A pretty goddamn dramatic results show! First off, a few dozen comments-section psychopaths must have lost their minds when Thia Megia turned up in the bottom three. But Thia didn’t lose, which is good for me, since whipping up comments-section shitstorms is a thing that I like to do. Instead, Casey Abrams, a presumed frontrunner and a guy who I actually like, turned out to be the one who did not get America’s votes this year. So we got an awesomely emotional five minutes of TV: Casey starts singing, which leads to scatting, and the judges interrupt him by saying that this is insanity and invoking their judges’-save privilege before he even gets a chance to convince them to do it. The judges use that thing every time they’re allowed, but they don’t usually toss it out like it’s nothing.
When he finds out he hasn’t been kicked off yet, Casey Abrams reacts like that mysterious stomach ailment that keeps sending him to the hospital just flared up again. He turns white, staggers back a few steps, collapses into the judges arms, collapses into Ryan Seacrest’s arms, falls on the floor, and generally acts like someone who just got pried from a shark’s mouth. It’s not that big a deal, dude! You’re probably going home in the next month anyway! But Casey’s overblown reaction is one of the more ridiculous, intense things that’s happened on the Idol stage in the past few years, and I just enjoyed the hell out of it. I’m glad they’re keeping him around, and I’m glad he did everything but speak in tongues onstage when it happened.
But that was only five minutes of a one-hour show that actually turned out to be pretty entertaining all around. Here are some things I learned watching it:
— Someone in the crowd has a sign that says “Guam Loves Thia”. Well, I’m glad somebody does. (Just kidding, comment-section freaks!)
— Marc Anthony stopped by backstage to help people with their pitch and to dance in a way that just absolutely screams “cocaine” at me. All the contestants get those weird little cheater hearing aids to help stay on pitch, and if it helps them not suck, I’m all for it. We also learn that he’s just incredibly defensive of all these kids, even when his wife is doing the judging. It’s sort of sweet! It’s not sweet enough that I’m OK with the fact that I paid money to see El Cantante, but it’s sweet.
— Even though last night’s show was, by and large, really good, this week’s group-sing to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is particularly excruciating. Maybe it’s that all these kids are goofy enough already, so any attempt to goof them up a bit just pushes them over the top. Anyway, it all ends quickly enough as Stevie Wonder emerges onstage from some hidden elevator doohickey and all the judges bug out like they didn’t already know he was there. Man, Stevie Wonder will just show up and sing anywhere. He doesn’t even care. It’s sort of admirable, and he immediately turns all the contestants into his backing vocalists, which is just what happens when an actual legend shows up. They usually save fireworks like this for the finale, but apparently this is a special occasion too, since Steven Tyler is turning one million years old. Stevie sings “Happy Birthday” to Steven, but it’s a weird mixed-up arrangement, possibly so American Idol can avoid paying licensing fees.
— I have no idea what song the contestants are singing in this week’s Ford commercial. This has been happening more and more often. Maybe they’re singing actual jingles this year?
— Sugarland are out to perform “Stuck Like Glue” and to demonstrate exactly where Lauren Alaina stole her specific brand of theatrical turbo-sass. How is this song still a thing, months later? Most of it is OK, but the parts where Jennifer Nettles swipes Wyclef’s pronunciation of “one time”… every time she does that, somebody gets shot in the hand. The director misses a golden opportunity by not cutting away to Naima Adedapo for a reaction shot during the awkward-as-fuck reggae breakdown.
— On the subject of Sugarland: “Stay” should really become a standard for this show, and I’m a bit surprised that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it’s a rights issue? Or are people too scared to take it on?
— We learn, via montage, that James Durbin and Paul McDonald are big wresting fans, and they DDT each other on their mansion floor like socially awkward college freshmen, which is pretty awesome. James does this big overblown wrestling promo that I think is supposed to be an Ultimate Warrior impression? Then he does a Miz impression, which is interesting, since the Miz is someone else who got his start on reality TV. Maybe if James doesn’t win, he can make a run at that shit. It’s one way to keep your baby diapered. This whole thing, needless to say, made me like James more.
— Hulk Hogan shows up! He tells James and Paul that they’re safe, stage-punches Seacrest, rips his shirt off, and completely neglects to mention that he’s on TNA Impact every week. Look, if they have to fill up an hour with bullshit on every results show, it’s a whole lot better when they make it fun bullshit like this. James’ reactions are nearly as awesome as Casey’s.
— Some NASCAR guys are in the audience, and Seacrest makes a big thing out of pointing them out. What the fuck, Seacrest? You can’t point out Kirsten Dunst but you show off these goobers?
— Jennifer Hudson is on! You know, she’s both one of the greatest and one of the most famous American Idol contestants in the show’s history. She won a goddamn Oscar, and she probably actually deserved it. She’s a serious talent. It’d be nice if someone gave her some good songs to sing sometime. I forget about this one while it’s still happening.
— George Huff is one of Hudson’s backing singers! So… good for him? I guess?