Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 8 performance recap

It's been quite the week for 'American Idol' fans. Pia's elimination is still causing a buzz. She's denying that she's signed any record deal, but did meet with Interscope Records the day after she was booted off the show.  Of course, 19E owns these people until after the show ends, so it would be unusual if she'd actually signed anything. 

At any rate, this week is movie week - you know, the week someone always pulls out "Against All Odds" and is promptly eliminated. Let's hope this season's group is wise enough to avoid that particular trap!

As always, Voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan. Ryan congratulates JLo, who was named today as 'People' magazine's most beautiful woman of 2011. "Oh, Marc Anthony is so lucky," says Ryan. They play "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" in her honor.

Ryan notes last week's elimination of Pia and advises us to vote to make sure to keep our favorite safe. Duly noted. He then brings out the Top 8.

Paul is up first. Ah, the death spot.

Paul McDonald - "Old Time Rock and Roll" (Bob Seger)
Jimmy urges Paul to have a great time with it. Paul is wearing a black embroidered suit and is sans guitar. His voice is really too thin for this one. Once he gets into it it works a little better. He grabs a tamborine in the middle and a girl with a sax hops in. It's fun and he gets a chance to do some of his spazzy dancing. Not bad, but not really great either. I would say Paul is in danger tonight.

Steven wants to know who the sax player it. He also loves the suit. Steven likes it. Beautiful JLo says every time Paul comes out he goes a little further and that he's getting more polished every week. Randy says America just witnessed the first number of the Paul McDonald concert. He says he loved it.

Lauren Alaina - "The Climb" (Miley Cyrus)
Jimmy thinks Lauren is a better singer than Miley. Of course, a whole lot of people would think that's not such a great accomplishment. Jimmy thinks Lauren is going to appeal to all the Pia fans out there with this. I hate, hate, hate this song. But it's an excellent choice for Lauren, who gives it a little country twist. And Jimmy's right. Lauren definitely sings this better than Miley. The background singers are totally off and Lauren hits one note that twisted my ears a bit. She's no Pia, vocally, and that's sadly apparent.

JLo says she loves the tear in Lauren's voice and always feels that Lauren should go further. Randy says he loves that the Lauren they first saw in Nashville is "roaring back." He says she made the song sound like it was written for her and did an amazing job. Steven says he loves what she brings to a song and what the song brings to her. "Again, you move me beyond tears." Ryan says she seems comfortable with the song and she says it expresses everything she's going through right now. Perhaps I was a bit harsh?

Lauren's mother has a "Jersey Shore" hairdo.

Stefano Langone - "End of the Road" (Boyz II Men)
Stefano gets some couch time with Ryan. He says the industry is full of great singers, but what separates the good from the bad is performance. That's what he's working on. He says last week's elimination was very tough for him. He looks petrified of Jimmy and Will.I.Am! Jimmy urges Stefano to get it out of his head that he's a total loser (paraphrased, of course). Stefano, you should have been gone last week.

A boy band tune, finally! Right in his wheelhouse. He's dressed very sloppily... trying to look hip? His vocals are not on point, though. Very sharp in places and he's trying way too hard. Much too forced. He's got the begging part down, though. And he's shaking like a leaf.  Good song choice, fair performance. I don't think he's redeemed himself with this one.

Randy says one of the Boyz is going to text him in a minute to say Stefano "slayed" the song. Randy says this was his best vocal on this stage to date. "Stefano's in it to win it." Steven says Stefano knows how to milk a song. "This is so not the end of the road for you. It's just the beginning." JLo says Stefano's got it and understands that he needed to start singing to win. JLo cusses and is bleeped. Ryan asks Stefano if he sees himself in the finale. He hedges, but says he's in it to win it. Not happening, dude.

Scotty McCreery - "Cross My Heart" (George Strait)
He was originally going to sing "Everybody's Talking at Me" but changed his mind. I'm glad he did. It's better for his range. He seems a bit off tonight, very hoarse in points. Just okay for me tonight.

