Is it bad that the songs I currently have stuck in my head, as I write this post-Idol, are songs that were not featured on tonight’s American Idol telecast? Sit and ponder that one for a second, will you? Ok, times up. What’d you come up with? Tonight’s theme was “Songs from the 21st Century” aka “Karaoke Night” aka “Songs This Group Has Actually Heard Of” aka … well, you get the picture. I’m starting to think I’m one of the few left in this country who isn’t jumping head over heels every time someone performs on that stage. I’m not hating, well I’m trying not to, but I’m really sick and tired of the judges and production touting that this season holds some of the best talent this show has ever seen. Really? How quickly we forget Kelly Clarkson, Tamyra Gray, Chris Daughtry, Melinda Doolittle, Carrie Underwood, David Cook, Jennifer Hudson … and that just scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Can I go on a limb to say that names like Stefano Langone, Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams and yes folks even Haley Reinhart won’t hold a candle to some of the names on that list? Maybe I just need to clean my ears better next time I’m watching the show. Maybe then I’ll hear it.
Also, “special cast-off reunion” what? That was a special reunion? Don’t get me wrong. Bringing Ashthon Jones, Karen Rodriguez, Thia Megia, Pia Toscano, Naima Adedapo and Paul McDonald is not a fully miscalculated move; but bringing them back together might not have been the most genius idea Papa Nigel and Mama Cecile have come up with recently. The performance was by far one of the most fun performances of the night, maybe because they knew it wasn’t going to be judged … but a good number of that bunch reminded America why they’re not getting a toll free number tonight. Sorry, Steven Tyler, it wasn’t as vocally sound as you thought it (like every other performance this season) was. But, any way for Idol to bring in P!nk is fine with me. Good song choice for the cast-offs, I’ll give them that too. Tonight we’ll be doing something a little different with our performances … I’ll also be giving them letter grades. This one gets, B-.
Without further adieu and before anyone chimes in and starts talking about my quirks, let’s get to tonight’s performances from our Top 7.
Scotty McCreery, “Swingin’” by Leann Rimes | Well, Scotty opened the show like we expected him too. Flute in hand, country twang warmed up, and his smile that’s sure to win over a couple more votes into his corner tonight. Problem is, that’s all this performance really had going for it. The vocals were spot on, as usual, but there was really not much else brought center stage. Sadly, I actually agree with the judges here. It wasn’t risky, it was too comfortable. Sadly, this is not as out of the box as Scotty might want us to think. The song is originally from John Anderson in 1983, not Leann. NOW, my judges, why in the heck does Scotty get a critique about comfort zone when that’s exactly what you’ve praised about contestants in the past? How about we shoot for a little consistency here in our little Idol-verse, ok? If you’re gonna critique, pick the right things to critique him on – like how he could have taken a popular song from the decade and added a country twist a la Kris Allen & “Heartless” way back when. Tonight’s Grade: B
James Durbin, “Uprising” by Muse | Without a doubt, best of the night. James not only picked the perfect song choice, but he went ahead and took a REAL relevant song (that’s the idea behind the theme) and made a performance that only James would make. That was the point of tonight. He didn’t just hop on stage with a guitar and stare creepy nothings into the camera, he added a little flare. As we look into Randy’s latest name drop, I’m actually appreciative to have been told that Matthew Bellamy challenged Durbin to take that chorus up an octave. Thank you, Mr. Bellamy. Thank you. Also, can we please thank James for bringing a new song to Idol, rather than the usual overdone, oversung “hits” these people tend to choose? Tonight’s Grade: A
Haley Reinhart, “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele | I’m gonna be the lone ranger here, I just know it. The internet world will be a-buzzin’ with Lady Reinhart’s performance, but not YakkityYaks (well maybe our forums , check them out!). She still sounded like she was too busy gargling phlegm while attempting to cover one of the most under-appreciated (until recently) and genius recording artists out there. When Haley actually needed to infuse some attitude into her performance (just listen to the lyrics), she didn’t! I will stand by this till kingdom come. I thought it last night when Paltrow tackled “Turning Tables” on Glee and it was only reinforced last night with “Rolling In The Deep,” Adele cannot be covered. Plain and simple. Do you agree with me internet world or do I need to cut Miss Haley some slack? For those of you who need a reward for sitting through this performance, click here. You won’t regret it. Tonight’s Grade: B-
