Cue cheesy studio audience wave and so it begins. The arm flailing and screeching screams have officially marked the real start of the 10th season of American Idol. Bring out the Top 13, let’s get things a movin’. After what seemed like endless auditions and countless chances for people to bring out their best and really show America why they’re the only ones in the world that want this chance at performing on the stage, we’ve made it. Did we lose anyone along the way? Thanks to Peaches, I’m almost sure we didn’t. He kept thanking us through the night for keeping it on Fox, so I’m sure people found his manners flattering and kept a close eye on the competition last night.
As if the cheesy studio audience wave wasn’t enough, what better way to kick off such an “epic” season of Idol than with having the contestants pick songs from their personal idols. Well, gee imagine that. And what took 10 years for Idol execs to figure out has FINALLY come to fruition. Show America what happens behind the scenes! And that they did. From rehearsal footage to working with the producers to chats with the “will-forever-be-present” Jimmy Iovine, America’s finally getting a taste of our peeps on and off the stage. Although, Ashthon, Haley and Karen got jipped on the post-performance backstage plea, which I’m sure they won’t be happy about.
Before we jump into the performance grades, I need to take a second and point to and laugh at all of the JLo haters pre-Season 10. Y’all best be eating your words now. Yes, I said y’all in the spirit of Lauren Alaina and her country opener. Everyone’s taking her side, why can’t I? More on that later. Jennifer Lopez has likely surpassed every critic who said she’d be the little train that couldn’t. Not only is JLo the only judge giving consistent advice, but she’s the only judge who is regularly giving HELPFUL and constructive advice for these newbies. She has a vocabulary of more than 3 words (Randy) and she’s giving less attention to fashion (Steven) than any of her predecessors of the female persuasion. Props to JLo and if you want to use Idol as a future trampoline for your next album, go for it. I OK this, and I know you have been waiting for my OK. Alright, we got a lot to look at tonight, so let’s dive in and take a look at tonight’s performances like it was Idol High Graduation.
Joe Cocker should be one proud man. Not only was America reminded that his music is full of emotion, it was given new life and passion by one Casey Abrams. Definitely graduating tonight with top honors, Casey took the challenge after following Papa Nigel’s very own Dreamgirl and knocked this out of the park. You’re looking for someone that might “rival Kelly Clarkson,” Idol? Well, look no more. You’ve found your “rainbow of talent and plethora of passion” right here.
As Randy reminded us, like he always does in his world of extremes, going from Judas Priest to Paul McCartney the next week is not only outrageous but ballsy. Well, he didn’t say that, but that’s what he was thinking. James Durbin, living in the inevitable shadow of Adam Lambert without the attitude, not only took McCartney and made it “relevant” as Idol worshippers are used to hearing, he slayed it (thanks for the verb, Randy). Oh and the fact he didn’t wear his little tail last night gave him that extra point to don the cap & gown with these honors. Working a very close second tonight is Miss Pia Toscano. Her Celine Dion song choice is probably rightfully argued as safe and expected but this girl can knock whatever she sings out of the park. Not to add, she was looking hot up on stage to boot. There’s no doubt she’s here to stay with those strong, suggestive vocals. Plus, how can you deny someone honors after reminding the world about International Womens Day (which by the way, Mr. Tyler, was yesterday). Randy, with his wide vocabulary, put it best … That was just “hot, dope, cool.” Thanks, dawg.
Alpha Alpha Alpha Honor Society:
This next group definitely made it through with top honors and deserved that extra asterisk on the graduation program, you know, the same one they give 1st chair band members. I always found that a little odd, but that’s a whole different article. Wouldn’t that raise front page eyebrows, eh? Tri Alpha is now officially donned the Yak’s Honor Society for all things hella good and not too far from perfection. Among those getting these honors tonight are Naima Adedapo. Sure, she lost her breath a bit here and there and probably could have picked a better song to prove why the wildcard choice was worthwhile, but girlfriend brought it to the stage, thunder, lightning and all. No holds barred, not afraid to bust a non-McDonald dance move, and, most importantly, busting out the reggae! How can you say no to that, ya? Joining Naima in the ranks is Mr. camouflage visor himself, Scotty McCreery. Sure, Scotty didn’t sound much different than his previous country attempts (and they were successful at that) but it goes unsaid that any country music fan can’t deny his apt and on-the-target approach to the twangy music. Paul McDonald, Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk and Thia Megia are hot contenders for this category and likely to definitely earn their way here by next week’s installment. Induction into Tri Alpha isn’t as selective as we’d like one to think, so they’re pretty much shoo-ins.
