American Idol: James Durbin’s Not-Very-Good Voice Finally Leaves Us


Tonight, American Idol lost James Durbin. I was sorry to see him go, but only because his departure meant that we’ll never get to see the live-TV Tourettic freakout that I was really excited about back when he first came into our lives. As it turns out, most people with Tourette’s syndrome don’t just yell cuss words! We’ll have to wait at least another year for that magic TV moment, then.

Mostly, though, Durbin’s departure was good news, since that guy is just not a very good singer, and his final performance of “Maybe I’m Amazed” proved it. He just yells really high! It was getting out of hand! So: thanks, America! In his goodbye interview with Ryan Seacrest, Durbin said that he did what he meant to do, which was to give metal a chance. That’s a nice sentiment and all, but he said that with tears running down his cheeks. There’s no crying in metal, James Durbin! At least not until you become Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine and you emotionally reunite with Lars Ulrich in an overlong documentary! And it’s lame even then!

Here’s some other stuff that happened last night:

• After shirking it for most of the season, Ryan Seacrest has been slowly reintroducing his “This… is American Idol” introductory patter, and we got an especially good one last night. I was glad. I have no idea why, but I’ve always liked that intro.

• Casey Abrams, in the audience for the second night running, must have rung up some serious hotel bills. L.A.’s not cheap!

• During the show’s introductory number, Durbin and Scotty McCreery sang the Brad Paisley/Keith Urban duet “Start a Band.” I don’t know who was supposed to be who, but I do know that Durbin debuted his fake Southern accent, and woof. I already miss his fake British accent. The performance ended in an awesomely awkward high-five, though, which is how every duet on this show should end.

• After a commercial break, Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhart came back to duet on another country song. What is up with this season and country music? Why are they pushing it so hard? Maybe they’ve figured it’ll be easier to make another Carrie Underwood than another Kelly Clarkson. On the plus side here, the country song they were singing was Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder & Lead,” which is such an awesome song. But on the minus, they were godawful and caterwauling. Lauren, the actual country singer of the two, sounded slightly better, but not by much.

• In some corporate-sponsored bit, we got awkward videos of the Idol kids video-chatting with their families, and nobody needs to see that. Let these kids have their privacy. Nothing here was interesting enough to warrant that invasiveness.

• Idol promoted a Lady Gaga performance on last night’s show, but the reality of it was weird. Seacrest said that we were about to see how the contestants prepared for Gaga’s appearance. This meant we saw them all sitting down to watch Gaga performing “You & I,” the song Haley sang last week, in what I’m pretty sure was a clip from her HBO special that aired Saturday. She didn’t get anywhere near the Idol studio again; maybe she meant to but there was a sale on bat fangs across the street. “You & I” reminded me a whole lot of Poison power-ballads from the era where they tried to get just slightly country; she sang it while dressed in undies and climbing around on a piano, but the overall package was still low-impact Gaga, which made the whole thing vaguely disappointing.

• Enrique Iglesias, with green laser-lights and a rear-projected image of Usher backing him up, sang two utterly cheesy Euroclub jams and generally made me wonder why we’re still supposed to take him seriously as a pop star. I guess he had a song on Jersey Shore or something? Whatever. I was done with this guy post-“Bailamos.” The minute gigantic balloons descended from the ceiling, my wife, who was an au pair overseas for a minute, informed me that this was what Germany felt like in 1999.

• In the still-obligatory Ford commercial, the contestants drew goofy light-shapes in the air while singing that dogshit Owl City song. I’m not entirely sure, but this may be the first time I’ve heard Idol contestants singing through really obvious Autotune. It was not an improvement. The whole thing was like the new Tron movie, with a radially shittier soundtrack.

• Returning Idol winner Jordin Sparks sang a goofy Kravitz-inflected club song about being a woman. She’s lost mad weight and she doesn’t exactly look that great. She also wore this weird shiny raincoat-minidress thing, which she stripped off halfway through for a showgirl dress thing, and all of it looked pretty dumb. And I can’t really say very many nice things about her choreographed dances with backing people. The whole presentation made her come off looking like a Broadway star making a desperate last-ditch shot at pop stardom, which is essentially what she is now. Ah well. We’ll always have “No Air.”

• Steven Tyler debuted a new video for his dogshit solo song, which involved a chimpanzee driving a car and painted people dancing. It reminded me way too much of mid-’90s Red Hot Chili Peppers videos, which aren’t anything I need to remember at this point in my life. It also prominently featured Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls, and I can’t say I was too mad at that.