TV Recap

Semifinal Daze

Choosing this year's ''American Idol'' final 12, the voters send home the uninspiring Will and Kinnik but also reject the rapidly improving Gedeon and Ayla

American Idol | JOCK SHOCK Basketball player Ayla got fouled
JOCK SHOCK Basketball player Ayla got fouled

''American Idol'': The viewers get it half right

Well, I guess it had to end sometime — but why did it have to end so soon? By ''it,'' of course, I'm referring to the unprecedented run of good taste displayed until now by American Idol voters during the season 5 semifinals. Think about it: Can you remember half of the first eight performers ousted by the viewing public this season? Or more important, do you want to? (For the record, week 1 rejects were Bobby Bennett, Patrick Hall (who?), Becky O'Donohue, and Stevie Scott; week 2 evictees were Jose ''Sway'' Penala, David Radford, Heather Cox, and the unspeakable Brenna Gethers.

This week, however, with four more cuts to be made before the final 12, America finally got it wrong. Now I'm not arguing that Kinnik Sky and Will Makar (who received the fewest votes among the ladies and gents respectively) didn't deserve their tickets back to obscurity. In fact, most of the tastemaking types who frequent the EW.com message boards correctly predicted that Kinnik's off-key ''If I Ain't Got You'' and Will's uninspired ''How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You'' would prove to be their Idol curtain calls.

But why oh why did America decide to hit the eject button on Ayla Brown and Gedeon McKinney, two singers who had shown consistent improvement since the audition rounds? In my mind, Ayla's Tuesday-night take on ''Unwritten'' was one of the better performances, but I had a feeling she was going home when Ryan Seacrest kicked off the episode with an out-of-context sound bite that made it sound like Simon disliked her performance. So what was Ayla's downfall? On our message board, SoccerChick98 said she was rooting for ''that one basketball girl'' to make the top 12, but the fact that she couldn't recall Ayla's name may have been a sign that the teenager's personality was a tad underwhelming. A reader named CS, meanwhile, was rooting for the demise of ''Miss Perfect Ayla,'' indicating that perhaps her athlete-scholar-singer status (not to mention her state senator dad) was a little more good fortune than many couch potatoes could stomach.

To me, Gedeon's ouster was just as big a disappointment — and one that very few EW.com readers predicted, given his pitch-perfect take on ''When a Man Loves a Woman'' on Wednesday. Still, as I noted in my Thursday-morning recap, Gedeon's ''vaguely disturbing interview clips, and his tendency to deliver his material in a solid-but-karaoke fashion'' put him at risk. Or, in the more succinct words of reader Nina, ''That guy is odd. Just odd. When he was talking about his painting, I was scared. I'd be afraid to sleep in the same house with him.'' I guess compared with the puppy-cute but undeniably less talented Kevin Covais, Gedeon's peculiarity just didn't cut it.

Ayla and Gedeon's loss had to be music to the ears of Melissa ''Count Dragula'' McGhee and Bucky Covington, both of whom will be vying for 12th place next week unless they can raise their games.

One person who deserves to go home, at least temporarily, is judge Paula Abdul, who turned in her most inane performance ever during men's night on Wednesday, failing to offer a single critical comment to the eight singers who took the stage. One anonymous reader noted that Paula is ''like Randy's little parrot because she hardly ever disagrees with him. Her favorite words/phrases are: unique, you're needed in this competition, and you're a star.''

Hey now, that's not entirely fair. You forgot to list ''you know who you are.''

What did you think of tonight's eliminations? Who do you think will be the first of the final 12 to get the ax? And did you find it odd that Kinnik's swan song was actually more interesting to watch than the return of season 4 runner-up Bo Bice? What happened to the dude's charisma?

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Originally posted Mar 10, 2006