The judges and Jamie Foxx can say it all they want, but even if all of the top five [url id="/news/topics/a/american_idol/"]“American Idol”[/url] contestants really are true artists who will find career success after the show, someone had to go home this week. And, after first getting a wild-card bid back onto the show during the semifinals, then scoring the one-time-only judge’s save two weeks ago Matt Giraud finally ran out of lives on Wednesday night.
That result (after a season high of 47 million votes) was almost overshadowed, though, by the shocking sight of season-long front-runner Adam Lambert making his first trip to the bottom three, accompanied by another newbie, Kris Allen , who landed at the bottom even after a massive effort by his hometown of Conway, Arkansas, to ensure his survival on the show.
In keeping with the week’s Rat Pack theme, the top five first sang a medley of the swinging tunes “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and “I Got Rhythm.” Giraud used the opportunity to show off a bit of his soft-shoe dancing skills. On a night when it seemed like there was plenty of business to get through, we also got a glimpse at a recent food fight in the mansion between Danny Gokey, 29, and Allison Iraheta, 17, as they baked cakes for their respective birthdays.
After mixed results for his cover of “My Funny Valentine” — Randy Jackson called it pitchy; Kara DioGuardi thought there was an emotional connection missing, but Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell liked it — Giraud was the first to be separated from the group as Ryan Seacrest began reading results. Gokey, who got four thumbs up for his version of “Come Rain or Shine,” was then swiftly sent to the opposite side of the stage.
Iraheta won praise from Randy and Kara for her “gut-wrenching” rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” though Simon called it “mechanical” and predicted she’d be in big trouble on elimination night. She was sent to stand with Gokey, as Kris Allen relived the praise he earned for “The Way You Look Tonight,” and ended up standing next to Giraud.
That left Lambert, who sang “Feeling Good” and once again got high marks across the board from the judges. Ryan asked him to choose which group he thought he belonged in. In years past, contestants who were asked to make this Sophie’s Choice demurred, but after a bit of hemming and hawing, Lambert chose the Iraheta and Gokey duo. That turned out to be the wrong pick, as he was shuttled across the stage to the bottom three for the first time this season.
That also meant that Allen landed in the bottom three for the first time, leaving Iraheta and Gokey — the latter now the only contestant left to never be in the bottom three — staring gape-mouthed at each other in disbelief.
“It’s crazy; this is crazy,” Abdul said. Seacrest then eased the tension slightly by sending Allen back to the safe couch. The 23-year old breathed a huge sigh of relief and gave Lambert a big hug on his way to the top four.
After Seacrest teased Cowell that perhaps Jackson and DioGuardi were more on their game in calling the bottom two this week, the typically acerbic judge quipped, “One week out of 12 isn’t bad.”
Like Allen, Lambert wasn’t long for the bottom. Seacrest waved him through, leaving Giraud, 23, alone at center stage. The dueling-piano singer from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who got see-saw comments from the judges throughout the season, seemed resigned to his fate.
“I’ll definitely remember being the cat with nine lives. … It’s definitely not the last time you’ll see me,” said Giraud, who appeared on the verge of tears before stepping up for an his final, emotional run through “My Funny Valentine.” DioGuardi sent Giraud home with the praise, “One of the best things we did this season was save you.”
Among the musical guests on the show were classic diva Natalie Cole, singing the snappy standard “Something’s Gotta Give”; season-five Idol Taylor Hicks, performing the bluesy original “Seven Mile Breakdown”; and this week’s mentor, Jamie Foxx, who gave the kids in the audience a taste of his AutoTuned homage to alcohol-fueled hookups, “Blame It,” after reiterating that the top five were among the best performers he’s seen in a decade.
Next week’s rock-themed show will feature the top four being mentored by guitar god Slash. And on Wednesday night’s elimination show, the reunited No Doubt will take the stage, and former “Idol” finalist Chris Daughtry will debut “No Surprise,” the first single from his band’s new album.
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