American Idol, Cutting the Fat

Wish I could say there were big surprises from this week's American Idol

eliminations, but umm.... no.

Two more guys and two more girls got their walking papers and in my view,

three of the four definitely deserved to go home. Maybe even all four. Viewers are clearly paying attention to the performances and trimming some of the fat.

We'll get to the eliminations in a sec. First, Ryan began the show poking a little fun at Simon. It's becoming obvious that most of their banter and apparent animosity is almost certainly contrived, likely orchestrated, and quite possibly even scripted. I noticed this week that Ryan didn't thank Simon at the end of the show Tuesday or Wednesday, and one reader pointed out to me that he didn't do it last week either. But the cameras are ready to catch Simon's reaction, so obviously the director knows it's going to happen.

Then it was time for a group performance of a montage of '70s songs. I don't know about you, but I find these group songs pretty atrocious. Not entertaining in the least bit.

"American Idol" Eliminates Four More 

Finally, came the first round of eliminations: guys first. Ryan had the back row of five Idol-ites stand up and told them one by one whether they were safe or not. It came down to Jason Yeager and Danny Noriega. I think Danny expected to get sent home, but he was safe. Instead, clean-cut looking Jason got the boot. He was in my bottom three this week after a mediocre performance of "Long Train Runnin'." The judges kindly told him he's not a bad singer, but that he doesn't stand out.

Then Jason sang his final song. How tough must it be to do that? I got the feeling looking into Jason's eyes that it was about the last thing he wished he was doing at that exact moment. It can't be easy to sing and stay composed while fighting back anger, disappointment and possibly tears. Meanwhile the rest of the guys are on the sideline dancing and clapping, and likely thinking, "Thank god it's not me up there."

After a break, Ryan came right back with an elimination for the girls' side. Same drill as the guys: five stand up, one goes home. It comes down to Amanda Overmyer, the so-called "rock and roll nurse" vs. Alexandrea Lushington. Without much fanfare we find out it's Alexandrea going home. Her sour-noted rendition of "If You Leave Me Now" left her in my bottom three this week for sure. Randy said he didn't think she should be going home, but that she picked the wrong

song at the worst possible moment.

While Alexandrea sang her final song, the camera kept cutting away to David Archuleta crying in the back row of the boys. He was obviously very broken up. After her song, Alexandrea went over and hugged him. It was a very tender moment. Really. I almost got weepy.

After a break, Ryan quickly moved to the next girl's elimination, and called Kady Malloy and Alaina Whitaker to the middle of the stage. Wow, this was a tough one to guess for me. Both were in my bottom three, although I thought Kady had done better. Kady thought she was going home, and whispered it to Alaina as they walked up. Then she looked genuinely shocked when Ryan said it was Alaina going home.

I'm not sure how anyone could be surprised after her version of "Hopelessly Devoted to You." But Alaina was pretty upset. So upset in fact, she declined to sing her farewell song until the rest of the girls joined her on stage and urged her on. It was another tender moment. Really. I almost got weepy... again.

Then Ryan gave us some Idol news. Top twelve will be performing soon, blah, blah, blah.... In April they'll have another "Idol Gives Back" show, blah, blah, blah.... Brad Pitt and a bunch of other stars will be taking part, blah, blah, blah....

Finally it was time for the last elimination of the night. Ryan brought Luke Menard and Robbie Carrico to the stage. Wow, another tough guess for me, since neither were in my bottom three this week.

Ryan kind of muffed it, which made things very anticlimactic, but told us that self-proclaimed rocker and Bo Bice-wannabe Robbie Carrico was going home. I really didn't think he was among the worst this week at all, but perhaps it's for the best. I don't think he would have stuck around much longer.

Next week, the sweet sixteen will be whittled down to the top 12. Can't wait.

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