'American Idol' Recap: Haley Sent Packing

Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery advance to the final, while young Italian crooners Il Volo woo viewers

Michael Becker / FOX
Il Volo perform on American Idol.
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There was only one surprise unveiled during last night's results show, and it wasn't the results.  Anyone who's followed all season can't deny Scotty's and Lauren's unceasing, aw-shucks march to confetti. These two were crowned the moment they auditioned, and impressive as Haley often was, especially toward the end, she was unfortunately never a bankable threat. Her M.O. was to take risks.  On Idol, you may as well shove a gun down your throat.

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No, the real surprise came halfway through, after Ryan rushed through a half-assed introduction of the night's mysterious guest performers. "They're really popular in Italy," he murmured distractedly, no indication that the most calculated spot of the season was about to begin. In a flash, three smooth-cheeked Italian teens took the stage. These were the members of Il Volo ("Flight"), boys plucked from obscurity and backed by big-time record execs in Italy and the U.S. (not least Jimmy Iovine). Last night's was the first stop on their American TV tour, meant to showcase their grip on the jugular of collective nostalgia, with an old-time feel, old-man voices, and adorable, pinchable baby cheeks. Last night they launched into an eerie Three Tenors impression, like a trio of alternate universe Scotty McCreerys. Dressed in the hipster-lite costume of Disney Channel stars, they spun out the deep dark notes of "O Sole Mio," an 1898 standard covered by everyone from Elvis to yes, The Three Tenors.

Make no mistake. This was an Idol audition like any other, only with all the footage of weird people cut out. The gauntlet's been thrown. So who's it going to be America? Lauren, Scotty, or three adorable Italians?

Last Episode: It's Haley's to Lose