by Lyn Jensen
Next week will be the last week of American Idol, but three shows are still on the schedule, so viewers will vote for the final two contestants after all. Thursday night the final four singers were trimmed to the final three, and next Wednesday the third-place finisher will be announced. After one last round of voting, Thursday night the final Idol winner will be revealed. People are already guessing, “Until someone decides to revive the series.”
Internet buzz has Trent Harmon favored to win, but here’s some Idol contenders who were favored to win: Clay Aiken, Bo Bice, David Archuleta, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, Crystal Bowersox, Lauren Alina, Colton Dixon, Clark Beckham. This season will not likely be a foregone conclusion played out.
Before we get to the final one or two or three, we see the final four–Trent, MacKenzie Bourg, La Porsha Renae, Dalton Rappatoni–visit their hometowns and sing a song that in some way honors the towns and people who’ve nurtured their music:
1/1. MacKenzie Bourg visits his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana; his song choice is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” It’s a heartbreak song with spiritual overtones, subject to many interpretations. As expected MacKenzie “MacKenzies” it, in a very personal way.
1/2. Dalton Rapattoni visits Sunnyvale, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. A radio interviewer recalls to Dalton how the first Idol winner Kelly Clarkson is from roughly the same region (although she’s closer to Houston) and wouldn’t it be nice to have the first and last American Idol from the same part of Texas? Rapattoni sings “Calling You” by Blue October, which come from the same region, too, and he has a personal connection to them. After the performance J-Lo tells him he sang like he belongs here, and Keith comments how he “Daltonized” the song.
1/3. Trent Harmon visits Amory, Mississippi, with its population of 7,316. He has common-man appeal–farmhand, waiter, the kind of guy that fans wish success on. He doesn’t have the personality of his rivals. He doesn’t “Daltonize” or “MacKenzie” his songs–and of course he’s not a blues mama like La Porsha, either. He does have a versatile voice, though, and he sings George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey,” the first country song he’s done in quite a while.
1/4. La Porsha Renae goes back to MaComb, Mississippi, a little big town of about 13,644, where she visits the women’s shelter that she experienced. Her song for her hometown and its people is the Oscar-winning “Glory” from Selma. She talks afterward about how people told her she was bringing her town together and the song expressed her hope that the town could come together about other things, too.
Ryan Seacrest announces that Trent Harmon and Dalton Rapattoni are in the final three. That means–surprisingly–La Porsha is in the bottom two with MacKenzie. Could we be looking at an early exit for her? No, it’s MacKenzie who’s in fourth place after all. Just the same he says it’s like he won. It looks like we can add him to the list of stars who launched their careers on Idol.
For the final three, advisor Scott Borchetta is selecting their next songs.
2/1. Dalton “Daltonizes” Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” giving the first part a theatrical Lambert-like makeover and then venturing into Billy Idol territory.
2/2. La Porsha sounds like Areatha Franklin on a Bette Midler song, “Stay With Me, Baby,” which she admits she sang reluctantly. It’s about trying to persuade a cheating man to stay. La Porsha says, “I’d never tell a man to stay.” The choice may have done her a disservice, considering she may already lack the numbers she’ll need to win.
2/3. Trent sings “Drink You Away,” which had to get special clearance from Justin Timberlake to be performed. He performs it in a danceable red-hot jazz style, showing his blues-jazz side. Keith talks about the guitar, “he sang, it shredded” but the “shredded” part could apply to Harmon’s vocals here.
Last come the judges’ selections. It looks like J-Lo for Dalton, Harry for La Porsha, and Keith for Trent:
3/1. Dalton sings “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and the arrangement’s in a lower key than the original. The judges are harsh. J-Lo complains the brightness is lost (the song isn’t the brightest anyway). Harry thinks Dalton’s earlier performances were better. Keith says the energy dropped. So the performance lacked showy high notes–it was dramatic just the same.
3/2. La Porsha sings Adele’s immensely popular “Hello.” It’s another song about wanting to get back together with a guy. She sings it well but it doesn’t work for her the way something like “No More Drama” did. The judges comment about how the result was more about playing a character and stretching her range. Maybe so, but she needed to be amazing to get to the front of this competition, and she may have fallen short.
3/3. Trent gets some soulful Southern blues for “Waiting Game” by Parson James, a popular new R&B talent. Harmon may be relying on his falsetto too often but he still gives J-Lo the goosies (for maybe the last time, she notes). The judges say he’s peaking at the right time. Has he gathered sufficient fans to vote him into first place? We’ll next week to see if that’s so.
Harry said something about the judges may not be critiquing performances next week. Apparently how the series will conclude is something not even the participants are completely aware of at this point.
I voted for Dalton. Will he squeeze out La Porsha or the other way around? Could we be in for a shocking elimination and see Trent cut instead? Idol looks to be preparing for a grand exit.