Well my "pity vote" prediction was correct, but I gave too much credit to the "rocker" voting base and not enough to the country voters.
I know that American Idol is heavily weighted for southern competitors. Seven of the nine winners were from the south, Jordin Sparks (Arizona) and Lee DeWyze (Illinois) were the exceptions. And for the record, the people that Sparks and DeWyze went against in the finale of their seasons were also from above the Mason-Dixon Line.
But I figured that this week's two best competitors - Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina - would compete with each other for votes, sending the lesser of the two - Lauren in this case - packing.
I knew that Haley Reinhart would be safe this week because the judges were harsh on her and the American Idol fans would vote for her because they felt bad for her. But where I went wrong, like Chris Daughtry went wrong during the same week in Season 5, is I thought more fans of rock & roll vote than apparently actually do.
Durbin was admittedly more heavy metal that straight rock, but his style was so much different than the straightforward country that BOTH Lauren and Scotty sing that I though it would give him his own pool of voters. Metal is closer to rock and pop than country, so I figured many of the fans of those genres would side with him. Like the kind of people who vote along party lines in elections even if they don't necessarily like their party's candidate, because in their minds, it's "close enough."
I also felt Durbin's unique performances, overwhelmingly positive feedback from the judges, likeability, and back story - he is a loving father who has forms of both Tourette's and Asperger's - would keep him safe for another week, at least.
But I was wrong and millions of Americans surely bawled their eyes out with Durbin, his wife, and J. Lo after his elimination Thursday night. In fact, Durbin started crying as soon as Lauren and Haley were declared safe. Because standing next to Scotty "Bound for Superstardom" McCreery, Durbin surely knew his days were numbered.
Durbin's elimination does make things a little more interesting for next week though.
One of the country singers will go home, most likely Lauren.
Haley will now get many of Durbin's fans aboard her bandwagon, because with her tendency to shout her way through some songs, she is much closer to rock than either Scotty or Lauren are. And I think that will be enough to put her in the finale, because of the split country vote I mentioned earlier. But if Reinhart struggles on more than one of the three songs she sings next week, we could be looking at an all-country finale.
That will be bad for ratings, because it will alienate an entire segment of music fans, but it could have the best long-term outcome.
The most successful Idol alums to date - Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson - both have country roots, even though both cross over the genre lines with ease, especially Clarkson who is often viewed as just a "pop" singer.
Scotty and Lauren both have the potential, and ready-made country fan base, to be mentioned in the same breath with those superstars, and very soon.
But who knows? Haley is from Illinois where voters are likely still on a high from their homegrown boy DeWyze snagging last year's crown. And they could be geared up to steal another title from Dixie's grip.