American Idol recap: Elevator of Terror

The judges welcome 17 of the Top 30 in a great big ballroom; M.K. Nobilette says she's 'very obviously gay'
Ep. 09 | Aired Feb 12, 2014

Fox

Kristen O'Connor the nurse was way too tremulous for me on Katy Perry's "Unconditionally" -- each new note delivered a fresh bout of anxiety re: whether she would hit it. If she didn't know, I definitely didn't know! I like the actual tone of her voice and what an open book she was during the ballroom fortune-telling segment. We'll see if she can make that vulnerability work mid-performance.

Wee one/great big fellow Jordan Brisbane did not inspire much confidence with his final solo performance of "Halo." I did think it was cool that he didn't try and do any weird runs. He could surprise us.

Aw, it's goodbye to Group Round drama-monger Nica Nashae. "She was one of the best singers," lamented J. Lo. Really? That has to be everyone, then, in a way. I guess it's just something to say. (Isn't everything?) And Casey McQuillen got cut, too, probably as soon as she told the cameras, "I've always wanted the big stage, the big auditorium." Wrong, Casey. Think bigger! Think beyond your high school!

Leah Guerrero was the real heartbreak of the episode for me, because it made no sense at all why she would be pitted against Andrina Brogden in the ballroom of doom. Her gritty cover of "I'd Rather Go Blind" was just as soulful if not more than Andrina's "Burn," so the pairing just seemed arbitrary. "She's what the other girl wants to be," Harry was shown saying to J. Lo during Andrina's performance -- but he could have been referring to anyone. We don't know. I have nothing against Andrina, but I really liked Leah and we hadn't really heard from her! "It was brutal and almost interchangeable," J. Lo assured them. Why?! The match-up ultimately led to theā€¦

Most horrifying orchestrated shot of the night:

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CRUEL AND UNUSUAL.

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And then outside the holding cell, crouched down near the recycling bins, it just looked like poor Leah was on the john. Well done, team! You have mightily kicked this tattered and spirited sprite when she was down. Ugh, this was really awful.

"This whole episode, my nose is gonna be red," sniffed J. Lo. But maybe a bit of extra color would have helped?

Esteemed Colleague Email Interlude:

kgb_jlo_zombiemakeup

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Clearly we needed even more tears. Bring on the facial flush!

Keith seemed to be inspecting his own tender and juicy forearms for "goosies" during Malcolm Allen's "I'm Going Down," which was very good, but I think I will remember him more for that bright yellow sweater, at least for now.

Alex Preston can play soooo many instruments. He needs to have one strapped to him at all times, like Linus with his security blanket. Keith can relate. His original tune contained the perfect-for-the-situation lyric, "Is it the finish line or the start?" and another heavy-handed one about how "this is a fairytale and you're a damsel in distress." He's a cool musician, but it's hard to tell whether his unorthodox style will play on Idol. My guess is no, but I'm just a local bum. Perhaps this is the year of the question mark.

I really liked how after Alex's solo, J. Lo demanded a verdict and Harry gave a tentative "question mark" but made sure "We're gonna go back all over this again, right?" All three of the judges actually care this year. It's so lovely.

What did you think? Will C.J. or Casey make it through? Which cuts upset you? Discuss!

Three-part Sequence of Zen:

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