Who spiked Ryan Seacrest’s pre-show drink with some Red Bull? (No, this is not blatant product placement, but now that it’s been mentioned …) It’s no secret he got a little too excited when Idol got to show off their new and improved technology – broadcast a few seconds in black and white! Well, would you look at that! What a clever way to kick off a show dedicated to the heart of Motown. This, my fellow Idol worshippers, was only the start of Idol’s underachieving production as the night went on. In true Idol fashion, inconsistencies in production value for each performance definitely left quite a bit to be desired. I’m almost pretty sure I saw the background vocalists more often than some of the contestants we’re supposed to be encouraged to vote for. Not that I hated the background vocals, but I’m pretty sure I’m not dialing 1.866.IDOLS.** for them. What else about production was lacking tonight, you ask? Well, let me remind you that the dancing screen of lights behind our contestants not only makes me feel like I’m watching a performance in a lounge on a cruise ship on rough waters but that I’m about to undergo some neurological test designed to induce a seizure state. While I’m complaining about the production events from tonight, who decided it was a good idea to give Ryan leftover food to eat on stage and then proceed to mock the poor woman’s cooking with Chef Ramsay? You tell him, JLo, the woman is sad now!
In the spirit on tonight’s theme (which I’m PRETTY sure once upon a time Papa Nigel told us he would do away with), we’re gonna take a look at the performances in the spirit of Detroit. I thought about tackling tonight’s festivities a la Steven Tyler, but there weren’t 11 girls to make out with in such short notice. If you missed that joke, I’m not apologizing. Pay attention to the show more, next time. Alright, let’s just dive right into the performances. In the spirit of the Motor City, I’m going to categorize our Idol friends as Cadillac grade, Ford or Plymouth. I’m pretty sure you can guess which is of more value.
Cadillac:[singlepic id=382 w=320 h=240 float=left]I’m almost certain that you cannot have a “best of” category for Idol this season without including the likes of Pia Toscano. It is blasphemy to venture into that realm and neglect to mention her name. Well, now that we mentioned it, let’s move on. No, just kidding. Pia, once again, showed America (and probably herself) that she has what it takes to take this competition away and become the next Lee DeWyze… I mean, American Idol. One who is never lacking in the “connect with the song and show your emotions” department, Pia was sure to prove yet again that she’s not just a pretty girl with a pretty voice. Wait, did she actually prove that? Girlfriend had a breathtaking performance but I’m ready for her to branch out and leave the ballad world for a week or two. And for the record, I’m not pulling a Tyler here and just agreeing with the judges. I said in our forum’s live blog before she even opened her mouth, so don’t hate. Speaking of which, where the heck were you? Ok, shameless plug but it’s only this once. (By the way, check out that link if you want the full set list from tonight.)
Again, the other name I CANNOT leave out of this category is James. Absolutely no denying the fact that James Durbin rocked out tonight to Motown legend Stevie Wonder. The judges said something about a little crazy making some change in this world. I’m not sure I followed you there, Steven, but it’s OK, we’re not sure you follow along much either. James brought back his tail, took dance lessons from a different teacher than Paul, and couldn’t help but remind America how short Ryan Seacrest really is.[singlepic id=381 w=320 h=240 float=right]Are you all noticing a trend here? It seems like everyone’s falling on the same part of the rating scale week after week. Looks like someone’s gonna need a change right quick … Well, look no further. (Gee, that was quick). I’m taking a leap and we’re putting up Paul McDonald as a winner of the Cadillac tonight. Paul did what nearly 98% of America has been waiting for and took stage with his guitar in toe. Of course, the judges were more concerned with giving praise to the producers for the arrangement than critiquing Paul. I think they realized towards the end of the show, they hadn’t met their quota of talking up the producers as we pretend they’re really an asset to this show. In reality, I personally think the new producer “twist” has taken the level of the performances down quite a few notches. But that’s just me. Well, back to Paul. That performance was a pretty damn good example (especially this season) of taking a song and making it your own, unlike Scotty (sorry bud). Excuse me for a moment while I pull a Randy – Infusing a bit of Rod Stewart in his James Blunt-esque voice, taking the stage like a confident John Mayer and working the crowd like Jason Mraz … Ya, I’m tired of name dropping celebrities and comparing the contestants to established artists, even though the show discourages it. I don’t know how Randy keeps it up.
