It was good news and bad news on the first top 12 elimination night of this season's "American Idol." The good news of the night was that the judges' save is back, meaning a unanimous vote by the panel can bring back any of the finalists up until the top five.
The bad news, of course, is that someone had to test that save after the finalists took a tumble through the catalog of the Rolling Stones, and unfortunately for Lacey Brown, she was the first victim. The Texas balladeer got to give it another shot in a bid for the save, pulling out her cover of Brandi Carlile's "The Story" one more time. But after washing out just a hair short of the semifinals last year and finally making it to the "Idol"-dome this time, it wasn't meant to be for the pastor's daughter from Amarillo, Texas.
She got the news during an agonizing hour that featured performances from former champ David Cook, current pop tart Ke$ha and guitar-pop newbie Orianthi.
The first singer to face elimination was Paige Miles. Though the judges praised her scratchy "Honky Tonk Woman" after finding out that she had been struggling with laryngitis all week, Miles made the long walk to the bottom three early in the broadcast. The second cellar dweller was no surprise, as perpetually on-the-bubble Tim Urban got zapped over his close-but-no-cigar reggae cover of "Under My Thumb."
"Beast of Burden" was deemed a safe choice by the judges, but it was still enough for Lee Dewyze to live another day, so he took a safe seat along with resident quirky girl Siobhan Magnus, who drew comparisons to both Snooki from "The Jersey Shore" and Adam Lambert on Tuesday thanks to her gothy rendition of "Paint it Black."
Also safe were sensitive teen Aaron Kelly, who got through with a tender take on "Angie," and Andrew Garcia, who just squeaked by with a passable "Gimme Shelter." Didi Benami finally got across-the-board praise from the panel Tuesday for her dark take on "Play With Fire," as well as a thumbs-up from voters, who also still dig Crystal Bowersox after her Bonnie Raitt-ish "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
The judges continue to give Katie Stevens maddeningly contradictory advice, but the show's other teen did just enough with "Wild Horses" to stick around, as did big Michael Lynche, whose soul-splashed "Miss You" hit the spot.
That left Casey James and Brown facing the final bottom-three spot, with Brown taking the walk of shame after a lukewarm, stripped-down "Ruby Tuesday." The first of the three sent back to safety was Urban, who once again employed his signature stunned look at the news.
It was Brown facing the door in the end, though, with Miles sent to safety as the clock ticked down. In a new wrinkle this year, contestants vying for the save can sing any song they've performed on one of the live shows to date, so Brown went with a reprise of the well-received Carlile ballad.
Trying hard not to oversell it and heed Simon Cowell's advice to avoid coming off like she was acting, Brown stood nearly stock-still and somewhat stiff in the middle of the massive stage and appeared deflated as she struggled to hit some of the notes and clearly didn't do enough to save her spot.
"It was unanimous, and unfortunately, no, we won't be using it," Cowell said sternly. Brown took it well, saying, "I had a lot of people tell me maybe go the country route. ... I will keep singing for my fans and for myself, because I love to do this. I'm excited for the future." As she wiped away a few tears, Brown watched the montage of her journey on "Idol" as her fellow contestants circled her center stage.
The show also featured season-seven champ Cook singing a grunged-up version of the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash," which owed as much to Kings of Leon as it did to Guns N' Roses. Michael Jackson's former live guitarist, Orianthi, also performed, shredding her way through the guitar-pop single "According to You."
Ke$ha lit up the stage, wearing a glittery eye mask that matched her silver bustier, with a quartet of backup dancers wearing giant TV sets on their heads. 3OH!3 came out to reprise their mid-song rap, which gave Ke$ha enough time to strap on a towering Native American headdress.
What did you think of Wednesday night's elimination? Did Lacey deserve to go home? Leave your comments below.
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