Saturday, April 30, 2011

Video: Casey Abrams on the 'Tonight Show'

Friday night, Casey Abrams rocked the 'Tonight Show.'  Not only did he perform "I Don't Need no Doctor," he also sang "I Put a Spell on You" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" backed by Rickey Minor's band. Casey's interaction with the band is outstanding and I think that's one element that's missing from this year's Idol.

Here's a video (courtesy mjsbigblog):

Friday, April 29, 2011

'American Idol 10' - An unpredictable season

Back in March, I wrote a column for ranking the Top 11 as I saw them at that point in the game. Casey Abrams was at the top of the list, followed by Scotty, James, Pia, Jacob, and Paul. Well, I guess Casey's elimination blew that prediction!  Overall,  four out of six isn't bad, especially in a season that has been somewhat unpredictable. It's interesting that I saw Jacob in the Top 5 that early, and you can't blame me for my choice of Pia as the last girl standing. Who would have ever predicted Haley would outlast her? 

So why did Casey get the boot? I think the answer to that question lies in the demographic of  Idol viewers. Casey is a musician and performing artist. He entertained the audience, but I think he took it too far in terms of theatrics and as a result, turned off the average viewer. Casey will be great on tour and I think he'll do well post-Idol when he can do his own thing and perform for audiences who dig his peculiar vibe.

With just five left, the picture is getting clearer. I think James, Scotty, and Lauren will make Top 3, and James will get to the finals. Scotty and Lauren will be battling it out for that second slot, and I think Scotty will have the edge. As to who will win this, if Scotty makes it, I think he has a good chance of taking it all. On the other hand, if Lauren makes the finals, James will win. I have no doubt about that.

We'll find out soon enough. Next week, the Idols will each sing two songs, one current and one from the 1960s. On results night, Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull will perform “On The Floor." Lady Antebellum will also appear on the show.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 6 results show recap

Will Casey make it through this week?
It's results night for the Top 6, and I really think it's the end of the road for our Jacob. Performing in the "death spot" may have sealed it for him. But someone's got to go and it's going to get more interesting every week. Will James really win it as Randy predicted? He could, and in fact, I picked him in my pool to win it all back when we started, so that would be nice.

Anywho, it's time to catch all the action.

The Idols are in silhouette as the show opens. Our beloved Voiceover man intros the judges and Ryan.  The crowd goes wild and Ryan chuckles. Ryan tells us a lot of fans are going to be disappointed with tonight's results. Oh noes.... Casey? Lauren?

Ryan brings out the Top 6. Haley's hair is ramrod straight and Lauren's is curly. Ryan tells us Steven is on the cover of two magazines - Rolling Stone and People!  Ryan lets us know Bruno Mars and Crystal Bowersox are in the house, and then we have a clip honoring the royal wedding. The Top 6 visit the British counsulate  Fred Willard is there and the kids all have fun faking British accents.

The Top 6 perform  a tribute to Carole King. James has on his scarf tail. They sing "It Might as Well Rain Until September," "Take Good Care of my Baby," "One Fine Day," "Go Away Little Girl" (Scotty surrounded by a bunch of girls), and wrap it up with "It's Too Late."   Positively awful. Carole King must be ripping her ears off.

We return from the break with Ryan sitting on the couches. We see this week's Ford video. The Idols are singing "Our House" and fake-painting a house. Simple, but elegant.

Now for Crystal singing "Riding with the Radio." It's a spirited country tune complete with slide steel guitar and harp. Crystal's in good voice and she's got her bongy mic stand with her.  She looks thinner too and her teeth are lovely. Why didn't she win, can anyone tell me? The Idols come up and hug her when she's done.  Ryan tells us results are next. "Don't miss a moment of it," he says.

Now for the results. But first, Ryan plugs the tour. Tickets on sale May 13 (Syracuse September 6). Oh no, we have questions for the contestants. Someone wonders who Casey would do a duet with if he could sing with anyone living or dead. He says Oscar Peterson and demonstrates that he is a knowledgeable musician. Someone wants to know when Jacob discovered the range in his voice. He was six and in the car with his mother. To Lauren, what's the hardest thing about being on 'Idol.' She says it's missing friends and family, and notes the horrible tornadoes that hit Alabama.

Paula from Cali wants to know if Scotty ever had a job. He worked in a grocery store and in his mother's tanning salon. To James, did you play with a band before 'Idol?' He says he's played with a number of bands, including one with the boys from the show. Someone wants to know who Haley's favorite 'Idol' contestant. Adam, Siobhan, Kelly, and Lee (also Crystal). No Taylor Hicks, says Ryan.

Results now. Ryan calls them out individually. Haley's first. She's wearing a strange saggy mustard colored skirt. To kill time, we get to see them sing from last night. Jimmy Iovine says he agrees with Jennifer that Haley has the best voice, but she still doesn't know who she is. He thinks the audience is getting wind of that, and if she goes home, that's why. Steven tries to explain his comment about hearing God and boxing with Him. I still don't understand that. Haley isn't pleased with Jimmy's comment and  wants someone to tell her who she is! And poo poo on you Jimmy. Haley's safe.

Now for Scotty. Jimmy says Scotty's a phenom and compares him to Johnny Cash. He says Scotty has a subtlety that's magnificent, and that's where Scotty's in jeopardy. "After the nationwide vote, I'm going to have you relax for a moment... hang tight." What? Ryan calls Lauren up. Jimmy says Lauren only hears the negative in the critiques. He thinks Lauren is "here for the long run." Lauren says Jimmy's right and says she's trying to work on it. She is trying to be a bit more grateful. Ryan has Lauren take a seat as well.

Casey is next. Jimmy is disappointed that Casey growled too much. "The family dog does not watch this show." Casey says the growling is a reflection of his passion for the music. And, of course, he takes a seat as well. At this point, the only person who is safe is Haley. We go to break.

I really want to switch over to The Office.

We come back from the break and James is standing with Ryan. Jimmy says James isn't believable when he sings heavy metal. He thinks James could win if he picks the right songs. "After the nationwide vote, James, I can tell you now, you are safe." Now for Jacob. Jacob looked very young last night. Jimmy says on 'Idol' you need the whole package. He thinks Jacob could still go home. "He's on banana status."  Jimmy's an ass. Ryan has Jacob stay put and calls Lauren, Casey, and Scotty back up. Lauren is safe. So, who will it be? We have to wait until after Bruno Mars to learn the results.

Bruno Mars performs "The Lazy Song." Some of his band members are sitting on couches. He's got a complete horn section. I like the reggae beat of this, but it's kind of a dumb song.  I wonder how far Bruno would have made it on 'Idol!'

