Mo’ of Motown

Thank GOODNESS that Ryan wasted no time in telling me that there was nothing wrong with my television screen. Because when I see an obviously produced sepia-toned intro with the American Idol producer’s fingerprints ALL over it, my first response is always to adjust my television. C’mon now, Ryan! We all expect a level of cheese-factor, but let’s not overdo it, okay buddy?

Once our television screens were once again in full (and living) color, we were “treated” to a “brief” walk down the Motown memory lane. What it kind of felt like to me was a forced walk through an audio/visual museum where I couldn’t just wander, look at artifactsslashprettypictures and pretend to read placards to project a level of intelligence that I just don’t have. And if you’re me, that’s a tough spot to be in. BUT, if I had to learn something new, I’m glad it was music-oriented and not about some shard of pottery that excavators think could maybe, possibly be the bowl that the ancient Mayans used to create chocolate. Although, if there’s one thing I like more than music, it’s probably chocolate. Well. We’re just getting way off course here, aren’t we? (And by we, I mean me.) Ahem.

For the integrity of the blog, I’m about to admit something to you. Try not to think less of me, okay? Tonight was the first time that I realized that Liv Tyler is Steven Tyler’s daughter. I KNOW. I kind of can’t believe it, either.

The whole mission for last night’s contestants (who had no choice but to accept it) was to not get too lost in the genre. To bring the subtle undertones of Motown in a contemporary “them” sounding performance. Sound easy? I present exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I, otherwise known as seasons 1-9. It’s not a given, folks. But with their trusty producers at their side and Jimmy Iovine calling the shots, I had high hopes for the evening. Let’s call that cautious optimism.

Casey Abrams

“I Heard It through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye

Ooo! I love this song choice. And I think Casey did an awesome job…could this be my first iTunes download of the season? It’s too soon to tell.

Honestly, the intro felt a little too fast and am I crazy for wanting the first few bars a ccapella? Also, I’m not thrilled about when people slide up to notes, and Casey is no exception, but Casey won the battle of the night because he took the song, owned his style in the midst of the Motown. I really loved the controlled growl. He also mastered the technique of the “deliberate walk”.  And have you noticed that he sometimes get crazy eyes? Yeah. Me too.

But even with Casey’s obvious musical prowess, I think the true story of this performance was his hair. From the moment Ryan introduced him on stage, that slicked-back do it did not want to be contained. And by the end of the song, it had definitely won the skirmish, if not the war.

Thia Megia

“Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vendellas

FINALLY. This is the Thia that should have shown herself last week! Or the week before! This was definitely her best performance of the competition. That said, I still want to hear more of her tone and I know she can do it. Maybe next week? Perhaps she was taking her inspiration from Celine by wearing a “my heart will go on” necklace. But whatever it was, she should do it every week.

It was kind of weird that Randy became a Lamaze coach at the end of his critique exhorting Thia to “push, push, push”. And I don’t appreciate that for the first lines of the song, all we saw was the side of Thia’s head. And I wish she would have done something a little different every time she sang “heat wave”. Plus, she did lose the lyrics toward the end, but to tell you the E! True Hollywood story, I didn’t notice the first time through. And all in all, I’d put this in the “win” category.

Jacob Lusk

“You’re All I Need to Get By” by Marvin Gaye

In his intro video, Jacob made mention of the fact that he often can’t hear himself on stage and so he “goes for it” (with mixed results, I might add). [Begin mini-rant] Which leads me to my first question of the night: WHY CAN’T AMERICAN IDOL GET A GOOD MONITOR SYSTEM? WHY CAN’T THESE PEOPLE HEAR THEMSELVES?!?! It’s not as if they don’t have the budget. And it’s a FREAKING singing competition? Can’t we get some technology up in here? [End mini-rant]

I’m about to say something that will blow your mind. Take a moment if you need to, to brace yourself for what’s to come. Ready?

This was my favorite Jacob performance.

Turns out that when he’s not trying to be a megastar diva (divo?), I like the reigned in version of Jacob. But I think I’m still perfectly justified in saying “Dude. Jacob. Music is not all about changing your life every single time. Sometimes it’s just for fun. Loosen up!”

You all knew there would be a “but” coming so here are the “buts”:

– I feel as though Jacob needed to make a button choice. Open or closed, dude. ‘Cause the tie under one button didn’t look…well…good. Though I DID appreciate that the tie was my favorite shade of pink.

– I could have done without the hand choreography. 

– And yes, I still hate the vibrato. But still. Much more enjoyable to listen to.

