Pop Culture

It’s a boys’ club on ‘American Idol’

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.

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    Kris Allen and Adam Lambert will compete for the season 8 crown on “American Idol.” 

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    Adam Lambert and Kris Allen will square off in the season 8 finale of "American Idol" on Tuesday, May 19. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, May 20.

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    Danny Gokey, who never finished among the bottom three vote-getters all season, was sent home on Wednesday, May 13.

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    Danny Gokey, left, receives a hug from Kris Allen and applause from Adam Lambert after learning he had been eliminated on Wednesday, May 13.

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    Katy Perry was the headliner among the guest performers on Wednesday, May 13, and she did an excellent job playing to the young male portion of the fan base. To perform "Waking Up in Vegas," she showed up in an Elvis cape with "Adam Lambert" embroidered on the back, and not much else.

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    The final 3 contestants, Danny Gokey, left, Kris Allen, center, and Adam Lambert gather together to hear who will advance to the "American Idol" final.

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    Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks returned to "American Idol" on Wednesday, May 13, and performed "Battlefield."

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    Singer Alicia Keys and Rwandan singer Noah Mushimiyimana appear together onstage on Wednesday, May 13. As part of "Idol Gives Back" and the show's charity efforts in Africa, Keys asked for $5 contributions and Noah performed for the crowd.

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    Milwaukee local Danny Gokey throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs-Milwaukee Brewers baseball game on Friday, May 8, in Milwaukee. Gokey and the remaining "Idol" finalists visited their hometowns in advance of the May 12 show.

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    Danny Gokey sings the national anthem before the Chicago Cubs-Milwaukee Brewers baseball game on Friday, May 8, in Milwaukee.

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    Hometown love -

    Fans of "American Idol" finalist Kris Allen listen as he performs in Little Rock, Ark., on Friday, May 8. Allen is from Conway, Ark.

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    Kris Allen speaks to a crowd of fans during his performance on Friday, May 8, in Little Rock, Ark.

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    Finalist Adam Lambert waves to fans during a visit to his alma mater, Mt. Carmel High School, in San Diego on Friday, May 8.

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    Adam Lambert performs for fans during a visit to his alma mater, Mt. Carmel High School, in San Diego on Friday, May 8.

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    Kris Allen (from left), Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert are the last "Idol" contestants standing after Allison Iraheta was sent home on Wednesday, May 6.

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    Allison Iraheta performs for the final time on "American Idol" on Wednesday, May 6.

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    Paula Abdul performed her new single, "I'm Just Here for the Music," on Wednesday, May 6. The "Idol" judge, a former dancer, had some good moves, but her lip synching was a bit rusty.

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    Gwen Stefani and her band No Doubt performed their hit "I'm Just a Girl" on "American Idol" on Wednesday, May 6. Stefani changed some of the words of the song to "I'm just a girl on 'American Idol'."

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    Daughtry! -

    Former "American Idol" contestant Chris Daughtry returned to the show with his band on Wednesday, May 6 to perform "No Surprise," the first single from his new album.

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    Contestants Kris Allen, left, and Allison Iraheta, second from left, Danny Gokey, second from right, and Adam Lambert, right, perform with guitarist, and this week's mentor, Slash on Wednesday, May 6.

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    "American Idol" contestants, from left, Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey and Allison Iraheta are seen backstage after the elimination show on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in Los Angeles.

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    After the April 22 elimination show, Danny Gokey (from left), Adam Lambert, Alison Iraheta, Kris Allen and Matt Giraud remained standing on "American Idol."

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    As disco week came to a close, singer Thelma Houston performed "Don't Leave Me This Way" live on "American Idol" on Wednesday, April 22.

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    Disco week brought a special dance routine for the group sing on Wednesday, April 22, and Paula Abdul choreographed the number. "I’ve never had any group work harder,” she said afterwards.

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    KC and the Sunshine Band performed "Get Down Tonight" on "American Idol" on Wednesday, April 22.

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    Contestants (from left) Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey and Kris Allen rehearse for the group number before the show on Wednesday, April 22.

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    "American Idol" contestants, from left, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Lil Rounds take time for a group hug after the elimination show in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 15.

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    The crowd was chanting "Save! Save! Save" behind the "Idol" judges, from left, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, on Wednesday, April 15. The foursome will have a tougher job next week when two contestants will be eliminated and the Save won't be available.

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    Miley Cyrus performs her new hit, "The Climb" on the Wednesday, April 15, episode of "American Idol."

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    The bottom three, from left, Anoop Desai, Lil Rounds and Matt Giraud join host Ryan Seacrest to see who will be going home on Wednesday, April 15. Msnbc.com's Craig Berman said Rounds heard the worst feedback of anyone after her performance this week. And this was Desai's third week in a row in the bottom three.

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    Jennifer Hudson made her first appearance on "American Idol" since being booted off in season three. Despite her lack of success on the show, she's the only "Idol" finalist to ever win an Oscar.

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    Goodbye, Scott -

    Allison Iraheta gives Scott MacIntyre a hug as the other contestants look on after the visually-impaired singer performed his swan song on "American Idol" on Wednesday, April 8.

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    One-time "Idol" contestant Kellie Pickler was back to her minx-like ways on Wednesday, April 8, flirting with Simon and Randy as she sang her new single "Best Days of Your Life."

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    Anoop Desai, left, and Scott MacIntyre, center, listen as host Ryan Seacrest announces who will be going home on Wednesday, April 8. Alas, it was bad news for Scott.

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    Frankie Avalon made a guest appearance and performed his 1959 hit "Venus" on "American Idol" on Wednesday, April 8.

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    Hip-hop star Flo Rida performed his No. 1 hit "Right Round" on Wednesday, April 8. Critics have plenty to say about where this season of "Idol" stands in relation to those that have come before, but it's clearly done better this year at booking current acts to show up to play the results show.

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    The top eight contestants of season eight of "American Idol," from left, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai, Scott MacIntyre, Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Matt Giraud and Kris Allen are seen backstage at the elimination show on Wednesday, April 1, in Los Angeles.

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    Lady Gaga performs her new No. 1 single, "Poker Face," on "American Idol" at the elimination show on Wednesday, April 1.

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    Contestant Megan Joy Corkrey was the latest to be eliminated from the show on Wednesday, April 1. As msnbc.com's Craig Berman wrote, the font designer seemed to know she was on her way out, and flapped and cawed her way to her seat in the bottom three.

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    Season seven winner David Cook performed his single "Come Back to Me" at the season eight elimination show on Wednesday, April 1.

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    The season eight finalists performed live during the elimination show on Wednesday, April 1.

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    The season eight finalists performed live during the elimination show on Wednesday, April 1.

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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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