You Got Me Rockin’ and a Rollin’…

So. Last night in the middle of the night, the power in our neighborhood went off, leaving us electricity-less. Why did this affect me, you ask? Well, it shouldn’t have. Being a mastermind of MacGuyver-like preparations, I have two (count ’em, two) battery-powered alarm clocks. I have a flashlight in an easily reachable place in case of darkness such as this. Plus, I’ve slept through an earthquake (to put this in perspective, my bed at the time was a water bed). So you can see that my ability to block things out while firmly ensconced in slumberland is pretty well-developed.

You know what was equally as strong? The smoke detector’s squeal alerting me to the fact that all was not right in the world. Ahem.

But do you know who had massive amounts of electricity last night? Our top 9, that’s who! Now that Naima and her Rastafarian ways are gone, the remaining contestants (save one…I’ll let you guess who) are so talented and that excites me because tonight was more like watching a concert than watching a reality tv show.  It also terrifies me a wee bit. Whose fans have the dialing power? It’s enough to make me want to slip sleeping powder into Jacob fan’s beverages. What?! It’d only be for the voting period! Sheesh.

Last night’s video introduced us to a different side of Steven Tyler: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Here are a few of the sides of Steven Tyler that we’ve already met:

  • SteTy: Incoherent and/or high on “life” Judge
  • SteTy: Master of the English language (“That performance was beautiful.”)
  • SteTy: Father of Liv Tyler (who knew?!?)
  • SteTy: Friend of Stevie Wonder

I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’ve all really bonded with SteTy this season.

The same cannot be said of Gwen Stefani.  And how RANDOM was that awkward shot of her backstage with the girls? Apparently, Gwen styled the contestants last night. Here’s what I don’t get: how did the starlet of “No Doubt” not manage to get more than a millisecond of screen time? That Will.i.Am must be a camera hog…FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Jacob Lusk

“Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson

Well, let’s say this. Jacob’s performance didn’t make me want to cover my ears, take refuge under my blanket, or watch my tv screen out of my peripheral vision in an attempt to shield myself from some of his more grotesque facial contortions. Most of that is owed to the fact that he sang a song that I really like. Another part of that is because he sang it on pitch.  Also, the fact that he changed his song based on moral conviction I can grudgingly respect. He had some good moments during the performance, and the back-up singer being the same person who actually wrote the song was a nice touch.

Here’s what I don’t appreciate:

1. In his intro video, young Jacob basically called me a coward. Jacob said, “If I end up in the bottom three, it won’t be because I sang the song bad. It won’t be because I sang the song wrong. It’ll be because everybody in America wasn’t ready to look at themselves in the mirror.” And that arrogance is something I think we could all do without.  Hey, Jacob? My dislike of you has much more to do with your drive-over-a-gravel-road vibrato than with my personal issues.

2. The dramatic nature of his performance. The white suit? The self-importance? No, thank you.

3.  Bounce-skipping. Also, hip thrusts.

Oh, Randy. Last week you told him to pull it back and choose A “moment” rather than scattering “moments” throughout. This week, you told him there were “moments” all over that performance. And I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but you said it like it was a good thing. Any possibility of consistency? Hello? Is this thing on? And who thinks the world “moment” looks weird now? Hmmm.

Kris Allen did it better! Okay. Got that out of my system.

Haley Reinhart

“Piece of My Heart” – Janis Joplin

Haley tackled this song and boy, did she dominate that stage! She threw everything she had into that Janis Joplin number. Every time she sings, I marvel (that’s right, I marvel) at how effortless it seems for her. Reaching high and low notes alike while maintaining her scruffy stylization is all just a given for her.  Sure, her mascara so heavy it weighed down her eyes-lids to a Stefano level squint. And she can be a little too cerebral when she gives her interviews…but the chick is wicked talented. Now, if she can make herself more likeable, I’m willing to go back and call myself a philistine of the highest order.

Let’s talk about J.Lo’s response to dear Haley, shall we?

J.Lo: “If you keep singing like that, you’re gonna be around for a minute.”

Me: “Hey, isn’t the traditional fame spotlight at least FIVE minutes?”

I have no idea what she meant like that. Maybe she accidentally switched Coca-Cola cups with SteTy.

Casey Abrams

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Credance Clearwater Revival

Oh boy, oh boy! *rubs hands together with anticipation

This Will.i.am and Jimmy Iovine combination is really a winner. They were HILARIOUS! Let’s give them a reality show of their very own. Mark Burnett? Are you reading this?

Casey “Every-little-thing-he-does-is-magic” Abrams has a gift of showing his personality in each and every thing he does. Interviews? Check! Stupid Ford commercials? Check! Performances? Check! Montage videos? Check! Plus, he must have greased the palms of the Irish lighting guy because he always gets the best lighting backgrounds.

But let’s face it. That bass is MAGIC. And that, along with the fact that Casey is such a freaking genius with his phrasing and dynamics really gives him an edge. And, to be fair, maybe it’s his producers that give him a leg up there. But I think it was present even in the audition rounds, so I’m going to stick to my guns here.

