Karen Rodriguez and Haley Reinhart
The show kicked off with a montage of the contestants talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up (veterinarian, astronaut, dentist), followed by a montage of the previous night's performances.
The Top 12 did a mash-up of "Born to Be Wild" and "Born This Way." It was a fun idea, but someone was, as my husband put it, falling asleep at the sound board, missing a couple cut-overs so that the new singers were inaudible for a couple seconds. Add in some rough harmonies from the women at one point, and it was a disappointing outing. [Mash-up]
In this week's Ford commercial, the cars were watching a movie screen featuring clips of "movies" starring the Top 12 idols. James Durbin played a hooded, scary-looking guy in a movie called "creepy" and at the end, Stefano and Haley gave each other a platonic hug in what was supposedly a romance. Cute. [Ford commercial ]
For the first time, the audience members were given a gift, finding a CD under their seats. Woot! Call Oprah! This was followed by a video package showing interviews with the Top 12, talking about weird little things about themselves, such as the fact that Karen Rodriguez can make weird noises with her throat (no, she doesn't mean her singing) or that Scotty McCreary can wiggle his ears. [Things You Didn't Know about Them]
For the first results, when the lights were dimmed, they glowed green and an Irish jig played. Ryan Seacrest blamed the Irish lighting director, who was supposedly in the drink. Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams and Lauren Alaine got called forward first. After the nationwide vote, Ryan said, "Jacob, head to the couch. You're safe." After acknowledging that Lauren had been sick the night before, Ryan said, "This will make you feel a lot better. You're safe." Ryan asked Steven to define the creative goo he'd mentioned before. "Really, Ryan?" Steven asked. After Steven said that it was basically all the stuff that Casey brings to his performances, Ryan moved on. Casey was safe. [Results for Jacob, Casey, Lauren]
Next to get results were Haley Reinhart and Paul McDonald. One was safe and one was in the bottom three. "After the nationwide vote, Haley, you are in the bottom three." [Results for Haley and Paul]
Last year's winner, Lee Dewyze, took the stage to sing his single, "Beautiful Like You." It was actually a good song for him and one of the best performances I've heard from him. Maybe now that the competition's over, he's simply more relaxed. Of course, he did sort of fall off the melody for a little bit during the bridge. [Lee's performance]
The next group to hear their fate were Scotty McCreary, James Durbin and Pia Toscano. Scotty heard first that he was safe. The audience was confident that Pia was safe and even called it out. "Do you have my results?" Ryan asked. "Safe!" James Durbin got big cheers from the audience, as well. Ryan asked Steven, "Do you see a little of yourself when you watch James perform?" Steven said, "No." And then, "Of course." Ryan asked him what part, and Steven shouted. James was safe.
Next, Naima Adedapo and Stefano Langone came forward. Naima joined Haley in the bottom three and Stefano headed for safety on the couch. [Results for Scotty, James, Pia, Naima, and Stefano]
Karen Rodriguez and Thia Megia took center stage next. Jennifer Lopez told Karen that if she stays, to find something she's really comfortable with, in her range. [Results for Karen and Thia]
The Black-Eyed Peas sang a curiously lackluster song, "Just Can't Get Enough," but I'm going to go easy on them because they dedicated it to the people of Japan. Fergie looked almost unrecognizable in more understated makeup than usual (except for bright red lips), but it was a good look for her. Will.i.am, can we please agree that Aututune is played out? Please? [Black-Eyes Peas performance]
After the commercial break, Naima learned that she was safe. The person "in danger of leaving us tonight" was Karen. She sang "Hero," the song that had won effusive praise from the judges when she first performed it. [Karen's results and performance]
Ryan asked her how she felt about performing one last time, and she managed to retain her composure. Randy Jackson delivered the judges' verdict: "This is not unanimous," he said. They would not be saving her. My guess is that J. Lo voted to keep her, because she's been a Karen fan from the start. [Karen's good-bye piece]
So why is Karen's run on Idol over? While she had many positives on her side, she couldn't overcome some big negatives. She was a beautiful young woman with a contagious smile and a pleasant personality. In addition, she stood out in the field, since she was the only Hispanic contestant and often sung in Spanish as well as English.
For Karen, the problems were song choice and consistency. She was capable of pitch-perfect performances, but for the last two weeks, her delivery had been off. In addition, she chose again and again to sing power ballads, which tend to appeal more to the singer than to the audience. Yes, these songs theoretically gave her the best chance to show off her vocal prowess, but they also brought with them the risk of putting audiences to sleep. Not to mention, she was inviting comparisons with our best-known pop chanteuses, and she kept coming up short.
With these factors in mind, it's little surprise that she went home.
Next week, the Top 11 take on Motown, and the Top 10 (i.e. the group who will go on tour) will be selected!
Being likeable isn't always enough.