By Phil Stacey
Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez were the first casualties from this year's American Idol finals. They were sent home after the producers altered the rules, giving the judges an opportunity to save only one contestant this year. Before Top Five week, the judges have one opportunity to unanimously "save" the person voted off resulting in no one going home. The following week, two Idols will end up on the chopping block.
Jasmine Murray, the teenage beauty queen, was made to sing Michael Jackson's "I'll Be There" one last time to see if she was worthy of redemption by the judges. This was her last performance on the Idol stage.
After performances from Kayne West and the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson, Anoop Desai and Jorge Nunez were the last Idols left to find out their fate.
Again, it was no surprise when the judges chose not to pardon Jorge Nunez, the Puerto Rican crooner. He gave a nice showing in the semifinals but just didn't measure up to his competition. Singing Jackson's "Never Can Say Goodbye," I think Jorge came across a tad old fashioned and bland.
Anoop dodged the major bullet of choosing to do a cheesy rendition of Michael Jackson's "Beat It." If he learns some lessons from this week he could be back in the game.
We also got a sneak peak at the Idol's new party house. They live in a mansion! They have a bowling alley, in-door and outdoor swimming pool, steam room, and home theater. I had to share a two-bedroom apartment with Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson, and Chris Sligh. and Chris Sligh snores!
Next week we should return to a semblance of the tried and true format. Only one person will be voted off and I foresee Ryan continuing to stretch five minutes of drama into an hour-long show. sprinkled with celebrity performances. Of course we now have the judges' new super-save-powers to mix things up.