Admit it: you tuned in to American Idol last night hoping to see Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey scratch it out again. On Wednesday’s performance edition, Nicki dismissively told Mariah, “Simmer down, sir!” You’re lucky Nick Cannon wasn’t there, Nicki. He would have given you such a noogie!
The ladies remained in their corners, but there were a number of firsts on Thursday: the first time the judges haven’t used their save at this point in the season; the first female from the Top Ten to be tossed, the first time Paula Abdul (making a surprise return) has ever gotten a standing ovation; the first time an Idol contestant, singing for survival, picked a Vanilla Fudge song (oh, the Supremes covered “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” previously? Never mind.) And the first time to my knowledge that Idol has used backup dancers – during the Donna Summers medley. Yeah, I know those guys were holding microphones, but I suspect they were props. The boys were obviously there for the choreography. Five grooms for five sisters.
In the end as Janelle Arthur and Kree Harrison huddled on stage, awaiting the ax, it fell on Janelle. It’s kind of ironic because she is the one out of these five who is the most poised and gracious,. the one with (by far) the greatest commercial potential.
So here’s my theory, amassed after 12 seasons of watching Idol: Janelle was a victim of demographics and , just maybe,a preordained Idol result.
The producers weren’t about to let two country singers win in a row. Scotty McCreery to Janelle Arthur? Fox would have to sell the series to CMT. And after a ludicrous run of White Guys with Guitars winning, a string that started with David Cook and will presumably end with Phillip Phillips, the producers desperately want a female – ideally not a Caucasian – to win this year.
So the judges didn’t use their save last night (despite the fact that there is an extra week built into the Idol broadcast schedule for that express purpose). But it seems to me that’s because they are hedging it in case the American voting public abandons the show’s preferred candidate, the teachers’ pet, Candice Glover.
So there was no drama last night. Except for my personal highlight: the return of Clay Aiken! As you’ll see in this clip, Clay was there to bask in his selfless work with children with disabilities and with Unicef. He also sang – sweet suffering shades of Season 2 – “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”.
During the entire performance, I kept shouting at the screen, “Simmer down, sir!”