The good news from Thursday night's "American Idol" live results show -- in which the Top 3 hometown visits were shown and Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery performed -- is that Ryan Seacrest's new puppy, Georgia, "didn't have an oopsy," as her relieved owner put it, during her brief appearance. The bad news is that, even though the dog didn't make an elimination, the voters did: They sent Alex Preston packing.
Whether or not sending Preston home in third place, leaving Caleb Johnson and Jena Irene to compete for the win in next week's finale, constitutes an oopsy on the voters' part depends on your musical preference – or perhaps on your feeling about people who eschew socks.
The New Hampshire singer-songwriter was inarguably talented, with a knack for refashioning songs to suit his own spirit. That may mean they sound a little bit the same, sure, but at least they all sounded good. And of all the contestants, he may have had the most pop-radio-ready voice and vibe.
While Preston's musicality was generally acknowledged on the show, he was also frequently portrayed as a coffee-shop lightweight. Jennifer Lopez had complained that his performances often lacked "moments" – even quiet ones – that would make the audience sit up and notice. And ultimately, especially in contrast to the two singers keeping Preston company in the top three, this is what likely drove Preston out of the contest in third place, just shy of the finale.
His performances on Wednesday probably didn't help much. Only one of the three – his take on Rihanna's "Stay," a song selected for him by Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban -- was truly "strong," to use the judges' vernacular.
Oddly, it seems that, while the show made a huge deal out of Johnson's bronchitis this week, bringing in the show's doctor to share his diagnosis, no mention was made of Preston's own bout with the illness. He announced it later on Twitter, writing: "Oh yeah. I also have bronchitis. I am on 2 anti biotics and lung steroids. But I tried my best. Didn't wanna say anything."
Now Preston can put that professionalism to work as he pursues his career off the show. Meanwhile, Johnson and Irene will duke it out for the "Idol" win in a battle of big voices and showmanship.
Irene has grown much since she first landed in "Idol's" grips, and it's strange to remember, now that she seems well positioned for a win, that she's only made it past "Rush Week" as a judge-selected wild-card contestant. (Then again, that may say more about the horribly conceived and executed Rush Week than any of the singers competing in it.)
Johnson, for his part, has lost at least some, though certainly not all, of the cheesy over-the-top persona he came in with, which can still, at times, make him seem like more of a caricature of a rocker than a real one.
Next week, during the finale, Johnson will get the chance to perform with a group that wrote the book on over-the-top rock cheese: KISS. Irene will sing with Paramore. Preston will return to take the stage with Jason Mraz.
And we will find out, at long last, who will wear this season's "Idol" crown.
Are you sad to see Preston go? Do you think the right two made it to the finale? And who do you think will win it all this year?