The Fab Five gave way to the Final Four tonight on “American Idol” as the Compton spa concierge Jacob Lusk’s luck finally ran out.
That result was pretty much to be expected, but the real shocker was Lauren Alaina slipping down to the bottom two, as she and Jacob awaited the result of this season’s record-high 60 million votes.
Yes, folks, tonight’s “Idol” results show had about 30 seconds of action, while the rest was devoted to a barrage of product placements, from the weekly Ford Focus video to a Bing spot that asked the contestants how they chose their songs and wardrobe, a cooking contest designed to promote Gordon Ramsay’s upcoming Fox show, “Master Chef,” and a Jennifer Lopez performance hyping her new album, Love?, which just came out this week.
Watch Highlights From Wednesday:
In the end, with James Durbin and Haley Reinhart in one corner of the stage, and Lusk and Alaina at the other, Ryan Seacrest told Scotty McCreery he was safe and asked him to join the duo he thought would continue with him on to the finals. After refusing at first, he went over to Durbin and Reinhart, with Seacrest declaring the three safe, then directing his attention to the showdown between Jacob and Lauren.
The ending was foreshadowed with Jimmy Iovine’s assessment of Lusk’s performance on Wednesday night’s show, giving him a 6 out of 10. “Jacob had a rough night. Both songs were slightly off. When you’re not sure of yourself, you lose confidence.”
A trembling, clearly shaken Alaina then slid over to be embraced by the three remaining contestants, while Lusk pulled out the stops for one of his highlights, a version of his own idol Luther Vandross’ “A House is Not a Home.”
“I think America fell in love with me,” he told Seacrest. “Now I can sing all that classic soul and R&B. Dreams do come true. I’m a witness to that.”
The show got underway with Ryan offering congrats to Steven Tyler on his new best-selling autobiography and J. Lo on her new album, while announcing that “Randy has a bake sale in Tarzana this weekend.”
A group performance of the Turtles’ “Happy Together” by the five remaining Idol hopefuls, led into Iovine’s ominous analysis of Alaina. “Fear is her Achilles heel… It will keep her out of the finals if it continues. At this point, it seems the 16-year-old pre-show favorite, as touted by executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, is in danger of falling, a victim of Haley Reinhart’s incredible surge, which has brought her to the cusp of the final three.
As for prohibitive favorite Durbin, perhaps he’s not as safe as everyone seems to think. Jimmy gave his performance of 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Closer to the Edge” and Nilsson’s “Without You” an 8. “To be a great performer, you have to control your emotions,” obviously suggesting that the heavy metal rocker with the jug ears had not.
It was then time for Lopez to perform her new single, “On the Floor,” with Pitbull, in a sheer white, fringed midriff pants outfit that made her look like something out of Arabian Nights, and raised serious questions whether her voice was even good enough to win this year’s competition.
Iovine then offered his perspective on Haley’s remarkable comeback, giving her a 10 for last night’s performance. “She was running 4 to 5,” he said, claiming she had to do something “dangerous, risky” (like cover an unreleased Lady Gaga song at his suggestion) to remain in the race. “She showed no fear. She came forward like a lioness. On all points, the best performance of the night.”
Scotty McCreery continued to remain unchallenged in his record of never falling in the bottom three (as I mistakenly assumed during last week’s random groupings). “He killed me last night,” said Iovine. “His performance was stellar. Scotty’s a great, great natural talent who will have an extraordinary recording career whether he wins the show or not.”
And that brings us up to speed. With four left, it’s become pretty apparent that James and Scotty are set for a collision course pitting hard rock against heartland country, and may the best man win. And it’s hard not to remember favorite Adam Lambert’s final round loss to Kris Allen in Season Eight two years ago. No doubt Lambert’s openly gay sexuality might’ve been one factor, but when it comes time to vote for Durbin or McCreery, it would seem like flyover country will be picking the good ole boy with the southern accent and prominent cross over the unmarried father with the heavy metal trappings. But that all could change
Now, for the Final Four Power Rankings:
1. James Durbin: Dude is definitely feeling footsteps from his country competition, but he has the edge when it comes to giving dynamic live performances. As Jimmy said so astutely, he must control his emotions and not give in to his tendency to go over the top.
2. Scotty McCreery: He’s been consistent week in and week out, and has now found his groove. It might take an unorthodox song choice over the next few weeks to leapfrog him over Mr. D, but it sets up a fascinating battle between God and the Devil’s music for the soul of “American Idol.”
3. Haley Reinhart: Give the sultry blueswoman some props. She’s emerged out of nowhere to seize the momentum, and if she keeps it up, could challenge either of the top two to get into the finals. Will her sass, self-possession and beauty be a help or a hindrance when it comes to the voters? Therein lies the key to whether she can continue her string of upsets.
ON BORROWED TIME
4. Lauren Alaina: The 16-year-old is starting to crack a little under the pressure, and who can blame her? In the bottom two this week, the southern charmer is still capable of putting together a game-changing moment, and has a devoted, text-happy following, so consider her dangerous. But the burden is now on Lauren to leapfrog over the other three, which is going to be pretty difficult at this point.