'American Idol': Back to the Country

Will we miss Janelle? Probably not. It's hard to miss something that was barely there to begin with. What was Janelle, really?

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For the first time since the finals began, a girl went home last night. Because only a girl could go home, as there are only girls left. No more boys. "Ryan's Nightmare" is what they call this scenario, heretofore an only imagined possibility, back at Idol HQ. But Ryan had to struggle through, as did the rest of us, because this show isn't going to end its season itself. And, boy, does it need to end. But, first things first.

Apologizes for not filing a performance recap yesterday. Life and work and other incidents interfered and so what can you do. But what was I really going to say anyway? Candice was good, of course. She is always good. Kree was good in a technical way but just slightly over the line into boring in a way that she often is. Angie Mills was half-good, as she is always half-good. (I liked her Pretenders jam but not the other one.) Amber was fine, as Amber is always fine. And Janelle blew out some country biscuits in typical duddish Janelle fashion. That was that.

The results show went further down the nostalgia rabbit hole, bringing back like eighty-six former contestants to remind us of how this show used to be something. Well, OK, they brought back three, two of whom sang, and then they brought back Paula! Yeah, see,Candice sang a Perla Ardool song on Wednesday night and so as a surprise for her, and us, Paula came out on stage to gurgle out some thank yous and feel parta the team again. She apparently came straight from her new job as queen of Mars, because she was still wearing an elaborate, architectural red shirt that would only suit the queen of that warlike planet. So I'm glad she's got a new gig! Nice to know that people are earning money and staying off the streets. Of course she's got those pesky Tharks to deal with, plus Rachel Ticotin is up to no good, but otherwise? It's a good job for Paula.

They also brought Clay Aiken back, who looks pretty good considering he was accidentally embalmed recently by an absentminded mortician. Wacky story, that. But yeah, he came out and sang his classic rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and he sounded as much like your "bachelor" uncle who sings in that Ft. Lauderdale men's chorus as he ever has. It was fun to see him, he's a fun guy, and Ryan was glad to have a dude singing on stage, because all these chicks man, jeez.

Then they did a weird segment about how LaToya London was the three season 3 Diva who didn't become really famous, like Fantasia and J.Hud did, only to introduce a performance by Tasia. Huh? That seemed kind of mean, right? I know it's nice that LaToya got some exposure or whatever, and she didn't seem fussed by the whole thing, but I dunno. Something about it struck me as insensitive. Maybe it's just because I loved LaToya London so much and I feel protective of her and mad that she didn't win. Still! Mad. After ten years. What a thing. Anyway, then Fantasia sang and it started kinda low key by Fantasia standards but she eventually got into her old Tasia trance state and it was great. It did not top this though, because nothing will ever top that. That is one of the best things in Idol history, what with all the chicken-walking and voodoo prancing and everything. Oh boy do I love that thing. But, yeah, she was good last night too.

Okee doke, then it was time to name the loser. Candice was, duhhhh, immediately made safe. And then Angie Mills went up, because Angie Mills is probably gonna win this bitch, isn't she? I think she's gonna win this bitch. And then we had some uncertainty! Would Kree be safe? Janelle? Amber? I mean, Janelle got kinda raked over the proverbial coals on Wednesday night and has been hanging on by a thread for a while, so we kinda knew she'd be in the bottom, but between Kree and Amber? It was anyone's game. It turned out that Amber was safe, probably because she's a spunky teen, and by that point even Jannelle had accepted the fact that she was going to be the one to go. So she sang her pitiful "Please save me" song and the judges sorta looked like they might be considering it, but of course they weren't really. As has been pointed out elsewhere, they probably will use it next week, so the season can end on schedule instead of a week early. Gotta get those sweet, sweet ad bucks wherever you can! So yeah, look to have someone get saved next week, dragging this thing out longer than it needs to be. Sigh.

And that's that. Janelle is gone. Back to the country sprawl from what she were born. Will we miss her? Hm, probably not. It's hard to miss something that was barely there to begin with. What was Janelle, really? She had the country twang but none of the earthy soil of a true country star. It was all blonde smoothness, featureless, no nicks or dents or anything else we might grab onto. Janelle was a processed idea, rolled off an assembly line and put on the shelves until American Idol came by and put one into its cart. She seemed like a nice enough girl, but there wasn't much there that said Star, was there? It was all fluorescent light and industrial carpeting, all the office park landscaping and concrete buildings lying under a flat and cloudless American sky. Some generic birds tweeting in small, just-planted trees, the distant and muffled roar of the highway providing a steady low undertone. A sunny day in a boring land, the crushing averageness of a Wednesday afternoon in Anyplace. That was Janelle. And we've sent her back. Goodbye, Janelle! May your winters always be crow-filled and snowless, your springs full of pollen, your summers warm and blue, autumns cool but not crisp. We know they will be, no matter what. Because that is just how things are. Here, in America. There, at the heart of Janelle.

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