Man, talk about dragging this out. It's 8:52 and we still don't know who's in the Bottom 3. And we go to break.

8:55 and all is well.

Finally. Results are in random order. Jacob is safe! OMG. Casey and Scotty. Gotta be Casey, right? "The person who leaves the competition tonight on 'Idol' is... Casey Abrams."  Stupid. Should have been Jacob.

We see Casey's farewell video. Ryan says, "This is what talent looks like." Casey sings us out with "I Put a Spell on You." Haley looks sads. He kisses Steven, and jugs JLo and Randy. Then he goes into the audience and kisses a row of girls. He runs around some more, kissing people, then flings himself on the stage and rolls over a couple of times. And he finishes with his final, "Because you're mine" directly to Haley.  Farewell Casey, we will miss you.

Idols Live coming to Syracuse

The Top 11 will be in Syracuse September 6
After skipping the 'Cuse last year, 'American Idols Live' will return to CNY September 6. Tickets for the show, which takes place at the Onondaga County War Memorial (800 S. State St.), go on sale May 13 and are priced at $63 and $43.

The Idols will also stop in Albany (Times Union Center - 8/28). Rochester's Blue Cross Arena will be final stop on the tour (9/10).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 6 performance recap

Take a look at this picture and what do you see? Just six Idols left to sing for you and me! Not sure what that had to do with anything, but see how this show inspires me! This week, the remaining Idols will perform the music of Carole King for the first time.

Cold opening intros the Top 6 in shadowy lighting. Only six left America. Voiceover man intros the judges and then Ryan. We see a video package highlighting Carole King's amazing career. She wrote hundreds of hits for other people, but was also an artist in her own right. Her 1971 album Tapestry was on the charts for six years!

Ryan intros the contestants and another video follows on Babyface, this week's guest mentor. Babyface doesn't think "America has really caught the essence of any of them.” Maybe, maybe not.

Jacob Lusk – “Oh No Not My Baby”
Jacob's in the death spot. He rehearses the song over and over, but still doesn't seem to be able to please Babyface and Jimmy Iovine. Jacob's in plaid tonight and although he blows a few notes, he's having fun and that translates. He dances a bit and does some decent riffs. It was fun.

Steven is pleased Jacob finally "shook his tailfeathers" and says it was beautiful. JLo says it was a tricky song and points out some of Jacob's misses, but ends by saying he killed it. Randy says he loved the scatting and that Jacob brought it back. "You are a great singer," he concludes.

Tickets for the Idol tour go on sale May 13.

Lauren Alaina – “Where You Lead, I Will Follow”
Miley Cyrus pops in as a surprise during Lauren's rehearsal. “Do it for yourself, people will always talk about you, that will never change," she says. Lauren is wearing uglu boots, and a dress with a full skirt and a belted waist that does nothing for her figure. She works the stage and even pulls some poor, unsuspecting dude up from the audience. Her vocals are okay, nothing spectacular.

JLo says she's proud of Lauren and felt her pushing. Randy calls the song safe and boring, but points out Lauren "came out with a vengeance." He says "I saw you shine tonight when your voice broke." Steven tries not to slam her and gives her some sort of babble talk. Ryan further humiliates the boy from the audience, who's name is Brett. He's 19. Ryan warns him to stay away from Lauren, who's only 16. Tee hee hee.

Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart – “I Feel the Earth Move”
Casey and Haley, sitting in a tree... This song feels underrehearsed and thrown together. Their voices aren't at all in sync, but they are having fun. So who cares. We're not supposed to judge them on this, right? Steven calls Casey "Weird Beard" and asks him how much in love with Haley he is! Way to embarrass the guy Steven.

Scotty McCreery – “You’ve Got a Friend”
Babyface and Jimmy want Scotty to sing it softly, like a love song. So, Scotty totally abandons his lower register and sings this in a beautiful tenor. It's a simple but lush arrangement with strings and an acoustic guitar. It was beautiful and possibly his best performance so far.

Randy says Scotty's in it to win it and points out that he turned the other cheek after last week's less than stellar judges' reviews. He does advise Scotty not to fall off the high notes. Steven says he doesn't think Scotty has every sung better. JLo also praises his using his upper register and points out that he used to be afraid to do this. "You told that story beautifully," she finishes.  Ryan makes Scotty give us “the look." Interesting in that the king of the "look," Constantine, is in the house tonight.

James Durbin – “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”
James tells Ryan that he's singing this because someone on the 'Idol' message board requested he do so. He starts out quietly with his guitar and builds it up to rock pitch. But his vocals are controlled and he infuses the song with emotion. Everything works on this. Very good performance.

Steven says he liked the beginning and the rock part grew on him. JLo says James will be the star of the night (hey, there are still two more to go). and says he's had a strong week every week. "Consistency is going to win it," she finishes. Randy goes bonkers. "Who is in this to win it?" He says that James wasn't just a  great rock singer, he was a great singer, and then proclaims "This guy might just win it all." To emphasize, he gets up and hugs James. Pull the crown out of the storage room and polish it up guys. 

Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina – “Up on the Roof”
Ryan mortifies Lauren by suggesting she and Scotty have something going on. Scotty says they are like brother and sister. Together, though, they sound pleasant, although Scotty goes flat a couple of time, which messes up the harmony. Again, I don't think they rehearsed this much, so that being considered, they do okay. JLO says that Lauren sings her brains out and tells Scotty he did a good job backing a powerful voice. Little diss there?

Casey Abrams – “Hi De Ho ”
Casey jams with Babyface and really gets into it. Jazzy Casey is back tonight. He starts out tinkling the keyboard, and then wanders about interacting with the various musicians on the stage. You really had to see this to get the gist. He growls, he scats, and he sings the stuffing out of this. What's interesting is that despite all the moving around, he never loses a note or falls off key. It's an outstanding performance.

Randy says it's like the song was written for Casey and that it took him back to New Orleans. Steven says "It’s the best mother…loving show I’ve seen." JLo wants to see Casey loosen up his body a bit. Whatever.

Haley Reinhart – “Beautiful”
The mentors want to make sure Haley "gets" the "get" in this song. And, despite some kind of technical malfunction before she starts, she really does get it. The song is perfect for her style and range. She owns the stage and the audience. I would never have guessed she'd make it this far, but here she is, and considering she's in the pimp spot tonight, she may well make it to the Top 5.

Steven says, "I just saw God. You just nailed it." JLo says it was beautiful and that Haley has one of the best voices in the competition. Randy didn't love the beginning but says the end was great.

