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'American Idol': Gibbing back

May 9, 2007 |  6:04 am

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Miles away Los Feliz may have been on fire; flames no doubt taunting the homes of many members of the "American Idol" crew. But in the Idoldome, the entire state would have to be burning to the ground to distract attention from the vital work at hand –- the last round before the semi-finals.

As it turned out, after all the build-up and coming off an epic week, Barry Gibb night proved a let down.

Go figure -– Bon Jovi night sounded like a disaster waiting to happen but proved to be a classic "Idol" evening while the Barry Gibb collection seemed can’t lose and turned out a night of awkward, clumsy missteps. Even the crowd in the Idoldome, these days overflowing with excitement, seemed slightly deflated by the night –- failing to give even cursory standing ovations to a couple of the numbers.

Part of the problem was the rushed pace squeezing in eight song into a single hour -- the most hectic show all season, prompting sarcastic asides from Ryan and mere abbreviated hints of the bludgeonings that might have been from Simon. Even Judge Judy’s attempt to hi-jack the show -– only half captured on TV as she leaped over Ryan to embrace Simon –- was cut off at the knees.

Blake’s most ironically endearing moment of the season also went unaired in the bustle –- after receiving his thumbs down from Simon, Blake grabbed his tie and mimed hanging himself in mockery of his slaughter.

And therein lies the charm of "Idol" -– its acknowledgment of its foibles and its missteps.

"Idol"’s producers, in conversations, have said that the one thing that could harm the show is if its credibility were to be damaged. And to that end, what other show openly jokes about how rushed it is forced to be? What other show allows its stars (the judges) to openly trash on the air one of its biggest nights as a series of weak performances?

And thus, even an off night adds another layer to Idol’s epic tale. One of the most frequently asked questions to this "Idol" critic -– after "Can you get me tickets?" –- is related to suspicions cast by the Sanjaya saga. Did the show tamper with the voting to cut him down before his time (before "Gives Back" as some suggest)? Or alternately -– did the show keep him on beyond his time?

Since the vote totals remain the most closely-guarded secret on the planet we cannot verify anything with certitude, the fact is that the "Idol" formula has never been about perfection, about manipulating a flawless storyline, but about celebrating unpredictability and making an epic around the cruel winds of fate.

If it were a perfect story they sought, Tamyra would have been in Season One’s finals, Chris Daughtry in Season Five.

But sometimes in life, senseless things happen without warning. Samaritans are run over by buses. Car keys vanish and you spend your weekend searching for them. Basketball stars fall down stairs and twist their ankles. Nations go to war over misunderstandings. Sometimes you wake up to Bon Jovi night, sometimes you wake up to Bee Gees night.

The question "American Idol" asks each and every one of us is how we rise to the challenges the day brings. And this night may have been no cakewalk, but for someone who connected just a little bit less with the audiences, Barry Gibb night will be the last night of their "Idol" career.

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