American Idol: So close, yet so far

On Thursday, American Idol bid farewell to one of their remaining four finalists, denying them the coveted opportunity to become hometown heroes for a day. Which Idol is going home to tears rather than fanfare?

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Nicki Minaj appears at the Nicki Minaj Kmart Shop Your Way media event at Fig & Olive on Friday, Mar 1, 2013 in Los Angeles.

Ryan Seacrest was right when he said that this elimination, right before hometown visits is arguably the most difficult of the season. The awareness of this impending difficulty was etched on the faces of every hopeful as they were forced to endure another long, drawn out episode featuring past contestants and current performers hoping to tap into American Idol's diminishing fan base before it flatlines all together.

On Thursday, the roster included past winner David Cook who (I'm pleased to report) was looking markedly less creepy than he did during Idol's notorious season 7, also known as the David versus David season. In addition to reducing fine lines and creep-factor, Cook's Idol win also helped him to purchase a nice little house in Nashville, complete with three dogs and a yard.

Also on hand to take us on a trip down memory lane was Season 4's elimination shocker, Constantine Maroulis, who has the distinct pleasure of being one of the least attractive man to ever make me swoon. There is just something intoxicating about the heady blend of Bohemian Rhapsody and long flowing locks, which is why Dana Carvey's roll as Garth in Wayne's World forever solidified his role as a Hollywood Sex Symbol. Unlike Mr. Carvey, Mr. Maroulis went on to do great things after his iconic performance of Bohemian Rhapsody, such as earning himself a Tony nomination for his roll in the Broadway hit, Rock of Ages.

Joining such Idol elites was recording artist known simply by his first name, dropped his last name, a.plagiarist, when he became an artist, fearing that it might prevent other artists from collaborating with him, at least knowingly. Harry Connick, Jr. also returned on Thursday for another moment in the Idol spotlight, this time performing a song from his new album. Harry really should have quit while he was ahead and ended on Wednesday's high note. 

Speaking of ending on a high note, finally, after four guests, two hideously painted Ford Fusions and 14,673 plugs for the movie, The Great Gatsby, Mr. Seacrest dimmed the lights. As the numbers of contestants dwindle, it becomes more difficult to create anticipation with the results. No more easing into them throughout the course of the show. No more hopefuls herded into misleading groups on opposite sides of the stage. No, with just four left, the elimination is a perfunctory job saved for the last minutes of the show, the only real pleasure, a sadistic one that comes after Phil Phillips's sweet voice lulls the fallen Idol into a depressed delirium, when Seacrest hands the loser the microphone to sing so we can all take bets on how many versus she'll make it through without falling apart.

This week, as predicted, that poor sacrificial lamb was the judges' favorite Amber Holcomb, whose swan song was punctuated by rogue sobs until finally she succumbed to the sad reality that she was so close, yet so tragically far from earning a hometown visit. Chin up Amber, it's clear that Nicki Minaj is jonesing for her own little Justin Bieber and thinks you might just fit the bill.

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