The wrong Top 10 contestant heads home; Haley Reinhart's 'Free' is a stunner

By Annie Barrett
March 23, 2012 at 03:51 AM EDT
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Poor Erika Van Pelt. The clear-voiced mobile DJ went all out on American Idol and all she got was this lousy Kris Jenner haircut.  (I said I liked it yesterday, but everything looks different now.) Erika just never had a proper Idol moment on the live stage, and she’s not a tiny teen. I think it boils down to that. The tiny teens will overtake us all. They’re outside your window, waiting to strike, right now. You just can’t see them because they’re so young, and quick, and relevant. Pinch yourself. Are you even there? You may have become obsolete just reading this.

Heejun Han and DeAndre Brackensick joined Erika in the bottom three. The Hair Up There was a tepid mess Wednesday night, but Heejun, who wore “I’ve given up” track pants for the results show, should have been the one to go home.

Jimmy Iovine hammered home Steven Tyler’s “wake up call” remarks to Heejun from Wednesday in his taped comments, comparing Heejun’s clownish performance of “My Life” to “four minutes of a bad Adam Sandler movie that goes straight to DVD.” Heejun, shown in the corner of the screen during Jimmy’s rant, was all “So what, Adam Sandler is awesome, you bitches still can’t faze me!” But Jimmy threw it down. “Interscope has to spend a lot of money on someone who wins the show, and that’s not it.”

Seacrest asked Heejun to respond, and the class clown offered two confounding non-clarifications for his behavior. 1) “When I was ripping the clothes off, it was a metaphor for who I really am,” and 2) “I’m not trying to be a star. I’m just really happy where I am, so….”

It’s to Erika’s credit that she didn’t slap him here, knowing she was probably headed home in a few minutes instead of this bleary-eyed prankster who’d just announced he wasn’t too interested in a singing career after all. Oh honey. That attitude simply will not fly, especially when you work with kids in J. Lo’s native Bronx. “You shouldn’t sell yourself short. You should teach those kids they can be stars, too,” Jenny sweetly reminded Heejun, her “superpink” gown blowing up a giant bubble of disappointment that soon encapsulated all three judges. Ryan had to cut to commercial and then pop the bubble with one of Randy’s spare pins.

Psssssst. J. Lo. Heejun Han is not a star!!!

Here is a star.

THIS! Is American Idol. No, seriously, this is practically the logo for the show, but way better. Haley Reinhart is a badass bitch.

NEXT: Huh-huh-huh-Haley and the BarettesTo perform the hell out of her new single “Free,” Haley Reinhart wore a long, gauzy red gown with some severe Angelina Leg and a sparkly hair clip that put Randy’s pin collection to shame. Aggggh! I’ve watched this maybe….15 times? 20? And I spent the afternoon listening to “Free” and Haley’s studio recordings from season 10 of Idol on Spotify. I’d forgotten how much I love her — and what a stunning visual performer she is. I lose my breath a little whenever she throws one arm up in the air with her signature “I love singing!” dreamy expression and head tilt. But that’s probably because I’m so unhealthy and never get off of my couch.

Let’s go, America! Make Haley happen!

“The breakout star known as Lana Del Rey” barely croaked out “Video Games” in a pre-taped segment. If you’re unfamiliar with this creature, she is an old woman who crawled out of a dumpster behind a vintage clothing store in east L.A. and wandered onto “the scene.” They scrubbed her off, restricted her to a diet of cigarettes and virginal white clothing, and now she’s everywhere. I don’t quite understand it either.

I will say that Lana Del Rey’s studio recordings are a million bazillion times better than anything she does live. This demo version of “Diet Mtn Dew” in particular was my first introduction to her and is not terrible. Does she suffer from chronic severe pain, do you think? Why does she always look so wretched as she whimpers out notes? My guess is that she knows they’re going to be the wrong ones so she’s just bracing herself. We all are.

Meanwhile, Steven Tyler’s birthday is coming up, so the Top 10 awkwardly sang to him with….JOE PERRY! No one in the first few rows knows who that is! How uncomfortable! Anyway, the surprise appearance was a big deal because Aerosmith’s lead guitarist had been pretty vocally anti-Idol back when Steven first decided to do the show. I could still sense his inner cringe, but hey, it’s Steven’s birthday. The graphics department even went all out with WIGGLING COMIC SANS. Oh, Idol, you shouldn’t have.

Please don’t ever again.

So this week the Top 9 — Colton, Jessica, Phillip, Hollie, Elise, Skylar, Joshua, DeAndre, and Heejun (did I just name my Top 9 Power List?!) — will move into the American Idol mansion. Hopefully this one won’t flood. But I do hope someone falls down the stairs like Lauren Alaina. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but I want it to happen. It’ll be fine.

“It’s a cool mansion,” confirmed Ryan. “All mansions are cool.” He would know!

Are you pissed about these results? Do you think the judges should have used their save on Erika even though clearly voters weren’t connecting with her? Read what Erika told EW after her elimination — about her vocal limitations, those party favors, and Idol‘s “women of a certain age” problem — here.

Follow @EWAnnieBarrett

Read more:

‘Idol’ results on the scene: What Erika Van Pelt told EW after the show

Wednesday’s Billy Joel night recap: We’re All in the Mood for a Melody

Steven Tyler not amused that Heejun Han ‘took the piss out of’ Billy Joel. Are you?

‘American Idol’: All-Time Best Makeovers — PHOTO GALLERY

Ask Annie anything about ‘Idol’ (or whatever) in the video player below. To see her answers to previous questions, click on the text links below the picture. This is *not live*; she updates a few times a week.

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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