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Video: Idol down to three

msnbc.com contributor
updated 5/7/2009 9:30:14 AM ET 2009-05-07T13:30:14

On a night where No Doubt played its anthem to girl power live on stage, ‘American Idol’ said goodbye to the last of its female finalists.

Allison Iraheta was always a longshot to win. She was in the bottom three during the second week of the finals, and twice more before this week. Even her feisty back-and-forth with a critical Simon Cowell wasn’t enough to win over an audience that had always liked her less than the judges did.

Still, the 17-year-old managed to hang around long enough to outlast the remaining four women in the competition and impress the show’s host.

“I know — I know — that I’m going to be playing you on the radio real soon,” Ryan Seacrest said as he bid her farewell.

From fourth place to five million: If Allison needed comforting, one of the live acts this week served as an example that fourth place doesn’t mean failure. Three years ago, Chris Daughtry was sent home in one of the most shocking results shows in “Idol” history. On Wednesday, he was back with his band performing “No Surprise,” the debut single off his second album. The first album sold more than five million copies, earning him kudos from Ryan and a nifty plaque from 19 Entertainment. “At the time it felt like the world was going to end,” he said of his exit from the show, but added that he recovered about 30 seconds later.

Boys' Club: With Allison gone, it’s an all-male final three that heads back to each singer’s hometown this week for the obligatory footage of fawning disc jockeys, screaming cheerleaders, and keys to the city. Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey all moved on, and while Adam's got to be the favorite, it's still anybody's season to win.

Slideshow: It’s down to 2 on ‘Idol’

The scream: Danny in particular has reason to be optimistic, since he survived a glory note that caused dogs to riot and windows to break across the nation. According to him, his own family members felt the need to mute the final notes of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” He took the misstep with good humor. “My funniest moment on ‘American Idol’ is that note,” he said. “I definitely made a name for myself with that scream last night. I think it’ll be in a movie soon.”

Not hard to be humble: Kris Allen was his usual aw-shucks self when interviewed by Ryan at the start of the show, saying he never expected to get this far. That caused Simon Cowell to all but froth at the mouth with frustration at a singer he’s hoping to see show more confidence. “Kris, we don’t want humble any more,” the judge snapped. But as the first singer to be given a spot in the final three, Kris has to assume that whatever he’s doing is working well.

Don’t judge her: The finalists weren’t the only “Idol” folks onstage this week, as Paula Abdul performed her new single, “I’m Just Here for the Music.” Her moves were good enough, but she clearly needs some more training in the art of the lip-synch. At least she managed to poke fun at the questions about her future on the show. “Will you be back next season?” a dancer playing a reporter asked. “I’m just here for the music,” she retorted.

Just a (older) girl: Former guest mentor Gwen Stefani returned to the “Idol” stage to perform, and this time, she didn't have to work with Sanjaya Malakar to earn the airtime. She and No Doubt kicked it old school with “Just a Girl,” promoting their upcoming concert tour by looking to tap into the lucrative “Idol” market. Stefani, who turns 40 in October, did pushups in front of the stage and made the marketing folks happy by changing the lyrics to “I’m just a girl on ‘American Idol.’”

Craig Berman is a writer in Washington, D.C.

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