Did you catch that? At the end he sang with his mouth sideways. Trying to channel Kris Allen, buddy? I don’t blame you. 🙂 That’s a plan I could get behind.

At the end of Jacob’s rightly retrained vocal, Steven Tyler left his throne of crazy and leapt up on stage to give the guy a hug. This judge makes his own rules. No matter how many times Ryan asks him to explain himself.

But then Ryan’s hosting brilliance kicked in. Nana, sitting in the audience, got a hug. Okay, that’s cute. And THEN Ryan had the first row of the audience form a single file hug line and ACTUALLY LET THEM ON STAGE for a Jacob hug. Oh. Em. Gosh. You kill me, Seacrest!

Lauren Alaina

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes

A subdued Lauren Alaina broke my heart when she told us that people are not saying nice things about her in the media. And maybe on blogs. Uh-oh. Do you think she means my blog post from last week when I implied (okay, STRONGLY implied) that she was singing under the influence of medication??! If it was me, Lauren, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I love your face. And your singing. And you in general. Let’s be BFFs, k? Your friendship bracelet is in the mail.

True confession number three. The only way I know this song and the next performed song is because of my Glee soundtrack. [Hangs Head] You don’t have to say anything. I’ll turn in my music aficionado membership card in at the door.

If I’m keeping it real (just between BFFs, Lauren) I thought the performance lost a little energy after her trip around the judge’s table. But was a super solid performance all the way around. And I totally identified with her long dress problem. Being vertically challenged I deal with that one a LOT. Now if only I could find an audacious animal print dress to make it seem cooler…

Stefano Langone

“Hello” by Lionel Richie

Ryan, Ryan, Ryan. You really are the best reality show host on television, aren’t you? You might have thought you were in for an interview with contestant Stefano Langone (whose name, by the way, is really fun to say with a [fake] Italian accent). But no. It was snack time with Ryan who had “connections” enough to get a Tupperware full of the leftovers from Mama Langone’s cooking night at the mansion. But wait for it. When the garlic got to be too much for him, a hand containing a soda of some nature sprung up as if from thin air! Annnnd that’s why his contract was worth more to American Idol than the late, semi-great Paula Abdul’s.

Stefano swore up and down that his eyes would be open during this performance, but he was clearly behaving by the letter of the law ’cause that Chad Michael Murray-worthy squint could not really be construed as eye contact. And what was with the kind of sneer at the end of a few phrases?

Jennifer Lopez, who, by the way looked as though she had been plucked straight from a Candy Land game board, took this opportunity to make “wild card” a verb. I don’t take issue with that. I often do the same (and so do you…you Googlers!)

Ryan…thinking to further his snack time bit and possibly promote a fellow Fox show…decided to hand off Mama Langone’s pasta to Gordon Ramsey who was, unfortunately, seated in the audience looking uncomfortable. I guess that’s his normal look when he’s not screaming profanities. But seriously, Gordon Ramsey. Know your audience! This is not Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares. This is not even MasterChef! (Sheesh, how many shows does this guy have?!) This is a sweet mother of an American Idol contestant who just cooked dinner for at least 11 people out of the goodness of her heart. And criticizing her cooking was just too mean. Even for you.

Haley “Legs” Reinhart

“You Really Gotta Hold on Me” – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Mom, please avert your eyes and skip right on down to Scotty’s section, k?

Mark my words, Haley did not do herself any favors with this performance. Her walk down the Staircase of Stardom was the most terrifying thing I’ve seen this week. And her weird jerky movements coupled with an awkward sex kitten-y energy? Her stage presence was too distracting to what she was trying to do musically. The music was actually good, it was just difficult to sort through everything else to get to it. In my humble, but always true, opinion.

Scotty McCreery

“For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder

Scotty’s balcony “hole in one” shot into the basketball net on the driveway? Reallly, this is what we’re spending time on? Okay, Ryan. I guess I’ll take the good with the random.

Ah, the unflappable Scotty McCreery. He’s so mellow it’s hard to know when he’s excited. Maybe it’s when he cricks his neck to the side.

When I listen to Scotty, I feel like I’m listening to one of my Nana and Papa’s tapes. And that’s really all there is to it. I thought his song choice tonight was good, but the version he sang was too fast to get the country drawl-y type phrasing in which made the arc of the song kinda weird. It also felt like he was a little uncomfortable on stage, even while being bold enough to rock cowboy boots during Motown week.

Here’s what I love about Scotty, though:

– He treats the microphone like a ketchup bottle.

