Here's what I still don't get about American Idol:
If the worst singers are the ones getting kicked off every week, why are these vocalists — and we viewers — forced to endure one more rendition of the tunes that got them ejected in every results show?
(I know, Idol needs to fill an hour. But couldn't they just ask Danny Gokey to sing another generic pop-country song?)
Consider Thursday's rendition of The Climb by irritating teen sprite Haeley Vaughn. Already cursed with a precarious connection to any song's key, Vaughn could barely get through this soaring tune after getting the hook; even though, as pugnacious judge Simon Cowell made painfully clear, Vaughn was the only person in that room who didn't know she was going home by show's end.
Still, I don't blame Vaughn for being confused. Because — with Vaughn as a significant exception — viewers at this point aren't kicking off the worst singers. They're kicking off the most boring ones.
Case in point: ejected singer John Park. There's no way his treacly, trying-to-be-soulful version of John Mayer's Gravity was the week's worst male performance (that goes to Zac Efron clone Tim Urban, who must be surviving by the good grace of the Vote for the Worst Web site). It was, however, one of the most boring — and idiotic, given the judges had already warned him about tossing off gooey ballads.
Next came righteous church singer Jermaine Sellers, also ejected after singing the one song guaranteed to appear in every hotel lounge, Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On. Ditto with the first female ejectee, Michelle Delamor, who suffered from a malady Cowell usually nails right away — looking too much like a generic backup singer.
Sellers' cardinal sin was blaming everyone else in sight for his shaky vocals and atrocious song choices — just after pretending that his jokey attachment to a "onesie" undergarment wasn't creepy as Nick Nolte hanging around a high school parking lot.
The best result this week was the emergence of St. Petersburg-raised Michael Lynche as the competition's strongest male singer, thanks to a powerhouse version of James Brown's It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World. The girl to beat is dreadlocked street urchin Crystal Bowersox, despite a mystery illness that forced the guys to sing Tuesday in a last-minute switcheroo.
Regardless, Thursday's results were a serious warning for talented-but-borderline snoozy singers. The likes of Urban and Lacy Brown may be worse performers, but as long as they're charming voters, better vocalists may wind up on the chopping block first.