And then there were four

th (7)Jacob is gone, taking his purple bow ties and his three octave range to places unknown. I wish he’d come out for his swan song draped in a moo-moo, with a big bowl of fruit on his head. That would have been so cool….

There have been a few Idol news stories lately, below the radar. I’ll take a few minutes to recap, as best I can:

– Steven Tyler has a new tell-all book coming out. In a related story, roughly twenty five hundred grandmothers are praying that he doesn’t have any pictures of their incriminating tattoos from the 1970’s.

– Pia Toscano was paid 100 thousand dollars to sing at a birthday party. In a related story, even her parents don’t know what color her eyes are.

– Steven Tyler isn’t sure that he wants to return to the judging table next season, citing some criticism for his “flirting” with the underage contestants. In a related story, Pete Townsend (of “The Who”) was approached about replacing Tyler at the table. His agent said Townsend would be interested if they lowered the minimum contestant age to seven years old.

– Lloyds of London, citing footage of Lauren Alaina falling down the stairs at the Idol mansion, informed the show that they can now longer insure J-Lo’s butt.

– Lady Gaga sent Randy Jackson a replica meat suit, as a token of appreciation for his critique of her new song. In order to prepare the suit for shipping, she passed it through her body first.

– In an attempt to placate the Idol machine, Lloyds of London has offered to insure Scotty’s eyebrows.

– Jimmy Iovine is dealing with personal issues that arose when his parents informed him that he was, in fact, an accident.

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Hillary Scott was rejected by Idol - twice
Hillary Scott was rejected by Idol – twice

Lady Antebellum was terrific, as always. I mention this almost as a Pavlovian response to seeing Lady A on Idol, but does everyone know that Hillary Scott was rejected by Idol? Twice? I’m pretty sure she’s over it by now, but I wonder what she thinks about when she comes on the show as the superstar guest artist? Me, I’d be all “take that” and “see what you missed out on?” and “where’s the buffet?”

– The bottom two was Lauren and Jacob. I saw some of the voting and it was so close that any of them could have been in the bottom two. Jacob handled it almost casually, mostly because Lauren started leaking like a wet sponge when she got the news. She looked scared to death even before that, when she didn’t get to stand by JD. Her look was “oh no, I have to sit with the unpopular kids?”

Even after it was over and Jacob was singing, Lauren had a really sour look on her face. It could have been that she was thinking; “dam, that was close” or “Wow, it’s really intense in the bottom two isn’t it?” or “What the hell am I doing in the bottom two? Haley is ALWAYS the girl in the bottom two, not ME!!!” or “Alright, you bastards, you told me that it was in the bag. What the hell was I doing in the bottom two?” I don’t think any of them were quite it.

To me she looked defeated; rejected, beaten down: “Everyone is laughing at me, saying ‘hey, look at Lauren, she sucks, she is in the bottom two’. I want to kill myself.” THAT is what I think Lauren had in her head. Remember, she is 16 years old. A 16 year old girl with very high expectations, very big dreams, getting rejected on national TV. This was her prom, and she was going to be the queen, right? In her mind Idol might as well have dumped a bucket of pig blood on her, that’s what I think was in her head at the time.

Lauren will get over it of course, and it might have a galvanizing effect on her. She might come out next week and blow everyone away. She might fall apart and turn into a complete trainwreck, too. The kid is too emotional to stay in the boring middle that she’s been in for the last couple of months, now that she’s been spanked. She is going one way or the other.

Jacob was hilariously out of tune, over the top, and flat funny and fun as hell as he screamed and caterwauled the show out. Now that he’s not competing, I can say that the kid is very likeable when he isn’t being arrogant, and I don’t think that he’s really that arrogant so much as he mis-speaks sometimes. He ain’t gonna be heard from again unless he learns how to sing in tune, but I give him a decent shot at that. He has some huge pipes and he has maybe even too much spirit in him. Someone will take him on and take a bull whip to him to get him to learn how to settle down and command a song instead of trying to wrestle it down and choke it to death, and then fling it at the moon.

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Power Rankings:

4: Lauren– Haley is now the top female, and Lauren has a lot to prove next week.

3: Haley– The decision wasn’t whether Haley should be three or four. It was whether Haley should be three – or two. If, for some crazy reason, Scotty falls down hard, Haley can still win it all. Two months ago Haley was barely surviving when there were a dozen contestants left. Now she’s arguably the number two contestant. I don’t think anyone has ever made such an incredible move forward on the show.

2: James– Lauren isn’t the only one who has been handled with kid gloves all season. JD needs to handle some adversity, and prove that he can. He had a bad week, and Haley is coming after him in a hurry.

1: Scotty– Scotty had a very good week and further solidified his status as the runaway front-runner, but the frontrunner never wins. Scotty has been the leading vote-getter every week of the season. The seasonal leader always finishes second on Idol. I think Scotty is going to win anyway, but he is fighting against a very powerful trend.

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This season, in hindsight, wasn’t ever about finding the best singer. Pia finished ninth, and frankly it wasn’t the massive crime that it looked like at the time. Nobody is buying that kind of singer right now. This is what’s happening in music all over. The pop charts are a mix of all kinds of styles right now, but none of them are about big voices. The signature voice out there right now is Adele, and she is a stylist more than a big huge voice, not that her voice is puny. Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, they don’t have huge voices either.

The harder edged, urban sound is currently bogged down in technology, like it was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Country music is in one of its periodic bubblegum pop stages, when every song is either cute or drippy, with nothing out there with any edge. The best music is coming from the outsiders; the indy labels.

The center never holds, and we are due for a return to basics very soon. Pop will go back to the big voices (it always does), but this time they will bring some bluesy chops to the party. Urban music will find a signature voice that speaks over the phase shifters and the click tracks, and can speak to us directly without using trite, tested, demographically proven hooks. Country music will find a voice that reminds them that country music comes from the hills, not the suburbs. Scotty might very well be that voice.

Next week, the final four cage match: Haley’s Revenge? Lauren’s Last Stand? Scotty’s TKO? JD’s Redemption? Stay tuned!!!