Top 11 Redux

Well. I won’t lie. I’ve watched video of last week’s judges save probably more than is appropriate for a normal person. And every time, it just gets me. So, I entered last night’s performance show with two goals:

1. Work my fingers to the bone in voting for Casey with all the concentrated effort of an Olympic athlete.

2. Do my best to positively review Jacob’s performance.

I did one better than the other. I’ll let you guess which one.

But after the intro video assuring us that there are no longer any second chances, the first thing I noticed was Ryan’s new haircut/style. I was sure it would cause a wave of Beiber-like proportions, but no one even commented on it at all! You gotta know that if one of the judges had a new ‘do, Ry-Ry would call them out on it. But since he’s the host, he has no one to compliment him on his new sleeker look. So, allow me. Ryan – I like your new “grown up” haircut, but the double-breasted suit is kind of weirding me out. Okay?

The second item that I think we must address before moving forward is J. Lo’s prominent brows last night. They were thick, they were in charge, and they practically took over her entire face. Moving on.

In case you have been living under a rock of boulder-ish size and girth, last week’s results show gave us a little gift. All of the top 11 will be going on tour this year, so even though two are going home tonight because the judges used their save on dear, sweet, leprechaun-ish, Fiddler on the Roof-ish, Casey Abrams (as well they should have), they’ll all be reunited on tour. [Insert relieved cheer here]

A tour that I must see. I’m accepting donations to this end…just make your checks out to my name and write American Idol Scholarship Fund in the memo line. I’m almost certain that it would be tax-deductible. Ahem.

Scotty McCreery

“Country Comfort”

Scotty’s photo shoot was nice and all, but I felt like he looked really uncomfortable. He is definitely the furthest from home culture-wise.

Of course Scotty chose the only country song that Elton John ever did. Of course he did. I thought I was safe. I thought he would have to innovate. It is Elton John, for goodness sake! That wily Scotty. Out smarted me again! Just call me Charlie Brown to his Lucy.

It was refreshing to have him behind a guitar, even if only so that I could watch one performance without getting a crik in my neck. I’m sure his fans and family alike appreciated his Grandma call-out who, by the way and bless her heart, wasn’t clapping on beat. But let’s not be fooled here, folks. That whole performance was a calculated way to sing that low note at the end. He was just waitin’ to pull that ace out of his back pocket!

My hat’s off to you, Scotty. Notice I did NOT say that my visor was off to you. Let’s keep that little item retired, okay?

Naima Adedapo

“I’m Still Standing”

Sigh.

Okay, help a sista’ out. Is there a huge market of people just itching to get more reggae in their hands? Am I missing a trend here? Because I do not know of any reggae artist at the top of the charts. I don’t even know the name of a reggae artist! Not a single blessed one. Let us also recall, if we can, Tim Urban’s brief walk down the reggae hallway of crazy.

This performance reminded me of this:

Now, her vocal was pretty strong. I didn’t hear a lot of the pitch problems that Jimmy was concerned about. But REGGAE? REALLY? There’s nothing more to be said. Except that her outfit was better this week.

Paul McDonald

“Rocket Man”

“If this doesn’t work out for you we can always get you a toothpaste commercial.” – Jimmy Iovine

Probably not the kind of jokes you want your producer to make, but still. Pretty darn funny. 🙂

Well, looky here. It’s the return of THE JACKET. Which, incidentally, is louder than he is.  Now, being a girl with limited wardrobe and a flair for funky accessories, I know that it’s important to not wear statement pieces too often. They’re just too memorable. So. Maybe PAUL could learn a little something from ME on this front. I’d gladly give that lesson to him in exchange for his secret on how his teeth stay so white. A return to the bartering system, if you will.

His intro was pretty rough, but I was fine with the performance for the most part. But that whispered last word of the song was creepy in a deserving-of-a-horror-movie kind of way.

