The flute, the beard, and the diva

Tonight the trailer folks took us back down memory lane and asked us to recall three months ago (!) when all of our idols were just “faces in the crowd” and not the “stars in the making” that they are right now.

1. I cannot even remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, so getting me to remember three months back is a stretch. Luckily, I’ve YouTubed (that’s right, I just made “YouTube” a verb) the auditions of my favorites several times. I guess it was for just this reason.

2. Only crazy people stand out in those massive group shots during the audition rounds. And these people…with the possible exception of James?…aren’t that crazy. Remember “Scooter Girl”? “Transformer Guy”? Now those folks dipped a brush in the crazy paint.

Then we were treated to a reminder that the producers and judges, in all their magnanimous ways, will allow us to have a lot of choices when crowning this year’s Idol. We could have a pop Idol! a country Idol! a jazz Idol! a chocolate Idol! Whoops. Sorry. Not sure how that one snuck in there…Thanks, guys. We appreciate your infinite wisdom in casting the show. Now, can we move on already?!

On my way home from work, I called my parents, as I often do, and they informed me that they were voting this week. Since my Dad’s early favorites (Pia and Paul) went home in quick succession, the news did not come as a total shock. But still. I probably should not have been driving when I received that news…

Well, now. Time is a-wasting and our seven remaining contestants need their time in the spotlight. So let’s get this road on the show!

Wait a second. Wait JUST A SECOND! What the heck is going on? Why are these cast-offs singing right now?? Can’t we watch the people perform that actually GOT THE VOTES TO STAY? It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if the performance itself hadn’t turned out to be a train wreck. Karen, Naima, Thia, Ashton, Pia…and later, Paul, took the stage to perform the song “So What?” originally done by Pink.

Not only did the group have pitch problems to begin with, but Karen had a full-on identity crisis right there in front of us! She was convinced that she was some sort of hip hop gangsta. But then. BUT THEN. Paul entered the picture. And you know how much I love Paul, but he obviously forgot the lyrics AND the melody (just a tip for all you non-musical people…those are both pretty crucial to performing a song) so much so that poor pitch-perfect Pia couldn’t even harmonize with him. Bad news bears.

Let’s not even start on the fact that he was wearing the same suit from last week. Let’s just hope that the stage crew dry-cleaned that puppy. And even in all the mayhem, it was still clear to me that Thia got dissed. Each one of the performers had their little cameo. Everyone but Thia. Either she’s not a stage hog or the powers that be are telling her to lay low. Sheesh.

Note to the American Idol producers and Steven Tyler: No. No. No. NO!  This is not how we do it, people! And I can’t speak for “America”, but I slept fine last night, with no second guessing about who I voted for. At least, not based on THAT performance.

The trailer was a pretty standard way of opening the show, but did you feel like me? This show was like watching “alternate universe American Idol”. You know, where:

1. The Idol contestants can sing any song they want!

2. The voted off contestants get almost as much face-time as the NOT voted off contestants!

3. The “back stage interviews” now happen “on the stage”!

But I’m getting ahead of myself again. I tend to do that, don’t I? Before you all stage an intervention, let me distract you with:

Scotty McCreery

“Swinging” by Leigh Ann Rhimes

So. The intro videos to each of the contestant’s performances tonight were their fellow contestants talking about what they’re like. And because they were mostly hilarious, I’ve decided to excerpt the best quote out of each intro video for your reading enjoyment.

You’re welcome.

Haley, James, Casey, Jacob, Stefano, and Lauren treated us to “The Scotty McCreery Guide to Holding a Microphone.” Brilliant! And the quote of the segment goes to: Haley, who said,”Maybe he was a flute player in his past life.” My thoughts exactly, Haley! No, really. I said that already.

Scotty was a breath of fresh air. He didn’t seem stressed out or downtrodden by life. He was easy-going and charming. He was loose as a goose. And perhaps even more important, he showed us his fabulous sense of humor. Now that’s a country star I could get behind! At least partially! 🙂

Jimmy Iovine teased him about having the Pussycat Dolls come in on their swings. And Scotty agreed without really hearing what Jimmy said. Watching him backtrack from that was so funny! Oh, Scotty.

