by Ruth Anne Boulet
So this week’s performance episode of American Idol starts with Shock! Surprise! Tears! Elation! and veiled threat. No more second chances, kids. The save is gone. From here on out, the people that go home will just go home. And then come back for cheesy group numbers during the finale and to go on tour.
I, for one, am glad the save is out of the way. The judges don’t need to pretend anymore and we don’t have to put the qualifier on the contestant’s final performance. Now the excitement will come from a favorite going home before they “should.”
Scotty McCreery — Country Comfort
Of course Scotty would select the only country song Elton John ever did. And of course there’s a line about a factory in it. Scotty’s a very competent singer that I just don’t want to listen to. He does a shout out to his grandma and still manages to cock his head to the side while playing the guitar. There’s even a line about a truck in this song. Blech. I feel like a unicorn puking an American flag while riding over a field of wheat in front of purple mountains majesty. Steven loved the hat tip to grandma. Jennifer wants him to keep grounded & trust his instincts. Randy thinks we were at Scotty’s Bar & Restaurant sponsored by American Idol. Is there a drink special tonight? I think I need one. No, I know I need one.
Naima Adedapo — I’m Still Standing
Naima will be going all reggae with this song. She’s selected it because of the lyrics, which is a good reason. It’ll be interesting to see how the reggae style goes over with most of America. I’m never all that excited to listen to reggae, but it was interesting to hear how she did it. At least with her performance you won’t be reminded of the original. Jennifer loves Naima but she’s not sure this song was meant to be flipped that much. Randy thought it came off kinda corny. Steven says boom shakalaka baby. He’s glad she picked a song that was good for her.
Paul McDonald — Rocket Man
Please do the William Shatner version. Please do the William Shatner version. Paul admits that he sang this song with his band and it was bad. Jimmy Iovine threatens to make Paul do toothpaste commercials. Paul decides to whip out the rose suit again and he’s playing guitar. He does not do the William Shatner version, but sticks with the original. He’s pretty good on this one, with the exception of a bit of smiling in inappropriate places. Randy calls him on being pitchy in spots, but says Paul’s infectious. Jennifer pipes in & says that Paul is holding back. Steven wonders if Paul’s been watering his suit. He had to bring that out for Elton John week. Steven also makes Lamaze references. It’s weird.
Pia Toscano — Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Great. Another ballad. How exciting. Jimmy Iovine wants her to go somewhere between Fergie and Axl Rose. She promises if she hangs around next week she’ll get us moving. Whatever Pia. She gets the super-cheesy lake at sunset background. And then the chorus! Power! Ballad! Again, she’s a good singer. I just don’t care. She keeps talking about the passion she feels, but I see nothing on her face. Steven thinks she nailed it and he expresses that in a full & complete sentence. Jennifer thinks it’s crazy what she can do with her voice. She could also see her performance skills getting better. I couldn’t. Randy thinks she sings ballads every time and she sings them well. No one is calling her on getting a little screetchy at times. In her backstage interview she says she’ll do River Deep, Mountain High next week if she’s there. I guess the contestants already know the theme…
Stefano Langone — Tiny Dancer
Stefano’s pants are so tight he can’t sit down. Jimmy also yelled at Stefano a lot to get the song right. It still sounds like he sings ‘ballerinum’ instead of ‘ballerina.’ He also leaves out the line about Jesus Freaks for some reason. He also ends the song by singing to Jennifer, offering her his hand. Randy does the dumb move of trying to take his hand. It’s so high school stupid. Jennifer thinks Stefano is trying to take their notes & connect to the audience more. Randy loved the connection. Steven thought he nailed it. Ryan seems to leave his hand on his back a little longer…
Lauren Alaina — Candle In The Wind
Jimmy thinks she sounds great on this song. Lauren wants to show America her softer side. She’s singing at the microphone stand which doesn’t work very well for her. She seems to have taken performance lessons from Pia. Move hand, gesture. Switch hands. Repeat. Sounds ok, but I’m bored. Randy thinks it was one of her best performances. She needs to believe in herself! Steven thought it was just perfect. She keeps singing that well she’ll be able to afford the rest of her dress. It’s one of those mullet dresses. Jennifer heard the ‘whoa!’ I didn’t Jennifer. Lauren, do not do the stupid Danny Gokey heart-thing with your hands. It does not endure you to many in the audience.
