The Top 7 elimination episode was an emotional roller coaster if ever there was one — from the exuberance that comes with hearing a Coldplay song on the “American Idol” stage to the highly anticipated debut of David Cook‘s new single (score!) to the sad reality that somebody was going home. Ironically, Stefano Langone, who received the fewest votes on Songs From the 21st Century week, was among the more contemporary contestants, but his take on the Ne-Yo hit didn’t get him any, er, closer to the finish line.
Stefano Langone Booted on ‘American Idol,’
Still, Stefano, as is his cheery nature, took it all in stride. James Durbin was another matter. Read on for the tears and jeers you didn’t see on TV…
1. I have to start with my favorite crew guy: the stagehand responsible for the judges’ bendy straws. Once again, class: that’s orange for Steven Tyler, green for Jennifer Lopez and blue for Randy Jackson, each pointed down to the 6 o’clock position just so.
‘American Idol’: Lauren Alaina Flies, Casey Abrams Kisses J.Lo
2. Season 9 finalist Katie Stevens is back at “Idol” for, what, the fourth time so far this year? Wearing an adorable floor-length, flower-patterned cotton dress, she looks for her seat in section D row 5, just a few chairs down from Ryan Seacrest’s mom.
3. As Ryan introduces the first performance, a group number of Train‘s “Hey, Soul Sister,” Jacob Lusk, Haley Reinhart, Stefano and Lauren Alaina try their best to tip-toe up the retractable stage stairs.
4. Steven Tyler is feeling the soul part of the song, and grooving along appropriately, while also rustling with his always present stack of yellow notepad paper.
5. It’s the first commercial break and the perfect opportunity for Steven and Nigel Lythgoe to hug it out, especially after Wednesday night’s expletive-laced shenanigans.
6. Haley fixes her hair as Lauren runs across the stage to award one lucky audience member with a signed T-shirt bearing her name. The winner: a girl seating in the back of section D holding an “I ♥ Lauren” sign.
7. Fox head of alternative programming Mike Darnell blows a kiss to Seacrest’s mom. Errkay…
8. As the three remaining guys take their positions for the “Viva La Vida” group number, James Durbin fake prances about the stage ballerina-style then charges up the stairs with the same confidence and conviction he displayed during his performance of Muse’s “Uprising.”
9. The guys’ version of the Coldplay favorite has Stefano jumping in place excitedly and Haley doing a hula-dance-like sway with her arms, but one can’t help noticing Casey Abrams’s change of a lyric in the chorus, omitting the line “I know Saint Peter won’t call my name.”
10. The “Viva La Vida” number ends with a fist bump. Specifically, Casey and Scotty McCreery.
11. The Top 7’s in-ears are collected during the commercial break as David Cook’s gear is quickly rolled out onto the stage.
12. Having promised another little girl a tee, Lauren Alaina keeps her word and circles back to center stage with shirt in hand. Haley, meanwhile, is turned around on the couch talking to Casey.
13. David Cook comes out to the stage and is received with cheers. Seeking out his guitar, stage manager Debbie Williams reminds him to wave to the crowd, some of which is seated behind him. He obliges then air guitars and jumps in place while waiting for his six-string to turn up.
14. David Cook’s “The Last Goodbye” goes over great in the studio, at the judges’ table, where J Lo is feeling it, and on the couches, where Casey Abrams bounces along to the hooky and instantly hummable tune.
15. After Steven Tyler’s adorable moment with David Cook’s mom, the Aerosmith frontman runs up to the stage to meet Cook, followed by Randy, then Nigel Lythgoe. Ever the gentleman, Cook then heads over to Jennifer Lopez for an introduction.
16. Encouraged by “Idol” photographer Michael Becker, Cook takes a seat in Randy’s chair and patiently waits as Jennifer Lopez gets a touch-up. Then, it’s picture time! Meanwhile, down below, Steven Tyler continues to charm Cook’s mom, even kissing her on the cheek before bidding farewell.
17. Cook’s goodbyes are swift as he runs over to Jacob Lusk on the stools then crisscrosses the stage to quickly meet the rest of the Top 7 (Lauren gets a hug).
18. Watching the video segment on the big screen, Scotty laughs at his embarrassing gutterball.
19. As the eliminations continue and James is sent back to safety, along with Lauren and Casey, he leans back on the couch and breathes a huge sigh of relief.
20. It’s down to Haley and Scotty, but it’s the latter who’s given good news. Haley snaps her fingers, as if to say, “damn,” and a woman seated behind me remarks, “Poor Haley. She’s always in the bottom three…”
21. The last commercial break was a teary one for a Scotty fan named Cassie who came from San Jose. She got to meet and hug her Idol fave, then walked back to her seat shaking and crying.
22. Katy Perry’s performance was pre-taped, but there seemed to be some confusion in the crowd as to that fact. How else do you explain the several groups of people who stood up to cheer a video screen?
23. With Haley sent back to safety, it’s down to Jacob and Stefano. Back on the couches, James clasps his hands over his face anticipating the verdict.
24. When Ryan calls Stefano’s name, James breaks down crying. Lauren tries, however ineffectively, to console by holding onto his arm. James can barely get it together for the last shots of the night, as he wipes tears from his eyes and makes his way to the stage for Stefano’s last goodbye.
25. In truth, Stefano goes out on a high note. His encore performance of “Lately” has J. Lo cheering him on from her chair with a “go, baby!” It’s clear these judges feel true affection for the doe-eyed, smooth-styled Washington boy as they run up to for their final send-off, and James Durbin scampers off the stage.
As for Jacob’s close call, he closed out the show in deep conversation with musical director Ray Chew. Considering his track problems on Wednesday, the two clearly have plenty to talk about — perhaps even an apology was in order, but no matter, Jacob will get another chance to prove his might when he returns next week for Carole King night.
What did you think of Thursday’s elimination episode? Did the right person go home?