And wow! Far be it from me to say this on any consistent basis, but Jimmy Iovine was right. Scotty brought a different flavor to his country and it was my favorite Scotty solo performance EVER. Have I said that already about another performance? Ah, well. Just call me Randy Jackson.

He added some nice shape to the song and that low register in the second verse? Fugetaboutit. I did think it was kind of hilarious that he dutifully sat down on the stairs leading to the judging table like he was tired or something. But he got right back into it at the end and the personality oozing out of that performance was a thing to behold.

And, I get what the judges are saying about doing a fun, frothy song at this stage of the game instead of sticking to his “lane”, but what is he? A contender in the Kentucky Derby? No. And I think this illustrated that Scotty could really take it: the pace, the schedule, the sickness, the pressure…and still come out grinning and having fun. So there, judges!

James Durbin

“Uprising” by Muse

And I Quote: “What’s up with the scarves, James Durbin? Stop it.” – Casey Abrams

At first, I was a little nervous about James’ studio rehearsal. After all, we left things in a very uncomfortable place last week between these guys. And this week, they didn’t have the luxury of having Will.i.Am as a referee.  But like typical guys, all was forgiven and forgotten and they hugged it out, bro-style. If they were girls, they would have smiled a sickenly-sweet smile, shot daggers at each other with their eyes, and then made little barbed comments to the camera about the other. But, they’re not girls. And in Idol-verse, perception is everything.

First of all, James came out on stage dressed as though he were lobbying for a part in “The Prestige” (or is it “The Illusionist”?) And then. Out of the postapocalyptic mist came…a drumline?

Huh?

Since when is a marching band the quintessential mark of a “modern” song? And, guys? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but those puffy plumes on your hats are SO not rock and roll.

The beginning was so-so for me. It was so LOW for him, but it all made sense why he chose to do that at the end with the highest chorus known to mankind. I’ll say this: the song evolved. I’m not sure why he felt the need to wield a cane, but the chorus was great every time, but that last chorus was MAGIC.

SteTy weighed in on James’ fashion choice: “You’d be surprised how expensive it costs to look this cheap.”

In a living room somewhere, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Cater, and Johnny Depp were watching his performance and hi-fiveing each other.

I’m wondering if the backstage area was taken up with the drumline members? Why else would we be doing these interviews on stage?

Haley Reinhart

“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele

And I Quote: “If Haley says something and nobody hears her the first time she says something, she’ll say it again. [Mimics Haley] ‘Hey’d y’all see that?’ [pause] ‘Hey’d y’all see that?'” – James Durbin

I’m wondering how James knows that…seems like he might be ignoring poor Hay-Hay (gasp!) on purpose.

This week, I got my hair cut by the most amazing stylist ever. I’m still learning to coax my hair into the look that I want it to have and this could be–brace yourselves–a lifelong learning process that consists of hours with various hair implements (flat-iron, curling iron, blow dryer…), endless streams of product, and more than one tear. BUT. The important thing is that she was playing the new Adele CD in the background while my hairs fell to the floor en masse. And then as soon as I got home, I downloaded it.

So, guess what’s been on repeat on my iPod for the last 3 days? That’s right. The song “Rolling in the Deep”. Ironic, no?

Haley did an amazing job and I have no doubt that she could pull off this style. She’s got the power and the sensibility for it. Now. Let’s not kid ourselves, she definitely had a few intonation problems. But for me, the whole of the performance was a great one. The trill up high was really interesting and so were the other subtle changes she made from the Adele version.

Jacob Lusk

“Dance with My Father” by Luther VanDross

And I Quote: “I think the universal term for Jacob Lusk is ‘diva’.” – Scotty McCreery

So, Jacob played the emotion card this week. His dad passed away when he was twelve and this song by Luther made him think of his father and the pain of losing him. I’m not saying it wasn’t genuine, but I AM saying that I wish he wouldn’t have gone down this path. It’s hard to talk smack about him as an artist when I feel bad for him as a human being!

 I gotta give Jacob the same major props as James for singing a song that he felt so deeply and keeping it together on stage. And he was much easier to watch, facial expression-wise. In the first few bars, I thought that he was overtaken by emotion and that’s why he choked up, but his interview with Ry-Ry at the end of the performance informed us that he got off track because of drums in the earpiece monitor.

DRUMLINE! I thought I told you to keep it down!!