Jacob and James – “I’m into Something Good”
James and Jacob realize they are an odd pairing, but they take this song and have fun with it. They encircle JLo and sing to her. It was stupidly fun. Steven wonders where they were going with the song and everyone has a great laugh about their paying homage to JLo's legs.

Report Card
Tough week. No one was bad, most were very good. But grade we must.

Jacob - C+
Lauren - C+
Scotty - A
James - A
Casey - A+
Haley - B+

The grades don't like - the bottom three should be Jacob, Lauren, and Haley, and sadly, I do believe Jacob will be eliminated. I would be shocked if it went any other way.

Tomorrow night, Crystal Bowersox returns to the 'Idol' stage for the first time. Bruno Mars will also be on hand.
This is unexpectedly fun. James and Jacob have some chemistry going–I would not have expected that. They head over to Jennifer to serenade her. Big crazy notes at the end are funny, but in a good way. Steven: You guys were having fun…man where were you going with all that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 7 results show recap

Katy Petty and Kanye West performed "Extraterrestrial" on this week's 'Idol' results show
Last night, the Top 7 stepped into the 21st century, presumably to show viewers the direction they might take in the future. Tonight, we'll find out to whom viewers responded and who will be the next to join the chorus of the doomed. It's a whole new 'Idol' baby, and this year, you may be eliminated, but you're not going anywhere! Nope! Even Ashthon and Karen, who didn't make the tour, collected one more paycheck as the "Bottom 7" performed a rather ridiculous version of Pink's "So What."  Can it get any better than that?

Last night, I predicted that Stefano would be eliminated, but I've reconsidered and now feel as though it's going to be Jacob. It's a feeling I have and I'm going with it.

Dramatic footage of last night's performances and JLo's exclamation that anybody can win. Good old Voiceover man intros the judges. Randy is wearing an American flag tee shirt. Ryan descends the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase and welcomes us enthusiastically to the show. "Seven will become six," he tells us. After reminding us of last night's fun and frivolity, he brings out the Top 7.  Over 52 million votes were cast last night. "Who is is going to be," Ryan asks. I wonder if they'll pull the old, split the group into two groups of three and make one person (Jacob?) pick the top group.

David Cook and Katy Perry perform tonight... but we already knew that. 

Ryan asks Randy what he thinks is going to happen with the vote. JLo says she hopes it's not a girl. Ryan wonders if there was any fallout from last night's kiss. Marc Anthony though it was cute. Steven says he's going to give Trey, the editor, something to worry about.

Lauren, Haley, Stefano, and Jacob sing "Soul Sister."  Jacob is quite enthused. I laugh out loud. Lauren shimmies and tries to entice Jacob. She looks just like her bouffant-haired mother.  It's definitely "winning" all the way. The bottom four?

It's time for the Ford video. They don't sound too bad on this one, actually ("Be Careful What You Wish For"). Ryan is on the couch with our bottom Haley, Lauren, Stef, and Jacob to introduce Scotty, Casey, and James (who descends the ALMS) singing Coldplay's "Viva la Vida."  They sound a whole lot better than the other group. My Top 3!!! Interesting how they were divided this week, isn't it.

The "Three Muskateers" take a seat on the couch. Jacob has a chance to defend himself against accusations of his being a diva!  Scotty tells us there's a cupcake named after him back home - a butterscotch Scotty. Casey shows off a painting someone did of him and his dog! Oh lawdy.

We dim the lights. Casey stands, then Jacob. Ryan reads the comments. Casey says the kiss was spontaneous!  Ryan asks Jacob about the technical glitch. He says he debated whether to stop or keep going. Casey, with his "soft lips,"  is safe. Jacob is in the bottom three.

Back from the break, Ryan is in the audience and intros David Cook (AI7 winner in case you've forgotten). He's singing "The Last Goodbye,"  the first single from his upcoming album. He's off pitch and growly, sounds more like Daughtry than himself. It's not very melodic, that's for sure. He's got a cool guitar, though. Casey is jumping up and down! The judges applaud politely. James bows!

David says it's great to be back and tells us he's involved in the Race for Hope in DC to benefit brain cancer research. Mom Beth is in the audience. She's there to meet Steven Tyler. She gets a big hug from Steven and Cookie shakes his head!

Back from the break, we see the Idols at a Dodgers' game wearing shirts with their names on them. They met Tommy Lasorda. Then they went bowling. Then they go to a spa. Such fun these Idols have.

More results. Lauren, James, and Stefano join Ryan at the center of the stage. Ryan asks Randy if Stefano did enough to stay out of the bottom three. Randy says no, but Stefano is in the bottom three anyway. He sort of skips back to the stools of doom.

No surprise, James and Lauren are safe. Next are Haley and Scotty. Of course they are safe. I'm getting a headache. Haley says she thinks she's found her "niche." Scotty is safe and Haley goes to the stools. Ryan goes over to the stools and whispers to Haley that she is safe. So it's either Jacob or Stefano.

Katy Perry comes flying in on some kind of wire singing "Extraterrestrial."  She's wearing a futuristic sequined jump suit and a crown. She's got a crew of weirdly dressed alien dancers gyrating around her. It's quite the production. She's not singing live either. Kanye West does his bit and Katy goes back into some kind of cage.

The performance, which was taped last week, ends.  Ryan is backstage with Jacob and Stefano pretending Katy's just left the stage! But we are not fooled. They talk about how much the competition means to them. Who will it be. Will I earn 20 points, plus the bonus points tonight with Jacob's elimination? Or will I lose again as Stefano hits the bricks? We'll find out after the break.

Jacob and Stefano are ready for their results. Ryan asks JLo what she thinks. She loves them both and says it's not the end of the road for them. She doesn't want to see either of them go. Randy gives them both "big props." Ryan asks if they deserve to be standing there. He says no one deserves to be there.

We dim the lights. "After 52 million votes, the person who is leaving us tonight is... Stefano."  James has his head in his hands. We see Stefano's farewell video. Stefano is pacing around the stage. No tears from Stefano who just keeps smiling. After the video, he tells us the show started his career and he feels so blessed. "It's great, it really is." He can't wait to sing again.  He sings us out with that herky jerky version of "Lately."  It's his best performance ever. James comes out and spins Stefano around.

Next week, the Top 6 take on the music of Carole King. That should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

'American Idol 10' - Top 7 performance recap

The group is certainly getting smaller! We're down to seven, and this week, the Idols will sing music from the 21st century. Now this is a rather broad category, and there certainly should be something for everyone in this mix.

