Judging by the slavering praise the judges heaped on every last candidate on Wednesday night’s American Idol, it was hard to even guess at who would go home this week. Still, losing Pia Toscano is a pretty big surprise. She’s one of the few people on the show who actually carries herself like someone comfortable onstage. It’s a bit funny. She’d go onstage, week after week, and sing big weepy ballads very, very well. And every time she did it, the judges would get all on her to sing something uptempo. And the one week she did, it was weird and forced and she got voted off.
Anyway, here are some things that happened during the show:
• The whole gang came out for another group-sing, all the duets and trios of last week apparently a thing of the past. They sang a bunch of songs that had nothing to do with each other besides being, I guess, “rock songs”: “I Love Rock and Roll”! “The Letter”! “Sweet Home Alabama”! Those are all great songs, and they all sounded faintly ridiculous in the way that only an American Idol group-sing can make a song sound.
• Ryan Seacrest said that it’s our fault that somebody had to go home tonight, like we invented the show or some shit. We didn’t invent the show, Ryan! Keep your blame to yourself!
• In the Ford commercial, all the contestants executed some sort of nonsensical heist that I didn’t understand. I do, however, know now that I’ll have to holler at Pia Toscano the next time I’m planning a bank job.
• Russell Brand, we learn, acted as a secret “charisma coach” this week, since apparently will.i.am didn’t impart enough charisma on these kids. (On second thought, that actually does make sense.) This is an awfully nice thing for Russell Brand to do, and it obviously has nothing to do with all the movies he’s got coming out. He’s not very funny when he’s not cussing. Pia said, with a straight face, that he had lots of great advice. No, Pia. No he didn’t.
• Casey Abrams seemed absolutely flummoxed when Ryan Seacrest asked him about Kelly Clarkson, who apparently admitted to having a crush on Casey on Twitter. Ryan asks questions, Casey! It’s what he does! Come prepared next time! And while we’re on the topic, what the hell is Kelly Clarkson doing still watching American Idol? Or using Twitter? You’d think the whole universe-conquering pop-star job would keep her too busy. I guess she hasn’t had a big song in a minute, though. Probably all that damn TV time is to blame.
• Lauren Alaina has apparently been spending time at the Taylor Swift School of Being Surprised That People Like You.
• Constantine Maroulis, a contestant from a million years ago, must be between shitty Broadway shows, since he took the time to stop by and sing a deeply cheesy rendition of “Unchained Melody”, with special bonus buttrock guitar-soloing. He looked exactly the same, and I still have fond memories of working at the Village Voice that time the paper ran a cover story about him acting like a tool and nobody could figure out why we put him on the cover. (Shout out to Constantine’s fingerless leather gloves.)
• In a video package, Gwen Stefani said that she’s not a stylist, which is at least some explanation for the dogshit-ugly clothes she dressed everybody in the night before. In about 120 seconds, we worked through almost as many variations on Stefani going, “Whoo! That looks cute!” It was excruciating.
• Thor, we learned, comes from a place where magic and science are the same. Shut up, Thor.
• All the kids got to go to TMZ and bullshit around with those parasites, so they could pretend they were real celebrities for a couple of minutes and endure some terrible jokes. I like to pretend that TMZ doesn’t exist. This made doing so difficult. Thanks, Idol.
• Iggy Pop, whose basic existence really shouldn’t intersect with American Idol in any way whatsoever, showed up to run around shirtless and sing “Real Wild Child”. Conventional wisdom is that this song was his ’80s sellout move after years of intense, heady, groundbreaking stuff. But fuck it, I like this song. It was totally in Problem Child, and that movie was my shit when I was 10. I feel just as uncomfortable watching Iggy do his septuagenarian slither on this show as I did when I saw the reconstituted Stooges last summer. As absurdly great as that guy’s back catalog is, I just don’t want to watch him do anything anymore. It’s a personal thing. I can’t defend it.
• As Seacrest announced Pia’s departure, I’m pretty sure the camera cut away from Randy just as soon as he started to yell the word “fuck”. Also, did Jennifer Lopez cry? She might’ve cried. Pia actually seemed less torn up than J.Lo did. Pia was a G about it, at least until she got done singing.