So last night was the big hometown visit episode of Idol and one of the top three was booted. The hometown visits are my least favorite episodes because they’re incredibly formulaic. Arrive in town… go to the radio station… have a parade… tearfully thank everyone for coming while young girls who should be at school are instead staring and crying and putting America further behind in the race to the top with China. Or something like that.
Tink proudly tells us that there were more than 95 million votes cast on Wednesday night — the largest non-finale number in Idol history. The final three are brought out looking like Jem, Howdy Doody and a flower child. The first off-topic video of the night is a trip to the Bad Robot Production studios where they meet with JJ Abrams, see clips from his new film Super 8, and get some Super 8 cameras of their own. At least I think that’s what happened. JJ — an Isaac Mizrahi lookalike — was all hopped up on Four Loko or something and delivered his sentences fast and furiously. After that, Elle Fanning — little sister of Dakota — chats with Tink. Good lord, how old is that child? And why is she towering over Tink? She’s only 13 but she’s a head taller than him. Anyway, she looms over him and giggles and tells him that her little cousin has picked Scotty as the winner. Thank you, little cousin. Everyone else can go home now.
Haley is the first to head home to “the Chicago area.” When she lands, she lurches through Chicago and walks past a giant limo with a big American Idol sign. She’s stunned to find out that this is the limo she’s supposed to get into. Surprise? In her hometown of Wheeling, teenagers are losing their minds over her and she tells one girl “thank you for freaking out.” Ha!
She goes to her parents’ house and then there’s a parade in the rain followed by a visit to her high school. Since Wheeling apparently has no stadiums, parks or concert venues, it’s off to the track so that she can perform “Sweet Home Chicago” with her dad.
Next on the show… a performance by Il Volo. I didn’t know who these guys were and didn’t really have expectations, but boy was I surprised. I guess they’re three Italian virgins who discovered that if they sang together, the ragazze would throw their biancheria intima onstage. Lauren Alaina seems particularly stunned when the little one with the giant red glasses opens his mouth and belts.
Scotty’s hometown’s up next. He gets off the plane in North Carolina shouting “baby, lock them doors!” Then he’s headed for the local radio station and eats a donut handed to him from the crowd. He also stops by the grocery store where he used to work and his school. He does a ton of crying, but he isn’t sad for long. Josh Turner who sings “Your Man” a/k/a Babylockthemdoors walks on stage while Scotty’s singing. Scotty says it’s the best day of his life.
Even though Tink promised us yesterday that 50 Cent would perform with Nicole Sherzinger, it’s mostly Nicole herself, writhing around in a dress made from string and toilet paper. I appreciate that she decided to sing without any sort of voice modification, but she sounded pretty terrible. And 50′s appearance was so short, I’m still not convinced he was there.
Lauren Alaina’s crying before her plane even lands for her hometown visit. There’s the usual roaming around town while kids squeal and lawmakers who should have better things to do make proclamations. But Lauren’s visit actually had a very touching piece to it, too. She toured an area damaged by recent tornadoes and met an adorable little boy who rescued his family from the rubble. It actually brought a strange moisture to my eyes that I think a warmer person may call “tears.” It feels so weird to type that word… Later, Lauren sings “Do It Anyway” for a large crowed gathered in Chattanooga.
Finally time for results! Scotty is, of course, a shoe-in for the finals. I think we all could have agreed on that. So… would it be aw shucks adorable country teen Lauren? Or sexy but accident-prone rocker chick Haley in the final? America wanted its country, apparently, because Lauren’s headed to the finals with Scotty.
Haley didn’t look too bummed out and, honestly, I think she’s headed for great things. She has an amazing voice, but this competition was probably too mainstream pop for her, and her recent missteps with the song choices kind of prove that. I know a lot of ya’ll loved her Led Zeppelin performance on Wednesday. Were you shocked by her elimination? What do you think is to blame?