Talk about singing for your supper - er, survival. Last night's "American Idol" results show almost, almost saw the newly installed "judges' save" used to keep contestant Alexis Grace, 21, of Memphis still singing.
But, as Simon Cowell put it to her after she warbled "Jolene" one last time (while the judges practically were in each others' laps discussing her fate!): "It wasn't good enough."
I'm not so sure I was shocked at this. It came down to Alexis and oil-rigger and nice guy Michael Sarver of Texas (pictured). Looks like likeability won out over forgettable.
Remember what happened after Alexis sang Tuesday? Simon said the performance would be forgettable in "10 minutes." By the end of the show, when the voting began, I had a feeling that premonition might have merit. "Idol" fans/viewers have learned from the past not to take their favorite contestants for granted. That's probably why more than 31 million votes were cast this week.
Also in the bottom three was teen rocker Allison Iraheta, which was somewhat of a surprise.
If you're not into the show this season, you're missing out on some great acts - at least during the results show. Last week, Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson performed (as did Kanye West). Last night, it was Brad Paisley singing "Then." That was followed by an amazing duet featuring Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood and this week's mentor, Randy Travis. FYI: Carrie has been nominated for Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music Awards.
"Idol" reporters got a chance to talk with Alexis today about her experiences on the show and where her career heads. Here's what she had to say.
Q: Last night, it appeared you might be the first - and only - contestant the judges might have saved. What were you thinking, and do you wish you could have sung a different song or changed up "Jolene?"
A: I thought maybe they (judges) could save me, and I like the fact that they were actually thinking about using it - that they believed in me. I wish I could have done a better job. I love "Jolene," but I probably would have done a previous song, maybe "Never Loved a Man." Still, I don't know if they would have chosen me because it's still so early in the game. Maybe now it's not so good for TV.
Q: Any thoughts/regrets on your song choice this week?
A: I was considering a Carrie Underwood song. But two others were doing her, and I thought it might have been too much. I loved "Jolene," both the lyrics and the singer. You pick the songs you think will work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.
Q: You were one week shy of going on the summer tour. Is that tough for you? And who among the Top 10 will you miss most?
A: I'm really disappointed about that. It would have been fun, especially if we got to perform duets. But there will be other tours. It would have been a sacrifice being away from my family. I was really close with Megan (Joy) and Matt (Giraud). He cracks me up! He's hilarious, doing riffs and runs all the time. Megan and I are a lot alike. We have kids the same age. On tour, we said our children would be boyfriend and girlfriend.
Q: The way the results were playing out last night, did you feel safe or vulnerable?
A: I knew I would be in the bottom three before the show. I had a feeling based on what the judges said. I don't know why I didn't connect with the viewers. I may never know. But it gave me a little bit of a reality check. It lets me know what I need to do to step up my game.
Q: There are seven guys and only three girls left in the competition. Do you think the guys have an advantage?
A: America still has the vote, so it could go either way. With only three girls you have to show the little girls who are voting at home for the boys that they're still in the competition.
Q: What did you learn from your "Idol" experiences - good and bad?
A: I learned that if you want to pursue a dream, you have to work hard and believe in yourself. I know who I am and what career path I want to take. I'll be writing music. But all the cliche things are true. Being away from friends and family was tough. I was a stay-at-home mom. I'm used to seeing my daughter every day.
Q: Being from Memphis, was it tougher going home after country music week?
A: Absolutely. I'm from the South. I think I should be able to sing country music well. And I think I let them (Southerners) down a little bit.
If you're a fan of the "Idol" tour, the Top 10 who will hit the road next summer are set. Seven guys/three girls, which is not exactly the norm. Anyway, next week's competition shifts to Wednesday night with the music of Motown as the theme. Results come on Thursday. Keep in mind: The judges have five more chances to save a contestant. Once they get to the Top 5, that's it.