Jacob Lusk, “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross | This performance definitely was full of emotion. In fact, I’ll say it was the most emotional performance of the night. BUT … yea, you knew there would be one … this was much too safe. Jacob, don’t listen to Randy. He’s confusing you just as much as he’s confusing all of America. One minute he wants you to tone down your over-the-top gospelness, the next minute he’s asking you where you’re hiding it. Just don’t listen. Randy is much too confused because he thinks critiques help everyone, however, he has YET to give a logical one all season. That said, Jacob, I think we’re finding out you’re a one-trick pony. I’ve tried, week after week, to stand behind and support you because you’ve got chops, but I seem to get the same each week. And that’s dramatization > singability. Tonight’s Grade: C+/B-
Casey Abrams, “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5 | Wow, if you were to read just this and the last two performance recaps, you’d think I’m the world’s grumpiest man. I promise, I’m not. Casey came back a little bit for me tonight. Well, at least what I was able to pay attention to. I was still running around the house making sure my windows and doors were locked because it looked like America’s favorite growly grizzly bear was eyeing his next target. Tell me I wasn’t the only one who felt this way? Vocals were still growly, a little less, but growly nonetheless. This performance seemed to be more focused on eyebrow raises and clenched teeth. Building up the performance the way he did was clever. Working the start without the guitaring and building through the rocking track worked in his favor, keeping him from being compared directly to The Voice mentor, Adam Levine. Tonight’s Grade: B-/B
Stefano Langone, “Closer” by NeYo | While Bruno Mars would have been a better song choice for our little “Wildcard-Contestant-That-Could,” I’m none too surprised to see that NeYo was actually Stefano’s choice at showing us what a record of his might look like should he receive a deal of some sort from some top dawg out there. The problem? I actually had to rewatch this performance to form an opinion to recap. That’s never a good sign. Although, should Stefano stick around another week, he does have that shirt to thank, me thinks. I’m glad he strayed away from the usual ballad, however, and worked his way around that stage. I’m not so glad he decided to preview his latest workout/jazzercise video for the viewing audience pleasure. Tonight’s Grade: B-
Lauren Alaina, “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans | Just when I was trying to find some excitement in an XX competitor on the show, Idol goes to remind me why I didn’t support Lauren in the first place. She was pimped out again for America tonight. More than once, really. She not only snagged the final act of the night, but Jimmy Iovine brought in one of his “famous” friends to motivate her (he didn’t do that for anyone else). Then we were reminded that she could win this whole thing, as if we weren’t reminded that multiple times before. So ya, just when I was ready to jump on the Lauren bandwagon, I made the decision to jump back off onto the train tracks. Speaking of trains, I’m ready for the Hot Tamale train to toot on by. Now for her performance, it was simply a Lauren performance. Nothing to wow me, nothing to make me jump off the couch, but a solid performance nonetheless. One to keep her around for another week, which of course is Papa Nigel’s goal after all. She did lookt a little more comfortable on that stage today compared to her recent performances. That’s a start. Tonight’s Grade: B+
And with that, we come to my bottom 3 predictions for the night. Based on my letter grades, look to see Haley, Jacob, and Stefano in the B3. Simply because a cat can only have so many lives, Stefano might be the one walking off stage tomorrow to David Cook’s send-off tune.
What’d you think about tonight’s 21st Century tribute? Have a favorite? Agree with my recap? Did you also wonder what Steven Tyler said for the extra long bleep? Also, why did he stick his tongue through a magazine cover? So many questions. Let us know what you think!