Well, after 70 million votes--the highest top 4 vote tally ever, in all 10 seasons--"American Idol" viewers let themselves be heard, loud and clear, judges' comments be damned. Haley Reinhart never really had the support of the "Idol" machine--I was actually beginning to think this show was sponsored by Greyhound, she got thrown under the bus so much--but her underdog status helped her gain votes from sympathetic, outraged fans who understandably believed she was getting a raw deal on this show. Despite the judges and producers seemingly doing everything in their power to get Haley out of the way of the other female left in the competition, Lauren Alaina (aka the Chosen One), Haley made it to the top three anyway. And she deserved this victory. She fought for it.
This is the good news.
The bad news? James Durbin, a frontrunner since the beginning and probably the most exciting and edgy contestant remaining this season, was shockingly voted off in fourth place. Apparently, despite his diehard "Idol" campaigning, America didn't really want to give metal a chance after all. Instead, America wanted TWO boring country singers, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, in the top 3. How ironic that the contestant with a penchant for pyro, rock 'n' roll flamboyance, and superfluous scarves went home the same week that Lady Gaga mentored and rock icon-turned-judge Steven Tyler premiered his solo video.
My elation upon finding out that Haley was safe--and that, for the first time since Season 6, there would be two girls in the top 3 (news that surely gladdened Season 6 champion Jordin Sparks, who also performed on this week's results show)--was short-lived, obviously, once I realized that the final spot in the top 3 would go to either Scotty or James. It was hard to imagine Scotty going home after covering a Jesus-namechecking 9/11 anthem that clearly catered to his conservative fanbase, not to mention kissing his cross on national TV...but I thought maybe, just maybe, his political power-play might've alienated some voters who felt they were being blatantly pandered to. Either way, this result was going to be a shocker, since I'd once assumed that I'd see both Scotty and James in the finale.
It seemed James thought he'd go all the way too, as he took the news of his rejection pretty hard, welling up as he emotionally stated: "I worked so damn hard to get here, and I was really hoping to [get to the finale]. I did so much stuff on this show that's never been done before. In my mind, I did what I came here to do, which was to get America to give metal a chance."
All I can say is, it's going to be a lot less fascinating a finale than it would have been if America had given metal a chance and James had made it to the end. I was already rock 'n' roll-fantasizing about Axl Rose and Steve Perry coming out of hiding to duet with the guy, or James rocking the stage sheathed in Rob Halfordian studded leather while Tommy Lee banged behind him on a spinning habitrail drum kit. Sigh. Oh, what might have been...
With James gone, I'm counting on the Gaga-endorsed Haley to bring the excitement and drama for the remainder of the season--and since I believe Lauren and Scotty might split the country vote, plus I suspect many of James's votes will now go to Haley, I actually think she has a bigger chance than ever now. She may have just Reinharted herself right into the finale.