'American Idol' Surprise

Huh. Didn't see that one coming.

You figured that, in the tradition of past "American Idol" finalists John Stevens and Anthony Federov -- that is to say, moderately talented singers who lasted longer than other, better performers because they were innocent and likable -- that Kevin Covais was good for another three, maybe four weeks.

The bespectacled 16-year-old seemingly had a lot going for him: His tiny, tiny stature apparently inspired a whole bunch of "Aww" feeling among the judges and the public, and Ryan Seacrest did his darndest to convince us all that Kevin was, despite his barely pubescent appearance, the mack. The fact that he seems to have a sense of humor about himself made all that (somewhat) palatable.

(Hey, did you hear FOX is debuting this show called "Unan1mous"? Just wondering.)

So while his rendition of "When I Fall in Love" during Tuesday's '50s night wasn't especially great, you figured there was no way he'd be going home. Until, you know, he did. Joined in the bottom three by Lisa Tucker (her second straight week there) and Bucky Covington -- no surprises there -- Eraserhead's Baby got the gate. Although, had America known that Kellie Pickler would ask "What's a ballsy?" while hearing she was safe, maybe the voting would have changed. Seriously, the girl-from-the-sticks bit is wearing dangerously thin.

Here's the weird thing about Kevin leaving, though. I really didn't think that much of his singing -- he should have waited a couple years before entering -- and it often felt like the judges set a lower standard for him than even the other teenagers in the competition. Yet now that he's gone, I think I'm going to miss him.

One thing "American Idol" has never lacked for is vehicles for righteous indignation as big favorites (see: Tamyra Gray, Jennifer Hudson, et al) were sent packing before those deemed less deserving. Kevin could have been that vehicle this year; now, it's just a bunch of decent singers vying for a record contract. Somehow that doesn't seem like quite as much fun.