Pia Toscano

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”

Oh, poor Pia! She got stuck wearing J. Lo’s dress of the evening for the photo shoot. How embarrassing for the both of them…

Another BALLAD!! What a shocker. But just to be real, I did like this better than her previous ballads. Her voice is really incredible and there’s no denying that. Her performances just don’t excite me that much. Call me a cold and heartless recapper with no sense of hearing if you want, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

But Randy. Dawg. You can’t leave a girl hangin’. You said you wanted her to sing something other than a ballad…don’t back down on me now! Don’t let J. Lo put words in your mouth! Sigh. Peer pressure is a powerful thing.

Stefano Langone

“Tiny Dancer”

Raise your hand if you thought of this clip when Stefano revealed his song choice:

Was it just me? Every time I hear that song, I think of Tony Danza. 🙂

We did catch a glimpse of Stefano’s peepers tonight and I really appreciated his effort. You could tell it was a battle from start to finish. He did a really great job with the song and I do love his voice, but I think the song lacked a little energy? Should it have been faster? Should there have been more instrumental fill? The empty spaces between phrases seemed looong.

Oh, brother. Staged promo for “Mobbed” anyone? BTW, there’s nothing I like better than a musically choreographed number, so I’ll be tuning in. But this dialogue between Howie Mandel and Stefano’s dad (who bore an eerie resemblance) ALMOST made me change my mind.

Lauren Alaina

“Candle in the Wind”

Oh, Ryan, that’s sweet of you to try to give us something to do during the commercial. But not being as familiar with Sir Elton as I should, it just kinda made me feel stupid. Kind of like being back in my high school algebra class again! And I can do without those flashbacks, ‘k?

Here’s the deal. Lauren was a force to be reckoned with during the audition rounds and Hollywood week. I don’t know if it’s sickness, depression coming from reading too many tabloids/evil media articles, or something else entirely but I feel as though she’s slipping away from us each week personality-wise. I think she’s so strong vocally that she’s making it week to week based on that, but if she was fully dialed in and on her game? She’d be a contender for a top 3 or 4 slot.

Last night I liked the vocal okay, although it was my least favorite of hers. But that interview afterwards with Ryan. Awk.ward. The girl needs to learn the art of sound-byte, though she sweetened it up at the end with a hug for Ry-Ry.

Oh, SteTy. You slay me. “You keep singing like that and you’ll be able to afford the rest of that dress.”

James Durbin

“Saturday Night’s Alright”

James: “To be your own artist you need to stick to your ground.”

Me: “I think you mean ‘stand your ground’.”

James: “You know, stick to your bearings.”

Me: “I think you mean ‘keep your bearings’.”

Wait, James! Did you mean “stick to your guns”? 🙂 Apparently, to be your own artist it’s not required to learn the right phrasing of clichés, eh?

Last night James decided to use the “smoke and mirrors” approach to performing. And you know what? I think that was a mistake. He started off in the audience which just…called our attention to the fact that he was in the audience. I wasn’t focused on his vocal intro as much as I was concerned that he would hit the stage at the right point. Then he threw a mic stand across the stage and my immediate concern was for Debbie the stage manager. After that, the pianist evacuated the stage and I was wondering what emergency befell the poor guy. THEN the piano was set on fire while James, on his knees on stage, leaned all the way back. Mostly then, I was terrified that ash and a pulled thigh muscle would be the penalty for such a production.

It took watching it back again to even know if the vocal end of things was any good. And I think James was on in pitch and tone (and no one can say he isn’t a true performer) but there wasn’t a lot of variety with the range of that song. He sang the same 3-4 notes in various different configurations and then with one modulated section we were done. I felt cheated.

He’s still one of my favorites, but I think he did himself a disservice with this one. Now, let’s get down to the important part. Randy’s critique: “Everybody can come out and put on a show and choreograph it, but…you were really having a good time with it.” Um. Randy? I can’t. And I think we’ve seen multiple singers grace this very stage that couldn’t, either. So…not sure where you were going with that.

