That C.J. Harris was the singer sent home on "American Idol" on Thursday night's elimination show was no surprise, probably even for him. Nor was it a shock that Jessica Meuse had been the one to keep him company in the bottom two -- before Ryan Seacrest sent her to safety.
In fact, the evening's outcome was so predictable -- Harris, though he gives big-hearted performances, has been struggling to stay on pitch all season, and on Wednesday night, his performances had been especially underwhelming -- that none of the judges could do much more than sigh and shrug when Seacrest asked them about the two singers who were in danger of heading home.
How did Jennifer Lopez feel about seeing Harris or Meuse go? "You know, it's always hard. We've been on this journey now for months and … they both have amazing voices, but this is the nature of this competition," she said. "We have to get down to one winner, and we have to see somebody amazing go every week."
Was Harry Connick Jr. surprised at who'd landed at the bottom? Somebody's "going to get eliminated every week until somebody's crowned the winner," he noted, allowing that the voting results were, however, "always a surprise" to him.
Did Keith Urban think the voters had gotten it right? "It comes down to the performances night to night," Urban said, "and last night, these guys sitting on the couch" -- the four singers who were already safe -- "they upped the ante so much. It was hard for them to compete, a couple of them, I think, so... " He broke off, delicately, apparently sparing Harris and Meuse further insult.
Meuse had no regrets. She had been "true" to herself, and "that's what matters," she said, under questioning by Seacrest. Harris, he had a few. If he could do it all over again, he "probably would have picked better song choices," he said.
The 23-year-old from Jasper, Ala., soon learned he wouldn't have the opportunity. Meuse was safe, and Harris would be leaving the "Idol" stage. First, he was compelled to watch a highlight reel and then to sing a final song, the Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See." At some point, he stopped singing, opened his arms and welcomed into a hug the contestants who'd move on to the Top 5 without him. Eventually, Harris emerged with tears streaming down his face.
Harris' mom said she was proud of how far her son had come. Harris said he was looking forward to reuniting with his fellow contestants for the "Idol" tour. Here's wishing him the best of luck in going even further from there.
Are you sad to see C.J. Harris go?