Well, it happened: Jacob Lusk got voted off American Idol, coming in as the fifth-place finisher, clearing the path for someone operating in a tired rock idiom (Haley, James) or an awkwardly young country idiom (Lauren, Scotty) to win the whole thing this year. Ho hum.
Those of you who have kept up with these recaps throughout the season know that Jacob was my favorite of the Top 13 (with Naima Adedapo a close second). He wasn't always perfect and sometimes he engaged in dire missteps, but perfection isn't the point when you have an instrument and swagger like his; he was the only singer who routinely seemed to be feeling his songs, as opposed to posing his way through them (ahem, James Durbin, who is now officially in my Idol crosshairs) or seeming completely out of their depth because they are way too young to even know the emotions being depicted in the lyrics. He was a diva (people are still mad about that whole "man in the mirror" comment he made a few weeks back, even though he was kinda right), he could get kinda spazzy with his dance moves, but that voice, when it was on, there was nothing like it on the Idol stage this year. Let's hope that whoever he works with doesn't drown it in a bunch of goop and vocal processing. Maybe he should just cut a live record as his first album? It would be a ballsy move, sure, but those sorts of things have worked well before.
Last night's show was full of filler—Jennifer Lopez lipsyncing ("it's a singing competition," cough); Gordon Ramsay yelling at the contestants and making Simon Cowell's absence sharply felt; Lady Antebellum perfzzzzzz... wait, sorry, where was I?—so this is a fine time to point out that all the tsuris over Haley Reinhart's performance of "You and I" during Wednesday night's show was pretty much a ruse to get the big ol' watercooler klatsch that is the Idol blog world chattering about Lady Gaga, what with her album dropping in two weeks and change and "Judas" kinda faltering on the charts (even though it's really good! OK so its video is a lot of symbolism-for-its-own-sake nonsense but c'mon, that spoken-word bit?). Here is the incontrovertible evidence!
EXHIBIT A: She sang "You And I" on a giant shoe piano on Oprah, which, if you were not aware, is a popular television program watched by many people all around this country. The audience seemed to like it despite it not being commercially available! Fancy that.
EXHIBIT B: Why, look at the header of the press release announcing next week's episode:
LAUREN ALAINA, JAMES DURBIN, SCOTTY MCCREERY AND HALEY REINHART ARE THE TOP 4 FINALISTS ON “AMERICAN IDOL”
JACOB LUSK IS ELIMINATED FROM THE COMPETITION
LADY GAGA TO MENTOR TOP 4 FINALISTS
WHO WILL PERFORM SONGS OF LEIBER AND STOLLER
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, LIVE ON FOX
So! All the Gaga-related Idol chatter that got people aflutter yesterday was more viral marketing for a record that's already been marketed to death—and probably also the setup for Gaga to crown Haley next week in some way, since last night Jimmy Iovine called her a "lock for the finale" during his newly designated Real Talk With Jimmy Iovine Since The Judges Are Afraid To Say "Boo" segment. Oh, internet, how readily you play into that dude's icy, Beats By Dre-sponsored grip!