For those of you discouraged by Thursday’s results, keep in mind that Chris Daughtry also finished fourth on “Idol” ... along with superstars like LaKisha Jones and Anthony Fedorov. Wait, who?
Catty comments aside, it really makes no difference how these Final Four place, or how the Top 10 placed, for that matter. (Anyone remember a little lady named Pia Toscano?) They’ll all go on to bigger things and the shine in their stars will make Taylor Hicks look like a low wattage bulb in comparison.
But back to the suspense.
“Tonight, regardless of the result, all four will get the chance to head home ... but only three will do it in style.” So said Seacrest after the Final Four chatted with family via webcam in a blatant advertisement for Windows 7 -- er, that’s “unscripted genuine moment with the contestants.”
The guys opened up the show with “Start a Band” by Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, a tune that extols the virtues of -- you guessed it -- starting a band. According to the lyrics, some of the perks of starting said band are having a line of girls waiting out back. How appropriate then, that the judges’ pedestal was littered with tween groupies who were too young for even a puerile Scotty.
Country songs and underage girls. What is this, “American Mormon?”
While the performance itself was pretty dull, it makes you wonder why they chose a country song. Were they giving Scotty his last hoorah? Or were they setting us up for a country finale? James gave it a good try but he was clearly out of his comfort zone. (You know, because there were no pyrotechnics, obviously.) His attempt at twang bordered on Broadway, which probably wasn’t his desired effect, and he got hit in the eye by his wife’s nose as he worked the audience.
“You're in tears already!” said Seacrest of a leaking James. Foreshadowing? Hmmm...
If the guys’ performance didn’t make you wonder whom the producers are pushing, then the girls’ number left no question. In the second country song of the night, the gals tackled Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead,” interesting since Lambert’s fiancé is none other than Blake Shelton, a judge on “Idol” wannabe “The Voice.”
Obviously they were going to perform some other pop or rock songs later. Uh, right? Wrong!
Haley’s tough chick sex appeal was a saucy complement to Lauren’s Johnny-Cash-in-drag charm on the uplifting refrain about domestic abuse and revenge. Like salt on watermelon, the harmonies were unexpected in a good way. One has to wonder, though. For a girl who was so concerned about warbling the word “evil” just days earlier, Lauren sure had a ball singing about killing her lover.
After the Windows 7 commercial, it was time for some results. Almost 72 million votes were cast, more than any other season’s Final Four performance show. “After the nationwide vote,” said Seacrest, “the first person to make it into the Top Three is ... the pride of Rossville, Georgia -- Lauren Alaina!” As cheers erupted from the audience, fellow Georgian Seacrest added, “She’ll be going on a private jet back home!” Fancy flyin' machines -- a treat for both Lauren and Rossville!
A relieved and elated Lauren took her seat on the far side of the stage and then we watched a package on how the Idols “got in the mood” for working with Gaga. Apparently it was by watching her HBO special from Madison Square Garden. The hilarious thing was that the number we watched, “You and I,” was the same one that Haley got reamed for singing just last week. Take that, J. Lo!
James wistfully dreamed that maybe one day they could all be up on that stage, while Scotty, who undoubtedly took a shower in holy water after watching the special, tactfully called Gaga “a unique performer” who “has a lot of different ways to express herself.” Haley marveled at her showmanship and I marveled at how she never got that same fat roll that I always get when I play the piano in my bikini.
Jennifer Lopez called in some Latin pop favors and got Enrique Iglesias to perform his songs “Dirty Dancer” and “I Like It.” (Or, more likely, he called in a favor to her.) The green lasers were straight out of J. Lo’s “Waiting for Tonight” video, while the white balloons were clearly a trap intended to kill Seacrest, who pretty much fell off the stage attempting to hit one beachball-style after the break.
Also after the break was Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, who clearly wants you to know that she is no longer the teen who won the title but a full-fledged woman, as evidenced by her song title, “I Am Woman.” One wonders how she found the time to make an appearance on “Idol” between all the Proactiv commercials and purity balls. Then again, with her Beyonce makeover, it looks like Jordin’s old purity ring got lost somewhere in her womanly cleavage.
Steven Tyler couldn’t let J. Lo premiere her latest video without one-upping her. “It Feels So Good” is the latest solo single from Tyler. Steven may be sober, but the video seemed laced with hallucinogens. (Wait, was that a sloth?!) I like elephants and sultry models as much as the next gal, but his video really made me miss Alicia Silverstone.
Back to the results. Seacrest filled us in on what little had happened. “To recap again Lauren is in [it to win it]. Dim the lights. Here we go! Remember, there’s been a lot of buzz about how strong the guys have been this season ... ”
(Has there really been that much buzz about how “strong” the guys are? Or has there been buzz about the fact that most of the fans voting are boycrazy tween girls?)
“After the nationwide vote, I can tell you ... two girls will be in the Top Three this year. Haley, you are SAFE!!!!” Haley can thank the judges for that. Their cruel jabs at her likely sparked America to adopt a “we’ll show them” attitude and vote more than they would have. Had they not been so hard on her, I think that both James and Scotty would have made it to the finals. Alas, it was not meant to be.
“So Lauren and Haley are officially going home for that hero’s welcome. But who is just going home?” Ouch. To be so close to a street named in your honor and having your own event at the local AT&T store, only to have it taken away? James was already crying.
“After the nationwide vote, the person with a shot at the finale is ... .Scotty McCreery. Unfortunately, we lose James tonight.”
This was a hard one to watch, especially as his “Idol Journey” package recounted to us all the hardships James has had to face: a dead father, Tourette’s, Asperger’s, a kid, no job, no “Idol” future ... Tears streamed down his face as an emotional J. Lo managed to just “glisten.”
“Man I worked so damn hard to get here and ... I was really hoping to get there but ... I had a feeling today,” said Durbin. As he went on, he choked up: “I did so much stuff that’s never been done on this show before ... In my eyes, in my mind, and what I believe is that I did what I came here to do and that was to give metal a chance and to just bring it 110% every week.”
“You have incredible courage,” said Seacrest before sending him off to take the stage one last time. Reprising “Maybe I’m Amazed,” he walked through the crowd as he sang, hugging fellow castoff Casey and kissing his wife, Heidi. By the end, the tears were flowing as he looked right at Heidi and sang, “Maybe I’m amazed at the way you help me sing my song. Maybe I’m afraid of the way I love you.”
“Thank you! You guys are the best!” he said, as if it were the encore of his arena show. “I love all of you! Thank you so much! This is amazing! Amazing!” Then in true rocker style, he threw his jacket into stage and stomped out the band’s last beats.
“James Durbin,” said Seacrest. “The reason why we do this show.”
Indeed. Rock on, James.