The final threeee! We are so close to the end of this thing you can almost taste it. But we're not quite there yet, so we are still tasked with the business of unpacking it all, sifting through and trying to find some clarity.

With only three sing-trolls left, you'd think they'd maybe give us a goddamned break and have the show only be an hour. But no! No! With even fewer singers they made the episode longer, stretching it out to a gut-gurgling two hours. Wooftie. At least this gave the kids three song opportunities apiece, with one song their own choice, another that of Jimmy Iodine, and the third belonging to the judges. The judges who, historically, either pick perfect songs or make catastrophic blunders. Last night was... a mixed bag. Let's talk about it, shall we?

Lauren Alaina

It's come to the point where I'm not really sure what to say about poor little Lauren. She's fine. She's perfectly fine! She has a nice beehive of a voice and shoots honey out of her mouth and sprays the audience, getting it on their faces and in their hair, everyone clapping gooily, but no one really sure how much fun they're actually having. I found myself wondering last night who exactly is voting for Lauren Alaina. I mean, it's teeny girls, right? It's tweens and teens with ponytails and braces and sweaty, wheezing devotion to all things Idol, correct? But isn't that so funny? These girls voting for... themselves? Seeing themselves in Lauren's giggle-monster awkwardness, her slightly shambling cutesiness, the dim flutters of confidence that sometimes ripple through her. I just think it's funny and nice that some girls haven't completely gone the way of all things Idol, just voting blindly for whatever Cute Boy has been foisted upon us like a cold chicken finger. I mean, I suppose there's a chance these girls are doing double agent and voting for both Lauren and Scotty, but, if it comes to it, they'll have to make a tough choice next week and decide between their two country polestars. I don't envy them that choice! I really don't.

As for Lauren's performances... Uh, OK. She chose to do an uptempo Faith Hill song called "Wild Woman One" that once again proved that she is in no way wild, so that was maybe not entirely well chosen. The judges were into it, especially J.Lopes, who called it something of a Moment. Though, to be fair, J.Lo was sort of a nonstop praise machine this episode. She seemed really giddy and excited that this thing is about over for the year, the way kids are excited to graduate, only to go a week or two and start to really miss it. You're gonna miss it, J.Lo, I promise you. But yes, anyway. Lauren's next song was chosen by Jimmy Iodine and it was some random country song I've never heard of but Lauren had, apparently, heard of it, so I'm guessing it's a recent song, me knowing nothing of recent music. And, what do you know, a simple Web™ search proves me right. Lauren's song, "If I Die Young," was released in 2010. Also, the band looks like this. Look at the dude on the left! I didn't know Muzzy liked country music! I also didn't know that Danny from Hey Dude had a white twin. Good haircut. That band is called The Band Perry, named so because they are siblings, last name of Perry. A Jackson 5 for the new era, the new era of mysterious haircuts and cat-like smiles. So yeah. The song has sad lyrics but a sorta uplifting kind of thing and Lauren sang it pretty well until the end when she lost her way a bit. But this was the best song she sang all night, in terms of what fits her shtick, so well done, Jimmy Iodine. Even though, actually, that song? Pretty fucking creepy. "Never knew the love of a man / But it sure felt good when he held my hand." Nice song to sing with your brothers, weirdo!

Lauren's third jam was chosen by the judges and, oh groan come on judges seriously let's mix it up here and not pick the most obvious dopetastic country song ever, they chose "I Hope You Dance," from LeeAnn Wombat. And OK, whenever that lady shiver-belts the line about never fearing the mountains in the distance, OKKKK, whatever, maybe I get Feelings, but that song is also a healthy eleven years old and just dripping in cheese sauce at this point. And it's such a boring gimme. Lauren sang it, she sang it Laurenly, and that's all there is to really say about that. What else do you say? I'm still kind of weirded out/fascinated by The Band Perry right now, so I'm just going to end this paragraph right here.

Haley Reinhart

I think it would be disingenuous, and a lie told to both you fine people and to myself, if I didn't just come right out and say what I think we're all thinking: HOLY HAMSTERS HALEY FELL DOWN. ALERT, ALERT: SOMEONE FELL. WARNING, WARNING: HILARITY LEVELS REACHING MAXIMUM CAPACITY. Oh shiver me timbers, I can't believe someone finally, finally fell down on this show. Has that happened before? I'm sure it's happened before, sorta sure, but I don't remember it, so basically this was the first time ever. Could you believe it? Oh gosh could you believe it? Unfortunately it wasn't that satisfying of a fall, but as my sister pointed out to me via text last night, she fell UP the stairs, which is probably the worst way to fall? I think it is. Oh Haley. Oh my gah. I found out that it was going to happen before it did and oh man I was so scared to see it. But so fascinated too. People falling: A pretty big interest of mine.

So all that said, Haley recovered beautifully and was a total pro about it and at the end of her song, she chose Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be," everyone gave her a standing ovation. Partly because she sang well (while her rocker dad played guitar beside her!) but I think mostly because she fell down and everyone wanted to make her not feel so bad about it. (J.Lo was all "Sometimes bad things happen. I was at a concert once and the sound system went out!" Oh, and by "sound system" do you mean the vocal track that you lip sync to? I think that is what you mean.) Leave it then to Ryan Seacrest to come on out and be like "HOW DID IT FEEL TO FALL???" Ah, Ryan. A man after my own heart. I fear Haley will forever be known to me as The Girl Who Fell. Sorry, but it's totally true. That said, I picked up my telephone and I dialed that number and I voted for Haley last night. Just once! I typically only vote once, one tiny time, a season, and I felt it was time. I hope you appreciate it, Haley. I hope you're safe tonight by exactly one vote.

