American Idol: Amanda, We Hardly Knew You

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The merciful end of Beatles Week Two is upon us, and not a moment too soon. Our hardy American Idol contestants have survived the experience, but all — including the judges — are clearly anxious for them to return to the chart-pop of the ’80s and ’90s. Beginning with a second Beatles medley, kicked off by ?While My Guitar Gently Weeps,? Idol reminded us just how unsuited for Beatles songs our boys and girls are. Any guitar would have wept at a rendition like this.

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After the medley, we were treated to a surprise: early favorite Carly Smithson was in the bottom three. No one should be too concerned for Idol?s resident blackbird, but the show delights in punishing hubris, so Carly was made to sit in the loser?s seat for the long, slow trudge through the top three, then top ten, before she was joined by the other two unlucky souls in the bottom rung.

The top three this evening, David Archuleta, Brooke White and Michael Johns, were judiciously chosen, more or less. David was boring, Brooke awkward and Michael shaky, but these three are still the best bets for post-Idol fame.

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We then took a brief break to visit the contestants on the set of their ?music video? commercial for Idol sponsor Ford, a spot that seemed hardly like to sell an SUV. Over a soppy, lifeless cover of the great Clash song ?Should I Stay or Should I Go,? the Idol cast, reimagined as 1950s teens, flee from approaching UFOs. Michael Johns gives, in his own words, ?a Susan Lucci type of performance? and will likely wait as long for his Emmy as Susan did for hers. The UFOs give chase, more interested in the Idol contestants and their Ford vehicles than we imagine extraterrestrials would ever be, until finally it?s revealed that they?re filming a movie: David Archuleta and Jason Castro appear as prop men, dangling the ?UFOs? from strings on sticks, and David Cook is given a moment to shine as a portly director in the Orson Welles vein, complete with megaphone.

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From here, the parsing of the top 10 and bottom 3 was obvious and blissfully easy. Eternal bottom-two candidate Kristy Lee Cook joined Carly on the hot seat, and same-every-week rocker Amanda Overmyer found her way over as well. Aptly punished for her pride, Carly was spared and allowed to trot back over to the top 10, where she obviously belongs. Between Amanda and Kristy Lee, Simon said, America chose exactly the right bottom two. In fairness, Kristy Lee ought to have gone, but it was poor Amanda, whose unconscionable dye job failed to endear her to the audience, who got the axe. She took her defeat with grace and poise, expressing gratitude and surprise to have made it as far as the top 11. Amanda fans will have justice next week when, I?m sure, Kristy Lee will be summarily exiled. Until then, let us be grateful that Beatlemania is passing over Idol at last.

– Matthew Schneier