Aaron Kelly’s departure wasn’t the only big result in the American Idol universe this week. Ratings for Sinatra Night showed a weakening of Idol's death grip on the American viewing public. The show suffered some of its lowest ratings since its Season 1, not to mention a decline of nearly 6 million viewers—more than 25 percent—from a year ago. Even the tween texters showed some thumb fatigue: Voting dropped from 34 million a few weeks ago to 32 million this week.
Granted, America hasn’t exactly sent Idol to one of those uncomfortable looking Bottom Three stools to ponder its fate. These ratings results are more akin to when Bill Gates drops from first to second in the power rankings on America’s Top Mogul. Still, there’s little question that Idol is at a crossroads: Simon is about to bail, and even bandleader Rickey Minor has opted for a new gig, as Tonight Show music director. How desperate must he be to listen to Jay Leno wax poetic every night? And how can anyone replace Kevin Eubanks? That’s a tough chuckle to fill.
More eternal Idol sunshine from my besotted mind:
Let’s Hear It For the Boy: Kids today! Polite, overcoming family setbacks, performing admirably on national television! I have to give Aaron Kelly tons of credit for surviving all the way to the final five. When I was 17 it was a very good year for me too, but I could barely get through a two-line solo in the school play.
When Harry Met Selling: Is Harry Connick, Jr. the next Idol judge? We endured comparatively little promotion last night, that is, unless the lengthy airtime that Harry enjoyed was a way to showcase his potential appeal as Simon’s replacement. He's hammy, sure, but he would bring musical expertise the show could use, and his unscripted riffs on the contestants were genuinely funny. Although with both Harry and Ellen from New Orleans and Randy from Baton Rouge, the show would have to be renamed Bayou Idol.
Big Mike Needs Bigger Hats: With a melon of that diameter, the dude makes fedoras look like berets.
How About Idol Goes Bizarro Night?: I’m all in favor of turning the panel over for a night to the judges’ stand-ins. As Harry pointed out, there’s really no such word as pitchy, and considering this year’s double standards in judging, why not use the judges’ doubles? That said, if I were Ellen, Kara, or Simon, I would be deeply insulted by my current doppelgangers and would demand final approval over their selection.
Just Bleat It: This morning I watched an interview with Kara, during which she tried to determine whether Casey’s vibrato sounded more like a goat or a sheep. After some barnyard impressions from Ellen, Kara determined that Casey actually reminded her more of a goat. But she ultimately stuck with her original comparison, because she said sheep are cuter than goats, so it didn’t seem as harsh.
Gaga Gives Back: Reports indicate that after the performance of “Alejandro,” she donated her costume to the African government for use as a mosquito net as part of Idol’s battle against malaria.
The Low Spark of High-Waist Shorts: As the dancers proved, no matter how fit you might be, shorts that reach midway between navels and pecs are never a fashionable choice—unless you're planning a beach vacation along Russia’s Black Sea.
Which remaining Idol contestant is your favorite? Choose now.