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'American Idol' gets whiter, cuts Haeley Vaughan, John Park, Jermaine Sellers and Michelle Delamor

Michelle Delamor (c) is eliminated on American Idol,

Michelle Delamor (c) is eliminated on American Idol, Thursday, March 4, 2010. Photo Credit: Fox

Siobhan Magnus, Katelyn Epperly, Lacey Brown, Haeley Vaughan and Crystal Bowersox up last on 'American Idol,' one of them is going to join John Park, Jermaine Sellers and Michelle Delamor on the bench.

Katelyn first, she was pretty good last night, will be fine; and is. Crystal next, she'll be fine since she's one of the front runners and wasn't bad last night, and she is, indeed. Siobhan, who blew everyone away with the big note in "Think," is safe as well.

Haeley or Lacey are about to be cut. Simon says it's obvious who it'll be, and indeed, it's Haeley.

Hmmm... some will take note that all four of the contestants cut off 'American Idol' tonight were black or Asian. Is there some racial thing going on?

Well, of the women, Haeley clearly deserved to go, she was one of the weakest. Michelle, on the other hand, I thought was one of the stronger performers last night, and should've stayed. Didi was pretty clearly worse, for example, and she's still around.

Of the guys, Jermaine deserved to go, again, he was one of the weakest guys. I thought, though, that Casey was pretty clearly worse than John, and he's still around -- he does have one of the biggest followings though.

What's the conclusion? Well, in my nine seasons of watching 'American Idol', it's always been easier for bad white contestants to stick around based on non-vocal factors.

For whatever reason, it seems like white contestants -- especially early on in the show -- have an easier time building up enough followers that they can get saved by their votes during bad performance weeks.

If you're not white on 'Idol', the historic pattern is you better be a strong vocalist and spot-on every week -- otherwise you're likely going to get cut, early.

However... once you survive past the semis, things equal out; everyone's got a following, and it's basically down to who sings best each week, whose fan base is more motivated and who the judges try to help or push out.

Update: For those of you interested in the topic of race and 'American Idol,' a quick Google search of Web sites, blogs and newspapers brings up thousands of discussions on the topic.

The most famous example, of course, being when a then-unknown Jennifer Hudson was voted off the show pretty early. As Fox News reported at the time:

Singing legend Elton John this week joined the chorus of voices decrying “American Idol” as racist....

“The three people I was really impressed with — and they just happened to be black, young female singers — all seem to be landing in the bottom three,” the British singer said Tuesday during a promotional appearance for his concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall (search).

John's songs were featured in a recent episode, where he appeared as a guest judge.

“They have great voices. The fact that they’re constantly in the bottom three — and I don’t want to set myself up here — but I find it incredibly racist.”

I actually don't agree with Elton, and don't find 'American Idol' voters to be especially racist. Rather, especially early in the competition when you don't know the contestants, I think people just vote for whomever they 'like' or 'feel comfortable with' or 'identify with.'

Which, like everything else in our society, has a racial component to it, often on the subconscious level. There's even an academic paper on this

Using data from Nielsen Media Research ratings, a University of Arkansas labor economist studied the television show "American Idol" and found strong evidence of same-race preferences among viewers for show participants.

Anyway, the show is about so much more than race, so I don't think we need to rehash this all the time. It is worth noting, however, on a night when 50% of American Idol's remaining minority contestants were all eliminated.

PHOTOS: 'American Idol' semifinalists singing, and being cut

REWIND: See the winners and top finalists from each season of 'American Idol'

MORE: Read all of our other 'American Idol' posts

TALK: Were the right people cut tonight? Click on "Add a comment" at the bottom of this post, or e-mail me and I'll post it for you.

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