Wednesday night we learned a valuable lesson: It's easy to sing Billy Joel badly. Especially when you have never heard a Billy Joel song before because you are a teenager and Billy Joel hasn't produced a hit since 1993. Besides, Lana Del Rey is here! She's singing "Video Games," and surely she will show these young whippersnappers a thing or two about singing, right?
But before we get our candy, we have to eat our vegetables in the form of the Top 10 giving us a preview of the live show by singing Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time." While individually these singers are all quite talented (except for maybe Heejun Han), the second they raise their voices in song together it's still an unholy mess, with Elise Testone trying to soothe Steven Tyler's pain with an impromptu lap dance. Maybe Diddy can teach them about unity next time he's around – you know, if Jennifer Lopez lets him come back. Or he forgives her for calling him "Puffy" on camera last night. Also, both Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips are wearing grey, so apparently Tommy Hilfiger is the Rodney Dangerfield of this competition.
After even more vegetables in the form of a Ford product placement, Ryan Seacrest calls up Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine and Elise Testone, which is as interesting a combo as anything KFC has to offer. Before their fates can be announced, though, Jimmy Iovine has to weigh in on Hollie's pantsuit, Skylar's slipping performance, and the fact that Elise gave Jimmy "goosies," so I guess they are contagious and we should all be wearing HazMat suits. While Ryan tries give the show some extra drama by adding awkward elongated pauses (those count as drama, right? It's why everyone loved The Wire so much) by taking his time assuring Hollie, Skylar, and Elise that they are all safe.
Finally, it is time to watch Lana Del Rey sing "Video Games." Is this her first public appearance after the stunningly self-conscious set at SNL? Who knows? Let's all just watch and judge. While many critics think of Lana as polarizing, I think we can all agree on one thing: She has the stage presence of an extremely shy and awkward teenager who probably eats her hair in private. I like Lana Del Rey . . . on an album, but maybe she should just accept that she doesn't have the stage presence to perform live. I mean, would you pay $50 a ticket to see her mumble through a set, stand stock-still while occasionally remembering what her manager/choreographer/producer said about moving her hand or bobbing her head or whatnot? Mock American Idol all you want (I do!), but all of these kids out-perform the studio test tube baby on a weekly basis.
Before we can have any more results, we all have to sing happy birthday to Steven Tyler. To help us hum along is on-again, off-again BFF and ardent Idol hater Joe Perry. Steven looks more touched that Joe is there than he is that his daughter Liv and her son are in the audience. The Idol producers go all out, forcing the contestants to sing to him while flashing a giant "Happy Birthday" sign (in comic sans, no less) and paying royalties to the "Happy Birthday" writers.
Finally, we can get back to the results. Deandre Brackensick, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet are called to center stage. Jimmy didn't enjoy Deandre's bouncy bouncy bouncy fun fun fun rendition of "Only the Good Die Young," and neither did America, because he is in the Bottom Three. Billy Joel himself called to say that he enjoyed Jessica's performance of his song, so clearly she's safe, as is Joshua. Oh, you want more results? Sorry – you have to sit through a performance by Idol alum Haley Reinhart, who is singing to us from inside a giant birdcage with modified Skrillex hair. Not weird at all.
Jimmy loved Colton's performance of "Piano Man," of course. But for Phillip Phillips he had a word of wisdom: When you're in this competition, young man, take all the advice you can get. Basically, Jimmy's got Tommy Hilfiger's back. Phillip looks unconvinced, and since he's safe he may never learn his lesson. Steven spanked Heejun (in a punative, not pervy) way last night for his almost-comic performance of "My Life," and Jimmy is quick to hop on the Heejun-hater bandwagon. He reminds Heejun that in the end Interscope Records is going to spend a lot of money on whoever wins this competition, and Heejun's performance last night was not it. Yeeouch!
But when Ryan asks him for a response, Heejun once again wins the round by reminding America that he works with developmentally disabled adults and Jimmy works with Eminem. Still, America is starting to lose their love of Heejun and he ends up in the Bottom Three, along with Erika Van Pelt and Deandre.
Ryan doesn't dilly-dally over the results, immediately sending Deandre to safety, followed by Heejun. That means that Erika is out, and the Curse of the America's Next Top Model makeover has struck again. In case you aren't familiar with the Curse, because you leave your couch sometimes, whoever gets the most dramatic makeover on Top Model always get sent home. Sure enough, here is Erika singing for her life while Heejun sits on the couch and chews on his nails. Though Erika nails her song, the judges aren't willing to use their one save of the season to keep her around, because they know that sooner or later (next week, probably) they will need to save Elise. Erika holds back her tears as Ryan takes her on a trip down Memory Lane, population her.
Come back next week when someone else listens to Tommy Hilfiger and gets sent home for their effort.
Last episode: The Billy Joel Songbook