, rather delightfully, Ryan announces that Joshua and Erika are safe. I'll give you this one, Seacrest: That was pretty cute. He ruined it by saying, "Anything can happen on 'American Idol!'" Erika reminded me, in that moment, of a grownup Miley Cyrus, just a bit.
Before the judges learn who they must choose between, we are granted a performance from the warm and wonderful Mary J. Blige. Didn't you just fall in love with her Wednesday night? She is so legit.
Four remain in peril: Jermaine, Jeremy, Shannon and Elise. Ryan asks if any of the four of them deserve to leave, and Steven just pauses and says, "Jeremy." That was a surprise! I did not expect that honesty.
Jermaine is safe, leaving Jeremy in the danger zone (Oh, he is going home. Steven just said so!). Shannon is safe this time (What?!), so Elise is up for elimination. And I'm pretty sure she could care less. Cute hat, though. Randy hesitantly admits that, because of the performances, America kinda, sorta got it right.
I think it will be Jeremy. True, Jennifer is partial toward him: He makes her cry every single time he sings. But give a woman a line at Kohl's, and all bets are off.
They've come to the decision to save Elise. Jeremy will be going home. He's the nicest guy, but he blew it. Even in the final three performances, he couldn't garner the votes. It's too bad, but I am hoping Elise can shape up her attitude and redeem herself.
He looks disappointed, but content, like when the Blizzard machine is broken at Dairy Queen. "Oh, well. Can I just get a small cone covered in Oreos then?"
Did the voters get it right? Did the judges? Do you think this was a good way of doing the eliminations, since we can pretty much see who the bottom six contestants are?
What do you think of Thursday night's results?
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.