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'American Idol' results: James Durbin eliminated

May 12, 2011 |  8:18 pm

MB1_9955 After nearly 72 million votes rolled in -- a record for a top-four vote, host Ryan Seacrest said -- America picked the top three contestants on "American Idol" this season. Sadly, James Durbin wasn’t among them.

The good news? Both Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina did make it through. They, along with Season 10's brow-waggling country boy, Scotty McCreery, will be sent back to their respective hometowns to take a razzle-dazzle victory lap before returning to compete for the top spot.

James' ouster was unexpected (he said after learning his unfortunate fate that he'd had a strange feeling that his number might be up), but looking back, there was a strange moment of foreshadowing early in the show.

After James and Scotty sang a seriously underwhelming duet of "Start a Band" (the bored faces of the children gathered on the lip of the stage said it all), they joined Ryan on the couch as he rattled off the cities where auditions for next season will be held this summer. James appeared to be wiping away a tear.

"You're in tears already. What's happening to you?" Ryan asked.

Apparently, James' wife had bonked him in the eye with her nose when he went in for a kiss. (Do you think James talking about his wife and child all the time hurt or helped him with voters? Discuss!)

Anyhow, the real waterworks didn't start for James until later.

In the meantime, Haley and Lauren performed a sizzling duet of "Gunpowder and Lead." (Ryan correctly deemed it "smokin' hot.") And there was a very boring video interlude in which we saw the top four video-chatting with their family members -- and in one case, the family dog. (Lauren cutely instructed her pet pooch to vote with all four paws.)

Then Ryan invited Lauren to be the first contestant to take a seat on what we used to think of as the stools of doom, but have now become the stools of safety. (Were the stools always gold? Or were they spray-painted as part of the doom/safety changeover?) The only person who might have been happier to see Lauren slide her bottom onto that glittery stool than Lauren was Steven Tyler, who appeared to breathe a huge sigh of relief when her name was called.

Enrique Iglesias sang. This week's Ford video (featuring nifty neon effects) aired. Jordin Sparks looked like a total winner performing "I Am Woman" in a silver trench coat, which she doffed to reveal a spangly black dress. Steven Tyler's racy new video debuted and apparently made Ryan jealous.

Then we got the big news: Haley would be joining Lauren in the top three. As Haley took her walk over to the golden stools, the judges looked glum. The voters had apparently displeased them. Either James or Scotty –- Randy Jackson's and Jennifer Lopez's clear faves –- would be going home.

Scotty's response? Disbelief. James looked worried.

As of course he should have looked. Scotty was spared. James learned he'd soon be getting to spend a lot more time with his family.

Jennifer looked devastated, but James bravely said that, though he'd worked hard and had been hoping to make it all the way, he was proud of what he'd accomplished.

"I did what I came here to do," he said, "to give metal a chance."

It could have been a laugh line if James wasn't so serious about it. And it was James' very seriousness of purpose that made the voters' choice so sad. James seemed more focused –- and seemed to have staked more -- than any of the other contestants on snagging the "Idol" crown.

Ultimately, he'll do fine, of course.

But I really wish it were coast-along Scotty heading home right now...

And you? Do you think the right contestant is heading home? Share your thoughts, please.


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-- Amy Reiter

Photo: James Durbin performs on "American Idol" on Wednesday. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox