It's down to four on "American Idol." That means that nearly any "Idol" result will make some people unhappy and will leave some people shocked. Sure, there are different layers of astonishment that we might experience. A Haley Reinhart elimination? Minor astonishment. A Scotty McCreery elimination? Total, unforced astonishment.
Which level of astonishment would viewers feel on Thursday (May 12)? Click through for the full recap...
8 p.m. ET "Who will become a hometown hero and who will just be going home?" What show is this? Oh right. *This* is "American Idol."
8:01 p.m. Hmmm. Jennifer Lopez is wearing slacks and a long-sleeve, high-cut top. This is going to be a very strange evening on "American Idol." I can feel it.
8:02 p.m. They got almost 72 million votes last night, highest ever for a Top 4. Lots of performances and videos and distractions tonight. Oh and we're also going to send somebody packing.
8:03 p.m. Instead of doing a tribute to Haley's short-shorts, the episode begins with a recap of last night's episode. Why hasn't the Bulls/Hawks game started yet? I don't actually care, but if the Celtics are done and the Bruins and Red Sox aren't playing and "American Idol" is showcasing Randy's poor-spirited decision to talk back to Haley... I need distraction.
8:08 p.m. Ummm... Is that James Durbin trying to sing country? How odd. The rocker is paired with Scotty on a duet of "Start a Band." Not only is this a road game for James, but he's stuck singing a song that's been arranged for Scotty's low range. This isn't fair at all.
8:13 p.m. San Diego, Pittsburgh and Houston will also get "American Idol" auditions.
8:14 p.m. Haley and Lauren Alaina are a much better pairing on "Gunpowder & Lead." Haley's got the necessary attitude and for Lauren, this is much better impersonation of being a Bad Girl than she gave last night. I actually really like this as a duet. And not just for the obvious reasons. Ryan Seacrest describes it as "Smoking hot."
8:17 p.m. Wow. Thanks, Windows 7. Because without you, the Top 4 would have been utterly isolated from their friends and loved ones. This isn't "Survivor."
8:19 p.m. Only the Top 3 are going home in style. The loser? In a packing crate.
8:19 p.m. The first person in the Top 3 is... Lauren Alaina. And with that, barring some sort of fairly big upset, we can safely assume that Haley is doomed. Poor Haley has to stand there for the next 40 minutes with the writing on the wall. And poor me has to sit through Enrique Iglesias while waiting to say farewell to Haley.
8:24 p.m. Before meeting with Lady Gaga, the Top 4 watched a DVD featuring a performance by Lady Gaga. And then, in a piece of Hollywood magic, we push in on the TV and suddenly we're watching a performance that Lady Gaga recorded for "Idol" a while back.
8:27 p.m. This is awkward. We're sitting here watching the "Idol" Top 4 watch a DVD of a woman playing the piano in her underwear. They respond awkwardly to what they've seen.
8:28 p.m. Welcome Enrique Iglesias and a laser light show. Does that mean that Anna Kournikova is nearby? Although Usher has periodically dropped by the "Idol" stage, tonight's he's only appearing on a big screen behind Enrique, contributing to "Dirty Dancer" only in absentia. Lights! Balloons! Women in leather pretending to bang drums! Creepy auto-tuned falsetto! This performance has it all.
8:36 p.m. Ummm... There's a balloon bouncing through the crowd. Seacrest lurches out to bat it back towards the audience and goes flailing into the front row. He plays it off as semi-intentional and quickly kicks over to this week's Ford commercial, set to "Fireflies."
8:38 p.m. Enter Jordin Sparks, winner of That Season That Gave Us HitFix Contributor Melinda Doolittle. Jordin's been tweeting pictures of her weight-loss and she really does look spectacular. It's a kinda semi-fun up-tempo R&B track. This isn't the kind of song "Idol" winners usual return with and she really rocks it, generic though it may be. Good for her. And you know she's got a live mic, because there's feedback as she closes. And can we all agree that if all of the "Idol" winners were dropped in The Octagon, Jordin would kick everyone else's butts?
8:46 p.m. I don't get why Steven Tyler is doing a solo project at this point. Like has he been resenting his Aerosmith colleagues for not letting him go as poppy as he wanted to go? It's Steven. And an elephant. And several hot women young enough to be his granddaughters. Meanwhile, as he sings, there's a buzzard perched on a speaker waiting for him to drop dead.
8:50 p.m. Oh right. Results. The second person in the Top 3 is... WOW. Haley Reinhart.
8:51 p.m. May I repeat that? Wow. Those are Scotty's words as well. Ryan Seacrest just wiped that perpetual smirk right off of Scotty's face. He did not expect this. And James' lower lip has already begun to quiver.
8:55 p.m. Heh. This is kinda funny. The person going home is... James Durbin.
8:55 p.m. Randy makes a "Geez. I should have insulted Haley even MORE" face.
8:56 p.m. "I'm OK," James keeps saying.
8:57 p.m. This was not the right choice, America. Not the right choice at all. But there are worse things than going home in the Chris Daughtry slot.
8:58 p.m. "I worked so damn hard to get here and I was really hopping to get there, but I had a feeling today... I did so much stuff that's never been done on this show before... In my eyes and in my mind, I did what I came here to do," James says. Rock on James. I can make a pretty good argument that you were the best singer and performer left. Lauren and Scotty have The South and Country fans backing them. I'm not maligning that support. I'm just sayin' it's a bigger audience than the demographic of '80s Metal-Loving "Idol" Fans. And as for Haley? I don't quite get it. She's got momentum. She's given the best performances each of the last two weeks. But since when is that the thing that gets somebody through on "Idol"?
9:00 p.m. James is little over-emotional on the closing rendition of "Maybe I'm Amazed." J-Lo is in tears. James is in tears. His wife is in tears. He thanks all of us and yells, "This is amazing. Amazing!" That was a really good exit for James. We've had some contestants leave very well this season, with good exit performances or with good spirits.
Thoughts on tonight's results? Stunned? Disappointed? Or malevolently gleeful?
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