Cold opening - "Remember when they were just a face?" We see some quick clips of the auditions and Jacob leaping about. "Now they are stars in the making!" Really? Well some of them are, I suppose.

Voiceover man welcomes the judges. JLo is wearing some kind of shiny short shorts. Ryan comes out and people are screaming in the audience. He tells us the Top 7 will "pour their hearts out" for our votes. The Top 7 come out. Lots of signs for James. Haley is wearing polka dots. Ryan tells us the theme, but first, something special?

All the eliminated contestants - Ashthon, Karen, Naima, Thia, Pia, and Paul - are performing Pink's "So What." This is a first. The girls kick it off and are joined by Paul, who's wearing his black and red flowered suit again. Karen's hair is shorter and curlier. This is just plain weird. Mark Ballas, Pia's alleged boyfriend is in the house.

Scotty McCreery - "Swingin'" (LeAnn Rimes)
Jimmy warns Scotty not to be complacent. Scotty makes some pretty odd faces and manhandles the microphone. I've pretty much decided Scotty's going to the top and it really doesn't matter what he does. I do think this was a pretty safe choice, and actually, rather boring. 

Steven says he loves Scotty and LeAnn. He wants Scotty to boot-scoot a little more. JLo says she loves Scotty's story-telling. She wants him to push past his comfort zone a bit and was expecting more. The audience boos. Randy says JLo is correct. He thinks they have to bring it really hard every week. Hmmm. Well, we don't have to worry about him, now, do we?

James Durbin - "Uprising" (Muse)
James gets some couch time with Ryan. James says he gets an amazing vision for each of the songs he sings. In his pre-performance clip, the other contestants make fun of James' scarves and how he bends backwards when he hits the high notes.

James chose this song to prove that he can be contemporary. He comes out of a side entrance with a drumline of sorts. Seriously, it's so reminiscent of Lambert I feel like I'm having flashbacks. But the vocals aren't there. He's off-key for most of the song and seems off the melody, whatever the melody was supposed to be. The drummers play out as they leave the stage.

JLo says that this will be theatrically the best performance of the night. "Wow... that was the highest we've ever heard you sing." Randy hopes James will follow this pattern. He agrees with Jennifer that this might be the best of the night. Steven warns James to stay out of his closet. "That was crazy good, you took it up again." He loves that James is "out of his mind, beautifully so."

Haley Reinhart - "Rolling in the Deep" (Adele)
This song really is right in her comfort zone. She seems to be rushing it a bit and she's pitchy here and there, but I rather like this. Might just be her best to date, for me at least.

Randy says he is looking for the direction people will be taking once they leave the show. He says he thinks Haley chose a perfect direction for her and is happy she picked that song. Steven agrees with Randy. JLo says it takes a lot of guts to take on a record that everyone knows right now. She thinks there were moments when Haley forgot about Adele and that's where she shined.

Jacob Lusk - "Dance With my Father" (Luther Vandross)
Jacob gets a little stool time with Ryan. He says singing Luther is scary. He wishes Luther a happy birthday. The other contestants say Jacob is a diva and does a lot of "yaggedy yags!"

I love this song and love Luther. Jacob is crying during the rehearsal. Jacob gets the string section. He messes up in the beginning and does a lot of eye-rolling. I think his ear piece is malfunctioning. His voice sounds mushy or something. The vocals aren't really quite there tonight. He seems disappointed as well.

Steven calls him "Luther Lusk" and notes Jacob's stumble. JLo says it's hard when a song means that much to you. "Emotionally, it was a beautiful performance." Randy says vocally it was good, but it didn't make him jump up and down. He wants Jacob to go off the top. He says it's like Jacob is a race horse with restraints.

Before Casey performs, Ryan has few chuckles with Mark Ballas.

Casey Abrams - "Harder to Breathe" (Maroon 5)
Casey's playing guitar. Mad Casey is back, sort of. He's got the lyrics down and really works the stage. His vocals are great, all over the place. This is good. He takes it right up to JLo at the end and kisses her. Great performance.

JLo says Casey's not playing fair and loved it. She says he brought all his "Caseyisms" to it and brought it all the way rock. Randy says he loves that it's all about surprise, surprise, surprise. Steven says Casey's already a cult hero and there's a string of expletives that I am unable to interpret.

When we come back from the break, Steven has duct tape over his mouth. 

Stefano Langone - "Closer" (Ne-Yo)
Jacob says Stefano will flirt with a piece of paper if he has the chance. Boy bander is back. He tries to gyrate a bit and grind. It's awful. He's off too. When he hits the bridge, it looks like the veins are going to pop out of his head. It's awful. Beyond awful.

Randy doesn't know what to say. He says he thought it would be jerky and bad karaoke, but Stefano turned it around. He likes that Stefano took the time singing the verses. Randy, dude? Steven isn't very enthusiastic but says "Good job." JLo says Stefano had his swag on and felt like it was a "real" performance.

Steven's daughter Mia is in the house.

Lauren Alaina - "Born to Fly" (Sara Evans)
They all make fun of the way Lauren talks and how much she talks. Jimmy wants Lauren to stop holding back. Lauren looks about 30!  There's absolutely nothing wrong with this performance. The vocals are on point and she works the stage. But I'm not jumping up and down as Randy would say. It was just airight for me.

Steven is vague. JLo says Lauren has a lot of color in her voice. She wonders why Lauren doesn't sing the "big notes."  Randy says Lauren can sing anything. He urges her to believe in herself. JLo interrupts. Randy wants Lauren to challenge herself.

After the recap, the judges fall over themselves to praise this group. Randy urges them to "bring it." David Cook and Katy Perry on Thursday as another Idol goes home. Or maybe not home, but to that group number hell we witnessed at the start of the show tonight!!!

Report Card
  • Scotty - B-
  • James - B
  • Haley - B-
  • Jacob - C+
  • Casey - A
  • Stefano - D
  • Lauren - B
Okay - someone's got to join Stefano in the bottom three, and I'm thinking it'll be Jacob and Haley. But I really can't see how Stefano can survive another week. Really?

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    'CMT's Next Superstar' - Streetcorner seranade

    Matt Dane found himself singing for survival on this week's 'CMT's Next Superstar'
    'CMT's Next Superstar' got real interesting this week as the remaining nine contestants were split into groups of three. Each group was given a choice of songs to sing without knowing where or for whom they would perform. The next morning they were set loose on the streets of Nashville and each group was challenged to sing for tips from passersby. The group receiving the least amount of money had to sing for survival.

