Oh American Idol. Sometimes you are the bane of my existence. Ever since we were told this week would be songs from the contestants birth years, I knew I shouldn’t hold my breath on whether the episode will really deliver real talent. We’ll get to the performances in a minute, but first … can Ryan Seacrest look or seem any more fake? With Idol chipping in on donating money for the relief efforts in Japan, I just couldn’t get the feel that he was being serious when saying his little blip about donating. For those interested, however, I’ll make a reminder here. Proceeds from the purchases of tonight’s performances from iTunes will be donated to the American Red Cross efforts. If you did have a favorite performance, a little can go a long way. That said, with the caliber of performances tonight, I am kinda sad proceeds from tonight will be donated because I’m not entirely convinced they are going to make a lot after what we saw tonight.
Tonight’s poorly executed annual theme of Songs from Birth Years brought everything from snoozers to wannabes to expectations of parade floats to pageantry nightmares to “say what?” reactions from my couch to the judge’s comments (mainly those with XY chromosomes). Oddly enough, JLo is more of a judge on that panel than the other two, and that’s not something I expected after announcements of the new panel were made. I’m still convinced that Steven Tyler is not really listening to the performances and is actually commenting on whatever mini-dream he just had when he drifted off to space for a minute and 40 seconds. After 10 seasons, you’d think Randy would be able to refine and broaden his vocabulary. Well, no such luck, so we still get “dawg” and “pitchy” thrown out there with the occassional recap of every song each contestant has sang this season. It makes him look like he knows what he’s talking about and by the time America realizes he’s said nothing of substance, Ryan Seacrest is busily wiping lipstick off someone’s chin and distracting America while Randy attempts to collect his thoughts. What would we do without Ryan there to save the day, huh?
Speaking of collecting thoughts, I just tried doing that as I prepared this recap and have come up short. Then I realized that this 2 hour episode did not deliver anywhere near it’s potential, so why should I, right? (This is my excuse in case the recap sucks and you choose to never come back and read again, much like the excuse we were given BEFORE Lauren A’s performance just in case … but more on that soon). I will say this though. Seeing Mary Murphy in the audience during tonight’s show made me LONG for the days of SYTYCD of old and excited for the premiere of this year’s season… even if that means Idol’s finale because so far, I’m not impressed. Without further adieu, I’m not even going to try and continue to fill this recap with anymore unnecessary Idol fluff in the spirit of AI. Let’s get down to the performances. Today, we’re gonna look at the Top and Bottom 3 performances. All the others in the middle … well, we’ll see where that leads us.
Top 3 Performances: (in no particular order)
First off, James. Why oh why did you bring back the tail? The interwebs have blown up with comparisons to the Na’vi and I’m now half expecting you to show up next week as your Avatar instead. As long as Zoe Saldana comes with, we’ll be good. Otherwise, you may want to lose that tail before it becomes the only thing people know you as. Lucky for you, your voice is standing out in a very small talent pool (from what we’re getting) right now. More and more, you’re gaining points as you’re dissociated from Adam Lambert. More and more, you’re starting to sound like your own, commanding the stage and keeping my eyes open and focused on the TV, unlike most of your counterparts tonight (I’m talking to you Thia, Karen, Haley, Jacob and more…) The good news for us viewers? At least you have SOME competition with which we can juggle votes for.
At the risk of really sounding just like Randy Jackson, Pia Toscano is proving more and more why she deserves to be here. She’s in it to win it and I’ll say here what I said in our forums earlier during the live blog (and yes, where were you???). Pia reminds me of Carrie Underwood. Now, before you start jumping all over me because it may be a blasphemous comment, let me say this. Carrie is a goddess in my eyes, she can do no wrong. No one can really reach up to her genius, but you can try and come close. And Pia’s trying … very hard, actually, and succeeding. While Carrie took most of the season (and time after) to develop her stage presence, Pia has a slight up on her there. She’s already seemingly working on trying to command the stage and make herself known. What both women had/have going for them is their strong, dominating tone that comes out the second they open their mouth. There’s no gimmick attached, no need for cutesy comments, just singing. Loud and strong. Pia, just like Carrie, brings out a solid performance week after week. What she’ll need to do next is step a little out of her comfort zone (much like Carrie’s rendition of “Alone”) and show more versatility. But, she’s definitely here to stay, as she’s one of the very few consistent contestants. Now, let’s just do away with the ultra-crappy backgrounds with each song and we’ll be good.
