There has always been a negative correlation between the number of contestants and the number of viewers on American Idol; as the contestants dwindle the viewers and the voting increases. Ryan Seacrest announced that 90 million votes were cast by Americans in an effort to ensure their favorite two would head safely into next week's finale.
Despite the increased exposure, being a guest performer on the American Idol final two results show can't be the easiest thing for an artist to do. Lisa Marie Presley and Adam Lambert had to be cognizant of the fact that they were fillers, used by Idol under the premise of entertaining the audience when in fact, they were mere delaying tactics; opening not for huge stars but for novice hopefuls.
For Adam Lambert, this truth may be easier to bear since he is a product of the machine and American Idol producers have been working hard to perfect the efficacy of the chip they implant in each contestant, designed to imbue them with eternal gratitude toward the show. That chip had a few short-wires over the last 11 seasons, but they've come a long way since Kelly Clarkson's revolution. Thursday night, Adam performed his new song, "Never Close our Eyes," from his second album since finishing second to Kris Allen in Season 8.
But with Lisa Marie Presely, whom Ryan dubbed as "Rock and Roll Royalty," it is harder to imagine how she may have felt about her appearance on the show. While the super-stardom of her father might have opened some doors for her, the door to commercial success as an artist has remained tightly sealed. Was she grateful for the opportunity to perform on such a big stage or did she resent the fact that the only daughter of "The King" was being used as filler while the audience waited impatiently for their results?
Presley performed her song, "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," from her new album, "Storm and Grace." But, unlike Adam's song which like most of his others, makes me question what happened to all of the promise he exhibited during Season 8, Lisa Marie's was actually a pleasant surprise. It got off to a slow start but the Tim Burton-esque stage design definitely held the viewers interest long enough for the song to grow on them.
With two performances and another Ford Music video (Phillip Phillips was noticeably absent again) out of the way, it was time to get down to the voting results. Ryan's first order of business was to send one contestant to safety – that contestant was Jessica Sanchez, leaving Phil Phillips and Joshua Ledet to await their fate. It was an interesting choice for American Idol to start off with announcing Jessica's safety; with most people, including Jimmy Iovine (and this writer), agreeing that Phillip owned Wednesday night's show after his performance of Bob Seger's, "We've Got Tonight." Declaring Phil safe first would have heightened the suspense.
Of course, there is always a possibility of a surprise elimination and America held their collective breath throughout the commercial break, to the point of losing consciousness as they awaited the results. (OK so maybe that was just me, but having unbridled enthusiasm is part of my job description.) Finally, Ryan was back to announce the fate of our two remaining Southern gentlemen – Phillip was safe and Joshua was heading back to Louisiana. A sigh of relief was quickly followed with a pang of regret; Joshua would be missed.
With a final performance of possibly his best song of the season, "It's a Man's World," Joshua proved that he had rightfully earned his place in the top three.
Next week, American Idol switches things up a bit and airs performances on Tuesday night with the season finale on Wednesday.
Would you pick Jessica or Phil to win it all?