    The groups consisted of Andrea Pearson, Steve Clawson, and Danielle Lauderdale; Wynn Dixon, Matt Mason, and Bri Bagwell; and Adrienne Beasley, Matt Dane, and Courtney Cole.

    Ultimately, it was Adrienne, Matt, and Courtney who found themselves performing for guest judge Trace Adkins and Matt Serletic. Courtney blew the judges away with her rendition of Carrie Underwood's "So Small" and was quickly given a reprieve. This left Matt and Adrienne to face the judges the next morning in the "board room."

    As this was Adrienne's second appearance in the Bottom 2, she was given a stern lecture by Serletic, who pretty much warned her he didn't want to see her there again before "dropping" Matt Dane from the competition.

    'Superstar' is engaging and fast-paced. My only complaint is that two weeks in, I still don't really know these people individually. Much as I dislike the weeks and weeks of 'Idol' auditions, at least by the time we get to the top group, we know the contestants' names and a little bit about them. On the other hand, this group is well-balanced and there are several whom I would consider front-runners. Personally, I adore Wynn Dixon, the 50-year-old with an attitude.

    CMT repeats this show throughout the week, so check it out.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    'American Idol 10' - Top 8 results show recap

    Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson perform their hit single
    Movie night wasn't the greatest for most of the Top 8 and now another one will bite the dust. Who will it be? Will Haley's journey finally come to an end, or will we see the demise of Paul McDonald? How about Stefano? It's pretty much up in the air and I wouldn't be surprised if none of the above are eliminated.  I'm guessing Paul, but who knows.

    Let's see how it shakes out.

    Cold opening features judges' comments, clips of Wednesday's performances, and some backstage comments by the contestants. The judges and Ryan are introduced, and the judges take their seats. Ryan welcomes us to the show. The Top 8 received over 53 million votes this week. Ryan tells us Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson are in the house along with Rihanna.

    The Top 8 will sing in groups again tonight. Scotty and Lauren sing Lady Antebellum's "American Honey."   Their voices blend nicely. Actually, they sing very nicely together. Scotty does a lot of gyrations and makes his "I'm too sexy for my hat" faces. They get a nice reaction from the crowd.

    After the break we watch the Idols get made up as zombies for the Ford video. James says it's a dream come true and Haley says she feels sexy. Now we see the video itself.  "Thriller" it ain't.

    Haley and Casey are up next with "Moaning," a "jazzy duet." They sound pretty good together as well. It's very '20s! Haley scats and Casey answers back. I read somewhere these two have hooked up. I would say this might be true. Too bad Haley couldn't do this well during her performance. Jennifer "the most beautiful woman in the world" Lopez loves it. Randy says, "Haley, baby, that's what's up." JLo says it sound like they'be been doing this all their lives. Steven says they just summed up everything he knew.

    Ryan calls Scotty and Lauren back to the center of the stage for some results. Ryan reads Casey's comments first, then Haley's. Lauren is next and then Scotty. Scotty is safe. One of the remaining three is in the bottom three, and it's not Lauren. So, it's got to be Haley, right? Right. Haley moves to the stools of doom.

    Back from the break, we watch Rob Reiner interact with the Idols. He lectures them on iconic movie songs. He makes up his own lyrics to the "Chariots of Fire" song. He also tells them they can transition to movies like Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, and Kelly Clarkson (oh, 'From Justin to Kelly' - I'm sure she's thrilled to be following this reference).  He asks if any of them are interested in going into movies. Several raise their hands. He tells Casey he could play Seth Rogan's younger, bass-playing brother.

    Now for Kelly and Jason singing "Don't You Wanna Stay."  Randy is grinning and nodding. Show 'em how it's done, Kelly. The audience cheers when she does her part. Silly me, I get teary-eyed. Kelly can't keep from smiling. Nice. Kelly says Casey is sweet. We go to break.

    Jacob, Paul, Stefano, and James sing "Sound of Silence." James and Paul play guitar. Their voices are totally out of sync. They break into "Mrs. Robinson." Oh, a mini group number. It's pretty awful. After the performance they line up for results. Ryan starts with Jacob and then Paul. Girls cheer. James is next. He gets more cheers. Randy does rocker hands and James gives him right back. Stefano is last. So who's it going to be? James is safe. He looks like he's about to faint. Methinks that was a bit fake. Stefano is in the Bottom 3. He goes off to join Haley. This leaves Jacob and Paul, and it's Paul in the Bottom 3. Ryan asks what the audience thinks and the audience boos.  This is the way I predicted it.

    Chaka Khan and Anita Baker are in the house to help Ryan introduce Rihanna, who's singing her new single "California King Bed." She starts out singing behind some curtains and there are dancers writhing about on the floor. Rihanna's hair is longer, curlier, and bright red. Ryan chats with Rihanna. She tells us there are going to be two sections on her stage where fans will be seated.

    Now for the results. Ryan tells us since the Top 13, we've only seen girls eliminated, but Haley breaks this trend and is safe. Casey is thrilled. So, who's dreams will be shattered. The first guy to leave the 'Idol' stage is Paul. Stefano is safe. Someone swears. Ryan says, "We're bummed about this. You're the life of the party." Paul says it was a good ride so far. We watch his farewell video. Oh Paul, I'll miss your brilliant smile.

    Paul sings us out with "Maggie May." Casey is dancing along. Lauren doesn't look all that sad. Paul high fives the remaining Idols. Goodbye Paul. Nice encore. He gets a group hug and we are out. No tears from Paul. He leaves us with his brilliant smile intact. I am going to miss him.

    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.

      Saturday, April 9, 2011

      'CMT's Next Superstar' - An interesting diversion

      CMT debuted 'CMT's Next Superstar' Friday night and overall, it looks like a winner. The show is the brainchild of  'Idol' executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and his son Simon, but that's where the comparisons end. Unlike 'Idol,' which leaves the outcome to the viewing audience, contestants on 'Superstar' will have to impress a live audience that will change from week to week. The two with the fewest votes will then sing for a panel of judges who will determine the person who goes home.

      'Superstar' cuts right to the chase, introducing the Top 10, which includes Matt Mason, Danielle Lauderdale, Bri Bagwell, Andrea Pearson , Wynn Varble, Matt Dame, Courtney Cole, Ben Smith, Steven Clawson and Adrienne Beasley.

      Auditions were held in Los Angeles, Nashville, Dallas and Austin, an online competition, and via talent agencies, and Lythgoe culled three contestants (Beasley, Clawson, and Lauderdale) from this season's 'Idol' audition rounds. All three made it to Hollywood. Mason may also be familiar to viewers having finished fourth in the fourth season of 'Nashville Star.'

