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American Idol XIV: Top 11

This is it! The night the editing controls finally come off the production. The gong sounds in Idol stadium, Alton Brown says “Hands up producers, just walk away.” Tim Gunn comes and collects everyone to head down to the Idol Runway, and Ryan presents the contestants to the public for sampling. Also, for those that complain this part goes so slow, we’re going to have gone from 16 to 10 contestants in the space of 48 hours. How’s that for efficiency?

Oh, also, you should be watching Empire. Here’s one reason why:

We’re also introduced to new gimmicks, like chairs that turn green when the contestant is safe! Also, Idol is definitely sticking with this format of calling you up as safe and then having you sing, which I dislike. That means the big problem that started off last season–massive adrenaline rush and then perform!–is baked into the formula now. It also means the “pimp spot” will be filled with the bottom vote getters. I suppose that means that the second to bottom then has less chance of auto eliminating next week?

Let’s get to the performances and see who isn’t lucky tonight.

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American Idol XIV: Top 12/Wildcard Round

“It’s an Idol First!” says Ryan. “Results and performances in one night!” Yes, it is a first., Before now, the budget cuts for Idol were not nearly so glaringly obvious. But don’t be mistaken into thinking this is this Results show was live. Like every other show so far, this was still a show with the editing controls in place. Tomorrow will be another matter. And if tonight’s performances were any indication, some of our kids won’t survive the transition well.

The eliminations worked tonight much like they did the last two weeks with those safe called up to perform one by one, with the chaff left at the end. If this is how they plan to do this every week, that means the bottom two who doesn’t go home will always get the pimp spot, which is a little disturbing. I would prefer Idol take a cue from Nigel and SYTYCD and have the kid perform, and then tell them after the judge’s comments if they’re in the bottom three from last week or not.

top 16

The two wildcards were not–as the wording threatened–pulled from other rounds, but were merely used as a semi corrective for America’s failings last week. (More on that below.) But, in happy news, in all cases but one, America actually didn’t do too bad with who they eliminated. I assume we have voting caps to thank. Le’s check out the Top 12 below, with the understanding that you must vote, as we’ll already be eliminating one of them by this time tomorrow.

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American Idol XIII: Top 12 Elimination

What is going on with this season? How frustrating is this? Harry and Jennifer were clearly upset last night with the bulk of the performances, and I was too.

The painful thing is all the tools are THERE. All the changes we as Idol fans have been begging for have come to pass–the expanded song lists, the well edited packages that don’t feel hamfisted. Have I coo’d over the smart use of backstage with Ryan? Not to mention, this judging panel is fantastic. Harry’s laser-like, intelligent critiques put all those years of “It was a bit cabaret” to shame. Jennifer has stepped up her game to keep pace. Even Keith–our weakest link–gives good feedback. This should be the season where the show rights itself.

Except the contestants aren’t holding up their end of the bargain. I don’t know if this is because the producers misunderstood what it takes to handle the show when they cast it, or if there’s something happening backstage during the week that somehow steering them wrong. CIt could be the casting–consider their overpimpage (and then rapid drop) of Marrialle Sellers. Nigel backed wrong horses all over the place in his decade with the show, but he never so misjudged someone that by the time they hit the live show we already knew we had a dud. Can it be that our new producers have everything going for them…except the one ability they really need, which is to cast this production properly?

Do we have time for them to learn on the fly? I believe wholehearted FOX won’t cancel Idol at the end of this season–not after just cancelling XFactor, and with ratings that are mostly on par with NBC’s “smash hit” The Voice. (Smash hit ratings are relative.) Yes, Idol will lose money for the first time this year, but they also lost AT&T’s sponsorship in order to reign in unlimited voting (a necessity.) Plus they built this brand spanking new set. Not to mention paid too much to bring back Randy and his mentoring crew…. Is that it? Can we blame Randy and his mentoring crew for steering these kids wrong? Did the producers count on him too much, when he’s never given any of these kids useful feedback in 11 years of the show?

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American Idol XIII: Top 12 “Home”

It’s time for Idol. Have you voted already? After all, the numbers all stayed the same from last week, so you don’t have to wait and find out what order people are singing in. Are you even waiting or the performances? Remember, you have until 10am PST to vote–why would you vote early? You have so much time to think!

Silly me, the producers don’t want us to think. They want us to vote early and often. Remember, starting this week, the results will be checked during the show. Another year I might have found this weird. But after watching XFactor do an entire season of rankings reveals to drum up interest in their results show, and Idol’s pale imitation, this seems a far better solution.

I’m starting to love the new open ended themes. Some of the song choices are off the wall. That’s another small upgrade that’s making a difference. Ryan promises this will be “an emotional theme” since its about “What Home Means To Them.”

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American Idol 11: Finale

Welcome, my friends, to the show that doesn’t end. It’s the American Idol grand finale spectacular, chock full of celebrities, old and new. Some of them will generously share the stage with contestants. Some of them will grudgingly share the stage, anxious to relegate these non-stars to the sidelines as soon as possible. There will be group numbers, pointy poses, and then after the show has run over its two-hour allotment by about 6 and a half minutes, there will be a result, and either one of two things will happen:

  • Jessica will take the crown, to the complaints of the present, but the sales of the future.
  • Phillip will take the crown, to the cheers of today, and forgotten tomorrow.

Either way, Phillip will grin and bear it through his contracted week of media appearances, and then disappear to have his kidney surgery, with everyone hoping (especially if he wins) that he’s magically recovered in time for the summer tour.

So let’s get down to it. Like our Voice Recap, we’ll be running through this two-hour variety show bullet point style.

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American Idol 11: Top 12(ish) Elimination

With the ouster of Jermaine Jones, will anyone really be eliminated tonight? Ryan insisted it would be business as usual this week, and they would in fact be doing just that. But if Rule Number One is “The Doctor Lies“, Rule Number Two is “TV Hosts are Not Always Honest.”

Though for the record, the show goes straight to “11 finalists” with their opening graphic. Perhaps we are going straight to the Top Ten and who will go on tour, saving the “no one gets eliminated” for another week. Or perhaps there was a necessary double elimination coming down the line and now they’ve scrapped that? Not sure–but the important thing is that Ryan announces that the judge’s save is still in effect, and that they could choose to use it tonight if they wished. So there’s that anyway.

Also, apparently they hired Tommy Hilfiger to style the contestants. So from here on out we know who to blame when a contestant looks awful (ahem, Lauren Alaina last year, ahem.) Can we blame him for J.Lo wearing one hell of a gold dress tonight? She’s like a yellow disco ball.

Tonight’s guest performers are Daughtry and Demi Levato. We’ll get to that after the jump, along with results.

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American Idol 11: Top 12(ish) “The Year You Were Born”

Ryan cuts right to the chase. “With the help of law enforcement” they have uncovered “issues with a contestant.” Ryan blames live TV. How is it that he makes his blaming of the media sound so charming? Gingrich and Romney should take notes.

As for the elimination, they’ll get to that later. The real issue is that for Top 12 night we have 11 performances. Once again, the show has released a photo of the set list. Order not definite. The guest mentor is semi-regular Idol cast member, and Jimmy’s favorite buddy, Will.I.Am.

Songs, and Jermaine’s outster, after the jump.

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