'American Idol': Leaving Las Vegas

Last night was the intermediary, the strange middleman, the thing hanging between here and there. And what better place to host such an event than Las Vegas, American purgatory, desert ruin not yet ruined. So, yeah, they went to Las Vegas.

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Last night was the intermediary, the strange middleman, the thing hanging between here and there. On Wednesday night we had The Rooms, next week we get The Semifinalists, so last night was just some strange swamp of inbetween. And what better place to host such an event than Las Vegas, American purgatory, desert ruin not yet ruined. So, yeah, they went to Las Vegas.

They were on the stage of some show or something in Larst Veggams and they were commanded to sing, sing damn you!, songs from the 1950s and 1960s. Meaning they had to doo-wop and tweedly-deet like a bunch of assholes because these fools were born in the 1990s and have no idea what anything is. I mean, nobody, regardless of when they were born, has any idea what anything is, but that's beside the point. The point is that "songs from the 1950s and 1960s" means really annoying, boring, shoulda-been-put-in-a-drawer-two-decades-ago songs like "Jailhouse Rock." Yeah. "Jailhouse Rock." When is the last time anyone sang that particular song in any way that was even remotely interesting? Oh, when it was initially recorded. That was the last time. Since then it's been a bunch of chuckleheads bopping around like sitcom characters thinking they're being all "classic" because they're singing a song that people who are dead now liked as teenagers. It's just really bad.

You know what wasn't bad, though? A lot of the singing last night! Boy, there were 70 singtestants left and for the most part we saw just a lot of good ass singing. The poor dears had to sing in groups once again, but at least this time they seemed a lot more rehearsed and they got to wear funky costumes, like spingly-spangly dresses and white dinner jackets and irradiated hairdos. So they were all a bit emboldened by all that stuff I think, and so delivered performances of gut-rattling singtensity. Who in specific? Oh, ha, well... It all sorta bleeds together in the mind, doesn't it? Who's really to say individually who did well? A couple of the blonde girls, boy they sure can blow, huh. Yeah, they're good. And there's a girl named Jessica Sanchez who I like who can sing real well. (Why isn't this show called So You Think You Can Sing Real Well? I could judge it and produce it and, hell, even host it, if the contestants didn't mind coming to my apartment. "So... you think you can sing real well, huh?" I'd say in my judging voice, lying on the couch gurgling seltzer. Seems like a hit, right? Let's do it, television executives!) Oh and J.Sanch had a singing buddy who we've caught glimpses of before named Deandre Brackensick. Which, terrible name, but oh man is he cute. Well, he's got an unfortunate spill of Kenneth Gorelick hair, and that should be cut off his head immediately, but otherwise! Sweet Georgia wine! I hope we'll be seeing more of him. Intimately.

Who else? Oh goodness grief I don't know. I really need next week to happen so I can really focus on these people's names. Because right now I just have no idea. Oh! Ha! There is one name that I am sure to now remember forever. You know that heinous cowboy, that kid who is like so grossly flinty eyed about the Hollywood fame and success monster? Like he knows that monster and wants that monster to swallow him up, so he does really jackassy things and treats his groupmates like regular chumps. Just right chumps. Yeah, that kid. You know who I'm talking about. Do you know what his name is? Do you know what this lick-spittling, apple-polishing, nose-turning sumbitch's name is? It's Richie Lawson. Does that sound a little familiar to you? It sounds a little familiar to me! And that is really annoying, you guys. That kid can't have my name! No way! Gimme my name back, jerk! Sigh. So that was a really unpleasant surprise development last night.

Speaking of surprises, everybody got a cruel one last night when, after they all sang and "got through to the next round," they were quickly told that, yooops, the "next round" would be this harsh thing where they just walk on stage in the same group they sang with and get cut all over again. I mean, not all of them, obviously, but the groups who sang, sans the members who'd been eliminated on the spot, were brought back onto the stage and then recut, cut some more, re-saved, whatever. You get what I'm saying? They didn't sing again, but they were judged again, and cut again. It was kinda mean! Obviously Idol is just trying to ratchet up the ol' tension machine, and don't get me wrong, it works, but this was pretty cruel. People who thought they were safe were suddenly not at all safe. People who thought they knew things, really knew things, about their place in this competition, well they had all that thrown out the goddamned window. Just out onto the wind, like dust, like wishes, like a soul fleeting the body. I am, of course, in particular, speaking of Johnny Sandwiches.