James’ interview with Ryan (which, btw, Lauren could stand to watch and learn from) gave us the little tidbit that he was concerned about the amount of hairspray in his hair to keep up his style flava’ becoming a “Pepsi moment”. There was one beat and then Ryan came back with: “This show is brought to you by Coca-cola.” I heart you, Ryan.

Thia Megia

“Daniel” 

Watching the photo shoot intro video for her I really felt her age. She just came off as a beautiful and lost contestant amidst the other artists of the season. I like her. And I think she has more to give. But now I’m even doubting that. I miss the Sara Bareilles-ish tone to her voice that we heard in the audition rounds. The intro teased me that it would be coming back and then she gave a completely generic performance that slipped after the beginning. The falsetto section got lost as did many of her low notes.

That said, I don’t know how Randy can call it “safe” but not use the same descriptor of Scotty? Someone please explain to me how Scotty hasn’t been “safe” with his song choices/performances.

I suppose we should just be grateful she didn’t sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, though, right?

Casey Abrams

“Your Song”

Oh, Jimmy. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Now, didn’t you help with producing Casey’s performance last week? And now “everything” was wrong with it? Don’t you, perhaps, bear some of the blame there?

I was stoked that Casey took the plunge and had his hair cut and beard trimmed! I was also pleased that Case-Case got some extra face-time with “America”. 

The performance began with a little magical lighting (help from his wee little friends?) and it was raw, vulnerable, a little imperfect, and completely Casey. Gosh, I love him. There were a few slippery notes in there but I looooove his phrasing. He’s such a master at it.

And thank goodness that Ryan takes a “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” approach to his hosting gig.

Jacob Lusk

“Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word”

The intro video made me feel a bit sad for poor Jacob who, when introduced to Mary J. Blige took a picture with her with his eyes closed. Jimmy Iovine’s final words basically said that if Jacob keeps from overly dramatizing his performance, he’ll be fine.

Cut to a darkened and dramatically lightened stage with a single spotlight on Jacob at the microphone with smoke rising from the floor. OK. Over dramatize much? Didn’t you JUST HEAR Jimmy “baseball cap” Iovine?

Dude. This guy is really hard to watch! Just don’t look directly at the screen and you’ll enjoy Jacob more, I promise. His mouth still freaks me out a little bit. And those facial contortions? They were just creepy!

Not a fan. He can’t be gone soon enough for me.

Haley Reinhart

“Bennie and the Jets”

Haley: “I’ve always dreamt of having this kind of treatment.” That is probably true of a lot of her fellow Idoloonies, but they had the good sense not to say it on national television. If I could separate Haley the person from Haley the performer, I think she’d be much higher on my list. Because her voice is unique and she does have the chops to make every song cool.

And boy, did she pick the right song last night. It was PERFECT for her. The song sounded effortless to my ears, even though it grated on me a little bit that she extended the “s” on several of the “Jets”. But that’s just my choir background talkin’.

She really upped the ante and showed what she’s got. It’ll be interesting to see how “America” reacts to her in the coming weeks.

And, c’mon. Who thought of this clip when you learned Haley would be tackling this song? Anyone? Anyone?

Steven Tyler-isms (aka What the Heck Is he Talking About?!)

“Scotty, nothing I can say to you that an old-fashioned pair of high-heeled cowboy boots wouldn’t fix.”

Huh?

“And you know how I know a good song is it makes me cry inside. It’s because of the notes you choose to sing to that song.” – To Pia

I’m sorry, what?!

“The first half of that song just blew me away. The second half was equal for me.” – to Jacob

Um. Ahem. Okay, then.

Since last week’s recap included my list of who I wanted gone and resulted in my dear Casey almost booted from the show I’m going to refrain from offering my opinion. I am writing them down on a piece of paper to be kept by a close friend under lock and key. Alls I can say is I hope you voted. Unless you’re a fan of Jacob, that is…

Haddock out!

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