Doing the tried-and-true down-home country-anthem thang week after week carried Dexter Roberts pretty far this season on "American Idol," but not, alas, all the way to the end.
The good old boy from Alabama, who may have been as passionate about duck hunting and dog training as he was about singing, finally wore out his welcome with "Idol" voters. On Thursday night's results show (which included a peculiar cameo appearance by Kevin Bacon, who for some reason kicked off the show), they sent him back to the farm, just shy of reaching the top six.
Roberts had been a steady, if unspectacular, singer all season long, performing country ballads and boot-stompers solidly, simply and sometimes with admirable heart. His performance of "Lucky Man," which he originally sang some weeks back and reprised Thursday after learning he'd be leaving the show, had been among his best turns onstage, and then, as now, he seemed to believe every word of it. Lucky he was, though not quite lucky enough to have lasted longer.
The judges had urged Roberts to do something different with his songs, to mix up the melodies, mark them with his signature and make them his own. He was no doubt willing to rise with the roosters and put in the work, but he may have lacked the imagination, the sense of individuality or the raw talent to do as they suggested.
In any event, Roberts' bad luck this week was Jessica Meuse's good fortune. Meuse, whose performance on Wednesday the judges had sharply criticized, kept Roberts company in the bottom two Thursday. Awaiting word, both singers had seemed resigned to their fates. But Meuse and the remaining members of the top 6 -- Alex Preston, Jena Irene, C.J. Harris, Caleb Johnson and Sam Woolf -- will survive to sing for us next week.
When they do, they would do well to heed the judges' advice: Take it seriously, give it your own spin and make it spectacular. We still have five weeks to go, guys. Give us a reason to tune in that goes beyond idle curiosity as to which random celebrity will pop up next.
Did the voters get it right? Are you sad to see Dexter Roberts go?