I feel that the judges were too harsh on Jacob. He showed great control and phrasing, but all he got was: “Emotionally, it was a great performance.” Which in J.Lo world is, like, totally a slam.

Were any of you taken off-guard with the Mark Ballas interview? Well, apparently Mr. Dancing with the Stars went on a date with Pia, and got her a gig performing on Dancing with the Stars (a doubtful honor, I think). So, when Ryan asked who his favorite of the season was, I’m pretty sure he was expecting a different answer than “Casey”.

Casey Abrams

“Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5

And I Quote: “With every genius, there’s something that’s a little different. And I’d definitely say that he’s pretty much a genius.” – Jacob Lusk

The intro video also revealed that: Scotty is a germ-a-phobe! He was quick to ask for some sort of sanitizer before playing Casey’s melodica.

I had to pause the show with my nifty DVR remote to laugh about Casey’s “disguised intro” followed by his many cameos where he disapprovingly watched his fellow contestants impersonate him and then slapped them. Or chased them. Oh, Casey. You slay me!

Ooo! Maroon 5! Let it be like this….

OH, how I loved the beginning. The stripped down version of the first verse was pheNOMinal! And, he already sounds better than Adam Levine in “person”. Plus, the scatting was a very-Casey addition. For me, for you, for him, I think it would have been better if he had carried through the feeling of the first verse throughout the song.

[Side note:] I love Maroon 5’s sound, so it’s a tragedy to me that their lyrics are always so trashy. Sigh.

For the end of the song, Casey approached the judge’s table and sang the last line straight at J. Lo. She, in return, turned her face to the side. My theory? She was about to laugh and didn’t want to throw Casey off his game. But, Casey, seizing the moment in typical CaAb style planted a wet one on Jennifer’s cheek before singing his final note. 

J. Lo’s initial response after Casey was firmly in place for his critique? “Casey’s got soft lips.”  Oh, J. Lo. Stop right there before we head into an uncomfortable Kara/Casey James situation. 

SteTy, not to be upstaged by a kiss that he’s apparently been waiting 7 months for himself, let loose with a string of profanity. Oh, dang. Sorry, East coasters! That wasn’t bleeped for you, was it? Or maybe it was…the magic of the taped delay. The producers knew it was coming and prepared for just such an eventuality.

But poor Ry-Ry’s beard joke was completely upstaged by SteTy! Oh, well. Ce la vie!

Stefano Langone

“Closer” by Ne-Yo

And I Quote: “Stefano will flirt with a piece of paper if you give him the opportunity.” – Jacob Lusk

And it was this revelation that finally helped me nail down who Stefano reminds me of. He’s totally the “Joey” of American Idol!

WHAT DID I SAY??? I totally called it. All Stefano wants to do is be the next Ne-Yo.

Clad in suspenders, Stefano took the stage to give us a “sexy” performance. Here’s my problem with Stefano’s performance. It sounded too controlled. Too forced. It’s just not natural-feeling. He’s always trying to project something and ends up making me feel like he’s trying too hard.

Plus, he gives me a headache. All that tension in his face, makes MY face, neck, and shoulders scrunch up and by the end of it all, I have to take two Excedrin in order to live to watch another week.

Stefano really should go home tonight. Doncha think?

Lauren Alaina

“Born to Fly” by Sara Evans

And I Quote: “I’ve heard myself on TV now and I do have a little bit of an accent.” – Lauren Alaina

(But according to James’ impression, you’d think it was a British accent.)

Lauren Alaina performed like she was closer to normal. She had fun, got back to her country roots, and vocally, there was a nice spot in the repeat chorus…but for the most part, the point of that whole performance was the spirit of the thing. I think she can (and must) do better in future weeks, but this was a good return to the LoAlaina that we all know and love.

Steven, for a second, forgot where he was and started making his total request live’s known. What were they? Allison Krauss, Faith Hill, and Shania Twain. Okay, SteTy.

J. Lo put her on the spot by asking her why she’s not singing crazy notes like the Jacobs and James’ of the competition.

And then, the entire panel (perhaps channeling the vibe of the drumline?) metamorphosed into a cheerleading squad. Steven, of course, was right at home.

So, there we have it. The seven have sung. My parents have voted. Now, time will tell…

Haddock Out!

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