American Idol: Two If By Seacrest

Yay for double elimination! That's how this show should work always. Yes last night two of our dear friends went home and we couldn't be happier with the results. Well, maybe a little.

I'd rather have seen Big Mike go home than Andrew, because Andrew is just boring and bad whereas Big Mike is arrogant and cheesy and looked really annoying in this week's Ford ad. Plus he has a newborn kid that he should be hanging out with, instead of pursuing something that won't, judging by Idol history, amount to anything at all. (I know each and every year all the contestants think that they'll be the ones to break the trend, they will be the next Kellys and Carries, but they will not, they never are.)

But yeah, Big Mike remains. What can you do.

Last night featured what was, perhaps, the most heinous group number yet? I mean they were doing damn choreography. That shit was blocked like a scene in a play. Oop, there are Big Mike and Crystal are standing back and forth and wagging their fingers! Swoop, the camera's now onto Andrew and Tim, who are having a singing-low competition, with mortifying results. Ding dong!, who's that over there? Why it's Casey and Siobhan, gumming the cameras and doing shoe-shuffles. And look, there's Katie Stevens doing some sort of hideous knee-knocking Charleston or something, that the cameras bizarrely decided to zoom in on . Really guys? "Hey that teenage girl's legs are doing crazy opening and closing moves in leggings! Zoom in!" Unpleasant. I'm pretty sure that at some point Elvis stirred in his grave and bashed his way out and loped off down the road, headed to destination unknown. He just couldn't lie there and listen to that anymore.

Once that fiasco had sputtered and clunked to a close, it was time to pay the bills, so we watched a Ford ad about Going Green. This involved using watercans to plant trees in the city or something. But mostly it was an excuse for everyone to practice their important camera skills that they'll really need after the show is over. Especially for the boys, who have to master the knowing head nod and casual point that says "Yeah, radical, I'm cool. Just a cool dude wearing jeans and pointing. No, I'm not self-conscious about pointing and nodding, because I am a cool radical dude with hair that looks like hair you see on TV and hey! Would an uncool dude be pointing so much, with all this confidence? I think not, dude. Pointing! Get into it." The girls have to find that delicate balance between being playful and sexy, so they usually end up convulsing and trembling while trying to look over their shoulders and do a little wink. Paramedics actually rushed on the scene during this shoot and said "Siobhan, are you OK? Are you having a stroke?" But she just stood there, shaking and shaking, saying "Sexxyy...." The paramedics slowly backed away and, when at a safe distance, called in the air strike.

Then came a really exciting segment where Kara solved Africa. Yeah, it was pretty neat. I know you've probably been worrying about Africa, with the diseases and poverty and war and stuff. But don't worry. Kara fixed it all last night. She took a trip to Angola with Elliot Yamin's false teeth and made sure there were many shots of her gingerly kissing little babies on the cheek and hugging them tentatively. I'm not really exaggerating? There were moments when the kids were hugging her that she actually looked at the camera to make sure everyone understood what an amazing person she was being. And of course there was soft-touch pop music and gratuitous plugs for Idol Gives Back (which is next week guys, hold onto your butts). But the important thing was that the kids watching at home learned that with enough determination and camera time, you can cure Africa. Well, you and Elliot Yamin's false teeth. Elliot Yamin's false teeth play a very important role in that.

THEN, DRUMROLL. Veins of lightning streaked through the sky and somewhere an organ played and Ryan put a flashlight under his chin and said "Prepare to dieeeeeee" and we knew it was time for the first person to go home. Ryan just said it sort of quickly, "AndrewGarcia'sgoinghomeOKclapforhimnowsingbye." Couldn't get him out the door fast enough! Will we miss Andrew Garcia? Oh mercy no. I mean, I was really looking forward to his take on various fun standards like "Rockin' Robin" and "Pachelbel's Canon," but what can you do. I guess we'll have to wait for the album. From the record deal he's going to get.. Because he's been on the ninth season of Idol... Mmpfh. Good — snorrfff — luck with that — smifff — Andrew!

