Well, it turns out the voting public still respected James Durbin in the morning, after his haunting, yet driving rendition of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” the night before. Out of the six remaining contestants on American Idol at the beginning of last night’s elimination round, only James and Haley Reinhart got an immediate pass to come back and sing again as soon as they were called up to hear the results.
That left Jacob Lusk, Lauren Alaina, Casey Abrams, and Scotty McCreery cooling their heels in limbo during the relentless parade of filler and fluff (guest performers, backstage interviews, a trip to the British Consulate in L. A. to celebrate the royal wedding, the inevitable weekly Ford commercial) with which Idol producers pad the Thursday night show like so much video Hamburger Helper to extend five minutes of actual content into an hour of prime time. With so few contestants left, they’ve given up the idea of the “bottom three” low scorers. Now they just choose random contestants to twist slowly in the wind for dramatic effect until Ryan Seacrest announces which one is going home.
Last night, it was Casey, and I can’t say I’m surprised. As much as the judges adore him, and as original and entertaining as he often is, his lackluster performance of “Hi De Ho” Wednesday night (not exactly a showcase tune to begin with) signaled the end of the line for Casey’s love affair with the voters. (Or vice versa.) Still, his was an admirable run from a highly unorthodox and therefore always interesting performer. And he went out with a bang, prowling around the stage and audience with a high-octane farewell song, “I Put A Spell On You,” only to finish up face-to face with (rumored backstage sweetie) Haley for the last line: “Because you’re mine!”
Interestingly, after Ryan let Jacob, then Lauren off the hook, only Casey and Scotty were left onstage for the final verdict. (Yeah, right, as if Scotty could be going home. Only in my dreams.) That’s what I meant about dramatic effect. But the point is, nobody even considered toying with James in that way, not even to generate faux suspense. James in danger of going home? Nobody would ever believe it.