Rounding up our Top 3 is Wildcard Stefano Langone. After an hour of the show passed without a performance to applaud, Stefano was a breath of fresh air. Making Jimmy Iovine “more famouser,” according to Steven, Stefano came out of nowhere and just delivered a near pitch perfect rendition of Simply Red’s cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” Doing his best with the arrangement he was given, Stefano was able to throw in runs that weren’t over the top (Jacob) or overdone (Jacob) or just plain ill-fitting (Haley). He was able to showcase his talent and remind us that it really is all about the vocals and connecting with the audience. Now, Miss Lopez (Mrs. Antony) may need some restraints soon whenever he takes the stage. She’s got that look at him like she’s the cougar that’s about to pounce at her inexperienced prey.
Middle of the Pack: (in no particular order)
Because tonight didn’t deliver as it should have, we’re looking at these guys and gals pseudo-Twitter style.
Naima Adedapo: She’s gotta stop trying to amp up stage presence too much. Her vocals are suffering … big time. It’s one or the other, girlfriend. Her parents are sweet, though.
Paul McDonald: Dawg compared him to Ray LaMontagne but Paul didn’t sing like that tonight. Dude needs to stop looking like he’s gotta relieve himself on stage. Let him use his guitar. Please.
Scotty McCreery: Can’t say much negative about this guy. He’s got the country voice, but it’s going to get old quick. Actually, I think it just did.
Casey Abrams: Definitely props for most ballsy contestant to try something unique each week. Goop of all good things? Not quite. Top tier contestant, especially for attempting to tackle Kurt? Definitely.
Lauren Alaina: Sure, we were told she had the flu. So I guess we’re supposed to excuse a mediocre performance? Ok Papa Nigel, you win. Glad Idol was impartial and reminded us that Casey was HOSPITALIZED again. Oh wait, they didn’t. Nevermind.
Jacob Lusk: Trying too hard to stay over the top and stand out. Kinda tore the heart out of “Alone” if you ask me.
Bottom 3 Performances: (in no particular order)
Poor MySpace sponsored Karen Rodriguez. She’s just not finding her footing this competition and now I’m starting to realize why she’s the only online auditioner left. 40 seconds is too little to determine if they really have what it takes for this stage. That and someone forgot to mention to her that this isn’t an inter-galaxy convention. Princess Leia’s stylist must have been consulted tonight for a new do. But this isn’t Top Model, so we’ll look at the singing. Apparently, she’s here because her sister wants to meet Nick Jonas. Well, that’s obviously the most logical reason to try out for American Idol. That said, Karen’s got the voice, but she’s struggling to gain comfort up there and continues to give pageant like performances that’ll only get her to the round of questions at Miss America.
Speaking of pageant like performances, tonight’s stint by our youngest contestant, Thia Megia, caused me to wonder when the parade float was going to appear on stage to pick her up as she waves goodbye to the audience. Complete in her elegant pageant gown, Thia showcased her stellar vocals with a not-so-stellar song choice from 1995. She doesn’t think so, but there was definitely was more to choose from that year. Like Karen, she’s struggling to find comfort on that stage and breaking that outer shell lining a tad to showcase her not so shy and Disney-like self. Now, she does win bonus points from me for breaking out a Disney theme. I’m a Disney kid and always will be, but that’s a topic for another time.
Tonight’s prediction for the next eliminated contestant is Haley Reinhart. For once, Randy made sense. From Alicia Keys to Whitney Houston to Leann Rimes … who is she trying to be? Now, yes, American Idol is all about finding out who you are as an artist and branching out learning and trying new genres, but tonight’s performance took an RnB song, gave it a jazzy musical arrangement, and added a country-fied voice with horrendous backgrounds. Yes, about half of those things were out of Haley’s control, but the other 50% was and she only gave that about 25% if you ask me. Haley’s taking too long to figure out where she wants to be and I am pretty sure America might be done trying to figure it out for her. Again, just because they bothered me that much, can someone please do away with the kaleidescope backgrounds? Thank you.
So what’d you think about your top 12? Any favorites? Any misses? Who’ll be leaving us tonight? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts here? Let us know what you think and join us for the results tonight!