“Idol” Elimination Leaves a Singer Brokenhearted

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Wasn’t this supposed to be the year of the girls on “American Idol”?

So far, not so much. Didi Benami became the third in a row voted off, finishing in 10th place. Unlike Lacey Brown and Paige Miles, who went before her, she’ll get to sing in the “Idol” summer tour, and if she can channel the vocals she brought to her version of “Rhiannon” on Wednesday, we may not have heard the last of her.

Sadly, however, Tuesday’s theme was R&B and soul rather than Fleetwood Mac songs, and she hadn’t done enough to justify using the judges’ save on her. You could tell Simon Cowell and company were thinking, “Why, why, WHY couldn’t you have done this last night and allowed us to send Tim Urban home instead?” But she didn’t, so out she goes. Maybe her voice is just made for a recording studio, and not a competition like this one.

Speaking of Tim, here’s what I don’t get: For me, the best part of him is his attitude. His voice is nothing special, his stage presence needs work and he apparently makes his song choices by throwing darts at the iTunes catalog, but I love that he stands up there every week and doesn’t let the withering criticism wipe the smile off his face.

The judges don’t get that, and it is annoying them more and more every week that he does not react to their caustic commentary with the appropriate combination of sorrow and angst, but in this case he is right and they are wrong. As he told Kara on Wednesday, he gets to sing onstage in front of millions of people every week, and he chooses to enjoy every moment. Isn’t that what he is supposed to do?

There are plenty of other things to criticize him for without ripping on the one thing everybody likes. Quit worrying about his smile already.

The third member of the bottom three was Katie Stevens. Though she once again was the first member of the unlucky trip sent back to safety, it means she’s the early favorite to go home next week given Tim’s apparent invulnerability.

Or Michael Lynche could be the one in danger. Not because of his singing, but because he committed two cardinal sins on Wednesday.

First, he wore a little hair extension to imitate Siobhan Magnus, which just looked ridiculous. Then, he picked up Ryan Seacrest as though he were about to body-slam the host, and a scared Ryan is a Ryan who could easily do something such as cut the phone lines for Big Mike’s 1-888 number and get him sent home before Ryan becomes the victim of another wrestling hold.

Also, Justin Bieber was in the audience, which won’t make Conan O’Brien very happy. The former “Tonight Show” host, whose twitter feed looks to provoke a feud with the teenager — and by the way, has someone checked to see if Bieber’s a clone, and if not how he’s in so many places at once? — isn’t even allowed to spell the word “Fox” per his separation agreement, much less do anything like appear in the audience of the rival network’s biggest hit. How is he going to combat this one?

This week’s mentor, Usher, performed live, as did Diddy and Ruben Studdard. For those of you nostalgic for the glory days of previous seasons, Ruben announced that he’s touring with season two rival and runner-up, Clay Aiken, and also noted that he’s now a vegan. That’s bad news for the Chick-fil-A’s on the tour route.

Ruben’s act took the place of the group sing, the second time in three weeks that the number has been curtailed by a live performance by a former winner (as David Cook took the stage two weeks ago). Idol producers, if that’s what it takes to get rid of the group sing, please don’t limit yourselves to former winners. Scott Savol, Jon Peter Lewis, Amanda Overmyer … heck, bring back William Hung for all I care. Just give me something to watch besides the group sing.

Next week: The Lennon McCarthy catalog. Sadly, it’s all too easy to imagine no Didi Benami taking the stage.

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/craigberman.

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