By Stephanie Wenger, Hollywood.com Staff
It's almost fitting Thursday night saw American Idol's original country star Carrie Underwood return to the stage, while fellow Southern hopeful Skylar Laine learned that she would be taking the country road home. Though Skylar's cut disappointed fans at home and in the studio audience at CBS Television City where I was watching the show Carrie gave the ousted contestant a chance to see what she could be outside the ties that Idol binds. Still, that doesn't mean that fans and Carrie herself weren't devastated by the cut. "I loved seeing Skylar up there representing country music," Carrie told reporters backstage. "It's sad to see her not on the show anymore."
Prior to Skylar's cut, the crowd at CBS Television City saw one of the most tense moments of the season as Skylar and Hollie Cavanagh awaited the final results of the night. Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet looked disheartened by the results and refused to look up as the girls stood center stage. But it was the normally stoic Phillip Phillips who seemed to take the news of the bottom two the hardest as he covered his face with his hands.
As soon as Ryan Seacrest announced Skylar's untimely elimination, the judges jumped out of their seats to give her a standing ovation right along with the audience, who cheered loudly for her. On stage, Hollie gave Skylar a lasting embrace, but it was Ryan who seemed to offer her the most support. As they turned to watch her final video package, he placed a caring arm around her back right up until he was back on camera.
However, backstage, Skylar admitted that she had all but expected to go home this week. ""I'm really not surprised that I was sent home because you can't be surprised at all,"" she said. ""You never know what's going to happen from week to week, seeing the weird results this whole past season. I'm just relieved right now. No more stress."
Hollie too must have thought it was her week to go because after Ryan announced Skylar's name the contestant seemed in shock that she had once again escaped elimination. Upon returning to the other safe contestants, Phillip gave her a light pat on the back while Joshua put his arm around her. Clearly, though the audience might be upset with Hollie's lasting power, Joshua was happy to have his bestie at his side.
It wasn't until Skylar's swan song that the audience truly showed their love for the performer. No question the cheers of the crowd would have drowned out a weaker singer. And no one looked happier to see the enthusiastic audience reaction than Phillip, who grinned and nodded his head to the music. He even whistled when she blew her final note out of the water. And clearly there was a lot of love for Skylar: After the final credits rolled, Phillip was the first to give Skylar a hug followed by the other contestants, judges, stage managers, Ryan, and her parents.
Even though the night enjoyed a dramatic finish, Idol started the night in the least surprising fashion, by announcing that Joshua was safe. The audience was hardly shocked after all, everyone was reminded via playbacks how much the judges adored both his performances. Once he was saved, he merely received a congratulatory handshake from Ryan during the break.
The next pairing, Hollie and Phillip, had the audience a little more on edge. The mood changed when Jimmy Iovine commented that Phillip belonged in the bottom two and the first major boos erupted from the crowd. Even the judges who chatted amongst themselves during the video packages seemed uncertain as to who might be in jeopardy.
Finally, after Phillip was sent to safety, Skylar and Jessica took the stage to wait for their results. Both girls looked nervous on stage, and, after Jimmy criticized both their performances, who could blame them? In fact, at one point the girls turned away from the screen, only to be turned back around by the stage manager. And then came the biggest point of contention of the night: Jessica's outfit. Jennifer Lopez might have agreed with Jimmy that her dress Wednesday night was a bit too mature for younger audiences, but the audience seemed to come to a consensus: No matter what she was wearing, Jessica is still a favorite. How else to explain the deafening cheers for the contestant?
Besides the elimination, one of the biggest disappointments of the night came courtesy of Coldplay, but, like Katy Perry last week, the band themselves didn't disappoint audiences. In fact, they received some of loudest cheers until everyone realized that their two performances were pre-taped earlier in the day. The audience quickly become disinterested and even talked amongst themselves during the playback of the performances. So, yes, that means that the confetti you saw behind Ryan after Coldplay's second performance was thrown into the TV picture just to make you think the performance was live.
Carrie, however, was able to win over the crowd quickly with her new single, "Blown Away." Randy wore a look of pride over his face throughout the performance after all, he was one of the three to discover her and the Season 4 winner enjoyed a hug from Ryan. There was one problem with the performance, though: The wind machine, which blew a massive amount of confetti, leaving a huge cleanup job for the poor stage crew.
As for Skylar, in the long term, she hopes to join the country music ranks just like Carrie. But for now, she plans to get some much-needed R&R before hitting the road this summer with the other Idols. "I'm sad but I just want to go home to my family and friends and go mud-driving! That's the first thing I'm gonna do," she said backstage.
Are you still shell-shocked by Skylar's elimination? Is you favorite still left in the game? Come back next for more behind the scenes scoop from the American Idol set.
[Photo Credit: Fox]
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