Alright, let’s move on and take a look at our FORD award nominees. Before you say it, no this section is not brought to you by Ford and no you will not be seeing me in a Ford music video. Sorry. As we continue with the night of backup singers, let’s talk about Jacob. I’m almost certain that performance would have been better if it weren’t for the poorly arranged harmony of the background trio. Again, nothing against their voices, but why were they nearly center stage if Jimmy Iovine and co. couldn’t give them something better to work with. So, if this were up to the judges, we’d be in Cadillac county, but it’s not up to them and I’m not running on stage to give Jacob a hug, nor am I giving him a standing O if we stayed seated for Durbin and Toscano. The end of Jacob’s song left a lot to be desired, namely silence, but JLo got one thing right when she said he made us beg for those notes – some actually on pitch. Ok, I’ll cut him some slack. Jacob showed a lot more restraint this time than in the past and he continued to remind us that he can connect with the music. Jacob needs to continue to use his emotional connection to ask America for votes rather than rely on the Idol gimmick of bringing 16 year old girls (and boys apparently) on stage for free bear hugs. Ruben didn’t even get to do that.[singlepic id=385 w=320 h=240 float=left]Alright, let’s move on to the Chosen One. Time for a quick gripe (Imagine that!). After a clever taped package from the producers about her newfound independence and newly discovered ability to not take all criticism personal, Lauren decided to tackle a Motown song that requires a big, powerful voice. Ironically, I actually think she does have one but where was it tonight? If she was still sick, I’m sure Ryan would have reminded us. If she were to really tear this song another beauty mark like Steven wants, she needed to amp up her voice a bit more to make it convincing. But, since she won’t listen to me and take my criticism (because it’ll bring her down), I’ll leave it at this. No use in wasting cyberspace, right?
Alright, let’s pair up Haley and Naima to round up this category. Now, I was a bit hesitant to throw Naima in the mix here, only because I’m certain America might be starting to be intimidated by her, believe it or not. However, she’s here because this woman is probably the only contestant on that stage who’s almost ready to headline her own show. Ya, I went there. There’s no denying (evident from her post-performance backstage interview) that girlfriend’s got a passion for music and feeds off the energy performing on stage. Not only that, but she was able to take a Motown song, infuse her personality into it and then go dancing in the street … to an African beat, even! Now I’m not really sure about those bell bottoms. Someone in our forums even thought Tatiana del Toro was hiding in there, but we can skip the fashion questions and ask to be signed up for SYTYCD Naima style lessons! In a similar light, ok not really similar at all, but Haley finally looked like she wanted to be up on that stage today. Picking the perfect song for her bluesy, raspy voice, she did what the judges beg for (and never know it when they see it) and made a song her own. Now, if we could just get her to realize the difference between wanting votes in the Idol poll vs. dressing like she’s heading to a joint with a pole, we’ll be good.[singlepic id=383 w=320 h=240 float=right]And now, we’ve finally made it to the Plymouth category. We’ve got 4 in here tonight, but the final three I mention will be my predictions for tonight’s bottom three. Speaking of tonight, I won’t be around, but my trusty understudy (or really someone I conned into taking my place for one night) will provide you with his wit from the results show. Don’t fret, I’ll be back next week. So Scotty McCreery. Not really sure what we can make of this here. The boy was given the theme of Motown. No way in country music heaven or hell would he be able to perform like Stevie Wonder in the flesh. Taking Motown and making it country, you gotta give him credit for that. However, he’s obviously not interested in expanding his range a bit here, so how much longer can we expect this to go on? When Broadway week rolls around, is he going to take a theme from West Side Story and add Josh Turner to it? It might not work out so well. For that reason, he sits here today.
As for our bottom 3 tonight, Thia, Stefano and Casey. Poor Thia, she really performed well tonight and broke out of her little turtle shell that I’m sure she found in Pocahontas’s world. But, others just performed better and she may have shed light on her other side a little too late. You can’t break rule #2379 in the Idol handbook. “Don’t perform mediocre ballads and pageant like performances then break out with an up-tempo piece the same week everyone plans on outshining you. You’ll be forgotten.” I’m afraid Thia going 2nd tonight, will earn her a spot in the Bottom 3 tomorrow night.[singlepic id=384 w=320 h=240 float=left]Stefano, who told you it’d be a good idea to perform such an emotional song if you’ve never heard it before? Even JLo agrees and she is in love with you, sir. Also, opening your eyes to connect with the audience doesn’t mean for 20 seconds. I’m pretty sure they gave you the advice for the full set, but I’m just speculating here. The judges have one thing right. Stefano has the previous two weeks (and likely the younger teenage girl population) to keep him here another week, but he’s gotta work on picking songs that don’t make him close his eyes and songs where he won’t sound as nasally.
Casey Abrams. Huge improvement over last week, if you ask me, but Casey’s quickly becoming the Scatman reincarnate and this isn’t a scat competition, it’s a singing competition. When your scats and over the top bits of your performance start to take charge, it’s time to step back. Hope you’re listening Jacob Lusk. Casey’s got a unique sound and some great showmanship, but I’m afraid his ego is inflating like Seasons 1 and 2 Randy Jackson and getting in the way of delivering a song and not overbearance. That said, he’s definitely unique in music today and will be successful no matter what.
Now, who’s going home? I hate to say it, but I think Thia’s time is up on Idol. She may have been given one too many chances from America and scratching the surface tonight might not have been enough. Alright, be sure to check out the results show with us tonight and we’ll see how well my predictions hold! What did you think of Motown night? Agree with which contestant snagged which car? Let us know!