It's been quite a week, hasn't it! But it's Wednesday and once again, time for American Idol!This week's theme is "Now and then." The Top 5 will sing one old song and one new one, and Sheryl Crow will be on hand to coach the Idols. Hmmmm... back in 2007, Crow made the following comment about the show in an interview on MSNBC: "Let’s face it, it undermines art in every way and promotes commercialism, I am sad people love it so." Change your mind, eh Sheryl?
The show opens with the judges in place and Ryan in the audience. Ryan reminds us the finale is just three weeks away. Wow! Ryan brings out the Top 5 and tells us this is one of the most important nights of the season. Randy tells we are all wondering who is "in it to win it?" Then we get a video clip about Sheryl Crow. Did you know she started out as a background singer for Michael Jackson? Hmmm. She thinks we'll see a lot of different sides of people tonight.
Round 1 - Contemporary songs.
James Durbin - "Closer to the Edge" (30 Seconds to Mars)
Jimmy says James really fits with current music. "I don't think there's anything between him and greatness tonight." James enters through the crowd and is in full rocker regalia. He wants to hear the audience scream. His vocals are shaky, very shaky, as he prances through the audience. He does interact well with the crowd, but all through this, he is screaming off key. Sorry, not impressed with this.
Steven starts. He says James kicked the song's ass. "You're ready for Freddy." JLo says James showed us he wants it. "It's yours to take, James." Randy says he thinks this shows where James could go as an artist. "James is in it to win it... this guy right here... he wants it."
Jacob Lusk - "No Air" (Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown)
In a sit-down with Ryan, Jacob says he is definitely in it to win it and is proud to have come out of Comptom and be a role model. Sheryl says she feels vulnerability. Jimmy says we should all be proud of Jacob. He starts out in his falsetto. He's doing both parts. He goes off a bit, and the background singers don't seem to be in sync at. He's doing some sort of strange body wavy gyration. I don't think this was a good pick for him at all.
JLo says she's glad he said this is the kind of song he will record because she's been struggling with this. She says it's going to be important for Jacob to pick songs that tell us who he is and what he wants to sing. He shouts out "Yeah baby." Randy differs with JLo. He doesn't think this is the direction for Jacob. He said it was corny for him and points out that parts were sharp. He sees him more as a Luther/church kid. Randy says Jacob is neither Chris Brown or Jordin Sparks! Yup, I agree totally. Steven says he's waiting for Jacob to find a niche. He loves his voice, but is waiting for that something that's 100 percent Jacob. "Find that song... find it." Jacob says Luther did all kinds of music. Randy says Jacob's voice is bigger than either of the two he covered tonight.
Lauren Alaina - "Flat on the Floor" (Carrie Underwood)
Jimmy says Lauren's coming to fight tonight. She's got the fiddler and the Carrie hair. I think she's trying too hard to be Carrie. But I can see her doing this type of music. She actually does quite well.
Randy says this is the direction for Lauren. He loves her showing her fun and energetic side. "Lauren is in it, ya'll." Steven says the way she found her niche is as good as it gets. "I think you're it." JLo says she ate that up. "That's what you've got to do... every time."
Scotty McCreery - "Gone" (Montgomery Gentry)
Sheryl thinks Scotty has a big career ahead of him. Jimmy says people are going to be really moved by this. Scotty starts out in the audience. The song starts in his lower register. He leaps off the stage at the bridge. He's very animated! This is really not a singer's song, more of a performance song. But it does show his range and his ability to do move around. Good job. The audience goes wild.
Steven says up to now Scotty's been like a Puritan, but he saw him dance with the Devil tonight. "That showed a whole nother side of you." JLo says she lost it for a second she was so excited. "That was some 'American Idol' stuff right there!" Randy wonders about dancing with the devil. He says he felt like he was sitting at "concert Scotty." "This guy's in it to win it too."
Haley Reinhart - "You and I" (Lady Gaga)
This is an unreleased Gaga song and Haley talked to her to get her blessing. This is an incredibly smart and gutsy move. A song we haven't heard before. Haley starts out on the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. This is Haley's song, combining her bluesy side, with some serious depth. She owns the stage and this song. Very, very impressive.
