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`Idol's' weaker sex, for sure

March 08, 2007|Richard Rushfield | Times Staff Writer

TUESDAY night the B team -- the boys of "American Idol" -- made their third desperate charge across no man's land. Thankfully it's their last call as a gender-specific group. The previous failures of these guys to achieve any sort of breakthrough -- individually or collectively -- inspired horror and outrage. Heard around the nation: "How did these lightweights make it to the 'Idol' stage!" "Is there not a real male singer to be found in all of our glorious nation?!" "Who the hell let him sing a Cyndi Lauper song?"

But by this final week, the anger against this group was largely spent, and an elegiac tone of sadness hung in the air. We watched these poor misguided lads, who never should have been on this front, fighting this war -- low on ammunition, spirits sunk -- make one last desperately brave but hopeless charge at the judges. The feeling was less scorn for a losing team, more like that of the final scene of "Gallipoli," set to an adagio for strings -- we can scorn the waste but admire the courage.

From the opening moments, as each contestant did his introductory parade before the cameras, it was clear that something was gone from these boys -- each struggled to muster a smile for the cameras. Weary and broken from the three-week struggle, they trooped past.

And one by one, they met their destiny before the judges -- who seemed more sad and disappointed than incensed. Even Paula could muster few encouraging words -- turning in one of her gloomiest performances.

But the good news for this group is they can't all be sent home this week. All but two will, in fact, go on to fight another week on the big stage. The likely candidates for removal at this point are clear -- Phil Stacey, Jared Cotter and Brandon Rogers -- but even of this bottom tier, one will survive.

And what is more remarkable is that despite their inadequacy thus far, some real personalities have developed. Hardened by the relentless combat, one can now almost see contenders in Blake Lewis, Sundance Head, Chris Richardson and Chris Sligh. From the forge of war, heroes are made.

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