'American Idol' recap: DeAndre Brackensick packs it in
And so another "American Idol" hopeful departed Thursday, thinning the ranks to just seven. Over Jennifer Lopez's stated objection, the judges did not use their one save for the season on DeAndre Brackensick, leaving him to pack up his hair and his falsetto and go home.
I can't say it came as a terribly big surprise. As "Idol" truth-teller Jimmy Iovine said at some point or other, either you love Brackensick's falsetto or you don't. Brackensick's previous appearance in the bottom three – and the fact that he was a wildcard pick in the first place – made it pretty clear that the audience was, at the very least, not head over heels for him and his number was likely to come up sooner rather than later.
Not that sticking around to finish eighth place is so bad, actually. "Idol" alum Kellie Pickler, who finished sixth in Season 5 and has gone on to considerable country music success, was on hand to make that point. After singing a track from her new album, "100 Proof," Pickler was brought over to bond with the "safe" contestants on the couch. "This is the hardest part of the show," she said of elimination nights, adding that everyone was chasing the same dream, and it was tough to see anyone sent home. But, she said, "I think everyone this year's gonna get a record deal."
We'll see about that.
But after Pickler and The Wanted had both sung their songs; Lopez had danced suggestively with her boyfriend in her new video; Joshua Ledet had scared us by looking swoony (we'd been told at the top of the show he was feeling "lightheaded"); and Ryan Seacrest had come up with all sorts of ways to play with the contestants' minds as he directed them either to the couches of safety or the stools of doom, three "Idol" aspirants dangled in the danger zone: Brackensick, Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone.
One might have guessed the judges were thinking that Brackensick should go, and Testone stay. But then Brackensick reprised his peppy take on Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster" – bouncing around the stage and through the audience – and Seacrest turned to Lopez for the save/won't save verdict.
"This boy right here, we've been watching him for two years," Lopez began, going on to call Brackensick an "amazing performer" with an "amazing voice" who will assuredly go on to "share a lot with the world." But, she said "I only get one vote" and "we're not going to save you tonight."
"Are you saying you voted to save and the other two didn't?" Seacrest asked.
"Yes," Lopez answered, somewhat reluctantly. "That's what I'm saying."
Well then, good work there, Randy and Steven. There are "Idol" hopefuls who will undoubtedly be far worthier of that save in the coming weeks.
I'm worried in particular about Testone, who the voters seem all too ready to punish for having an off week. And after tonight, I'm even a bit concerned about Phillip Phillips, a personal fave, whom Iovine chastised for possibly becoming too complacent.
When asked by Seacrest about the criticism, Phillips shrugged. "I'm just being myself, dude," he said, adding that he's "not trying to walk around the stage and touch people's hands and stuff. That's just not me." And though the audience cheered, I suddenly felt a shock of worry for Phillips. Because "Idol" voters are sometimes an unpredictable set (see also: Pia Toscano), and while they may continue to reward Phillips for being both talented and adorable, they may also turn on him for refusing to play the "Idol" game, as they did with Casey Abrams.
But you know what? I'm not going to worry about it, dude, because that's just not me. And anyway, Phillips will go on to make his music regardless.
But what about you. Were you sad to see Brackensick go home? Are you worried about who might go next?
"Idol" vs. "The Voice" Times music and television writers, including Amy Reiter, are ranking the five best performers each week, regardless of venue. Readers are invited to cast their votes too. See who made the top five this week at latimes.com/idol-voice. Who do you think stood out? Use the poll below to make your picks. Check back to see if your favorites made the cut. The poll closes Monday at noon.
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: DeAndre Brackensick performs on "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox