Last night's elimination episode was certainly a corker! Who would have guessed that a whopping 25% of the contestants on the show would be sent home last night? Hm? What's that? Oh, there were only four contestants left so really no big deal.
Except it is a big deal! Oh gosh and glory, it was an exciting elimination last night. But let's be proper about this and start at the beginning. First there was the traditional ear-bleeding, in which the contestants perform some sort of group ditty and warm, viscous blood pours out of our hearin'-holes. It was duets this week, with Scotty and James singing a really sad up-tempo song about joining a rock band and being cool. It was a song for dudes, not for ladies, and Scotty and James awkwardly duded it out as only two awkward dudes can. It was weird. I was watching them make hopeful asses of themselves and I suddenly thought, Hey, the director of the show and other people and almost certainly Ryan already know who's going home. Isn't that weird?? They're so coldly good at just letting everyone blurt and wander around until it's time, though all the while they know full well which one of them is dead. What a hard thing! What steeled hearts they all have! I dunno. It was just something I thought about.
Then the girls sang something and I don't remember what. Does it matter what? I don't think it matters what. They sounded better than the boys, but that wasn't really hard. At least they didn't have to sing about ripped jeans and singin' in garages.
What else. Oh, Ryan touted a Lady Giggles performance and I was weirdly mildly excited for that? She usually does something silly that's fun to gawp at, but then, no, just kidding, the "performance" was a video of the Idolkids sitting down to a watch a video of her taped concert. Meta! Or something. And she performed that song that Haley had already performed! Cool. Something fresh and original on a spring Thursday. I'm beginning to suspect that Fox is just desperately trying to kill time or something. But that can't be it. Fox would never do that to us.
After that there was a seemingly Tron: Legacy-inspired Ford music video, featuring that tinkly wispy "Fireflies" song that is probably a teenage couple who fancies themselves cool and hipster in their sleepy little town's Song. That is their couple song. You know how couples have a song. And then he'll graduate and when he goes off to Plainsview State she'll make him a mix Mp3 (is that what she'd make now, here in the year 2000?) and that song will be the last song on it and he'll feel sad when he listens to it the first time and then time will march on, race on really, and by the end of his first year of college they'll be long broken up and he'll be moving out of his dorm and he'll find the mix Mp3 thing and he'll think about the lyric "I'd like to make myself believe / That planet Earth turns slowly" and he'll know that it's not true, that it was all a sad lie of youth. And the girl will be graduating now from high school herself and she'll have mostly forgotten that song, and one day over the summer they'll run into each other at McKenzie Rollins's big party and they'll smile and hug and have an awkward chat and then that'll be that. She'll move out east and it will seem so strange that there were ever fireflies between them at all, those little whimsical bursts of light that live such short lives. Anyway. That's what the Tron Ford ad said to me.
Once that was done, Ryan announced the return of an Idol victor, and Jordin Sparks, newly a woman, came out and sang a song called "I Am Woman," but she did not ask us to hear her roar. It was a different song, a much worse song, and I felt bad for Jordin, taking this awkward, aggressive stab at adulthood. The former kid star reasserting themselves as a new, publicly sexual creature is such a sad sort of thing, I think. I imagine that Jordin would like to believe that planet Earth turns slowly too. Alas for all of us that it doesn't. Perhaps the most uncomfortable thing about Jordin's performance, though, was that she was wearing some sort of fringey, furry short dress and had a silver mini-trenchcoat over it and before she took the coat off there were just occasional hints of the dark fur-fringe from under the coat and it looked a little like... Hm. I'm trying to figure out how to say this delicately. Maybe there isn't any way to do that. I'll just say that that certainly would have been one way of showing us that she's a woman! One deeply unsettling way. But no, it wasn't real, it was just the dress. That's all. Ah well. Poor Jordin Sparks. Sparks go out so quickly! Poor old Jordin Fireflies.
And then, mah frienz, we come to the end. Ryan assembled the four quivering song-masses in the middle of the stage and he immediately sent Lauren Alaina to safety. She gasped and gulped and smiled the brightest smile this stage has seen in some time and she gave everyone big country hugs and then scampered over to the Stools of Safety, which were spray-painted gold in honor of the occasion. So then it was down to three and everyone's teeth were chattering and a few people peed themselves, this was so nerve-wracking. Ryan said "Everyone's been talking about how strong the guys are this season..." (Have they? Have they really been?) "But this year... two girls will be in the top three!" Which meant that Haley was safe! Yayyyy! Good for Haley! Good for girls! Bridesmaids really is ushering in a new era of womyn equality. Terrific news, more than half the planet!
This news, of course, meant something else too. It meant one of the boys would go home. And we knew, then, what boy it would be. It wouldn't be Scotty, it will never be Scotty. Of course then, it would be James. The sad look of resignation that danced across James's face when that realization hit was the stuff of true drama. He mouthed something to his wife in the audience (the wife who had inadvertently stuck her nose in his eye while he was singing his sad, sadder now in retrospect, rock ambition song) that I think was "That's it" or "I'm done." Something final and fatal. Scotty looked relaxed, because Scotty knows what's going on, and then sure enough Ryan delivered the foregone conclusion. James was dead. There would be no more metal.
The judges, who I suspect were sabotaging him with their praise all along, tried to look sad but failed, Randy especially, shaking his head in mock-disappointment. Then we watched an especially goopy goodbye video, while on stage fat tears welled up in James's eyes. Ryan then gave him a chance to say his last words and James, humbly, said "I did so many things that have never been done before on this show." Hm? What's that? No, no, I don't actually think that's true. I guess maybe no one has ever entered the arena with a marching band. And I know that no one had ever sung Judas Priest before. But other than that? Other than that I'm pretty sure that James was just warmed-over Adam Lambert, a karaoke caterwauler who fancied himself some sort of musical demigod. I'm pretty sure that was it! He did not bring metal back into the world. He most certainly did not. He blitzed around a talent competition one spring in 2011 and that was it. And that's a fine "it"! That's more it than many people will ever do in their lives. But let's not go nuts here. Let's keep things in perspective. Jams Durbin (Jams was originally a typo but now I really like it) was just Jams Durbin. Just one contestant in a sea of many.
I don't know that we'll remember him in the years to come. He'll be a Carly Smithson or a Daniel Johns. Names that waft dimly through one's memory on rare occasion, but that's it. He was not our own Prometheus, bringing us metal instead of fire. He was not that. There are no gods left on American Idol anymore. They all left this terrible place years and years and years ago. Maybe we'll see them at a party sometime in the future. And then we'll sing.