'American Idol' recap: Back to the Germ Farm

american-idol-season-11.jpgI was going to recap the whole overwrought pre-credits sequence, all about how last week the top 13 were all on top of the world and tonight one of them will go home, but I seem to have misplaced my smelling salts.

After the credits, Ryan performs an astounding feat of walking and talking, explaining that at the end of tonight, we'll know which girl and which guy from the top 13 got the fewest votes last night. And then the judges will decide which of them will be sent home. While ambling all the way from center stage to behind the judges' table, he does this. Clearly I've underestimated him. Then he introduces the group sing of yet another Stevie Wonder song I don't know, a performance that proves is as awkward and forced as you can imagine something featuring 13 people with widely varying styles and heights passing the lead back and forth to be. Remember Jennifer talking about not wanting DeAndre's song to end last night? She very nearly gets her wish tonight.

Then there's a "music video" where the top 13 are green-screened to look like giants in a Ford commercial; set to their version of Peter Gabriel's "Big Time." What I like about this is that all of the gigantic top 13 guys supposedly set the ground shaking with every step, the top 13 girls are still too delicate to do any such thing even when they're as tall as skyscrapers (or Shannon). While we're still reeling from that embarrassment, Jimmy Iovine grinds the show to a halt to tell us all how special Whitney Houston was, "And that's why it was so difficult for the girls to sing these songs. But Stevie Wonder was no walk in the park for the boys, either." Thanks for that, Jimmy. Up until now I was thinking I could have done just as well as anyone did last night.

So now it's time for Ryan to start cutting people from the herd. He starts with Jessica, Elise and Hollie, calling them to center stage. As with last week, we get clips of each finalist's performances and the judges' mostly incoherent comments, cut in with remarks from Jimmy. Elise admitted backstage last night to having been embarrassed by the public criticism, and Jimmy says she "got hit with the Whitney Houston stick." By whom, exactly? Jimmy says Hollie was lucky to be in her genre, but she was "fantastic." As for Jessica, as though we're worried, Jimmy calls her song last night "probably the best performance I've ever seen of anyone on American Idol." His only concern is that she'll get overconfident. She seems to have a way to go, though.

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