– He’s such a goober that you can’t help but like him.

Pia Toscano

“All in Love is Fair” by Stevie Wonder

Pia, Pia. Of course you’re singing a ballad. And as the lucid Randy Jackson noted, “You can’t live by ballads alone.” But that doesn’t seem to stop you from trying.

I found the performance competent but super boring. And I honestly don’t have any opinion beyond that point. Shocking, I know.

Side note: Who was that kid next to Ryan in the intro? Mostly we saw the back of her head. It was totally out of left field, wasn’t it?? I’m lost.

Paul McDonald

“The Track of my Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Paul! I love the fact that you are rockin’ the flying nun hair! And I also looooove your cool and hip style.

Performing with the guitar really grounded him and I loved the performance. Only complaint is that I sometimes can’t hear the lyrics. But really, that’s the sound guy’s fault. So you just keep truckin’, Paul! And whatever you do, make sure you don’t stop using the whitening toothpaste ’cause it’s workin’ for you.

Naima Adedapo

“Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vendellas

I think we should all agree to call this segment “How Naima got her groove back”. Okay? Okay.

Let’s first deal with the matter at hand: her musical performance. Yes, miracle of miracles, she was finally on pitch. But I don’t think she added anything to the arrangement musically. And in her intro video, Naima basically said that Motown was all about paving the road so that she could be a star. Glad they could help you out, girl.

Now, let’s get to the real thing we’re all thinking about here.

1. What, in the name of all that is fashion, was she WEARING? Her (I’ll be generous and call them bellbottom pants) bellbottoms looked as though they could be cut off and used as skirts for little girls. Not that any little girl I know would be caught dead in them. It made me wish that Nina Garcia was at the judging table tonight.

2. Mayday, Naima! Mayday! If the American Idol producers choose to highlight your the DANCING portion of your performance in the recap montage of a SINGING competition just before “America” votes, that does not bode well for you. I wish you luck on your audition tape for Project Runway. 

James Durbin

“Livin’ for the City” by Stevie Wonder

In a conversation with my BFF last week, we were discussing American Idol (of COURSE). And when I expressed my love for dear James-o, she couldn’t believe that I liked him after hatin’ on Adam Lambert during his season. AND she went on to say that James was a lesser version of Adam. It’s a good thing our friendship isn’t based on American Idol, am I right?

James is not the poor man’s Adam Lambert, in my opinion. Are there similarities? Sure! The screaming (minus the weird whale tongue that Adam wielded each week) and the fact that he’s on American Idol. And Adam is a really talented guy which I have said MANY times, but I prefer the less-theatric James. Even WITH the tail.

Speaking of James, he closed the show like a pro and didn’t give me any reasons to knock him from my second-favorite of the competition. Yay!

A few interesting facts about our new judges:

SteTy’s word of choice: “Beautiful.” I think he used it approximately 80 gaJILLION times last night.

J. Lo’s move of choice: The head bob. Not up and down, but to the side. That’s how J. Lo rolls.

One quick comment about J. Lo: now that we’ve gotten her started with actually giving the constructive criticism that she’s paid to give, she just won’t shut up. I think she interrupted her fellow judges 5 or 6 times last night to say what she wanted to say. That’s not cool, J. Lo. It’s not cool at all.

QsOTN (Quotes of the Night):

“Whoa.” – My friend Johanna’s reaction to J. Lo’s eyeshadow

“I never noticed his hairy chin before.” – Johanna about Stefano’s look

“Randy, with all due respect we’re going to cut your mic off now.” Ryan in reaction to Randy’s insinuation that he and Stefano were “together”.

“We’re off to pay the bills.” – Ryan’s outro to commercial break

“Is the voice inside your head that deep, too?” -Ryan’s question to Scotty McCreery after his performance

“It’s like she has Clydesdale feet on.” – My friend Tim on Naima’s outfit

“That band makes you cool by association.” Jimmy Iovine to James Durbin

My bet on who the bottom three are? Haley, Naima, and Stefano. But I’ve been wrong before.

Haddock out!

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One thought on “Mo’ of Motown

  1. Jennifer says:

    HAHAHAHA!…about everything! agree with all but Paul. He’s in it cuz he’s cute. Been a fan of James from the get go. Is it weird that I find him more relatable knowing that he has Tourettes? Your thoughts were my thoughts from the best performance of Jacob to the too-high-of-heels and too-short-shorts Hailey to the always boring, but perfect Pia. Clysdale…funny funny

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