Michael Johns: If you needed our help, why didn’t you just ask?


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I was asked on Thursday, more than once, whether I thought Syesha Mercado or Carly Smithson was headed home. There was no question, in the minds of many, that one of the two would be eliminated. But that’s not what happened. In the season’s greatest shock thus far, it was Michael Johns, instead, who received the fewest votes this week. And he was as surprised as we were.

After a solid performance of ‘Dream On’ on Tuesday, Michael Johns seemed a shoo-in to the next round. When he was revealed to be in the bottom three, Randy said it was a ‘pretty surprising bottom three,’ and Paula said that America got it ‘partly right, partly wrong.’ We knew what they meant. Then, Ryan Seacrest added insult to injury by announcing that both Carly and Syesha were safe. The audience gasped in horror, and Carly’s jaw dropped about a foot.


‘I’m definitely surprised,’ Michael confessed after his fate was revealed. Still, he kept it together, adding with grace, ‘If there’s a song to go out on, that’s not a bad one.’ And Michael wailed his way through ‘Dream On’ like he had nothing to lose –- because finally, he did.

And so, after such a shocking ouster, an inevitable question remains: Why? Why was Michael Johns ejected from the Idoldome when he was a fixture in many ‘Idol’ forecasters Top Three lists? Why was Michael Johns eliminated on a week when his performance was nowhere near the worst of the evening? In other words, why him? Why now? Why ever?

All along, Michael has been a strong individual and a consistent performer. In fact, he hasn’t had a single weak moment in the time we’ve known him -- and that was his undoing. America thought Michael didn’t need their help. And so they focused on the others.

Some of Michael’s would-be voters lent their support to David Cook, whose high blood pressure and heart palpitations landed him in the hospital earlier this month. After David’s lackluster performance on Tuesday, fans rushed to vote for him, because he needed their support. He didn’t even land in the bottom three.

Syesha Mercado won the hearts -– and votes –- of ‘Idol’ viewers everywhere during Hollywood week, when she lost her voice. Instead of speaking, Syesha communicated with handmade signs, which she displayed on camera with her accompanying frowny face. She had us at laryngitis. After that scare, America made sure to take good care of Syesha.

Brooke White needs our votes too. Brooke’s greatness as a performer springs from her wealth of emotion, but her wealth of emotion also leaves her extremely fragile. Just this week, Brooke got choked up about missing her sister’s wedding. Brooke needs us to vote for her; otherwise, she’ll get voted off –- and cry -– a lot. And so we watch out for her.

And what of Jason Castro? Sure, we haven’t seen any tears or illnesses from him, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t found his weak spot. Jason revealed his handicap subtly, in an absolutely brilliant pre-performance interview. Jason explained that on ‘Idol,’ ‘there’s just been a lot more not-music stuff than I thought. Ya know, like taking pictures. And talking. I’m not good at talking.’ Once we knew that Jason was struggling with the most basic building blocks of the ‘Idol’ competition (i.e. ‘taking pictures’ and ‘talking’) we knew he needed our support.

And then there was Michael Johns. There was an ease about Michael from the start. He was cool long before ‘Idol’ stylists got their hands on him. He sounded good, and he looked even better. According to Simon, he was even a ‘very, very nice guy.’ Unfortunately for Michael, Michael had it all. He never lost his voice, he was never rushed to the hospital, and we never saw him cry. With stats like that, what did he need us for? Michael seemed to be doing just fine, and so nobody fought to keep him.

Had he just shown his frailty by slipping on a strategically placed banana peel during a group number, or by totally bombing during Tuesday’s performance, we would have come to his rescue. Unfortunately for Michael, however, he didn’t bomb on Tuesday. And so America clapped for Michael, their favorite cool guy, and texted in their votes for their most fragile favorite instead.

-- Stephanie Lysaght