JLo says she loved the way she sounded, but didn't think this was such a great idea. She thinks Haley needs to choose songs people can connect to and love. Haley looks sad. Randy isn't sure it's that great of a song. He says he thinks of her in a Joss Stone way. It's' risky to take on something no one knows. He doesn't know if this did her any favors. Steven says she put all of her range into it and made it her own. "You're one perfect song away from being the American Idol."
Haley says it was an opportunity and she took it. I'm glad she did.
Round 2 - Oldies
James - "Without You" (Harry Nilsson)
The lyrics move James to tears. Sheryl thinks it will be magic if he breaks down on stage. Awwww... the song gives us a chance to hear his voice - no screaming, no antics, just his vocals. He wins me over when he powers it up. He's feeling it, and although the vocals aren't perfect, he sells it. He tears up at the end. James, you just might win this thing..
Randy says this is a mark of truly a great performer and says it was "emotionally perfect." He says the competition is James' to lose. Steven says it's a beautiful thing when you let the emotion get to you. "Your emotions were incredible." JLo says everyone knows he can sing and that he is a true, true artist who is serious about winning this thing. She says it takes a lot to control your emotions and deliver something. James says that every single week he leaves everything on the stage. He's still crying. James, you just won me over.
Jacob - "Love Hurts" (Nazareth)
James is accompanied by a harpist. He puts on a singing clinic. Yeah, he hits some horrendously bad notes, but he;s got the emotion and commitment. He puts it all out there at the end, like he's begging us for our votes. He may have bought himself another week.
Steven says he's a sucker for passion and praises Jacob's delivery. He hopes we could feel that at home. JLo says he bobbled in the middle, but brought out the tricks in the end. "Really good." Randy says "This is what's good about nights like tonight... you redeemed yourself on this one." He thinks that might have been the highest note ever on this stage.
Kelly Preston and Sir Anthony Hopkins are in the house tonight.
Lauren - "Unchained Melody" (Righteous Brothers)
Ahhhh, Simon Cowell's favorite song. I'm not all that sure about this one. The song leaves absolutely no room for vocal error and she doesn't make any. She goes for the high note and misses it. This throws her off a bit. Wrong song, but nicely done.
JLo says there's nothing to judge. "It was a beautiful song, sung beautifully done by you." Randy says he's happy to see the other side of her. "Very nicely done... very tender moment." Steven says it was perfect and he could listen to her all night. "You're just beautiful."
Scotty - "Always on My Mind" (Elvis Presley)
I love this song, but isn't this Willie Nelson? Sheryl says she can't wait for Scotty to move to Nashville. Scotty does it as you would expect. He flattens out there for a moment. Not sure this is the best song for him either. Not his best, for sure, but another solid performance to add to his 'Idol' body of work!
JLo says between the two songs Scotty shows what a well-rounded artist he is. She loves that there's nothing awkward about him. Randy says they call Scotty their youngest veteran. He says the simplest things get the loudest reaction. He says this shows what kind of artist Scotty will be. Steven says Scotty's been "taking us up and down the trail." He says it was a beautiful, beautiful rendition of this song. Scotty's Puerto Rican grandmother is in the audience. "He's my Scotty," she says!
Haley - "House of the Rising Sun" (The Animals)
Sheryl suggests Haley start out a cappella. Holy schmoley. Haley tears this up and then tears it down. Her voice, her intonations, her emotion. It's one of those performances that sneaks up on you and suddenly you realize you've seen something truly special. Congratulations Haley, you've just had a real 'Idol' moment. The judges give her a standing ovation.
Randy says what he loves about the show is that every week someone comes out and slays it. "The award for the best performance tonight goes to Haley." He thinks she sold it to them. JLo says that song has never been sung like that before. She wonders if Haley came out angry at them!
- James - B- / A (Average B+)
- Jacob - C / B (Average B-)
- Lauren - A / B+ (Average A-)
- Scotty - A / B (Average A-)
- Haley - A / A+ (Average A)