Despite giving one of his best performances this week, the smiling contestant sings for the last time

By Tom Gliatto
April 21, 2011 10:00 PM
Credit: Frank Micelotta/Fox/PictureGroup

Ryan Seacrest correctly referred to Wednesday night’s American Idol as “a colorful show” – Casey Abrams kissed Jennifer Lopez, Steven swore like a sailor, and Ryan at one point sported a red beard.

The results hour, on the other hand, felt more like the logical culmination of the past month. Stefano Langone, after all those visits to the Circle of Doom, finally saw his Idol journey end.

“I’ve been on this road before,” he told Ryan just before the vote was announced. But he said he’d done his best. And he never stopped smiling – unlike James Durbin, who was shown with his face down in his hands, and later crying. Then Stefano sang “Lately,” at the conclusion of which James came out and lifted him up in a hug.

Stefano had actually given his best performance Wednesday with Ne-Yo’s “Closer.” Producer Jimmy Iovine urged him to refine his stage presence and stop “pleading” with the audience – and he did, at last. Within a certain range his voice had the confidence of a crooner, but he couldn’t just up and reinvent himself.

Jacob Lusk was with him in the bottom two. He had suffered a momentary technical glitch at the start of his performance of “Dance with My Father.” But Randy and Jennifer both faulted his singing, glitch or no glitch. The suggestion was that perhaps he had emoted more than he had sung.

Haley Reinhart landed in the bottom three for roughly a minute before Ryan sent her to safety: And this was balm for the soul, wasn’t it, America? Because she’d done so well this week. On her version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” she reduced her tiresome sassiness and emphasized the versatility of her voice.

However, she and Jacob will probably both wind up at the Altar of Idol in the next few weeks. They are both caught in that awful zone between singing too much and singing too little. James, on the other hand, is consistently over the top, but there’s something intrinsically coherent in his excessiveness.

At the start of the hour, Lauren Alaina, Haley, Stefano and Jacob sang “Hey, Soul Sister” as if they were being paid to perform at an outdoor barbecue. James, Casey Abrams and Scotty McCreery (with hardly a trace of his twang) followed with a raggedy version of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.” Maybe no one was given enough rehearsal time.

Season 7 winner David Cook performed “The Last Goodbye,” the single off his new solo album. It sounded kind of old. But his mom, who was in the audience, got to meet Steven, and that was sweet. Katy Perry sang “ET” in a queen-of-outer-space getup surrounded by “alien” dancers. Kanye West contributed his guest vocal wearing an impressive leather coat with fur trim – very Game of Thrones.