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'American Idol' Recap: The Dirty Dozen Loses One

America didn't buy what she was selling, which might have been the judges' fault

March 18, 2011 8:27 AM ET
Karen Rodriguez is eliminated
Karen Rodriguez is eliminated
Michael Becker / FOX

Even though it's Friday, Karen Rodriguez's questions are probably darker than whether to take the front or back seat of her 13-year-old friend's car. Like: how did it all go so wrong? One minute she was the dark horse who belted "Hero" to a roomful of suddenly converted groupies, and the next, she's singing it on her way out. Meanwhile, she's definitely stronger than Naima Adedapo, and maybe even more promising than her ol' buddy Jacob Lusk, who can't seem to get in the driver's seat of his enormous voicemobile.

So what did go wrong? Karen came in ready to be the first Latina Idol, but by Wednesday of this week she was scared of becoming the girl who translates all her songs into Spanish. Her instincts were reasonable, considering the diverse demographics the contestants need to appeal to (ahem, tween girls). But the judges and Jimmy Iovine were over-enthralled by her "ethnic what-it-isness," and Jimmy in particular cowed her into submission. Sure enough, a Spanish coda surfaced jarringly at the tail-end of Karen's version of "Love Will Lead You Back," a departure from the lengthy translated verses she indulged in before. It sounded half-assed, and she officially became the girl who translates all her songs into Spanish, whether it makes sense to or not. If she'd stuck to her guns, it's possible she'd be playing pool on a Ford Logo at the mansion right now. Then again, "Love Will Lead You Back" is a fairly godawful song no matter how you slice it.

With Karen out of the race, Naima looks most likely to follow. She spoke for the country last night when she said she hates the word "pitchy," which – we get it judges; YOU KNOW THAT WORD – but she's musically inconsistent and more emotionally opaque as the weeks go by. Only time will tell if she'll be the next contestant tearfully participating in the most insensitive picture-in-picture action on network TV (a weeks-worth of time, to be exact).

Last Episode: I Love the Nineties

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