Recap: ‘American Idol’ Results – The first Finalist heads home

Last Thursday’s “American Idol” results show, which cut the field from 24 to 13, was an example of how lean and mean the FOX hit can be. If you take out the first 20 minutes, when nothing happened, and maybe trim a few other moments of clip-package flab, there was a remarkable amount of activity that took place over those two hours.

Will Thursday (March 10) night’s “Idol” results show feature similar economy?

Umm… Don’t count on it.

Minute-by-minute breakdown after the bump…

8:00 p.m. “We all have an Idol… But what does it take… To become one… You must be strong… You must shine… You must be fearless… But one dream ends… Tonight” Dang. If that weren’t a bit wordy, I’d totally get tonight’s “American Idol” preamble put on a t-shirt.

8:02 p.m. I want Steven Tyler’s long-coat with the cow-print/leopard-print in-seam. 

8:02 p.m. Diddy Dirty Money is in the house. We’ll also have Adam Lambert on the stage. 

8:03 p.m. 30 million votes came in last night. Yes, that’s down from last week. Yes, the number of contestants was also down from last week. No, I’m not ascribing much meaning to any of this.

8:03 p.m. The Judges’ Save is BACK! It has to be unanimous and it has to be used before the Top 5. 

8:04 p.m. Paul McDonald doesn’t have very many outfits. 

8:04 p.m. Poor Casey Abrams is sick and back in the hospital. Ryan Seacrest urges America to wave at Casey. 

8:05 p.m. Stately “American Idol” Manor! Are we really going to try having the kids in the same house and using behind-the-scenes footage? They try that every couple years and abandon it within weeks. Thia Megia feels like a princess. Haley Reinhart is too moved to speak, while Karen Rodriguez is also on the verge of tears. Yes, it’s a very nice house, but not so nice that they aren’t sharing rooms. Ashthon calls somebody and says they’re at a mansion in Beverly Hills. They’re not. But I’m not sure that I know where they are.

8:06 p.m. Yup. I hate the Top 13 right about now.

8:07 p.m. Speaking of things I thought we’d done away with, here’s another poorly choreographed, poorly lip-synched Group Sing. It’s a Michael Jackson medley. Stefano Langone wins the “Most Earnest Lip-Syncer” award. Paul McDonald wins the “Least Engaged Lip Syncer” award. I’m giving James Durbin a special “Slightly Less Awful Dancer Thank I’d Have Predicted” prize. And the “Biggest Ham” kudos go to Jacob Lusk.

8:10 p.m. Yup. Between the “Boy, we have an awesome house” musical montage and the Up With People Group Sing, I’m not feeling much warmth towards the Top 13.

8:13 p.m. “At least they had a bit of fun at the Ford music video,” Ryan reassures u. Sure. Who wouldn’t? The season’s first Ford commercial is set to  “The Works” and it’s not creative enough for me to have anything to say about it. 

8:15 p.m. Oh my goodness. We went from a “Life is good in the mansion” spot to a “Life is good making Ford commercials” to a “Life is good at the premiere for ‘Red Riding Hood.” Amanda Seyfried is pretty. She’s plugging her film with authority. It’s easy when Ryan is asking hard-hitting questions like, “Did you enjoy doing the movie?”

8:16 p.m. At the premiere, the Idols got to meet Gary Oldman (certainly a good sport, possibly drunk) and learn who Shiloh Fernandez is. They also get coached on how to pronounce Amanda Seyfried’s last name. Ms. Seyfried gives them all a pep talk on what to expect in their future career making broadly allegorical fairy tale movies. 

8:17 p.m. And did the Idol singers like “Red Riding Hood”? YOU BET THEY DID. It’s unpredictable! Beautiful! Full of surprises! And Casey Abrams plays the werewolf!

8:18 p.m. OK. Let’s pull a Bottom Three in some fashion? Jacob, Stefano and Karen are called out first. Having rewatched his performance, Jacob acknowledges that he messed up, but got back on his feet. Ryan gives Karen the opportunity to blame her awful performance last night on unspecified “technical difficulties.” Come on, Karen. If you’re gonna throw somebody under a bus, name names! Stefano is blessed and glad to be here. “You all escaped elimination last week. You are all safe…” Ryan says. They all jump up and down with excitement. “Except Karen,” Ryan adds.  The first member of our Bottom Three is Karen Rodriguez, which is pretty much dead-on.

8:21 p.m. “These nights are so tough,” Ryan says. Well sure. Especially if you’re an ass about it, Seacrest.

8:26 p.m. Adam Lambert’s here with an unplugged version of “Aftermath.” If ever there were an opportunity to check in on the Big East and ACC basketball tournaments. [Adam’s voice is, as ever, darned fine. But boy oh boy this is an over-written, mediocre, hook-free song. It’s almost a song parody.]

8:30 p.m. The crowd is happy with Adam. He wants to make it clear that the over-written message is the most important part of the song. Ah. Proceeds from the song benefit The Trevor Project. OK. Bad song. I’m not gonna apologize for disliking it. But it’s a great cause. Check it out.

8:32 p.m. Ryan and Jennifer Lopez make a long joke about The Dougie. The whole Top 13 joins in. It’s a cute moment. Former Fly Girl J-Lo should be encouraged to dance as much as possible.

8:35 p.m. Let’s give Karen some friends on the Stools of Shame. Lauren Alaina, Ashthon Jones and Haley are brought to center stage. “How did you feel last night when you went back to the mansion?” Ryan asks Lauren. “They were right. It wasn’t good. I watched it. It was bad. I’m sorry,” Lauren says. She also cries. For her pain, Ryan sends her back to the couch. She’s safe. Ashthon worries that she should have chosen a song that everybody knows. Randy tells Haley that she belongs somewhere in the middle of country and R&B. Haley says she likes to switch it up. The conversation is awkward and stumbles along. Finally Ryan has to interrupt. Ryan tells Ashthon she’s in the Bottom Three. Haley looks relieved. Then Ryan tells her she’s also in the Bottom Three. This is not Ryan at his most likable. 

8:41 p.m. Your Bottom Three: Ashthon, Haley and Karen. Only Haley is a minor surprise after last night and she’s only the most minor of minor surprises. In fact, really Haley is only a surprise insofar as I predicted Paul in the Bottom Three instead of her, but if I’d had to choose a back-up, it would have been Haley for sure. None of those three are going to get rescued with a Judges’ Save in Week One.

8:45 p.m. Diddy Dirty Money time. Sadly neither one of the televised basketball games is close. So I’m stuck watching Diddy being earnest with fine backing singer Lisbeth Salander. Diddy and Lisbeth have long been my two favorite fictional characters.

8:49 p.m. Ryan brings Diddy over to talk to the Top 13. “You get out of life what you put into it,” The Formerly Puffy One says before telling them to keep God in their lives and follow their dreams. I’m so bored I’m watching hockey and having flashbacks to that weird moment in time when Diddy and J-Lo used to date. Or whatever.

8:54 p.m. Karen is safe. She flops around with Spanish-inflected gratitude.

8:55 p.m. The person heading home tonight is… Ashthon Jones. Yup. Called that one. And I like how Ryan said she “may” be headed home. 

8:56 p.m. Ashthon’s singing Diana Ross again. Oh come on! Sing “And I Am Telling You” again! Randy has to tug J-Lo over to him to remind her that they’re supposed to be pretending to deliberate over saving Ashthon.

8:57 p.m. Her performance is marked by the exact same limitations that marred it last night. She breaks down in tears.

8:58 p.m. Ryan reminds the judges they have only one save. J-Lo breaks the bad news. “Not this time, baby. I’m sorry,” she says. And then J-Lo twists the knife by telling Ashthon that it was unanimous.

8:59 p.m. A montage of Ashthon’s vaguely memorable moments play over David Cook’s nearly-carbon-copy cover of “Don’t You Forget About Me.” As it ends, Naima runs over and nearly tackles the tearful Ashthon.

9:01 p.m. “Bones” says “Thanks for the one-minute over-run into our ratings.”

9:03 p.m. I wouldn’t argue that Ashthon was the worst performer on Wednesday night, but I definitely understand why she went home. She didn’t have more than a week or two left in her under any circumstances.

Were you OK with the results? Did anybody in the Bottom Three surprise you?