On ''American Idol,'' after J. Lo shows how it's done, the leggy contestant takes a walk
American Idol

”American Idol”: Who failed Latin?

She clocked in, she clocked out. And after delivering a rendition of ”Turn the Beat Around” that could barely keep up with said beat, let alone live up to the song’s title, the Idol workday has finally come to an end for Haley Scarnato.

Some folks might blame the Texas-based songbird’s demise on the fact that Simon pointedly commented on her rising-hemline strategy during last night’s critique, but I also think that even Haley’s core fans could detect her flagging enthusiasm in the face of weekly verbal assaults from the judging panel. Witness the way she responded to Ryan Seacrest’s ”good luck” wish tonight, delivering the word ”thanks” with a disdain even more naked than her gams have been for the last few weeks of the competition.

That said, Haley played the role of the Long-Legged Engine That Could with aplomb and, whether intentional or not, humor. I had to chuckle when she defended her hotpants-and-sheer-top combo as not ”completely inappropriate,” and that weary, post-Latin-night backstage remark of ”I guess I’m gonna go put a robe on” made me realize that Haley was at least a teensy bit in on the joke. So while she leaves behind a trail of broken tunes — a deeply unconvincing ”Queen of the Night,” a wheezy, lethargic ”Tell Him,” and a ”Missing You” marked by forgotten lyrics and self-loathing — don’t cry for her. There are worse ways for a singer to make a living than playing cruise ships, hotel lobbies, and upper-middle-class weddings — and none of those gigs will be capped off by patronizing ”pretty girl” comments from Paula Abdul.

And although Haley was not joined in the bottom three tonight by Sanjaya Malakar, I can’t really argue with America’s choice of Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson. The former’s grinning insistence tonight that he was ”just blessed to be here” actually had me hoping it’d be Haley who’d return to the safety of the couch, while the latter’s at-risk position proves that viewers won’t automatically drink down any glass of Kool-Aid that Simon puts in front of ’em. Indeed, Chris’s tinny, off-key ”Smooth” was more like a mug of stagnant pond water — so viciously wrong that I failed to notice he flubbed his lyrics for the fourth time in the last five weeks. Thanks to those of you who caught him singing, ”It’s the same insane emotion that I get from you,” when he should’ve been singing, ”That’s the same as the emotion that I get from you.” Thanks also to Chris (a former Hooters manager) for not turning to Haley and ordering a plate of wings and a Heineken once Ryan told him he wasn’t going home this week.

As for Sanjaya, while I still contend he has no business being in the top seven, I will give him credit for his winning contributions to tonight’s bloated, slightly surreal one-hour results show: There was his scared-amused expression as the show opened and Ryan asked who’d be going home; there was his whispered (what else?) ”Te quiero” during the group rendition of ”Bailamos”; and there was that freakishly easy face-morph into Melinda during the weekly Ford ”music video” (uff da). I will not, however, give props to the kid’s on-camera remark about wanting to score J. Lo’s phone number and keep it a secret from her husband. I paid $10 to see Enough in the theater, and I can still unequivocally say that the charming vocal coach — who in my opinion, gave the best results-show performance of the season with her latest single, ”Qué Hiciste” — didn’t deserve such a creepy parting gift.

Here at EW.com we try to send our readers home with something a little more appealing. No, that’s not a way to set up a plug for our footage of season 4’s Judd Harris rocking our conference room, but rather a segue into our top 5 TV Watch comments of the week, most of which made me chuckle heartily, and then feel bad about myself for doing it. If you want to experience the same conflicting emotions, read on:

5. Andy: ”Despite the fact that he was dressed like a metrosexual Gilligan, Blake all kinds of owned last night. Mindy Who?”

4. Lunaburning: ”I miss leering, lecherous Blake from ‘Time of the Season.’ ”

3. Gob: ”Chris reminds me of the dirty kid down the street that always wants to borrow your bike.”

2. Allan: ”Go LaKisha mama come and shake those congas/Hope you won’t be on the show for one week longa.”

1. Andy: ”When Melinda performed ‘Sway,’ I half thought this week’s theme was songs from the contestant’s birth year. Zzz.”

What do you think of Haley going home before Phil, Chris, and Sanjaya? What did you make of Paula’s la-la laughter when Ryan asked her if Latin night had made her see a new side of the contestants? And who do you think is most likely to get the boot after next week’s country theme?

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American Idol

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

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