Then Ryan looked gravely up at the control booth and said "Bring them on," and the stage manager gave him an "Are you sure?" kind of look and he nodded and so she kissed the cross around her neck, flipped open a plastic case, and pushed a big red button. Immediately a notice came on over the PA, "Warning. Warning. Musician creation process not complete. Halflings have breached the perimeter. Warning. Warning." But it was too late. Because then, in a sickeningly fast dart of blonde, a piano was wheeled out and Brooke White was sitting at it. AAgghhhh!!!!, the audience screamed in terror. But it wasn't even over. Then Ryan yelled, over the horrified moans of the audience, "And what about the person from that 'If I Can Dream' web show???" and for a second we thought it might be Alex Lambert and were excited but then it was the other one, some sort of medieval guy with a pony tail, and the two of them struck up hideous chords on their devil piano and apocalypse guitar and somewhere in the green hills of Ireland Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova fell to the ground and started writhing, like Quaid and his ladyfriend in Total Recall, because they were dying. The audience had mostly fainted or fled at this point, but they kept on playing until the bitter end. When it was finally over Ryan warily opened his eyes and took out the ear plugs and summoned a stagehand. The fellow walked out and Ryan pointed to Brooke and the other guy standing there smiling and he said "Burn that," and so they were dragged off to the incinerator.

But the brain-blowing performances weren't over! A little while later they had the fabulous science museum spectacular Gay Frankenstein Presents: Set Your Lasers to Fun, a really cool musical laser show. It was set to an Adam Lambert song and actually featured Adam Lambert, standing centerstage, shrouded in complete dark, save for the lasers, and keening out the first worrisome bars of his tune. Clearly Adam is one of the most daring and original artists in quite some time. Just ask k.d. lang, whose hair and skin he is wearing. I mean he must be, right? If he wasn't an artistic genius he certainly wouldn't get all the theatrics and fanfare, right? He must be the Picasso of pop music. Picasso with lasers. Beautiful, life-giving lasers.

When that beautiful moment was done, Ryan cackled like a witch and said "Now my pretties... Which one of you will be joining Andrew in my Idol stew tonight???" He summoned Katie, Mike, and (gasp!) Tim to the middle of the stage. Surely it couldn't be Tim! And, no, it wasn't. Ryan gave him safety pretty much right away, patting him on the behind as he strutted back to the benches. Tim turned and gave Ryan a wink (Why can he do it so easily and I just look like I'm exploding?, Siobhan thought bitterly) and he whispered "Oh Mr. Seacrest, you nasty" and Ryan chuckled and his heart did origami and he knew he was falling in love.

So it was down to Mike and Katie. ONE of these people, Ryan intoned, was NOT EVEN in the bottom three! It's a canard! Rusery! We wondered fretfully who he might be talking about and then, with quick guillotine speed, he said "Katie!" and Katie was dead. End of the line for America's favorite teen girl. Ryan tried to get her to cry by saying "Quite a ride, huh? Didja have a great time, huh? Yeah? It was really fun? What're you gonna say about it when you get back to your real, boring life, hm? Yeah, I'm rich. OK. We're gonna miss you." Katie hobbled out one more "Let It Be," which she feels was her best performance (and she is probably right).

And in the years afterward, when things are normal and quiet again, she will hear that song sometimes. Driving to work or inspecting lettuce at the supermarket. That song about letting things be doing the complete opposite. For a time. Two years after she will want it back so badly and the song will hurt. Four years it will feel a bit more faraway. Six years she won't even remember someone's name — who was that blonde girl that went home? (It was Janelle Wheeler, Katie) and the song will just be a song. And in ten year's time when she passes a worn billboard advertising Tim Urban's sold-out show at the Hartford Civic Center, she will begin to hum the song and it will hardly feel more familiar than any other song she knows, than any other little tune she likes to sing when she can find the time.