Two for the Price of One

Last week when Ryan Seacrest "shocked" us all with the fact that nobody was being voted off American Idol, I wasn't surprised. But a day or so later, I felt a little ripped off. Idol Gives Back night or not, that's what we tune in to see every Wednesday. Talking about Idol with friends was like telling people a joke they'd already heard. There was nothing new to talk about.

But AI made up for it this week with two eliminations on one night. Phil Stacey and

target="_blank">Chris Richardson both got the boot. And then there were four.

Let's face it -- Phil was overdue. I kind of thought he might go home before Sanjaya ... but America wised up a couple of weeks ago and derailed the Sanjaya Express. Phil had a decent performance Tuesday night singing Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory," earning high praise from Randy and Paula. Still, it wasn't enough to overcome weeks of previous lackluster

performances. Now Phil heads back to Jacksonville where he can spend the summer dodging hurricanes and auditioning for Mr. Clean commercials.

But Chris was a little bit of a surprise for me. His rendition of "Wanted Dead or Alive" wasn't half bad and earned similar praise from the judges. I thought he'd last at least another week or so.

I admit, however, I never would have pegged Chris to go all the way. I don't think he has the looks or the talent -- although I'm told by at least one friend that he has a Justin Timberlake quality about him. I don't see it. Then again, I'd rather listen to a raccoon with its tail caught in a driveshaft than a Justin Timberlake CD.

Anyway, I thought for sure that LaKisha Jones would go home before Chris. Ditto for

target="_blank">Melinda Doolittle. The judges sure love both these ladies, and America does too (for now). At least more than a crew-cut JT lookalike. (Who's singing "Bye,Bye,Bye" now?)

Bottom line, my money is still on 17-year-old phenom

target="_blank">Jordin Sparks to win it all. All the beatboxing in the world won't be enough for

target="_blank">Blake Lewis to outperform her.

Time for my weekly reminder about how great Seattle is. TWO ... that's right, count 'em ... TWO of the final four are from the Emerald City auditions (Blake and Jordin). And Blake is from Bothell, Washington. It's kind of nice considering how rudely Randy, Paula and Simon bashed the contestants from the Seattle tryouts. As Rita Moreno once sang, "Smoke on your pipe and put that in it."

My prediction for next week: LaKisha will be LaPacking her bags for LaHome.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.