The opening montage had a mysterious theme, with sort of a thriller look to the graphics, ending with the question, "Did you vote?"
Over 52 million votes came in, "a lot of love for this group," host Ryan Seacrest said. When Ryan asked the judges for their thoughts, Jennifer Lopez said, "I hope it's not a girl." Ryan asked if her husband, Marc Anthony, had been upset about Casey kissing her. She replied that, no, he thought it was cute. In response to a question about whether he was going to behave himself, Steven Tyler said he was going to give Trey, the editor, something to worry about.
Stefano is eliminated
For the first small group performance of the night, Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart, Stefano Langone and Jacob Lusk performed "Hey Soul Sister" by Train. They're obviously getting ready for the summer tour. Despite a couple missed notes, it was a pleasant version, with all four of them raising their hands up at one point in a "Haley" move. ["Hey Soul Sister"]
This week's Ford commercial, set to the song "World," featured the Top 7 driving across a desert, where Stefano and Lauren captured a cloud, and the others rolled back the turf to reveal grass, water, and a mountain landscape. [Ford commercial]
Then Scotty McCreery, Casey Abrams, and James Durbin sang "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay, a much different song for Scotty. It would be nice to hear him do something like this on a future show, provided he survives the cut. They greeted fans in the audience and performed on the second stage behind the judges, with plenty of choreographed pointing and gesturing. ["Viva La Vida"]
Afterwards, Ryan interviewed the contestants, asking Jacob for a response to him being called a diva the previous night by his fellow contestants in a videotape package. He promised to get back at the others. Also, Scotty has had a cupcake named after him, and a fan of Casey sent him a painting of a guitar with Casey and a dog on it. "Nice shot of Casey and Randy on there," Ryan said, referring to Randy's habit of calling people "dawg."
Ryan had Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk stand up. At this point, Ryan said there was a technical glitch at the beginning of Jacob's song, which was why he stopped singing momentarily. That's funny, because when it aired, it just looked like he was emotional. "Casey, America wants more of the soft lips. You are safe," Ryan told him. Then, to Jacob, he said, "You are in the bottom three." He was sent to the tulip stools. [Casey and Jacob's results]
After the break, David Cook debuted his new single, "Last Good-bye." He was uncharacteristically off-key at the beginning, it seemed. The melody to this song seems to be rough to sing, even for someone as talented as him. ["Last Good-Bye"]
Talking with Ryan afterward, David said he'd be participating in a walk to benefit research on brain cancer. Ryan invited his mom to come up to the judges table and get a hug from Steven, which prompted David to act protective and tell her he'd have to talk to her later.
In a video package, the Top 7 went to a Dodgers game, went bowling, and visited a spa. [Recreation with the Top 7]
Time for more results. Lauren Alaina, James Durbin and Stefano Langone took center stage to hear the news. Ryan told them, "After the nationwide vote, it turns out Stefano, you are in the bottom three." That left both Lauren and James, and after making them wait, Ryan told them they were both safe.
Finally, Haley Reinhart and Scotty McCreery headed to center stage. Ryan did a fake out: "Scotty... wow, you are safe." This meant Haley was in the bottom three. But shortly after sitting down, Ryan leaned in and whispered to her, "You're safe." She returned to the couch with the other safe contestants. [Results for Lauren, James, Stefano, Haley & Scotty]
After a break, there was a performance by Katy Perry, which started with a video segment and included some rap interludes by Kanye West. Unlike last time she appeared on the show, she didn't reveal her leanings regarding the contestants. The performance was very interesting, with lasers, lights running up and down her costume, and very stylized dance moves. More importantly, her voice was amazing. [Katy Perry performance ]
Once more, Stefano was in the bottom two. Would he survive once more? Ryan talked to the judges about what the guys need to do. Then he announced the person leaving tonight was Stefano. He was smiling as he got the news, but James on the couches had his head in his hands, clearly upset to be losing his buddy. [Bottom two results]
While Stefano was eager to sing, Ryan wanted to roll the farewell montage first. Stefano watched it with a smile on his face, rocking back and forth on his feet. He was eager to sing, ending the program with "Lately" and a smile on his face. Right as Stefano finished his last note, James, who had been watching with tears in his eyes, swept him up in a bear hug, lifting him into the air. Then the rest of the Top 7 joined them onstage for hugs and good-byes, all of them looking more upset than Stefano. It must be a relief for the tension to be over after so many trips to the bottom two. [Stefano's swan song]
Why was it finally Stefano's time to go home? He's had a long run for someone who was selected by the judges' wild-card pick. Stefano was a good-looking young guy with a lot of potential, and he had secured enough of a fan base to pull him out of the fire numerous times. Still, he ended up in the bottom two several times, so it was only a matter of time before he would be going home.
Stefano took a long time to find his comfort zone on the stage, lagging behind fellow contestants, many of whom have improved over the past few weeks. While his voice has a nice tone, he sometimes had trouble staying on pitch. Other times, there was nothing technically wrong with his performance, except that it lacked heart.
The smile on his face as he was eliminated shows that he's meeting his fate with the proper attitude, viewing the season, not as the end of something good, but as the beginning of his career.
You can't squeak by forever.