“Idol Gives Back” takes place next week, bumping the results show that usually takes place on Wednesdays. And this week offered a preview of that event with footage of Elliott Yamin and Kara DioGuardi in Africa showing where previous “Idol” charity dollars have gone and where new cash will hopefully be going.
As cynical as I am, it’s hard to argue that the event isn’t a nice way to get people to open their hearts and wallets to groups that can probably put the dollars to better use than the IRS, which is where many of us will be sending our money Thursday.
However, it’s also a tradition for the opening act not to take the spotlight away from the main event. Perhaps that’s why this week’s “American Idol” results show seemed designed to have as little drama as possible.
Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens were sent home, with the former being (sadly) a no-brainer and the latter a mild surprise at best. Neither looked shocked to be going. Garcia was the calmest, happiest exit interview that I can remember, and Stevens had a grumpy expression from the moment Ryan Seacrest sent Tim Urban to safety and left her alone with Michael Lynche on center stage.
Of course, even one week after Lynche was the lowest vote-getter and needed the judges’ save to survive, he wasn’t actually among the bottom three this time around. He was only there because Ryan apparently enjoys picking on people much bigger than he is, like Simon Cowell and some of the teenage girls who squeal in the mosh pit for Urban every week. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. Lynche has already used you as a barbell once this season. Pick on someone smaller than you instead, like … Aaron Kelly, I guess.
But in fairness to Ryan, he may have been desperate to add some spice to a week that was strangely bland, given the unpredictability of a double elimination week. He certainly didn’t have much to work with, as “Idol” tried to stretch about 10 minutes worth of content into a 60-minute show with predictable results.
The first live performance (not counting the always lamentable group sing) didn’t help. After a season that’s had some of the hipper acts on pop radio performing, the folks at Fox and 19 Entertainment brought us … a Brooke White and Justin Gaston duet. Really?
I mean, I like White, and I get that Gaston is part of the “If I Can Dream” Web-based reality series from the mind and wallet of “Idol” creator Simon Fuller, but just because Gaston has a dream doesn’t mean I should have to watch that. Bring back Rihanna, or Usher, or even Gaston’s “Dream” housemate and ex-“Idol” hopeful Alex Lambert instead.
Or just let Adam Lambert perform a second song. This week’s mentor did an extended version of “Whataya Want from Me” — complete with lasers — and reminded us all that while the remaining “Idol” finalists are capable singers, none brings the showmanship that he rode to a second-place finish a year ago.
Next week will bring more reminders as the big names come to Hollywood to persuade people to donate money to worthy causes. The footage of the Africa trip brought out the best example of what the show can use its influence and audience to do. Hopefully the added star power will do a similar job bringing out the best in the remaining seven “Idol” finalists as well.
Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/craigberman.