American Idol: Last dance for LaToya

Wednesday's American Idol was both interesting and frustrating at the same time. My initial guess was that Jasmine and Fantasia would be in the bottom two, and Jasmine would go home. I was right about Fantasia, but America chose to spare Jasmine this week, and yet again, LaToya was undeservedly in the bottom group. To my (and many other people's) surprise, LaToya was voted off the show. I'll come back to that in a minute...

Why is disco night always such a mess for American Idol contestants? There are only a handful of people who have really stood out on disco night; the rest file it under "things I never want to talk about again." Even the guest judge/performer, Donna Summer, choked a little bit on one of her own songs. I know she's not exactly a teenager, so we have to cut her a little slack, but I bet Giorgio Moroder was watching that, thinking, "Now people understand the difference a good producer can make."

Okay, now it's time for some tough love. Wednesday's show was a disjointed disaster from start to finish. Towards the beginning, the finalists met with a psychic to lend them moral support. No offense to anyone who believes in that sort of thing, but every time a show features a psychic, I have flashbacks of Dionne Warwick and Erik Estrada. I can't take that stuff seriously. I would have done a better job of predicting the end. "It's your future... I see... a stupid video of a cheesy cover tune... wait... followed by... okay, it's becoming clearer... yes... a bloated, unsatisfying finale!" They went to commercial break every two minutes, it seemed like. I hear there was an actual show in between the commercials, but I can't get confirmation on that. Besides Donna Summer, who didn't exactly raise the roof, Clay Aiken was also a guest performer. He performed Fantasy by Earth, Wind and Fire, which isn't really a true disco song. I suppose that was a smart move, though, because anyone who saw last season knows that Clay doesn't sing disco well at all. Add a few dozen commercial breaks, and finally we hear that Diana and Jasmine were the top two, while Fantasia and LaToya were the bottom two. I had hoped that the ever-annoying Fantasia would be going home, but sadly, LaToya had to take this particular bullet.

For a long time, I had really hoped that LaToya and George would face off in the final show. That would have been exciting. But as it stands right now, I can't feel excited about the show anymore. All my favorites are gone, and only wannabes and posers remain. In my heart of hearts, I cannot fathom Jasmine winning this. I honestly believe America has more common sense than that, so it's down to Fantasia and Diana. Vic has been saying this for weeks, and I haven't agreed, but tonight I have to concede that Diana might actually win this. Even if she does, though, it won't be as exciting as if LaToya or George had won. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that LaToya is right up there with Dorothy Dandridge and Billie Holliday. She's that good. Like George, she was one of the finest singers ever to appear on American Idol, but unlike George, she was very savvy about which songs she chose so that her choices would showcase her talents in the best way. We haven't seen the last of LaToya; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few contestants from this season end up with record deals.

If Diana wins, she will be the youngest of all the winners (Kelly Clarkson was 20, Ruben Studdard was 24 and Diana is 16), and she will continue the tradition of having a Southerner win the competition (Kelly Clarkson is from Texas, Ruben Studdard is from Alabama and Diana is from Georgia). But I'll say it again: This competition has officially become much less exciting, at least for me. I think the fact that LaToya's farewell performance was one of her big band songs from a week ago, rather than the traditional repeat of a song she sang the night before (which were disco songs), said it all.


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