      Contestants on 'Superstar' live in a mansion once owned by Kenny Chesney and a good deal of the footage from Friday's premiere focused on their communal living situation.

      In the first episode, the ten finalists were challenged to turn a rock song into a country tune and perform it at the Crazy Horse Saloon in Nashville.  The contestants were backed by Sixwire, a Nashville-based band that finished second on 'The Next Great American Band' and guest judges included Billboard's Fred Bronson, Kristin Chenoweth, and record producer Matt Serletic. Beasley, who didn't hit the mark with her interpretation of "California Dreaming" and Smith, who's "Let's Get it On" was uneven and awkward, were the bottom two. Each had 40 seconds to sing something to impress the judges, who rendered their decision the next morning.

      Standouts included Matt Mason, Matt Dame (who bears a striking resemblance to Bo Bice), and Andrea Pearson. Ultimately, it was Ben Smith who was eliminated.

      Next week the contestants will sing on the streets of Nashville and the two who receive the least amount of money from passersby will be have to sing for survival.  New episodes air on Friday at 9 p.m. EDT.

      Friday, April 8, 2011

      'American Idol 10' - The morning after

      Stefano Langone looks stunned as Pia is eliminated from 'Idol' (Photo courtesy MJ's Big Blog)
      After Pia's shocking elimination Thursday night, one thing is certain. This season sure has us talking about 'Idol' again! And, while her elimination took most viewers by surprise, a lot of people feel that while Pia has amazing vocal ability, she simply wasn't entertaining enough to engage viewers and earn votes. Or maybe people simply felt she was so safe they didn't need to vote for her. Whatever the case, she's gone and the 'Idol' world is abuzz.

      How did this happen? I think one explanation is the show's voting demographic. Judging from the people in the audience and those who attend the Idols Live shows, those who are most engaged in this show and who do the majority of  voting seem to be tween and teen girls, and women over forty. As we've seen since Season 7, this demographic supports young men (usually with guitars) and a pretty girl with a good voice doesn't stand a chance. You gotta wonder if even someone like Carrie Underwood could have won this year! If you think Pia lacked stage presence, just look at some of Carrie's 'Idol' performances!  No disrespect to Carrie, who has become an excellent performer, but her 'Idol' performances make Pia look like Taylor Hicks in comparison!

      In the end, 'Idol' is about entertainment and Pia just wasn't all that entertaining. Great vocals, super looks, but no real charisma. Paul may sing as though he's just taken a whiff of helium and Jacob may be completely over the top, but they have stage presence and charisma and you don't forget them five minutes after they stop singing.  I would pay to see Jacob in concert, but Pia, I don't think so.

      We've seen shocking eliminations in the past, but ultimately, success isn't dependent on where a person places on 'Idol.' Just ask Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert, Kellie Pickler, and Jennifer Hudson. Even Mandisa, who finished ninth her season, has found success in Christian music and Chris Sligh, who finished tenth, has had a song he co-wrote top the charts.

      If you've got "it," being on 'Idol' is a means to an end. Pia has made some important connections during her stay on the show and after their shameless pandering to her over the course of the competition, the judges should use their influence to help her. If she's destined for stardom, it will happen. If not, she'll become another footnote in 'Idol' history, the shocking bootee who fades into the sunset.

      I actually feel sorry for Stefano. The expression on his face said it all. He knew, as did everyone watching, that it should have been him going home. Last night he Tweeted, "All I can say is it wasn't right. And anyone that thinks they have a clue on how I feel or what I'm going thru as a PERSON, has NO idea..."  Actually, there are a few people out there who have an idea how you feel. I bet Katharine McPhee, who was in the bottom two with Chris Daughtry the night he was eliminated, can relate. Or how about John Stevens, who looked the same way each week he survived his 'Idol' ordeal? Even Scott Savol who beat out Constantine would have had to admit there was a moment when he was a stunned as Stefano appeared to be last night. 

      In the end, this won't have any impact on the outcome. Pia was not going to win. If any of the girls has a shot it's Lauren, and even she is dicey at this point. I think it'll be two guys in the finale, probably James and Scotty. I wouldn't have predicted this a few weeks ago, but Scotty has the tweens in a tizzy and the older women feeling all motherly. Scotty may well win the whole shebang. 

      Next week is "Music From the Movies" and Kelly Clarkson will sing with Jason Aldean on results night. My only hope is that no one sings "Against All Odds!"

      Thursday, April 7, 2011

      'American Idol 10' - Top 9 results show recap

      Does Jacob's 'Idol' journey end tonight?
      Last night's show was entertaining and as with Elton John week, no one absolutely stunk! Does this mean this is the best group ever? I'm not quite ready to pin that label on them, but two weeks in a row with no real trainwrecks is pretty impressive. Of course, there are some who felt Paul McDonald's crazy Johnny Cash on helium performance was pretty bad, but I'm not one of them. I am entertained by Paul, and while I am not saying he has a great voice, I still think he has something that will transition very nicely to the "real' world.

      As for my predictions, I'm beginning to think it may be Jacob who gets the ax tonight. I know, I predicted Stefano, but Jacob's rather ill-advised comment about people needing to look at themselves in the mirror if they didn't vote for him probably cost him some support. I don't know. I just don't know.

      Voiceover man intros the judges and our host, Ryan Seacrest. Ryan says this could be a "very shocking results night here on 'Idol'" Constantine Maroulis and Iggy Pop are in the house. Ryan says we are "still riding high" after last night's show.

      Our Top 9 offer up a rock medley starting with "I Love Rock 'n Roll." Casey leads off "The Letter." They are off-key and ridiculous. Paul gets a chance to participate in "Sweet Home Alabama." I remember Bo's spectacular version of this with Lynyrd Skynyrd and get a little ill. Jacob is racing about and grinding with Lauren. It's positively awful. Nice pointy pose at the end and we go to break.

      The Ford video features the Idols pulling off some kind of heist and getting away in their Focus.

      Ryan rolls footage of the Top 9 meeting Russell Brand, who came in to help them do something, not sure what. I guess he's supposed to be helping them improve their stage presence. Jacob wants to know how to go about being sexy. Russell says take your shirt off. He calls Casey a hairy ball of wonder.  Russell Brand, of course, is opening his new movie, Arthur, this week. They play around sitting at the judges' table. It's a total waste of time.

