The second night of the Top 6 of American Idol was, without a doubt, one of the most emotionally charged nights of the entire competition, as even the talented Casey James found himself in the hot seat among the Bottom 3, and Idol Gives Back showed America some of the poorest parts of the world and the United States. It was also a star-studded night, with guest appearances from such greats as Sir Elton John, Jennifer Garner, Morgan Freeman, and many more. Without a doubt, this was the highlight of this rather lackluster season, and it was truly a pleasure to watch the show.
With a few exceptions, the musical performances were spot on, including the delightful performance by the Top 12 that began the show. The successful performance by the Top 12 bodes well for the concert this Summer as, despite their failings as individual artists, they do sing quite well together (which is, in fact, one of their greatest strengths.) Of course, the highlight of the evening (for me at least,) were the performances by Sir Elton John and Annie Lennox, those two great British performers (I should note that Lennox is Scottish.) While Lennox’s performance, juxtaposed with images of children from Africa, tore at the heart strings, Elton Johns’ performance was, not surprisingly, simply stunning. It is good to see that his singing ability has only increased with age.
Of course, the other performances of the evening were spectacular, but they were also overshadowed (with good reason) by the work of the Idol Gives Back portions of the show. The images of unfortunate, starving and, most tragically, dying children in various parts of the world were truly heart-wrenching, and it would be a cold soul indeed who would not feel moved by their stories of suffering and of strength. It is truly extraordinary to see the ways in which these young mothers and children, who have suffered so much, have nevertheless managed to find strength in themselves and, through the help of Idol Gives Back and related programs, are making a better life for themselves.
What was most extraordinary about these aspects of the program, however, was the fact that they did not merely play the images for sympathy value. Instead, it was clear that they were attempting to truly address some of the gravest social ills that currently afflict our world. Let us hope that they managed to convince even a few individuals to donate money to these most worthy of causes.
Other highlights of the evening included humorous portions performed by George Lopez and Wanda Sykes. Naturally, these comedy skits pushed the bounds of propriety, but that’s part of what makes them so eminently enjoyable. In fact, Lopez’s “elimination” round for the judges was incredibly humorous, as was Sykes’ irreverent mocking of the elimination process itself. Queen Latifah was also a phenomenal M.C., and was particularly gushy about Elton John.
Of course, the most shocking aspect of the evening was the unveiling of the Bottom 3, which included Casey James, Aaron Kelly, and (this should come as no surprise,) Tim Urban. Although it looked possible that the consistent Casey would go home, after the suspense it was revealed that Tim who would be going home, his journey Idol journey at an end. Although this was an exceptionally good call on the part of American voters, it is still rather disconcerting to see Casey among the Bottom 3 (especially considering the fact that his performance, while mediocre, nevertheless outshone that of both Big Mike and Siobhan.) However, we can only hope that this particular incident will show that he will have to step outside of his comfort zone if he wants to make it to the top.