Some singers fight to the last to stay on "American Idol." But sometimes, you can just tell they're ready to go home. Like last year's dreadlocked strummer Jason Castro — the winner of our recent poll about whom you'd like to see return to the show — it was pretty clear during the elimination show on Wednesday night that Megan Joy (drop the Corkrey) was eager to exit the stage.
With her strangely giddy laughter, bizarre, birdlike flapping gestures and a snap at judge Simon Cowell that she didn't care about his criticism, Joy's uneven performance of Bob Marley's "Turn Your Lights Down" on Tuesday was almost beside the point. Given her bordering-on-passive-aggressive behavior, Joy, who had been a judges' favorite for her quirky, Adele-like, quavering vocals early on, didn't leave quietly. And Cowell returned the favor, telling the bubbly 22-year-old that there was no way the judges were going to save her and they didn't care about her either. Ouch!
Before we could get to the good stuff, this week's Ford music video cranked up the creepy factor, playing mix-and-match with the contestants' faces and bodies, for a couple of gender-bending looks the audience won't soon forget. But the group lip-synch-along did prove one thing: If Journey ever want to get rid of their new lead singer, Allison Iraheta and Danny Gokey would both be great replacements.
On to the important stuff. Looking for novel ways to torture the contestants, instead of having them stand up individually, host Ryan Seacrest asked Megan Joy, Kris Allen and Matt Giraud to walk across the stage and stand in a group of three. He then had Lil Rounds, Allison Iraheta and Adam Lambert do the same at center stage. Scott MacIntrye, Danny Gokey and Anoop Desai followed suit, with a tease from Ryan that one group represented the bottom three.
They stayed there while last year's "Idol," David Cook, performed his new single, the slow-burn rocker "Come Back to Me." Cook had his signature AC emblazoned on his electric guitar, an homage to older brother Adam Cook, who has been suffering from brain cancer. The performance was pretaped before Cook was forced to cancel shows on Monday and Tuesday to go home to deal with an unspecified family emergency.
The show also featured a wonderfully WTF performance from the always unpredictable Lady Gaga, which found her starting "Poker Face" at a Plexiglas piano filled with bubbles while wearing a silver suit of shiny disco armor. She crooned at the keys, accompanied by a dreadlocked violin player, then bounced up, exploding into the familiar club beat. She worked the stage amid a throng of male dancers. Near the end of the song, Gaga broke out into a bizarre techno hoedown during a violin solo as the camera zoomed in on her face to reveal that her left eye was covered by a zipper.
And finally, on to the eliminations. First swept into safety was Kris Allen, who got high marks for his touching rendition of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," followed by Matt Giraud, who was sent to safety after mistakenly thinking he was in the bottom three again following his judge-dissed too-close cover of the Fray. The news wasn't so good for Joy, who got lambasted for her Marley cover, and who responded to her second trip to the bottom by letting out a bird sound and flapping her wings in a strange pteranodon dance.
Lil Rounds made it through again, despite drawing yawns from Simon for her Celine Dion cover. Iraheta was not so lucky, though, done in either by her controversial Valley Girl outfit, or a not-great take on No Doubt's "Don't Speak." Not surprisingly, Adam Lambert made it through again, thanks to his rockin' version of Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music."
Gokey also made it to safety again. As did MacIntyre, whose "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel saved him. But Desai was back at the bottom, after a tepid take on Usher's "Caught Up."
Before the results were read, Ryan asked which of the bottom three was worth saving/ "One," Simon said, and moments later, Iraheta was sent to safety. Judging by her goofy faces and manic behavior, it was clear Joy was ready to go home. Asked if the judges might use their save on the tattooed single mom, Simon said dryly, "Megan, with the greatest respect, when you said that you don't care, nor do we, so I'm not going to pretend that we're even going to contemplate saving you. ... That's it."
Showing more pizzazz than she had in weeks, Joy bounced across the stage and sang directly to the judges' table during her farewell, pumping her hips and smiling as she shouted, "Yeah!" at the end.
"Thank you, everybody that works on 'Idol'! The contestants, you guys are the best! Judges, I love you. America, I love you, and baby, I'm coming home!" she said to her 2-year-old son, Ryder. Though she seemed like she was over it, Joy still broke into tears as she watched her montage and buried her head as she got a long group hug from her fellow contestants, as well as Paula and Kara DioGuardi.
Next week, the remaining eight contestants will sing songs from the year they were born.
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