Pop Culture

'Idol' sends McDonald and his flashy jackets packing

It took six weeks, but a guy actually got kicked off “American Idol” on Thursday.

And no, it wasn’t Stefano Langone.

Instead, Paul McDonald became the first of the six “Idol” men eliminated. The Alabama native with a voice swiped from Rod Stewart and jackets purloined from Liberace’s closet was praised nearly every week for his unique voice, but the combination of an unfavorably early timeslot and a forgettable vocal of “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” was enough to make him the lowest vote-getter.

He sounded much better in his final performance, playing Stewart’s “Maggie May” as his going home song. That was the number that got him through the Nashville auditions and won him so many fans in his semifinal solo. But Bob Seger’s tune wasn’t as kind to him as Stewart’s was, so out he goes.

It was another close call for Langone, who’s dodged enough bullets to be cast in a “Matrix” remake. Langone needed a wild-card slot from the judges just to make the final 13, and has been in the bottom three for three of the past four weeks. In every case, he’s been the last survivor standing, being onstage with Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia when they went off on double elimination week, with Pia Toscano a week ago and with McDonald on Thursday.

Note to the other six remaining finalists: Stay away from him at social events this week. Being near him is apparently bad luck.

Reinhart survives
Though no woman got the boot, it was too much to expect that both Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhart would avoid the danger zone entirely. In fact, it was Reinhart who was the third member of the bottom three.

It was one of the first times all season that the always-smiling singer looked nervous, perhaps because she’d forgotten how it felt to be in such trouble. She hasn’t had to sit on one of the stools of shame since the first two weeks of the finals, but fortunately survived another week to make this slightly less of a male-dominated season.

Her save came after she and Casey Abrams performed a duet of “Moanin’ ” that might be the best such performance in recent results show history. The two work very well together musically, and especially considering it was a jazz number, they played off each other flawlessly. If this becomes available as a download, it should easily outsell both of their solos from Wednesday’s performance episode.

Sex symbol?
Regardless of whether Abrams wins or not, “American Idol” is doing wonders for his social life.

Kelly Clarkson, the season one winner who performed with a giant cowboy hat that apparently was hiding Jason Aldean under it, confirmed her positive opinion of Abrams’ good looks. Though she accused host Ryan Seacrest of paraphrasing her tweets, she did acknowledge of Abrams that “he's certainly delicious. He's cute.” Between that and J.Lo calling him sexy earlier in the competition, he’s poised to be a big hit with the ladies.

He also made “Idol” history as the first person to cite Jack Black as a musical role model. When Abrams asked guest lecturer Rob Reiner whether the movie legend thought he could be a great singer and actor like Black is, Reiner noted drily that Black would be thrilled to be complimented for his singing voice. That’s putting it mildly.

Reiner also exposed a dark side of the Hollywood scene when he said that “From Justin to Kelly” was snubbed by the Oscar voters back in the day “for political reasons.” “Idol” viewers have long suspected such shenanigans were the only reason Clarkson and Justin Guarini didn’t sweep the major acting awards, but it was nice to get that confirmed.

Craig Berman is a frequent contributor to TODAY.com. Follow him on Twitter as he live tweets each episode.