READ MORE | View all of our Project “Idol” recaps from each episode this season and last

imageAs the “American Idol” contestants were reduced to four, Lady Antebellum showed the newbies what it looks like to achieve success. They are great examples of the harmonies, attractiveness and hooks that the contestants are seeking.

The multi-award winning group was, at last, a nice example for “American Idol” contestants of recording-artist success. Unfortunately, we also on Thursday had to grind our teeth through a number of lame sales pitches, segments and schlock – including a “So Happy Together” group number, which should have been named “So Awful Together.”

The number, as so many of them are, rank in the pantheon of Ford music videos as painful, awkward and off-key disasters. Go back to the duets, please, for the love of God.

Unlike probably many with DVRs, I decided to watch the “Hells Kitchen” segment, which turned out to be offensive on so many levels. I have no clue as to why host Gordon Ramsay (top photo) elected, or was instructed, to tone down his act. I intentionally do not watch his show, because Ramsay is so hateful, rabid and mean. As a show and host reportedly linked to two suicides, the sanitized segment where “Idol” contestants were pitted against each other in omelet-making was an untruthful advertisement for yet another Fox property.

Tthe philandering and money-troubled host is a venom-spewing carnival act and represents the business of culinary arts in sad fashion. Lauren won his “competition,” but it was an epic fail all around. “Idol” producers should be ashamed of themselves.

imageOf course, the “Idol” results process was as contrived as ever. We were teased with two groups formed on the stage, first with James and Lauren on opposite sides. Haley joined James, and Jacob joined Lauren. We had to wait awhile, but Scotty was deemed safe and put with Haley and James, revealing a visibly distraught Jacob and Lauren as the bottom rung. Lauren appeared to buckle under the pressure – crumbling into tears that didn’t stop for the rest of the night (second photo).

Speaking of waterworks, Jimmy Iovine had his little vanity assessments of the contestants. His “he has to learn how to control his emotions” note to James was wrong; James succeeded on Wednesday precisely because he got in touch with his feelings and wore them outwardly. The rest of Iovine’s vignettes seemed way too blunt and off-putting. Let’s hope he isn’t asked back next season.

imageI’m not going to spend a lot of time on Miss JLo (third photo). Her “On the Floor” performance was exactly the reason why she took the “Idol” judging gig to begin with. Her outfit for the big number was a tragic gold-lamé dangly disaster that was baggy in all the wrong places.

Predictably singing to track because of all the dancing – which, admittedly, was entertaining – she created what can only be termed as a throwback to Atlanta’s go-go-boy Metro bar days with cage dancing and lots of skin. Ironically, JLo looked stunning when she came back to the judges’ table; she’s so much prettier made down. (Too bad the performance, billed as live, wasn’t.)

Ultimately, as predicted, Jacob was sent home, but not without a stark reminder for Lauren that audiences are fickle – and that they can, at times, get the results right. Where Jordin Sparks maintained a steely resolve during her season-six run as a younger teen, Lauren seemed bewildered and upset by the pressure. She’s a great singer, and I hope she pulls it together. Many thought support for Lauren was too strong for her to be locked in the bottom two, but with the numbers shrinking and the performances getting better, someone has to occupy the space.

imageDon’t shed a tear for Jacob (bottom photo), and don’t expect too much humility from him, either. He’s ready to put out his album, staying confident: “American fell in love with me and now I can put out” music reminiscent of Luther, he boasted. Some of the best signers are also humble – Jason Mraz comes to mind – so the dismissal was a much-needed, de facto attitude reduction for Jacob.

We’re down to four, folks. Stay tuned. We’ll do it all again next week as we countdown to the finale. As always, thanks for reading and good lookin’ out.

imageWill Pollock is an Atlanta-based freelance writer, photographer, musician and artist. He is founder and director of ARTvision Atlanta and writes “Emo.Intel” for EquallyWed. Pollock is also working on a number of books, including one on emotional intelligence in men. He blogs about politics, pop-culture and other nonsense, and you can follow him on Twitter.