      The lights dim. Casey, Stefano, and Lauren join Ryan at the center of the stage. He starts with Casey, who's wearing a winter hat. Ryan asks if Casey saw Kelly Clarkson's Tweet about having a crush on him. He smartly declines to comment. Ryan moves on to Stefano. He asks Randy if he felt the same way when he watched it back. He says yes. JLo and Steven still disagree. I'm with you Randy. Stefano says Jimmy Iovine wants him to push more. We move on to Lauren. Here we go. One of them is in the bottom three. Lauren is safe. So, it's got to be Stefano, right? "After the vote tonight, Casey goes back... to the safety of the couches." Stefano is in the bottom three and strolls off to the stools of doom.

       Constantine Maroulis performs "Unchained Melody," Simon's favorite song. I am tempted to fast-forward, but am watching live. Bummer. His hair is greasy, the arrangement is hokey, and his vocals are strained. Never been a fan and this performance doesn't change my mind in any way, shape, or form. All I want is for it to end! And end it does. I've never heard anyone do this as horribly.

      Ryan talks to Constantine. He plugs 'Rock of Ages.' Ryan points out he's a new father. Ryan says he saw the show with Steven and Randy. Ryan does not have Constantine give the Idols any advise. Instead, we watch Gwen Stefani help turn the girls into hookers style the girls. Haley is wearing jodphurs. They try on a bunch of ugly clothes and we see their final selections. They all hug Gwen and it's over.

      More results. Ryan pulls down Paul, Scotty, and Pia. Oh-oh. Could Paul be in the bottom three? Ryan wonders if it was easy for Paul to let loose. He said yes, and that it was easy because he was last. Ryan asks Pia if she has the stamina and endurance to be more comfortable. She promises she will put in a lot of work to do just that. Ryan asks Scotty if he got in trouble for singing on the school bus. Based on the vote, Scotty is safe. Grandma is happy. Either Paul or Pia is in the bottom three. It's got to be Paul, right? No, wrong, it's Pia in the bottom three. Someone swears (I think it's Steven saying WTF) and Pia's mother shakes her head in amazement. Paul over Pia. Wow!

      Ryan now shows us a video of the Idols meeting TMZ. Harvey Levin tells them not to get arrested, but if they do, he advises them how to take a good mug shot. James is told he needs to man up a little. Someone tells Haley she could get a lipstick endorsement and Stefano is advised to beef up his Twitter page. They point out Lauren's fall down the stairs, and play it four times. They mock Scotty's faces. Harvey then asks some questions. Pretty good bit, actually. Ryan gets into a little smack to Harv.

      More results - James, Haley, and Jacob. Haley and Jacob are holding hands. James looks like he's gonna cry. The audience applaud Jacob. One of them will fill the last spot in the bottom three. James is safe. Group hug. "After the vote, I can tell you, that Haley... you are safe."  Jacob is in the bottom three. Randy looks shocked. The audience boos when Ryan reiterates the bottom three.

      A shirtless Iggy Pop sings "Wild Child." Haley is doing the Jerk. James is hysterical. Iggy gets bleeped. Several times. It's totally manic and out of control as you might expect. I didn't even know he was still alive, but apparently so. I have serious issues with their choice of "guest" performers tonight.

      Ryan welcomes us back for the "toughest time of the week."  Ryan reminds us once again of Jacob's comment. "I can tell you now, Jacob, you will be leaving us... and going to safety on the couches."  Now for the final results. "The person who leaves us tonight is... Pia." What? My mouth drops open. Randy says, "What?" The audience boos. JLo starts crying. She says she has no idea what just happened. She's shocked and angry. Randy says he is "gutted." Randy says no one is ever safe. He's really mad. Steven says "Lack of passion is unforgivable." Stefano looks like his eyes are going to bug out of his head. The judges and audience give Pia a standing ovation. I'm totally giving up making predictions.

      After her funeral video, Ryan asks her to sing again. She wasn't planning on it, but soldiers through "I'll Stand by You." She manages to hold it together, but when she is finished, she breaks down sobbing in Jacob's arms. Stefano still looks like he's been hit in the head with a board. It is truly a stunning moment.

      So there you have it. The best female singer is gone and everyone's predictions are shot to hell. With Pia gone, there are just two girls left in this, the "girl's year." Way to go, America!

      Wednesday, April 6, 2011

      'American Idol 10' - Top 9 performance recap

      Naima and Thia are gone, and the 'Idol' herd has been culled to nine. At this point, no clear front-runner has been identified, rather there seems to be a lead "pack," which consists of James, Pia, Scotty, Lauren, and Casey (yes, Casey, despite his close call two weeks ago). I think Paul and Jacob are on the borderline, and Stafano and Haley are hanging in by their fingernails.

      All this can change, of course, depending on their performances tonight.

      Cold opening with Ryan and the Top 9 with a promise of a "rockin' party."  Voiceover man welcomes the judges and Ryan. Ryan welcomes us and tells us we have 90 minutes of show (yay). Gwen Stefani is styling the ladies. The theme centers around rock 'n roll. Steven narrates the video about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. He and Aerosmith have been honored. The Hall has outfits from James Brown, Michelle Phillips, Paul McCartney, and Elton John. There's even a Steven Tyler outfit. He shows us a bust of who else, Steven Tyler, of course. "Long live rock and roll," he shouts!

      Ryan brings out the Top 9. Signs abound in the audience. The group looks strangely smaller tonight. Stefano is jumping around. Will.I.Am came in to coach.

      Jacob Lusk - "Man in the Mirror" (Michael Jackson)
      Jacob tells us he's not a rock and roll guy. He started out with "Let's Get it On" but didn't think it fit him morally.  He tells us if he's in the bottom three, it's because America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror. Sing it Jacob. You're in the death spot tonight. It's a good choice. He's singing with a backup singer, with whom he does a little duet. Jacob prances around the stage with great energy. It's a fine performance. He really does connect to this one and his vocals are on point. Good job, Jacob.

      Steven introduces Syeda Garrett who wrote the song and says it was beautiful. JLo says it was perfect on every level. Randy says he appreciates Jacob changing the song to something that meant something to him. He says he is proud. Randy said he found lots of "Jacob" moments in the song. "That was hot."

      Haley Reinhart - "Piece of my Heart" (Janis Joplin)
      Haley says the judges have been throwing around Janis' name all through the competition. Will.I.Am says she needs to sing it to the guy who took her heart. Can she do it? Janis you ain't, Haley. She overdoes the growl and doesn't have the oomph or conviction. She's wrings all the blues out of the song and it comes off as very karaoke. . But then again, no one could sing this like Janis. Syeda's still singing. Would rather have heard her. Sorry Haley. This was not all that.

