CLINT COOPER: Karen, the "American Idol" nation is buzzing this week with the elimination of Pia Toscano, who was certainly a judges' favorite. Although I admired her singing ability, I did not see her as the contest's probable winner. Pia was too mannequin-like for me, but she did get away from that a bit with her performance of Ike and Tina Turner's 1966 hit "River Deep Mountain High." Since I love the song and since she got away from ballads, Pia's final performance was my favorite of hers. Shows you what I know. Maybe the next question is, will Rossville's Lauren Alaina Suddeth get any of Pia's votes? Lauren is clearly the better of the two women left as the eight contestants turn to songs from the movies. Take away Haley Reinhart's growl, and there's not much there.
KAREN NAZOR HILL: I'm amazed that Haley is still there and Pia's gone. I don't think I've ever seen a panel of "American Idol" judges as shocked as they were on Thursday when Pia was told she was going home. I agree with your observation about her statue-like stance. She didn't seem comfortable singing.
I don't recall a season in which the count has been six guys and two girls left with eight contestants remaining. Only girls have been eliminated from the final 12 so far. At this point, I think the final two standing will be Lauren and Scotty McCreery, but I'd really like to see Paul McDonald make it to the top. I really like him. His unusual voice reminds me of one of my favorite singers, Paolo Nutini.
CLINT: Yes, somebody said to me the other day, "Well, looks like it's going to be Rossville and Scotty," and I had to agree that's a big possibility. I think Haley and Stefano Langone, not necessarily in that order, will be the next two to go. However, the end of the line could be near for Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams and Paul. Although all three appear to have loads of musical talent, they seem to split fans into "really like" or "really don't like." I think James Durbin could wind up in the top three with Lauren and Scotty, but maybe I'm partial to him because I really like him. If it does comes down to Lauren, Scotty and James, I think America will have chosen the three with the best chances to be breakout stars from the show. And, boy howdy, is that ever what the show's producers want.
KAREN: And that's exactly how you have to look at it - who has the best chances to be breakout stars? I'd love to see Lauren and Paul make it to the Top 2, but I don't think he has the staying power. I lost interest in Casey weeks ago and, though I think Stefano is a good singer, he's not an American Idol. Jacob's unusual but beautiful voice could land him on Broadway but not award him an American Idol title. And, I agree with you, Clint, about James. He's seriously talented, but I don't think he'll make it to the Top 2. Who knows, though, what America will do this week. I don't think any of the remaining eight feel safe at this point.