It's Anything Can Happen Night on “American Idol.”
On maybe 70 percent of “Idol” Thursdays, you can narrow your elimination predictions down to two or three singers, maximum, with anybody else being a shock. After Wednesday's decent Songs From The Cinema Night, I'll be able to give easy explanations for two or three boots, but there's a lot of wiggle room for something confusing to happen.
Open question: Is there a frontrunner? I mean a *real* David Archuleta/Melinda Doolittle/Adam Lambert-style frontrunner? Have we ever been this later in the season without anything like a favorite?
Think about that, while I start my live-blog:
8:00 p.m. ET. CRUD! I do this for a living and I forgot that FOX had pushed up the “Hell's Kitchen” premiere and bumped “Rake” to Fridays and all of that stuff. Oh well. Back in an hour!
8:59 p.m. OK. Let's try this again.
9:00 p.m. There were over 72 million votes cast last night, highest of the season. “Idol” has hit over 6 billion votes since Season 1. “Tonight's outcome may surprise a few people,” Seacrest teases. Hmmm…
9:02 p.m. I like that the crowd likes the judges, but this extended pre-seating meet-and-greet is weird. Also, Jennifer Lopez is pretty and Ryan Seacrest thinks her headband is perfect. “You tickled them last night, you're gonna pound them?” Ryan says.
9:05 p.m. After last night's show, the finalists went out together. Jena “Gina” Irene is bitter about Keith's mispronouncing of her name. MK Nobillete is amused that Harry was signing copies of “Hope Floats.” Caleb Johnson has noticed that Keith and J-Lo give standing ovations, but Harry does not, but the other contestants have learned Harry's very special body language and eye-twinkle.
9:06 p.m. Results! Results! CJ Harris, Dexter Roberts and Caleb are facing judgment first. Randy Jackson thought CJ was amazing, best he's been all competition, and that he's safe. Randy wanted Dexter to have a moment last night. Does he think he did? I have no clue. Randy wanted Caleb to sing more melody and he did! Randy gives him a 10-10-10! Ah, October 10, 2010. A good day for us all.
9:08 p.m. Caleb is safe. He's on the Tour, if that matters to you or him. Alabama Boys CJ and Dexter are both safe as well.
9:10 p.m. Tribute to Munfarid Zaidi. Oh.
9:14 p.m. The audition thing stopping funny 15 minutes into last night's show. Watching the Finalists doing so-so impressions of Keith isn't so great either, though Ben Briley chiding Keith Urban for using commercial breaks to take pictures with hot girls (“sheilas”) in the crowd is funny.
9:15 p.m. Harry Connick Jr! Performing! Wait. He promised pounding and he's not, in fact, pounding. He's just singing with a very find ensemble. He's got a standing bass! And a flutist!
9:17 p.m. POUNDING! Harry is fantastic. Don't get me wrong. But this is a weird forum for him. He's stuck with the against-the-beat clapping audience and he's sweating in the hot lights. I just can't tell if he's thinking this is a fun thing to be doing. Extra points for the drummer and his trumpet player. That was quite fine. And J-Lo is very enthusiastic.
9:24 p.m. Caleb is really the only one who's consistently good at those auditions.
9:25 p.m. Ryan wants to know if Harry was nervous tonight. No. Harry has never had an issue with nerves.
9:26 p.m. Munfarid got another free ticket to Hollywood. And Harry runs up and cradles him again. Well, you can't say Munfarid isn't milking this particularly weird bit of fame that he has. And we never saw or heard why he was eventually rejected. Bring Back Munfarid!
9:28 p.m. “We'd like to use our Save for Harry,” Keith says.
9:28 p.m. MK, Ben, Majesty Rose and Malaya Watson are facing results now. I had two of these guys in my Bottom Three. Randy thinks MK delivered a standout performance, which she needed. Randy thinks Ben may have confused people with his Elton John cover. “Her performance was OK. I don't know if it was stellar,” Randy says of Majesty. Finally, Randy calls Malaya “fearless.”
9:30 p.m. Malaya is safe. “Tonight you're going to have to endure the stress… of the competition,” Ryan tells MK.
9:31 p.m. Both Ben and Majesty are in the Bottom 3. That's what I predicted! Keith talks circles around whether or not he's surprised. Ben, however, isn't surprised. Ben says he gambled, but he wanted to show people he can do other things.
9:33 p.m. And yes, Ben is the first guy in the Bottom 3 this season.
9:36 p.m. Majesty talking about J-Lo's goosies was the only funny part of that audition reel.
9:37 p.m. J-Lo is a fan of Mali Music. He's good, exactly the sort of performer who would never be able to succeed of “American Idol.”
9:42 p.m. J-Lo's performing next week, but now we're getting a teaser for the iPad commercial masquerading as its video. That wasn't much of a tease. But I can be excited about J-Lo performing.
9:48 p.m. Sam Woolf, Jessica Meuse, Jena and Alex Preston are last to get results. Randy thinks that little-by-little Sam is getting more comfortable on stage. “In a night of standout performances, she didn't have one of them,” Randy says of Jessica. Randy likes Alex. “I felt like a proud parent,” Randy says of Jena.
9:49 p.m. Jessica is in the Top 10. Sorry, America. I don't get this at all. It's inexcusable that Jessica hasn't been in the Bottom 3 yet. Also, I had her predicted for the Bottom 3 and I don't like being wrong. Alex is also safe.
9:50 p.m. Jena is in the Top 10, which means Sam is joining Ben and Majesty. Interesting. I don't want to put any stock in the weird Facebook results thing Ryan has started showing, but when Sam was only fourth from his group of six among women, it should have been clear something was wrong. Based on performance, I personally would have put Sam in the Bottom 3 over Ben. He made a really dumb song choice last night and was mediocre with that song.
9:54 p.m. Sam. Ben. Majesty. “It's really performance-based,” J-Lo says of the Bottom 3. Yup! True story.
9:55 p.m. Sam is safe. .07 percent separated Ben and Majesty.
9:55 p.m. Ben Briley got the fewest votes, ending my streak of consecutive predictions. This sucks, because Ben really is one of my three or four favorites this season, but he blundered big-time with his song choice last night and America punished him. I also don't like the choice of “Stars” as Ben's sing-for-your-life song. This is a bad performance at exactly the wrong time. I would vote to save Ben, but I'm not sure how the judges can justify it.
9:58 p.m. Poor Ben. Keith says that the judges don't feel like they've seen enough artistc growth and they won't be able to use the Save tonight.
9:59 p.m. Farewell to BEN BRILEY. Not the worst person remaining here by any stretch. The competition is worse for his absence. However, I know both why he received the fewest votes and why the judges didn't us the Save.
10:00 p.m. Next week? Billboard Top 10s.
Boo. Do you echo my disappointment? Or do you say “Good riddance”?