James Durbin — Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
Jimmy makes sure James really wants to do this song. James also wants to start singing in the audience. He starts in the audience above the stage and makes his way down the staircase. I’m amazed their lawyers clear that. He gets a little carried away going through the audience — not really paying attention to his breath support. He then basically just sings ‘Saturday’ over & over again. I know that’s the song, but wow it seemed to go on forever. Then the piano’s on fire and ther are fire cannons on either side of the stage. It’s kind of ridiculous. They probably had to have him sign waivers in case he caught on fire. Steven thinks James has a great rock & roll voice, but warns him to not wear out his welcome. Jennifer forgets it’s a competition when James performs. Randy loves that James enjoys himself.
Thia Megia — Daniel
Jimmy tells Thia to think about the lyrics. The judges had told her to stop with the ballads. She’s going to ignore them! She’s an artist gosh darn it! She’s going to think about her brother ’cause he’s a boy that she misses! She does show more emotion than I’ve seen before, but she’s still planted in one spot. Jennifer thinks it was beautiful. Randy liked the relaxed side of her performance, but didn’t like that it was a safe choice. Steven thinks she sang a great Elton John song well.
Casey Abrams — Your Song
Casey looks like he got a haircut. I’m sure the EW stylists were dying to get their hands on him & tame the Fozzie. Jimmy very wisely made Casey watch his performance last week so he could see what he did wrong. Wise move Jimmy. We then get to see the haircut in progress. He does not shave off the beard, but does get it trimmed. Because Casey’s not pulling face, I can finally see that some of his moves with his mouth weren’t grimaces, but just how he holds his mouth when he sings. It didn’t look nearly as threatening without the crazy eyes. It’s a pretty straight-up performance of the song and it should serve him well. He seems thrilled. Randy thinks saving him was one of the best moves they’ve made. He thought the performance was well done. Steven thought it was the most beautiful performance just based on the last two notes. Jennifer didn’t lose any sleep over saving Casey and thinks he proved why tonight. Ryan asks the stupid “how are you feeling” question about last week. He handles it well & thanks Ryan for holding him up.
Jacob Lusk — Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Jacob would like to keep the watch, EW stylists. The first time Jacob heard this song was the Mary J Blige version. Shocking, she just HAPPENED to be in the room. He’s very happy to meet her. Jimmy warns that Jacob may over dramatize it. So to keep things simple, American Idol decides to give Jacob a smoke machine. Nothing dramatic about a little well-lit fog around the feet. He’s really trying not to go to church too early and for the most part he succeeds. It’s got his drama, but he doesn’t go over the edge with it. He looks exhausted at the end of it. Steven thinks he’s wonderful for his singing. Steven is officially slayed. Jennifer thought Tricky’s arrangement was beautiful. You also don’t see that last note everyday. No Jennifer, you don’t. Randy wants one spot where he goes all the way up. Yo. That’s his Jacob spot. Yo, Randy can feel him. Knowwhathessayin?
Haley Reinhart — Bennie and the Jets
Haley gets the pimp slot. You go girl. Twist yoself into some funky contortions & growl. Jimmy thinks Haley’s going to bring all parts of her performance together tonight. Haley does the vamp on the piano pose for the first part of the song and manages to get off pretty gracefully. It’s a good pose for her as it means we get less of the weird squat & sing. It’s a good song for her. Jennifer is loving it — a great way to end the show & amazing. Randy thinks it was the best performance of the night ’cause she gave it up. Steven thinks Haley sings sexy. Good for you Haley.
Again, it’s going to be a tough call. Two contestants are going home tomorrow. Contestants that’ve done poorly in weeks past have stepped up their game. No one really bombed out. It may just come down to who is forgotten. And that’s as it should be on American Idol.