Talking Shit

Idol Elimination Recap: Durbin Out! Reinhart In!

Not that it wasn't deserved, but who on Earth thought Durbin would be the one packing his bags? Holy shit!

I'm still proud of my predictions yesterday. Everybody, but everybody thought Haley was a goner. But I knew she wasn't. Every week, her fan base has grown in both size and conviction, and barring either an unprecedentedly awesome performance from Lauren Alaina next week or an absolutely wretched one from Haley or Scotty, it's gonna be a Haley-versus-Scotty finale, and Haley's gonna walk away with the entire noncountry vote as well as the title. Which is pretty freaking cool.

Man, last night's episode was intense. It tossed together everything one loves and loathes about Idol and achieved something like apotheosis. The omnipresence of Ford advertising, the horribleness of the finalists' ensemble singing, a few genuinely decent live performances, drama, suspense, and the sheer fame-craziness of a few decent kids who just wanna sing to you for the rest of their lives.

Quick performance breakdown:

The show began with James and Scotty undersinging "Start a Band." These voices don't belong together. Lauren and Haley showed them up with a scorching version of "Gunpowder and Lead,"

which featured Haley performing her first not-at-all-awkward dance

move. (And it was sexy!) We saw a video of Lady Gaga performing "You and I"

at Madison Square Garden -- a good, whiskey-throated performance that

for all its glitter and pomp managed to seem a helluvalot more casual

than the stiff recitals the contestants gave last night. Ditto with

Jordin Sparks' performance, who debuted her new single, "I Am Woman." She can dance! Enrique Iglesias looked coked out yet somehow affable during a medley of "Dirty Dancer" and "I Like It,"

both of which are better live than in their studio incarnations. Before

the big reveal, Steven Tyler premiered the video for his new single, "(It) Feels So Good" -- an inessential little ditty, but it's got a beat, and you can dance to it.

It's just not fair to play a video of Steven Tyler and then ask a

heartbroken disqualificant like James Durbin to perform live. The

unavoidable comparison reveals the vast gulf that exists between a

genuine rock 'n' roller -- one who first encountered the form when it was

young and dangerous and who's spent the past 40 years onstage trying to

shamanically conjure that freaky power back into being -- and poor

James Durbin, who's just a kid playing dress-up. He'll be more than that

some day, but not now. When he heard the results tonight, he began

crying and didn't stop. He couldn't quite keep it together during "Maybe

I'm Amazed," but everyone forgave him. J-Lo was bawling too. It's

always sad when playtime is over.

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Brandon K. Thorp