'American Idol' results: And the eliminated contestant is ... Casey Abrams
At the beginning of Thursday night's "American Idol," in which Casey Abrams was (this time far less shockingly) eliminated to turn the top six into the top five, Ryan Seacrest gave us a hint about what was to come: "I can tell you this," he told us. "A lot of fans are going to be disappointed with tonight's result."
Well, count me among them, because Casey was one of my own personal favorites.
I liked his knack for surprising song choices and musical virtuosity. I liked his silly, self-deprecating humor and his wacky way with a stand-up bass. (He seemed like a stand-up guy with a stand-up bass.) I liked his tight little scoot around the stage and the peculiar way he had of slapping only one hand when he walked up to the throngs in the front row. I liked the audacity of his Jennifer Lopez kiss and its impetuous innocence. I even liked his shaggy 'do (before and after), his swoon the last time he was eliminated and his trademark growl, which, he explained Thursday night, stemmed from all his passion for music rushing to get out one very small aperture.
That curious theory was funny and honest and interesting and cute in a weird way. And that, right there, is the reason I like Casey.
And maybe jazz fans don't vote either, because my guess is that it was Casey's refusal to play it safe (except for a few weeks there right after his remarkable save) and his stated desire to bring jazz to the masses that ultimately did him in.
If we had any doubt that Casey's "what the heck, I'm just milking this thing and having a blast" casual attitude had returned — especially after watching him nibble at his nails right there on live TV as the camera panned across him at the beginning of Thursday night's show (I know results shows are nerve-wracking, but ick, Casey!) — and that it might get him in trouble with voters, there could be little doubt after Ryan put a fan question to him: "If you could do a duet with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you sing?"
Casey's answer: Oscar Peterson, the legendary jazz pianist and composer (an all-time great), who died in 2007. "He's a very famous jazz musician," Casey informed the millions of Americans who, very sadly, probably had no idea who he was talking about. Then he went on to explain that it was because of Peterson's remarkable chord progression, among other things. No amount of enthusiastically encouraging nods from Randy Jackson was going to save Professor Casey at that point.
Which will not make me miss him any less. Casey reminded us of all we were losing with his final number, "I Put a Spell on You." (Not that Ryan hadn't already reminded us: "This is what talent looks like, ladies and gentlemen," he said.) Casey kissed and hugged each judge, noisily bussed a whole row of women in the audience, embraced the family members of his fellow contestants and tackled a few of those contestants before ending by looking right into Haley Reinhart's eyes and singing, "because you're mine."
What a way to confirm that they're a couple. They're a couple, right?
Here's wishing those two crazy kids a long and happy and laughter-filled relationship — and long and happy (and healthy!) careers making music.
Because, as last year's runner-up pointedly sang on Thursday night's show, "If you want to sing a song, you just sing it." She also reminded us that the most talented contestant doesn't always win the "Idol" crown.
Casey's talent and passion for music will outlive his time on "Idol." And he'll assuredly find success, because dang if he didn't put a spell on many of us.
What do you think? Are you sad to see Casey go? Or did you feel it was his time?
— Amy Reiter
Photo: The final six, from left, Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Lauren Alaina, Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox.