Going into Tuesday night, we were down to the Top Ten, and perhaps for the first time since the season began, voters finally axed the right singer. Paige Miles was pretty sore when her name was called, and you can’t blame her since she was so close to making the big tour. Nor, however, can you blame America’s speed-dialers and repeat texters, who liked everyone else better, including the much-maligned Tim Urban (barely). In any case, it’s time to turn the Paige so that the real bloodletting can begin, as the finalists start truly wishing the worst for each other. The stakes go up each week, knowing that the closer you get, the meaner your agent is going to be. That is, for every Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, there’s a Kellie Pickler and a Chris Daughtry out there who are also tipping with fifties these days.
One of the season’s most surprising developments, in a season full of them, is the fact that the boys, in the Top Ten, outnumber the girls six to four, especially given pre-season projections that the girls would run away with it. But here we are, and three or four of the boys stepped up even further on Tuesday. In fact, after Tuesday, the competition seems tighter than ever, with at least six of the singers having legitimate shots at winning the whole thing. So instead of coasting, knowing that the tour is set and that the odds of winning are long, everyone appears to be in it to win it and might even have improved enough to, in the final few weeks, salvage what has been a heavily derided year. R&B lothario Usher was on hand, by the way, to coach the Top Tenners, as each chose a tune from the great R&B hitlist. In honor of the Top Ten, here were the night’s Top Ten moments.