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The ax fell twice on American Idol last night, whittling our bruised and bloody band of sing babies down to an uneven nine. Of course, they couldn't let the two fallen contestants slip quickly and quietly away. No, first they had to chew the scenery a bit with even more side acts than usual. The time of the single group number is over and now the Idol hopefuls are being broken down into groups of twos, threes and fours to sing and, presumably, breed.

Before we get too far into it, some business! You've probably noticed that I am not Richard Lawson. I wish I was! No one can write about Ryan Seacrest or bog witch Steven Tyler like he can, so I hope you'll forgive me for taking things in another direction while he's away Brett Ashley-ing across Spain. Don't fret—he'll be back next week and everyone can get back to their usual routine.

Anyway, let's have some fun and recap!

Last night's show started off with a duet of Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis' "I Told You So" by our little country chickens Lauren and Scotty. Weren't they cute, sitting on stools and staring into each others eyes all sweet-like? Well, not that cute. Frankly, there was something a little disconcerting about Scotty's deep stare and side-mouth singing, but then again there's always something disconcerting about Scotty. Maybe it's the way he stares through the camera like he can actually see you sitting there watching TV, though it's not your outsides he's seeing, but your skeleton? And he's kind of judgmental about it? Regardless of what Scotty thinks of my bones, the two sang quite prettily (though it was kind of a snore) and the judges gave them a standing O. The good news kept coming when Ryan declared them both safe.

Next, Ryan asked the contestants about their new roles as the nine most famous people on Earth (in the universe, probably). Human Neckerchief James Durbin took the lead on this one, saying that he gets "a lot a LOT of fan mail," then showed us his gifted WWE wrestling belt (which leads me to believe that no one's ever explained to James what fan mail is). They then played a video montage, showing us a week in the life of the Idol performers. It's hard, guys! Their mansion has a leaky roof and they have to keep packing their bags so that they can fly off to charity events hosted by people like Muhammad Ali. Sometimes they have to rehearse and sometimes they think that they are going home, but are then saved by the judges in Idol shocker of the century. Oh, and they asked Casey about his beard. Will he keep it forever? Will he shave off half of it? WHO KNOWS?

The next two performers up were Naima and Jacob, doing a duet of "Solid" by Ashford & Simpson. Boy, these two just walked out of a time machine from 1993. Their styling and smooth R&B vocals are so depressingly old fashioned and Jacob, well, he's sort of a smudge of person, isn't he? Not a defined line to be found on him. Unlike with Scotty and Lauren, Jacob and Naima's duet did not elicit a standing ovation from the judges and it came as a surprise to no one when Naima discovered herself in the bottom three.

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Pia, Thia and Haley then performed a low tempo version of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." You know when it's about to storm and you feel that weird unease in the corner of your heart that's partially, though not entirely related to the weather? That's sort of how it felt to watch these ladies sing "Teenage Dream" (a song which we can all agree has run its course, right?). I was filled with this unnamed dread and sense of anticipation, like something awful was going to happen (or is going to happen?). At least the girls' vocals were adequate enough, which is more than I can say for the remaining boys' performance of Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run." Oof. What a garbage act that was. Just three sad and screechy boys on the guitar, plus one sad and particularly lonely seeming boy on the keyboard. Surprising us all, sad and lonely Stefano didn't end up in the bottom three (boo. Go home, Stefano). Instead, the two remaining spots were taken by Thia Magia and Paul McDonald. In a dream world, this would be a triple elimination, but dream world this is not.

Before we get to the elimination, we might as well discuss the guest performances. First was Idol alum Fantasia Barrino performing her new single "Collard Greens & Cornbread." The song was fine. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for that retro sound, so I didn't hate it, but I don't think that means it was good. At one point, she yelled, "Collard greens and cornbread- anyone ever have a love like that?" which- what? I have no idea what that means. The other guests were charisma-sucks Jamie Foxx and Will.I.Am, performing their song "Hot Wings" from the new movie Rio (which, according to Jamie Foxx, you should see because "it's about family, man." Also, shut up, Jamie Foxx). God, is there anyone worse than these two? The song, primarily made up by the chorus "I like to party, I like to Samba" and the sound of a bird squawking (it's about family, man), was legitimately painful. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure that Jamie Foxx and Will.I.Am created a nightmare vortex that sucked all of the energy out of the room, leaving the audience sad and dull for the rest of their plebeian lives.

And the elimination! Which two was it going to be? Such anticipation! Such fear! Such- oh, nevermind. It was just Thia and Naima. Not too surprising, I suppose.

Honestly, it's kind of sad to see Naima go because she was one of the unsung weirdos of the competition. Sure, Casey and Paul keep trying to shove in our faces how weird they supposedly are, but beyond a beard and a suspected cocaine addiction, neither of them deviate all that much outside of the norm. I suspect Naima, on the other hand, to be a legitimate nut. Of course, she could never win (nor should she), but wasn't it kind of fun to watch her thrash about on stage every week? As for Thia, good riddance. Maybe she can come back in a few years after the hardship of the real world (ha- I write TV recaps for a living) has finally wiped that constant and insipid smile off her face.

That's it for me, friends! Thanks to Richard for letting me step in this week and thanks to all of you for being so receptive!