A total of 72 million votes came in, the highest Top 4 vote ever.
James Durbin is eliminated
After a review of the previous night's performances, Scotty McCreery and James Durbin sang a duet, coming out through the audience. It was a country song, “Start a Band” by Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, and once more, it got my 11-month-old baby dancing. [James and Scotty's performance]
Then Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina did their own country duet, "Gunpowder and Lead," with Haley wearing short-shorts and a red embroidered top and Lauren all in black. They had a lot of fun with the duet. Haley seemed to lend some of her energy to Lauren. [Haley and Lauren's performance]
The Top 4 got a chance to connect with their families with video conferencing on the computer. We saw a video montage, with them sharing videos and stories. [Video Conferencing]
The results began, and the first into the Top Three was "The Pride of Roswell, Georgia," Lauren. She took a seat on the golden tulip chairs reserved for the top three. [Lauren makes Top 3]
As Lady Gaga performed a concert, the Top 4 watched on television, and we saw that performance of "You and I" in a video package. [Lady Gaga's performance]
In a prerecorded performance, Enrique Iglesias was next with “Dirty Dancer (and I like it)/”I Like It”, with sweeping blue searchlights and green lasers. He had an audience full of screaming girls very excited, tossing around some giant white balloons that also got tossed around a bit later in the show. [Enrique Inglesias's performance]
For this week's Ford video, the Top 4 played with light pens to the song "Fireflies." [Ford Video]
Season six winner Jordin Sparks sang her new single, "I Am Woman," silhouetted on the steps before strutting out through the wall to sing in a silver shirt dress. It was a very danceable song, very different from the kind of songs she sang on the show. She removed the silver coat to reveal a short black dress with a fringed skirt. She's grown up a lot, both physically and vocally. [Jordin's performance]
The debut of Steven Tyler's new video, "Feels So Good," featured lots of fun costume changes, artsy photos and partying scenes.
The results continued, and Ryan revealed there would be two girls in the top three, meaning that Haley was also safe. [Haley makes Top 3]
The bottom two were left: James and Scotty. Ryan announced that Scotty would be continuing on, meaning that James was cut. He was clearly shocked, and a tear rolled down his cheek, but he signaled to his wife, Heidi, in the audience that he was OK.
Jennifer Lopez was tearing up at the end of the package. James said that he'd worked really hard to get here, but he'd had a feeling today. He was proud of all the stuff that he'd done on the show: to give metal a chance. For his swan song, he sang, "Maybe I'm Amazed." At the close of the performance, he did a split jump and threw his jacket into the audience. [James eliminated; James's performance]
Much like Chris Daughtry, who was also cut while in the Top 4, James had been considered one of the frontrunners in the competition from early days. So why did he get cut?
James had many things going for him: he was unique, singing hard rock music and dressing in an edgier way than his fellow contestants. This made him stand out from the competition. His vocal chops, when he was at the top of his game were impressive. While he's not a classically trained vocalist, he could belt one out with the best. He had an interesting back story: overcoming autism and Tourette's Syndrome.
But lately, he'd begun to show his weaknesses. For the past two weeks, he delivered weaker performances, with pitch problems. Despite the judges praising everything he did, these flaws must have been apparent to viewers. At the same time, his fellow contestants were growing as performers.
Perhaps he'd also reached his limit with the kind of music he performs in this kind of competition. He might have proved his point about making a place for metal on "Idol," but he couldn't get past the reservations that some viewers are likely to have towards that music. Above all, the winner of this competition has to appeal to a wide segment of the audience, and metal isn't likely to appeal to some of the viewers. He probably did himself a disservice by sticking to that path, instead of finding a way to make more accessible choices.
Still, James should be proud of himself for his "Idol" run and remember that Daughtry was one of the most successful "Idol" contestants of all time and himself only reached fourth place. So after the tears are dried, hopefully, James will realize he's got all kinds of opportunities opened up that weren't open to him before this show. He will, indeed, be OK.
Consistency and growth are more important than split jumps for "Idol" success.