For once, "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest wasn't exaggerating when he promised that Wednesday night's results show would be a shocker. On a night when many predicted that Aaron Kelly's "Idol" journey would be coming to a halt, instead it was burly personal trainer and new dad Michael Lynche facing the sing of shame.
Lynche, who has emerged as one of the strongest contenders in an otherwise lackluster season nine, pulled out his big guns in an attempt to stay in the mix, reprising his lauded cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" and earning the season's only save. He was on the chopping block despite a mostly praised R&B spin on "Eleanor Rigby" on Tuesday night.
"I was absolutely shocked," Rickey Yaneza, webmaster of the "Idol" fan site Rickey.org, said about Lynche landing in the bottom three alongside Kelly and Andrew Garcia. "I didn't think he'd end up getting the least amount of votes, but I think they made the right call." Yaneza said Lynche's "Woman's Work" was one of the best performances of the season so far, and the reprise was more than enough to earn his spot back.
As for what happened to put Lynche in the crosshairs, Yaneza speculated that the brawny singer's fans may have gotten complacent, while supporters of Kelly and Garcia pulled it together and rallied enough votes to keep them in the competition. "Aaron and Andrew's fans worked their butts off overnight knowing their guys were in trouble," he said, noting that Lynche's fanbase has never been as strong as those for other on-the-bubble contestants such as Kelly, Garcia and "Teflon" Tim Urban.
MTV's own "Idol" disciple, Jim Cantiello, was surprised that the judges used their one-and-only save for Lynche, assuming they'd save it for one of the other front-runners. "Given the way this season is going, I assumed they'd only use it on Crystal Bowersox or perhaps Lee Dewyze," he said. "Michael was a likable guy, but he's been railed for giving overdramatic performances. Tuesday night, he went way over the top and Simon was quite vocal in his disapproval. So for 24 hours later to have passed and now the judges are unanimous in giving this guy another shot? It was unexpected."
Cantiello disagreed with the move, saying Lynche had reverted back to his "over-emotive" habits. "After his results-show interview where he told Seacrest that people should just download his studio recordings if they're not feeling his onstage antics?" Cantiello said. "That right there proves he has no intention of pulling back. America wasn't feeling his dinner-theater performance style, voted him off, and then the judges gave him a free pass to keep doing what he's doing. If he doesn't tone it down next week, he'll be the lowest vote-getter all over again."
MTV readers reacted strongly to the drama, with Kevin writing, "Now what do they do if someone that is talented and could have a future in the business like Crystal doesn't get enough votes one week? Bad decision with this many weeks left!" Rick took a more academic approach, arguing that the judges shouldn't have saved Lynche because "when your vote total is that low, then your fanbase is highly unlikely to carry you through and you're going home within the next few weeks anyway. I don't think you break out the save until there is seven or even six left. In that case you could potentially save the winner."
MJ Santilli, who runs the "Idol" fan site MJsBigBlog.com, isn't a fan of the save in general, feeling that the "Idol" chips should fall where they may with no interference from the judges. "Surprise boots are part of the 'Idol' experience. Everyone gets over it and moves on," she said. "So I'm happy to have it out of the way for the season."
That said, if the save has to be deployed, she was fine with Lynche being the beneficiary. "There are at least four contestants who should be heading out the door before Mike Lynche: Aaron Kelly, Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens and Tim Urban have all had spotty track records, at best, on the 'Idol' stage," she said. "Plus, Mike is one of the few contestants left with decent performance skills, and now that Paige Miles is gone, he's the only R&B singer in the group."
Santilli was also surprised at Lynche's elimination because she figured his fanbase wasn't being split with any of the other contestants. But the problem now, she said, was that if one of the other front-runners — such as Bowersox, Dewyze or Siobhan Magnus — is eliminated in the next few weeks, the judges can't do a thing about it. "And there goes that feel-good save they could have used during 'Idol Gives Back,' " she lamented.
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