American Idol recap: Tim Urban gone as Idol Gives Back runs 24 minutes long
Over the past few months, these imagined Taylor Swift wannabes have been blamed for a lot of Idol ills, from the dearth of people of color among the top contenders to the tough time women have had (just two ladies left in the top six) and the continued survival of vocally challenged Zac Effron clone Tim Urban.
But at least one of those complaints got rectified Wednesday, when Idol bid goodbye to Urban after a super-bloated Idol Gives Back fundraising episode that was surprisingly short on entertainment, given that it ran nearly a half hour too long.
(I'm wondering why Fox didn't just officially expand the show's length to 10:30, allowing fans to record the whole thing without having to tweak their DVRs.)
In fact, the show's cutest dudes landed in the bottom three Wednesday, blowing up the notion that tween girls were advancing Urban, moppet Aaron Kelley and Southern-fried hunk Casey James beyond their merits.
The one consistent theme in Idol voting this year has been its unpredictability, with front-runner Michael Lynche escaping the bottom three every week since he was saved from ejection by the judges. Now, Urban's ejection suggests voting has rebounded in another direction -- perhaps as fans of ejected singers choose new favorites and new fans join the balloting.
Idol has always been at least three shows in one package, with the auditions, Hollywood Week and live competitions offering different permutations on a single theme. As the competitions narrows, the show has entered its final phase -- sloughing off the last competitor with a brighter smile than vocal chops to get down to a serious vocal/performance competition.
Which is why it felt so odd to see an ejection on the same night as the Idol Gives Back telethon. In years past, the show skipped ejecting people on its fundraising night, correctly predicting that the message of hope and generosity ginned up by a good telethon would be muted by crushing some young singer's dreams of showbiz stardom in the same program.
But Wednesday's show was so bloated and clunky it hardly mattered. Give producers credit for trying to make it feel like an event -- from a welcome by the president and first lady to cameo appearances from Slash and Jim Carrey.
Still, too much of this felt like too much -- George Lopez critiquing the judges with an overlong bit that wasn't nearly funny enough; Russell Brand and Jonah Hill proving whoever writes their movies deserves a lot of credit for making them look funny; an opening performance for the Black Eyed Peas that even a healthy dose of auto-tune couldn't salvage.
Thank God Mary J. Blige showed up to prove a great singer can reinvent any song -- even Stairway to Heaven. And Wanda Sykes' acerbic shots at Idol only proved that she might be the best choice to replace petulant departing judge Simon Cowell yet.
In the end, with Urban gone, Idol producers got what they wanted -- an unpredictable contest which still almost feels like anybody's game (even if Crystal Bowersox is increasingly competing on a level no one else can match).
Wonder who we'll blame when they screw it up again?