Steven says he loves his voice and Scotty picked the right song. JLo says everybody wants them to be tough, but "You all are so damn good... all I want to say is wow." She says it wasn't her favorite choice for him, but it was good. Randy says he loves it when Scotty stays true to his roots. "A star is born on this stage... I'm a huge, ginormous fan!" Ryan asks what it feel slike to sing for the "most beautiful girl in the world!"

Casey Abrams - "Nature Boy" (Nat King Cole)
Casey also gets some face time with Ryan. Casey originally chose "Nature Boy" but switched to "In the Air Tonight" and then back to "Nature Boy" against Jimmy's advice. He's pulled out the upright bass again. I really think this was the better choice. He's making those weird faces again and growling a bit. The song, of course, is very jazzy.  He shows off a bit on the bass and skats. I love that he does his own thing and is not playing the 'Idol' game. Casey is who he is. The performance is moving and shows just how good he really is. Will America get it? Probably not, but I sure did.

He gets a standing ovation from the judges. JLo says at the beginning she was nervous, but as it went on, she realized that what's beautiful about this season is the diversity. She notes Norah Jones who sold 17 million albums. She hopes America gets that. Randy says he's happy that Casey is a true artist. He tosses around some big jazz names and is happy we're all being educated. "I thought it was absolutely genius." He says he's proud to judge artists not judge pop stars. Steven says Casey is an artist in the true sense of the word. "You are so good, man," he says while he claps some more. Casey says he feels like he could cry. This kid certainly wears his heart on his sleeve.

Haley Reinhart - "Call Me" (Blondie)
Jimmy's thrilled with where Haley is right now. She says she's really growing as an artist. I remember when Carmen Rasmussen did this! Haley's voice sounds a bit strained. I agree with the choice and she's got the gist of the song. But she's screechy and off-key almost all the way through. It doesn't work for her at all. The first really bad performance.

Randy says he didn't love the beginning and that it felt very karaoke. The audience boos. He doesn't think it was a showcase for her voice. Steven agrees, but like the chorus and what's she's wearing. JLo agrees with Randy, but is afraid to say anything bad because she doesn't want another girl to go home. She wants Haley to take it higher and higher. In other words, you sucked Haley.

Hank Azaria, Rob Reiner, and Elvira are in the house. 

Jacob Lusk -"Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Simon and Garfunkel)
Jimmy calls Jacob on his comment about people looking in the mirror. Will.I.Am thinks "Impossible Dream" is too corny. Treading on Clay Aiken territory here... be careful Jacob. He completely nails it. I love the depth of Jacob's voice and his commitment to the lyrics. He builds the intensity through the song and bursts through with some kind of unbelievable note in the end. Truly a wow moment for Jacob.

Steven is pounding his fist and cussing. He is amazed at how much Jacob puts into a song. "God bless you man, and your voice." JLo says Jacob's voice comes from the place where it's supposed to come from. Randy says he believes Jacob when he sings. He loves that he took his time with it and blew it up in the end. "Great job, very controlled..." Jacob says he's been in a lot of bad situations and understands what the song means. And that it comes from a greater power. I heart you Jacob!

James Durbin - "Heavy Metal" (Sammy Hagar)
James talks back to Jimmy. Big time! James says he wants to give metal a chance! So he does. And it works. This is really where James belongs. There's really not much more to say. He kills it. Great interaction with the Zakk Wylde, the guitarist, too. Awesome dude. Randy is Whoo-hooing!

James salutes the guitar player and high fives his son in the audience. JLo says that was "really real." She says who would have thought we'd ever have pure heavy metal on 'Idol.' Randy says we were at a James Durbin concert with Zakk Wylde who plays with Ozzy. He's happy James stuck to his guns. "Durbin rocks." S Zach says James sang his ass off. Steven says, "Nice lip to Jimmy."

Report Card
Unlike the judges, I'm being tough on them this week!

  • Paul - C+
  • Lauren - C+
  • Stefano - C-
  • Scotty - B-
  • Casey - A-
  • Haley - D
  • Jacob - A-
  • James - A
I trust my grading system tonight and will put Paul, Stefano, and Haley in the bottom three. I think Haley's time is finally up.

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