Paul’s song choice hurt him here. I’ll be the first to say Idol wannabes shouldn’t pick the most popular songs to perform on the big stage because that tends to hurt more than help, but Paul took a HUGE gamble here trying to resonate with America with a song even JLo hasn’t heard of (not that JLo is the musical master, but she’s no stranger to the industry). His quirky nature and scary infectious dance moves make him one you can’t miss. Likewise for Mr. Jacob Lusk. Aside from the fact that everyone in America was able to give him a free dental exam, Jacob doesn’t leave ANYTHING backstage before he performs. He lays it all out on the line, choir and all. The performance felt too preachy with the pre-taped message and all. Even JLo was at a loss for words when she resorted to praising the talent this season as a whole, instead of just Jacob. Then of course Randy had to go and toot his own horn, saying they found this year’s talent. Yes Randy, we get it. You’ve been on this show for 10 season now and you had a role in picking the contestants. Stop telling us, please.
Haley’s yodeling made Leann Rimes look like an amateur and that’s saying A LOT because an amateur she is not. How many of you felt like you were in a Ricola commercial though during her performance? I half expected some man in blue tights to walk out on stage with his banjo. Yes, a clash of cultures if you will. Talk about a clash of culture, any better way to remind America of Thia’s age than her lack of knowledge on Charlie
Chapman Chaplin? Her jazzy rendition of Smile was not as strong as she was probably hoping for but her cute charm and extremely strong voice should help her on into the next round, barring any early surprises with voting at this stage. Like her previous counterparts, that GPA just wasn’t quite reached for honor society status, but she’ll likely earn a little extra credit next week to propel her forward.
Alright, and now for tonight’s
Yes, I know this isn’t a high school graduation “category,” but this is Idol High, so there are always tweaks. Ironically, two of the three chosen here are wildcards from last week who didn’t seem to pick the best choice of song to prove why they were given a second chance. Stefano’s attempt to master the Motown Master was too great for the top 13 show. Now, I’m sure the judges were hearing a different tune than my humble ears, because that techno mix was plain awful. Ya, I feel that strongly about it. I know it’s not all Stefano’s fault, but you’re telling me that he and the producers thought “techno” was the best way to pay homage to Stevie? No Randy, he didn’t slay it, he got slayed.
Ashthon Jones, our other wildcard contestant in our Bottom 3. Other than picking a Diana Ross song, there was nothing close to Diana on that stage. Sure, she looked elegant on that stage and she is obviously not shy in commanding stage presence, but her underwhelming performance of “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” might just put this diva in danger. She’s at America’s mercy this week and if they had their say last week, she wouldn’t be here. This diva should be ready to walk off with her head held high…
Rounding off our bottom 3 is Karen Rodriguez. It all started with those Selena barbie dolls in her room. Talk about devotion, sure, but I think she put too much pressure on herself especially with JLo right there watching. Her lower register got mangled from start to finish and she couldn’t seem to confidently hit a solid note in that range at all. That and as she sang, it’s like Tyler’s “big fan” added a little wave effect to the tone of her voice in the words she pronounced, enhancing vibratory senses throughout the country.. Unless the whole MySpace community votes for her here, she could be in danger after underperforming and letting the night’s jitters get the best of her.
Now, that’s only 12 you say? Yes, yes it is. I’m devoting yet another special section to our very own Nigel’s pet. Lauren Alaina has already fallen into what I will call Lauded Syndrome. Ya, not very creative but what do you want from me? Speaking of, Adam Lambert fell into the same trap two seasons ago, possibly costing him the crown. What happens is this, it’s simple. Constant praise and love from the producers, judges, host, and anyone else associated with the show regarding a single contestant leads to a switch being turned off by America earlier than said contestant deserves. I fear this has happened to Kelly incarnate. Now, granted – and this is mainly why I didn’t put her in our bottom 3 – she was the show’s opener on the first big night of the competition, but her karaoke performance did not go unnoticed. Her breaths were out of sync with her singing and the initial reactions may have brought her down a much needed few pegs from the ladder. She’ll be back, but she’ll need to step it up BIG time.
What’d you think about tonight’s performances? Do you agree with our graduating class? Who do you think will make the bottom three … and who’s going home? As for our prediction … Ashthon Jones