Idol Eliminatin Recap: Goodbye, Haley. Hello, Boring!

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That does it.


's over. First, Casey Abrams, the least predictable, most entertaining contestant of the season -- and the only one with the potential to make

American Idol

live up to its name, for once -- was sent home in April. Then the astounding Jacob Lusk, who stood a reasonable chance of becoming some kind of latter-day, closeted cross between Solomon Burke and Antony Hegarty, lost his nerve and devolved into a clench-throated squawkbox and was booted from the Top 5. After that, the only thing keeping the show going were the increasingly dramatic, decreasingly musical ejaculations of wannabe metal god James Durbin and the occasionally affecting singing of Haley Reinhart -- a brilliant song stylist who couldn't figure out what to do with her body. Durbin got canned last week; Haley this week. Leaving us with two country-lite singers who seem to have been beamed from 1997 Nashville. 

Idol's producers seem to have anticipated the show's turn

for the banal in prep for last night's episode. The more enjoyable of

the night's two featured musical guests was Il Volo -- a popera trio of

hairless teenaged boys who brought considerable charm and swagger to "O Sole Mio,"

which almost (but not quite!) saved the performance from its own

astounding cynicism. Basically: Teenaged boys cannot be credible

operatic tenors, and if they begin their careers so young they're very

likely to ruin their still-maturing voices. When they reach the age when

proper operatic tenors are just starting out on the big stages, they're

undertrained and past their prime. Very sad. Still, a fun performance.

But Nicole Scherzinger? Her duet

with 50 Cent was an embarrassment to the audience, the judges, to

America, and to music in general. It was almost an embarrassment to

embarrassments. "Right There," which appears to be about either a penis

or a finger finding the sweet spot in the singer's vagina, was

calculated enough to be deeply unsexy while lurid enough to make one

squirm. (Explicitness is only un-gross when it's effective.) Presumably,

Scherzinger was present to drive buzz for her new show with Simon

Cowell, The X Factor, which I have now promised myself to never, ever see.

After Scherzinger fretted and strutted, Haley got the boot and sang a fine rendition of "Bennie and The Jets," which I doubt she knows is about amphetamines. Still, I hope to see her again someplace. She's got a helluva voice.

And next wee... egads. Scotty McCreery will go head-to-head with Lauren Alaina. Bland on bland.

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