Annnnd now the SteTy cup-o-crazy has been passed to Randy, who shared this little tidbit with us:

“You make the upright bass that I played, that we’ve all played, and you make it cool.”

Tap, tap. Hey, Randy? I’ve never played the bass. Unless you count that one time when I…nope. I’ve never played the bass. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I’m not the only one.

Lauren Alaina

“Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin

Here’s where I’m at with Lauren. She makes me sad. The lack of confidence and general draining of sparkliness from her eyes makes me want to take her for coffee and convince her to let me become her life coach. I don’t know how many more weeks she’ll be able to ride on her previous connection with “America”. Her vocal skill is super strong and that’s the only thing that’s keeping her here right now…that and the memory of the artist formerly known as Lauren Alaina.

I wish she would pour herself into her performances the way that some of her fellow competitors do. If she did, there’d be no stopping her! Ah, well. How many people can say that Christian Slater’s daughter is a fan of theirs? So, there’s always that.

Good thing they put Will.i.Am into the mix this week to liven up her intro video! Putting Country and Soul together to make “Countro”? Awe. Some.

SteTy, repeat after me “grown up. GROWN up.” NOT “groweded up”. Sigh.

I am not even going to dignify the judge’s banter with Ryan (that also made no sense) with more than this sentence.

James Durbin

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by George Harrison

I have to admit that half the fun of  Rock and Roll night on Idol was seeing what James would do. I won’t lie, I was looking forward to a rip-roaring performance and this was not that. But he won me over to his ballad-y point of view. The emotion was ALL there. And that’s what sold this for me. Major props to him for singing a song that had such emotional ties. I could never do that without breaking down and ugly crying right there on stage. Plus, can we just take a moment of silence for that brilliant ending?  That note went on forever!

On a less somber note:

– Speaking of taking chances, what’s up with the jacket, Randy?

– I really want his scarf, but I think that’s a bad sign for him. Or for me.

Scotty McCreery

“That’s All Right” by Elvis Presley

This Scotty performance was BY FAR my favorite from him. I loved that he was returning to his Elvis roots (who saw the hip wiggle?). Here’s what I don’t know.

Did Scotty at one time wear a cast on his right ear and now is having trouble adjusting his equilibrium? Does he feel like the right side is his strong side and he wants to lean that direction? Does he have some sort of angel/demon sitting on his shoulder thing going on and that’s why he’s constantly dipping his ear that way? I’m at a loss here. And so is my sore neck.

Is he a former flutist? Or perhaps at one time he was the pied piper? Just trying to figure out why he holds his microphone so far to the side. I bet it drives the sound guys NUTSO!

SteTy to Scotty: “That was all hat and no cattle.” Now you’re just making my brain hurt!

Pia Toscano

“River Deep, Mountain High” by Tina Turner

I know a lot of you out there are Pia fans. Far be it from me to take anything away from her obvious talent. But Celine already did a re-cover of this song. That sounded almost EXACTLY like what Pia did last night. Plus, she was sporting ANOTHER jumpsuit. I was distracted by that and also in trying to figure out what her necklace was made of. Rawhide? Plastic? Metal coils?

So, to sum up. My main problem with Pia is that her songs don’t have a lot of dynamic shape (it’s all loud) and that I feel like she’s not bringing anything new to the table. I’d just never buy her CD. And that’s the truth of it.

Stefano Langone

“When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge

The fact of the matter is that Stefano’s eyes are HUGE! Like Sputnik! And when you take that into consideration, it is a true feat that he can hide them so completely during his performances. To be fair, he’s gotten better each week, but I still feel the fight happening right there in front of MY very eyes.

Stefano is really good at giving us calculated emotion. You feel intensity in his face, in his body movements, in his vocal runs, etc. I just don’t feel it the same as I do with other performers. It’s like he’s trying to connect and focusing on that instead of actually emoting the song.

At the end of the day, I agree with Randy on this: he should have let the melody breathe a little more and shouldn’t have forced in all the styling that he did. It was a strong performance, to be sure. I just tend to think that he’ll be in the bottom three.

Paul McDonald

“Folsum Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

Wow. Paul is BACK IN THE GAME! I didn’t get the sense that he was battling any kind of plague-ish illness at all!

The beginning started a little fast for my taste. But this was my favorite Paul performance. He’s such a consummate professional and managed to shine through all the craziness happening on that stage. The slower ending was masterfully done and you really got his pure and unadulterated tone coming through loud and clear. Or soft and clear would be more accurate. 🙂

And as a bonus, we got to see Ryan do a little Paul jig. Again. Gosh, keep THAT coming!

I don’t think he deserves to be in the bottom three but I’m wondering if his fan base rallies after last week. Honestly, he was the best of the night (I thought), so I hope that pays off. But now we’re getting to the tough part where I mostly like everyone and everyone did well. So where this thing goes tonight, who knows?

All I know is that me and my fifty online votes were solidly in Casey’s court.

Haddock out!

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