Finally, American Idol voters have to make a tough choice. Last week's elimination of Kellie left a field of reasonably talented singers capable of putting together decent performances. Jimmy Kimmel had a great bit on Friday about Kellie returning to her job designing nuclear weaponry at Los Alamos. I am just glad that America finally realized that it's a singing competition and when one of the contestants stands on stage and says how bad she was for two straight weeks, maybe it's time for her to go.
Going back to my initial impressions of the Final 12, I find myself deliberately difficult to decode, but I missed badly on Mandisa (I still say she belongs in this group, but I guess she had a bad day, the camera don't lie, she sang a sad song ... no, no, no, stop please, I'm begging you). I also had Elliott and Paris long gone by now and failed to anticipate the impact of Lisa's plummeting confidence and Katharine's plunging necklines.
Last night's two-song format forced the contestants into abbreviated performances, but most of them seemed to cope. What concerned me the most was the repetition of songs. Earlier this season, Elliott sang a song that Bo Bice did last year, and last night we heard two that Scott Savol did ("On Broadway" and "Take a Look at Me Now"). Are there so few good songs? Or did Elliott run an American Idol focus group to see which songs tested well in previous shows? American Idol focus group - that's a room I might set fire to even if I knew I could not escape. Actually, what concerns me most is that my brain contains so much Scott Savol information.
So how did they do and who will be eliminated? Taylor did well, even though he flubbed the lyrics on "Something." Simon is baffled by his appeal in the same way that he doesn't get country music, but America loves a guy who has a great time onstage, although the falling down was a bit much. Taylor does what most of us would try to do if we were on the show, he just does it better. Chris was strong and continues to be the most consistent performer. Much like a presidential candidate, he needs to capture the middle to win. The Doc wants to see him go back to wearing eyeliner, but I think that would undercut his chances.
Katharine had the strangest night, singing poorly in her first number and then performing like some sort of singing mermaid, rooted to the stage, in her second. She showed a lot less skin than last week, but I will give her points for originality on her second song, which, course, I had never heard before. Plus, with Kellie and Ace gone, she will get the "prettiest contestant" vote. I think she is safe.
That leaves Elliott and Paris. As I said at the top, it's a tough call. I think Elliott went the safe route and did it well, and the judges always seem to be reminding us that he is very talented. Paris, on the other hand, chose good songs by Prince and Mary J. Blige that might not have broad appeal. I once watched part of the filming of a Mary J. Blige video in Manhattan. I can't name any of her songs, not even the one they were doing that day, but I would definitely go see her perform live. That is, if I were the kind of person who ever goes to concerts. It's quite possible I have not seen a concert since the turn of the millennium (kiddie outings to the symphony and the Wiggles don't count).
Anyway, tonight, I think we say goodbye to Paris. She's talented, she's as consistently good as anyone except maybe Chris performer, but she never wows you. Of course, I thought she wouldn't make the top 10, so now she'll probably win the whole thing.