Jimmy Iodine picked "Rhiannon" for Haley to sing, and while I guess a good idea in theory, it didn't really work in practice. I mean, Fleetwood songs are, to me, sort of untouchable in general, so that's one strike. But also there's that kind of meandering dreaminess to "Rhiannon" that requires a certain moodiness that I just don't think you can conjure up on American Idol. Sure you can put a fucking wind machine in, which they did, and have funny camera angles while Haley stands crooning in a sparkly dress, but it still doesn't work. That song only Gets There a few times, the rest of it is mostly just about the journey, so it's not a perfect choice for this show. Maybe she can do a cover for an album if she ever puts one out, but it's not a live Idol song. Haley's third song was "You Oughta Know," chosen for her by the judges, and she blew it out the box on the choruses and stuffed it back in the box and buried the box in a creepy bog way out in the woods on the verses. Half of that performance gets an A, the other half gets an F. I think maybe the judges didn't realize what a hard song that is to sing? It's one of those deceptively hard songs, like some of James Taylor's stuff. Seriously! Next time you're at karaoke try to sing "Everyday." Just try it. I dare you. Anyway. That's Haley, folks.

Scotty McCreery

Last night a bit of lard was scooped up with an ice cream scoop and plopped down on the griddle and we watched it sizzle and pop, all lardy and yellowy white, dull and thick. That lard was Scotty! Last night they played clips of the kids' first auditions for the show, and it was so sad to see Scotty all fresh-faced and dew-dropped and not the side-singing cynical fame-demon we see before us now. Don't you get a strong whiff of that rot from Scotty these days? After he sang his first song, he chose "Amazed" by Lonestar, the Tyler witch creaked in her chair and pointed a knobbled finger at Scotty and said "I heard some anger in one of those notes," and Scotty just shook his head and I said "I dunno." But I get you, Tyler witch! I know what you were saying with your curious crone words. There is a strange undercurrent of anger and menace that's barely perceptible, but perceptible nonetheless, in Scotty. It's a bit unsettling. If he becomes famous, like actually enduring famous and not just the ephemeral glitter fart famous of Idol, I think he'll become famous badly, I think he'll be mean and unpleasant. I just think so.

Which isn't to say he still doesn't do funny things. Beyoncé was the guest mentor for their first songs, and whoo boyyy Scotty could not stop a'starin'. It was very funny to see, his beady little eyes trained on this radiant lion goddess, grinning like a bastard, trying to find a binder or book to put in front of his pants. So that was funny. His second song was something by some weirdo called "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" and though Scotty was all "I just asked all of America's girls, are you gonna kiss me or not?" (which, ick and gross, Scotty, way to be completely aware of exactly who's voting for you in a gross way) Ryan still felt like there was something about that song addressed to him, so he just kept fainting during Scotty's performance. Just fainting and fainting over and over again. Poor Ryan. And then afterward, J.Lo was issuing her judgments and creepily flirting with Scotty and she told him to shave his head like his head was shaved at his audition and then Ryan emerged out of the shadows and put his hand on Scotty's shoulder and said "You know, we do have clippers backstage..." And then Randy made some weird hoot-joke about Ryan waxing his chest backstage and suddenly Ryan got an image of all that, all of that business, and he held Scotty's shoulder for support as he had a mini-faint. Ryan, you are insatiable! Insatiable I say.

Scotty's third song was the judges' choice and it was Kenny Rogers' Chicken "She Believes in Me." Scotty announced their choice during his home visit, as the others did too, and he was standing on a checkout counter at the supermarket where he worked and I guess that was nice, but it was also not nice how he was already lording over everyone, already so slickly confident and at ease, standing there above everyone else's heads. Who knew back in January that little Baby Lockthemdoors' story would be this, who knew it would be, in its own vague way, a tragedy? Scotty sang the song fine, it was slow and sweet and whatever else the judges had intended it to be, and then that was that. He seemed tired, he seemed ready for the foregone conclusion of his coronation. It's time, folks. It's really just about time.

The Future

So who will go home tonight? I suppose there's always a chance it could be Scotty. That's leave that open to possibility. But I think more likely it's Lauren or Haley, both of them good and boring in their own ways. I kind of think Haley's fall actually helped her, earned her a little sympathy from everyone, maybe put a special stamp of remembrance on her performances in what can otherwise be a sea of faceless yelling. Then again, there's our legion of tweenies, tying themselves up into emotional knots over this damn show. Maybe they really need to have that final, epic showdown between Scotty and Lauren, between Boy and Girl, between two halves of their future. Who will win? Will it be Boy, and then it will be lipstick and the backseats of cars forever? Or will it be Girl, and it'll be marching band and quietness and faraway crushes? Maybe that's a Sorting Hat ceremony that needs to take place, and Haley will have to be sacrificed to ensure that it happens.

Whatever happens, let's just all be happy and exhaustedly relieved that this activity (and we thank them for it, the gods) is almost done. We've come so far and now just three remain. A worn, weary, and holey trinity.