Season 13 for “American Idol” slipped into its final culling phase Thursday night as the Top 13 finalists heard the results of America’s votes, the first of roughly a dozen such shows that will ultimately lead to someone becoming the next American Idol. Succinctly: Somebody was going to be sent home, leaving only twelve contestants to carry on the competition. And so host Ryan Seacrest trotted out the last remaining finalists, the Top 13, in two groups of four and one of five and left three people sitting on the silver stools designated for the bottom three contestants with the least number of votes, each one hoping they would have more votes than the other two when all was said and done. And even then, there would be one more chance to remain in the competition, where the finalist would be allowed to “sing for their life” in an attempt to win over the “Idol” judges to get the one-and-only seasonal Save to remain in the contest.
But contestants had to face at least one hard truth: If a finalist found themselves with the least amount of votes on the very first Finals results show, the judges most likely would not waste the Save. And if that finalist was one of the Wild Card picks by the judges, the three finalists that didn’t receive the top ten most votes totals to make the Top 13, that Save was not going to be theirs.
As Michael Slezak at TVLine reported (via Yahoo TV) Feb. 27, for one finalist, that is exactly what happened — and Judge Keith Urban couldn’t even act as if it was even being considered (but in his defense, Judge Harry Connick Jr. is the Emmy-winning actor)…
But first up, the Top 13 had to get through the obligatory godawful group number, which was a medley of OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars” and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive.” Yeah, it was just about as karaoke-ish-ly painful as one has come to expect.
Then Ryan Seacrest named the initial group of four — Malaya Watson, Jena Irene, Alex Preston, and Ben Briley. Since both the boys performed with guitars during the Top 13 performance show (don’t act as if you don’t know about the “American Idol” fan fixation on WGWGs — White Guys With Guitars), you knew they weren’t going to sit on one of the Silver Stools of Uncertainty (trademark — because if Michael Slezak at TVLine can ™ Silver Stools of Doom, well then…). You also knew it was inevitable, barring a serious television audience disconnect with reality, that Malaya Watson would be the first finalist to be awarded a silver stool for Season 13. Jena Irene’s performance the night before was too good; Malaya’s was — in a word — horrendous.
Malaya, all of 16 years old, was a bit crushed upon hearing the news. And if crying on national television wasn’t bad enough, she had to endure quite a few minutes alone, cut off from the rest of the finalists as the show went on around her.
Season 12 winner Candice Glover appeared next, performing a medley from her debut album. With massive images of Candice weeping and a pair of well-placed butterfly wings, last season’s winner powered through “Cried,” the first single from her debut album, Music Speaks, and “Same Kinda Man,” which also appears on the album. The collection dropped last week and officially entered the Billboard 200 albums chart Thursday at No. 14, placing at No. 3 on the R&B/Hip Hop albums chart.
After Candice’s performance, it was time for the next four finalists — Majesty Rose, Dexter Roberts, Sam Woolf, and M. K. Nobilette — to hear their collective fate. By following the WGWG metric, you already knew the Dexter Roberts and Sam Woolf were safe. And if you watched the show on Wednesday night, you also knew that M. K. Nobilette’s performance was stiff foray into the exploration of one note singing while Majesty Rose was the polar opposite. So it was no shocker when M. K. joined Malaya on one of the silver stools.
With two of the bottom three named, it was time for what looks like a new segment on “Idol.” Seacrest noted that the “Idol” judges and former judge-turned-mentor Randy Jackson would act as “pacemakers” and the show would highlight new talent this season. So Judge Keith Urban introduced an artist named Jake Bugg, an act he saw in Nashville back when “Idol” was in its auditions phase. And so it was that 17-year-old Jake Bugg graced the “Idol” stage with his Mumford & Sons/Phillip Phillips-esque “Me and You” from his debut album, Shangri-La.
With all distractions out of the way, Seacrest pulled the final five — Jessica Meuse, C. J. Harris, Kristen O’Connor, Emily Piriz, and Caleb Johnson — onto the stage. Ignoring the slow process of telling each contestant one-by-one that they were safe from elimination, Seacrest simply told Kristen she was in the bottom three. (Of course she was. Jessica, Caleb, C. J., and Emily had given solid performances on Wednesday, while Kristen seemed to have gotten stuck in low while attempting to approximate a Kelly Clarkson tune.)
So who would be the first named for ousting? Would it be Malaya, whose performance of Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” was so poorly rendered it made everyone want to run away? Or would it be M. K. Nobilette, the one note wonder whose presence in the Top 13 is one of Season 13’s most enduring mysteries? Or perhaps it might be Kristen, whose talent is obvious, but whose pageanty cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Beautiful Disaster” was not even close being pretty. A disaster it was, however.
And so it was that Kristen O’Connor soon had to sing for her life, but she might as well have saved herself the trouble and talked about her regular job as a nurse. The judges weren’t going to save her — they had done that last week by naming her as one of the Wild Cards. No, it was obvious Kristen had gained no traction with voters, so…
At least we learned this week that Harry Connick Jr. and Ryan Seacrest had never seen Keith Urban naked — but only Harry admitted he wanted to see the country singer naked. Judge Jennifer Lopez was oddly reticent during those illuminating comments, while the “Stupid Boy” hitmaker looked thoroughly embarrassed that his nakedness was being discussed so cavalierly on live television…
The “American Idol” Top 12 return next week when the theme will be “Home.” And speaking of “Home,” Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, whose coronation song, “Home,” went on to become and remains the top-selling “Idol” single of all time (to date), will make an appearance and sing his new song, “Raging Fire.” “American Idol” airs on Wednesday and Thursday each week at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.