      JLo says "Okay, we're off to a bit of a strong start... you're showing everyone you're a contender... you keep going like that, you're going to be around for a minute." Randy says what they were referring to is the bluesy, soul thing she has, and he thinks she pulled it off. "Welcome back, back, back." Steven says Haley took it up a notch. "I loved it, you nailed it."

      Casey Abrams - "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" (Credence Clearwater Revival)
      Casey is on stand-up bass. It's an interesting arrangement, with a mandolin, percussion, and rain in the background. I love it. He's smiling and right in the pocket. Casey's having fun with this song and it's infectious. His vocals are so interesting. I want to hear this again! A+ for you Casey!

      Randy says Casey made CCR proud and did justice to the song. He says Casey is making upright bass cool! "Casey's revolutionary." Steven thinks Casey should put it on wheels and ride it around town. He appreciates that Casey is a real musician. JLO says this is exactly where Casey belongs. "I'm paying top dollar to be in the front row."  Ryan asks if he puts extra pressure on himself because of the save. He says yes, he wants to make the judges proud. I think you did tonight, dude.

      (From Kelly Clarkson on Facebook: I might have a bit of a crush on Casey on American Idol this season. He's super cute and obviously super talented. Great job tonight man!)

      Lauren Alaina - "Natural Woman" (Aretha Franklin)
      Remember, this was the song that put Kelly Clarkson in the race Season 1. Can Lauren do it? Yup. She does it. She's got enough of a combination of country and soul going on that it works. No KC scream, though, and her high notes are a tiny bit off.  But seriously, I get one of those "moments of recognition" here.  Very, very good.

      Steven says Lauren's grown up. He loves her voice and thinks she is great. JLo wondered what Lauren was going to do with this. Randy says Lauren picked on of the most difficult songs and while he wasn't jumping up and down, she did a good job.

      So far, they've all done quite well. Ryan asks the judges how he would score the night so far. Steven says it's been great. JLo agrees. Randy is looking forward to James.

      James Durbin - "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" (George Harrison)
      Will.I.Am says he respects the danger in doing this song. He hopes James doesn't take the steam out of the audience. James says he won't advance as an artist if he doesn't take chances. It's an Adam Lambert kind of moment. James is accompanied by strings, guitars and green lights. I want to like this, but it's a little loungey.  The song exposes some wobbly-ish vocals, and while he clearly connects with the lyrics, it's just a little off for me.  He closes strong, though. Not my fave from him.  James starts crying.

      JLo says it's nice to see the other side of him. She babbles something rather strange about exposing the "thing" inside. Randy says he loved seeing the emotional side of James Durbin. He likes he engaged emotionally with the lyric. Randy says if you want a long career you have to take chances. "Very nice." Steven says it's good to see that James gently wept as well. "It's really a proud moment." James says he was thinking about his family. He says he's worked on his own version of this song for five years and it shows what he's been through.

      Scotty McCreery - "That's Alright Mama" (Elvis Presley)
      Will.I.Am says Scotty has to figure out how to combine country and rock. Scotty thinks he needs to give it an edge. If Scotty doesn't make it in country he could get a gig as an Elvis impersonator! He looks a little ridiculous in his attempts to move flirtingly, but his vocals are sharp. Where the hell does this voice come from? I can't help but laugh! Girls come up on the stage when he's finished and squeal! Weird.

      Randy says, "Scotty is in it to win it." He says it was amazing and fun. "This was like a new Scotty. We've never seen this side of you." Steven says he thought Scotty was "all hat and no cattle" but has changed his mind. JLo says Scotty is funny. She wonders if he watches rap and hip-hop. Scotty says it's his Puerto Rican blood!

      Christian Slater is in the house with his daughter who is a huge fan of Lauren and Pia. 

      Pia Toscano -  "River Deep, Mountain High" (Tina Turner)
      Will.I.Am wants Pia to "wow 'em." Pia is all glammed up in a one-piece jump-suity looking think.  Her voice is so strong and so well-modulated. JLo is jumping up and down as Pia moves to the judges' table to sing to them. She then moves into the audience. I love the tone of her voice on this one. Really powerful and commanding. I don't think she could have done any better on this.

      Steven is shouting "Murderer, murderer, you killed it." JLo says Pia proved she could sing up-tempo. She's going to keep pushing. She wants Pia to start researching great singers, like Tina, to get to the next level. "Get greater." Randy says they all believe it her, but that she showed she could do something uptempo. "Yo, Pia's in it to win it!" Ryan says Pia makes it looks seamless. She says she's terrified every time. Christian Slater's daughter gives Pia two thumbs up.

      Todd Rundgren is in the house. Did you know he produced Janis?

      Stefano Langone - "When a Man Loves a Woman" (Percy Sledge)
      Stefano ignores Will.I.Am's instructions about emphasizing the song's opening. I hate when that happens. I'm not convinced and that was Will's point. Stefano's vocals are fine, but he's working too hard. It should come more effortlessly. I still think "boy band" when he sings. Not wild about this performance.

      JLo is screaming "I knew you had it in you... that was beautiful." She says this had another layer of emotion to it and that he was really singing it to someone. "Magic, very beautiful." Randy says the first part felt jerky to him. The audience boos. JLo is trying to shush him. Steven says he liked the old timing and he likes Stefano's range. Thank goodness for Randy.

      Paul McDonald - "Folsom Prison Blues" (Johnny Cash)
      I still have problems with Paul's weird phrasing, but his energy on this is enough to make me grin. He has so much fun  and even gets a little dancing in. He engages and energizes the audience. Paul, baby, that was crazy, but  great fun!

      Randy says, "I loved it." Steven calls him "My perfect imperfect boy." JLo says it was right in his lane.

      Ryan is jumping around and challenges us to beat last week's 55 million votes.The other Idols are up and jumping around. Everyone is freaking out, dancing and leaping. I've never seen anything quite like it. But then again, I've not seen anyone quite like Paul on this show either! Long may he rock!

      In the recaps (from rehearsal), Haley is so much better than she was in the live performance.

      Performance report card
      • Jacob Lusk - A
      • Haley Reinhart - C
      • Casey Abrams - A+
      • Lauren Alaina - A-
      • James Durbin - B-
      • Scotty McCreery - B+
      • Pia Toscano - A+
      • Stefano Langone - C+
      • Paul McDonald - B
      Oh, man... if we go by my report card, we'd have Haley, James, and Stefano in the bottom three. James will not be there, though. Instead, based on his placement and for that reason only, it'll be Jacob. In the end, though, I think Stefano will be the one to go home. Fun show, though. This season has really stepped it up.