American Idol: Paul McDonald Bought The Farm

Some people just aren’t cut out for American Idol, and by the time Paul McDonald was eliminated on Thursday night, he seemed to know that too. Paul became (finally!) the first male knocked out of Season Ten, following one of his trademark spastic performances on “Old Time Rock and Roll.”

Many had Paul pegged as a possible dark horse when the season began, despite his almost nonexistent profile coming out of the audition phase. He seemed to fit the guitar-playing, vaguely “artistic” mold of the last three Idol winners. But his body language on any song where he didn’t hold a guitar was invariably bizarre – a sort of lurching dance that made him look like a cheerful panhandler. And his high, quavery voice was ill-suited for the demands of a singing competition, though there’s ample proof in Internetland that he sounds great on his own band’s material. There are worse ways for an unknown veteran musician to spend a few months than by going on Idol, finishing eighth, and raising their name recognition a million-fold.

The results show featured the usual mix of the pointless (Rob Reiner, whose directing career peaked when these contestants were in diapers, giving advice on Lord knows what), sublime (Kelly Clarkson performing her hit country duet with charisma-free partner Jason Aldean), weird (the Ford music video featuring zombie makeup), and don’t ask (three words: Rihanna singing live). But there was one very interesting interlude, for those who are clued into Idol gossip.

The final eight were again broken into mini-groups for performances in lieu of a big production number, and one of those groups was made up of Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart, who are allegedly sweet on each other, according to scuttlebutt. This rumor wasn’t directly addressed, but it was hard to miss the chemistry they displayed on the jazz classic “Moanin’,” which was by far the best vocal Haley has delivered all season. I’ve been a Haley detractor for two solid months, and she was in the bottom three yet again Thursday; but if she can channel that “Moanin’” vibe going forward, she might still have a real future on the show.