‘American Idol': Unlucky Naima, Karen, Haley — and Demure Fergie

Do we even need the next two elimination shows?

Do we even need to put ourselves through the next two elimination shows? America may not have solidarity when it comes to casting “The Hunger Games” movie, but it sure is consistent on its least favorite “Idol” contestants.

Despite the increasingly predictable results, the Thursday night production itself has streamlined into an almost painless experience. Thanks, Nigel Lythgoe!

Yes, parts of the old formula have remained intact — do we really need a dramatic pseudo-trailer for a show we’re already in the middle of watching?But squeezing in two performances in lieu of numerous elimination teasers really cuts down on the annoyance factor.  Plus, I relish the pomp and circumstance of announcing the judges as if they were the Father, Son and Holy Ghost themselves.

The kids started off the show with a “Born to Be Wild/Born This Way” mash-up. Ah, I get it.  The theme this week was “Songs From the Year You Were Born.” Minor technical issues along with Jacob’s pitch proved that the Idols were singing live — a plus in my book.  Naima’s breathlessness once again established that she cannot sing and dance at the same time, while Haley gyrated like Miley Cyrus at a Kids Choice Awards.

Ryan announced the release of a 10th-anniversary compilation CD and bragged that the show has been responsible for 250 million downloads (equivalent to a slow week for “Glee”). We learned some earth-shattering news about the contestants, like how Thia collects quarters or that Scotty can wiggle his ears. More interesting than those stop-the-presses blurbs, though, was the fact that Fox found it necessary to censor Pia when she mentioned her singing shih tzu.

First up were Jacob, Casey and Lauren. Yes, Jacob has had constant pitch problems but is he really ready to leave?  No surprise here — all three were safe.

Then it was Paul and Haley’s turn. Paul has been one of the most talked-about contestants this season so it would be an “Idol Shocker” if he fell to the Bottom Three. Haley, on the other hand, has floundered at defining herself, which contributed to her ending up in the Bottom Three last week.  

When Ryan asked her if she’s gotten any more clarity on the subject, she said that she’d like to put rock and blues and funk all together. Maybe there’s time for that after “Idol” but for now, let’s just pick one and do it well.

America hasn’t changed its mind about Haley, either: She ended up in the Bottom Three again while Paul sailed through.

Last year’s winner Lee DeWyze stopped by to sing his new song “Beautiful Like You” and offer some sage advice to the hopefuls. His voice sounded great but the sleepy coffee house tune made me grateful that this season has more diversity.

Moving along, Ryan called Scotty, Pia and James to the stage. This trio’s safety was so obvious that Seacrest didn’t even waste our time drawing it out. Instead he took a stab at singing “baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low.”  

It never gets old!

I’m betting that “Idol” has already put a call in to Josh Turner’s people regarding a finale duet with Scotty.

Wild Card picks Stefano and Naima faced the music next. While neither was in the Bottom Three last week, the fact remains that it was the judges, not America, who chose them as finalists. Has America changed its tune? Yes and no.

Stefano’s rendition of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” made America want to get to know him better, while Naima’s Tina Turner cover landed her into the Bottom Three.

With one spot left, it was Thia and Karen’s turn to learn their fate. A frontrunner from the beginning, Thia’s star has started to wane recently due to her pageant-like song selection and demeanor. As for Karen, she narrowly escaped elimination last week .  

Hey, at least it’s familiar territory for her. She took her place again in the Bottom Three.

Before the final results, the inescapable Black Eyed Peas premiered their new single, “Just Can’t Get Enough.” Fergie looked relatively demure in a white dress but the fluorescent green nails and stripper heels added her signature edge. will.i.am showcased his signature as well — that annoying computer voice.

Then Ryan put the girls out of their misery. As much as America hates Haley’s schizophrenic song stylings, apparently it hates Karen’s “ethnic-what-it-is-ness” more. The Latin pop diva had to sing for her survival. And on the very day that Marc Anthony came to the taping!

Rodriguez chose to reprise her Spanglish version of “Hero” as J. Lo whispered in Steven’s ear. She was no doubt discussing dinner plans, as there was no way they would possibly use the Judges’ Save this early on … Right?  

After singing, Karen teared up as she pleaded with the judges: "I know I can do so much better and I know you guys believe in me.”  While begging earned many a contestant a ticket to Hollywood, this time it didn’t work.

As an uncomfortable Lopez looked on, Randy told Karen that this was the end of her “Idol Journey” and that — surprise! – the decision was not unanimous. I guess J. Lo wasn’t whispering about the Cheesecake Factory after all.  

As sad as it was to see Lopez say goodbye to her mini-me, I have a feeling that the likable Rodriguez will land on her feet. Buena suerte, Karen. And, as they say in "The Hunger Games": “May the odds be ever in your favor.”