Idol Group Singing
Credit: Michael Becker/Fox/PictureGroup

While I was leaving the Idoldome last night, I noticed a trash can. They say you can reconstruct the events of someone’s life by sifting through that person’s garbage, and that definitely holds true for the Idoldome. Inside this particular trash can was a simple homemade poster. Just a few minutes ago, some excited audience member was waving around this sign. But now it sat there in the bin, like a neglected IKEA lamp, no longer serving a purpose. It read: “Casey = 2011 American Idol.”

Last night was the end of the road for the 20-year-old bassist/singer, who had memorably been saved by the judges five weeks ago. Casey Abrams was a firecracker — a musician first and foremost whose inclination toward jazz and blues made him an odd duck for the Idol competition. Having talked with him backstage, though, I can attest that Casey is as affable a guy as one could ever hope to meet. And although we’ll miss his snarling idiosyncrasies, the former film-camp counselor is going to be just fine. Here were the highlights from inside the Idoldome:

Casey’s farewell: Here’s what went down right after Casey’s “I Put a Spell on You” exit performance. As the judges stepped onstage, the audience started chanting Casey’s name. “I’m not supposed to make speeches,” said the eliminated singer while thanking the crowd. “My goal was to make the Top 6, and I’m here!” Casey then hugged Jacob, who’s quickly becoming the American Idol equivalent of the Butler college basketball team. Seconds later, J.Lo walked over to Casey, placed her “most beautiful in the world” arms on his shoulders, and offered what I can only imagine was some cheek-kissing advice. After the contestants and judges had left the stage, Cory the Warmup Host asked the audience to raise their hands if Casey kissed them. A good dozen or so hands went up.

Carole King medley: I have a few little observations to share from the opening group performance (which, yes, sounded just as off in person as it did on TV). First, as Haley and James kicked off the number, Scotty was standing offstage and playing an invisible drum set while holding his microphone. It was pretty Archuleta adorable. Second, while the four guys sang “Take Good Care of My Baby” onstage, Haley and Lauren had to stand by the judges’ table. But rather than wait their turn in silence, the two ladies turned toward one another and, in a sudden “why not?” decision, started singing along to the boys’ lines — albeit, without their mics. And third, during Lauren and Haley’s duet, Casey was banished to the blue couch. He sat there all alone, dutifully clapping along, unaware that his relationship with this piece of retro furniture would soon be ending.

Most pumped to see Crystal Bowersox perform: Casey, who was the only Top 6 singer applauding when Ryan Seacrest mentioned Crystal’s name early in the show. Then, during Crystal’s actual performance, Casey and Jacob were the first two Idol contestants to stand up. The other four later followed suit.

James’ gift: During the first commercial break, James borrowed a mic and announced that he had a “tricked out” teddy bear that he wanted to deliver to his cousin — a young boy sitting in the audience. James gave the kid the bear, and then a bear hug.

Haley vs. Iovine: Instead of sending singers to the silver stools of doom, Seacrest brought each contestant out individually to face the pre-recorded wrath of Jimmy Iovine. Haley was the recipient of some of Iovine’s harshest criticism, but she wasn’t shy about disagreeing with the Interscope chairman. When Iovine said Haley didn’t know who she was as an artist, the singer simply shrugged and then disapprovingly shook her head. She also apparently let out an obscenity at the very end of the clip, but the audience couldn’t hear the naughty word. One can imagine, though…

Schweddy Ryan: During Haley and Scotty’s clips, an emergency makeup crew rushed onstage to dab sweat off of Seacrest’s forehead. Apparently it was a perspiration calamity of such magnitude that both Debbie the Stage Manager and Nigel Lythgoe joined the huddle, making sure that every speck of Seacrest’s face met Fox’s HD standards.

Little Allison meets her Idol: At one point, Cory the Warmup Host brought a 7-year-old girl named Allison onstage. Allison, sporting a pink skirt, could have defeated many a lolcat in a tournament of sheer cuteness. The young girl said that Scotty was her favorite Idol, and before you knew it, Cory had marched Allison over to the blue couch to receive a hug from the country crooner. Scotty dropped to one knee, embraced the girl, and consequently melted 700 hearts.

PopWatchers, who thinks Idol is going to lack some serious pizzazz without Casey around? And who here was ready for the bearded warbler to go home? The floor is yours.

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