RIP Johnny Sandwiches, aka Johnny Keyser! Could you believe that brutality last night? They didn't even give that chisel-cheeked mothereffer the respect of showing him get eliminated. They just included him in a clump montage of "Oh and these jackanapes went home too." They just threw his corpse in there with the rest and Randy bulldozered over the shallow pit and that was that. Just one of many, sure, but he was our Girl In the Red Coat, the one who made it all mean something. But seriously, can you believe they eliminated him?? I had him going to the end! My bracket is all f-cked up right now! Everything's in a tailspin. I really, and I mean this absolutely sincerely, could not believe he was so unceremoniously voted off last night. I had to confirm with my friend that it had indeed happened like four times. Just couldn't believe it. I almost wonder if they found out that he'd been molesting dogs or something. Like some dark criminal past came burbling to the surface so they just quietly ushered him out. It had to be something, right? It had to be. What a curveball, huh?? What an Idol!

So, phew, yeah, that happened. RIP Sandwiches. RIP forever. Big deal, guys. Big deal. Well, a big deal for now. By this time next week we'll have our semifinalists and then we'll start voting and then and then and then. On and on until May. And Johnny Sandwiches won't be there. And Tent in the Woods won't be there. And The Cop and the Fratboy and poor tragic Travis Orlando. None of them will be there. All merely long lost ghosts by that point. All departed souls swirling in the ether above us, haunting the night sky, moaning eternal moans, wailing "Can I have one more chance?"

After the Vegas eliminations, after everyone had received the good or terrible news, Ryan was out back in an alleyway, trying to make a phone call, when a tear-stained Johnny Sandwiches appeared out of nowhere. "H-Hey," Ryan stammered, putting his phone away. "I thought Glen and everyone in security had you guys, uh, the eliminees, on a bus already." Johnny looked hard and angry, he looked fraught and desperate, he looked a lot of things. "They are on a bus. I'm just not on it." Ryan backed up a step. "Oh. OK. Well. Uh. What, uh, what can I do for you Johnny?" Johnny approached, quickly. He grabbed the lapels of Ryan's jacket and pulled him in close. "Please, Mr. Seacrest," he whimpered. "Please. Please give me one more chance. Please, I'll do anything." Johnny, once so cocky, so arrogant, now sounding so scared and lost. "Please, Mr. Seacrest. Really, I'll do anything..." And then he was reaching for Ryan's belt buckle, trying to undo it, fiddling with Ryan's fly, his fingers groping and searching, and Ryan felt frightened. "No! Nope!" he yelped, trying to push Johnny off, trying to pull his hand away. "No, I- Johnny, really, I- No, Johnny, come on now, there's nothing I can do!" Johnny didn't stop, kept whispering, hot on Ryan's cheek, "Please Mr. Seacrest, please. Please just give me one more chance." He wouldn't stop saying it, over and over and over again until — Until he stopped. His hand fell slack from Ryan's belt buckle. His eyes looked into Ryan's and Ryan could see what looked like a candle flickering out. "Mr. Seacrest?" Johnny asked in a small voice. And blood came burbling out of his mouth as he said it, and suddenly he was collapsing onto Ryan, Ryan had to back away lest Johnny knock him over, and then there Johnny was, lying face down on the pavement, dead. Johnny was dead. Johnny was dead with a harsh red wound in his back. And above him, oh god above him stood Colton, holding a bloody shard of broken mirror. "C-C-Colton?" Ryan stuttered. "What did you do?" Colton looked at Ryan calmly, a strange hum of energy about him. "He was going to hurt you. So, I saved you. I saved you, Ryan. That's what I did. I saved you." Ryan looked down at Johnny, a pool of thick blood now spreading out around him. "I saved you," Colton said. Suddenly the sun dipped behind the brown dirt mountains and Las Vegas was cold. Ryan shivered. "I saved you, Ryan," Colton said again. "And now you owe me." Ryan looked up, looked at Colton standing there, still clutching the bloody shard of mirror, Ryan not sure if it was just Johnny's blood at this point or maybe some of Colton's too. Ryan knew there was only one response. "OK," he said quietly. "OK. Yes. Yes, I owe you. You're right. You saved me. He- He was attacking me. Thank you. Thank you." And he didn't stop saying "thank you," in a rote and quiet way, for a long time. Not while they carried Johnny's limp body to a dumpster, not when they hurled it in, not when they walked back through the parking lot, not when Colton hugged him strangely before they got on their separate buses home to LA. "Thank you," Ryan whispered, shocked, stunned, stuck. And Colton grabbed Ryan firm on the shoulders, looked in his eyes and said, scarier than anything else, "No. Thank you." And then they went home.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.