American Idol: Stefano Long Gone

One of the harsh truths of American Idol is that after a certain point, how you do week to week almost ceases to matter, because the size of the fanbase you’ve built has become all-important. And thus, Stefano Langone was given the boot Thursday, despite having made real strides lately in the area of connecting with an audience.

Stefano did well to even get this far. He had to come up with the performance of his life just to nail down a spot in the finals, and ended up outlasting the other two wild cards by several weeks. But as the only male wild card in the finals, he also showed early vulnerability with the voters, finally leaving in his fourth trip to the bottom. Meanwhile, Scotty McCreery, who sang first on Wednesday and did poorly, still hasn’t seen the bottom, and likely won’t till the finals (if then).

Stefano must have seen it coming, and as the survivor of a serious auto accident he’s experienced much harder times than being voted off a talent show. So his reaction to his elimination was unusually high-spirited, as he practically wrestled the mike out of Ryan Seacrest’s hand for his final sing-out, a reprise of “Lately.”

It was the performance highlight of an otherwise lackluster Idol evening, which featured Season Seven champion David Cook debuting his new generic-sounding single, and buxom android Katy Perry and her all-alien chorus line shredding eardrums on “ET.” The Idol mini-groups are getting more ragged as the smaller cast forces mismatched singers together. Scotty, Casey Abrams, and James Durbin are all good performers within their genres, none of which include Coldplay – which made their “Viva La Vida” sound very muerto. And everyone else got together for the latest unnecessary version of that Madoff-level crime against music, “Hey Soul Sister,” which was noteworthy only for the divalicious effort Jacob Lusk put into his performance. Jacob must be the first Idol contestant ever who prefers these results night trainwrecks to actually competing.

Next week: Another Pleasant Valley Wednesday, as the final six tackle the music of Carole King.