Guys. I almost had a panic attack before watching the show tonight. After all, with Jacob gone the drama factor is down almost 86.2%! (I did that math right there in my head!) But how could I have forgotten that next week was hometown visits? Those visits bring drama of the highest order. And we’re just one week away!
As I’ve said before–but I’ll say it again because Lord knows that economy of speech isn’t my cross to bear–I think any of the four could walk away with the title and I’d be okay. I think some deserve it more than others, but the top four is pretty great at what they do.
And the trailer this week (thanks, guys, for the crisp and clear font choice!), gave me chills and there might have been a few tears. Not break-down-in-the-parking-lot tears or anything, but still.
The judges were introduced. I thought to myself “I wish I had kept every episode DVR’d so I could look back and see how many times SteTy’s jacket matched his pants exactly.” Random, I know. Randy looked like he was wearing some sort of women’s denim jacket. Nice of him to do some marketing for J. Jill, eh?
There was a weird lack of applause as Lauren adjusted her half-a-dress train and for me (for you) a weird lack of recognition of the writers of this week’s feature theme. Jerry Lieber and Mike Stroller? Who? Something tells me that the elder Mike Stroller isn’t pleased to have his songs within 10 feet of Lady Gaga. Who, now has a world in Farmville called Gagaville, b. t. dubs.
“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
In his intro “package”, James waxed eloquent about never having stopped believing in his dream blah, blah, blah. I’m sure it’s true, but the whole interview felt a little forced to me. And to be completely honest, I’m not sure he can do better than Glee’s recent rendition of this song. Oh, okay! You twisted my arm. Here it is. Just for the fun of it. 🙂
But let’s give the Durbs a shot, eh?
I liked the connectivity of the way James sang it and (CONFESSION! CONFESSION!) the tail is kinda growing on me. Not literally, of course, that’d be gross. He’s converted me. I sit corrected.
But you know what? As a James fan and someone that has voted for him ever since Casey departed the stage a few weeks ago, I felt like James trying to be someone else. The song choice was too slowslahshokey and not edgy enough for a James performance.
And him wearing a Journey t-shirt? I don’t know. It’s kind a like wearing a red t-shirt and khaki pants to Target if you know what I’m sayin’.
But this performance afforded Randy the opportunity to do what he loves best…exploit his connections and talk about himself while pretending to care about a performance.
I’d like to think that fishy face that James did while Ryan was giving “America” James’ numbers was for me. My last name IS a fish after all.
Back from Break
So, Coca-cola sprung for some new snazzy plastic cups. Clearly this is newsworthy. SteTy is now a best-selling author. C’mon now, Ry-Ry. Leave the pimping of the judges to the results show! Randy snagged the book and then kept holding it up as if he had strict instructions to not lower his arm. You know like in Speed when Sandra Bullock has to keep the bus going a certain number of miles an hour or the bus will blow up? Like that. But not.
“The Earth Song” by Michael Jackson
I think this was Haley’s best intro package to date. Notice how she worked in a phrase like “melodic masterpiece” into her description of her song choice? Nice, Haley. Nice.
Oh, Haley. You brought back the choir? I thought we were done with that with Jacob gone! Gosh, I love the grit to her voice, even if it does make my throat hurt a little bit. The song ramped up and really went somewhere in the last chorus and I was pleased to see that the choir behaved as a choir should and filed off the stage very nicely.
[Side note: Casey spotting! OH CASEY! Supporting his one true love!! I don’t think I’m wrong about this relationship, folks.]
And then it was time for the Haley massacre of 2011. I don’t really understand why the judges (with the exception of SteTy) hate Haley so much? It’s been off and on this season, but tonight just took it to a while ‘nother level. It was almost like they were rabid dogs and Haley was wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress.
Randy had the audacity to say that the song wasn’t in her wheelhouse and J. Lo thought it was the wrong thing to do because it’s not a recognizable song. Let’s just keep that in mind because I’ll be coming back to this later.
Up until now Haley has taken it on the chin and let their comments roll off her back, but Randy’s comment that she was at the top of her range and “screamy”, was the final straw. Haley shot back with “That’s not the top of my range. I felt it.” And when Randy kept driving the knife in deeper, saying that he thought the end sounded “one note” and the should have done some more “runs”, Haley came back with “I thought it was beautiful the way it was.”
Now, normally I shake my head at these kind of comebacks and tell the contestants to bite their tongue, but I feel like Haley deserved her moment to talk back to the judges. They’ve been really harsh on her week after week and I think it’s undeserved. Randy kept going saying the same things over and over again and a brow-beaten Haley responded, “I heard it. I know. Do you have to say it again?” No, he didn’t. But he did anyway. Grr…
SteTy swooped in with a point towards his fellow judges and a “They’re wrong.” and no one seemed happier than Casey Abrams, happy to be in the audience cheering for his girl. I daresay that’s the most fire SteTy has ever had in delivering a critique. There was not a “beautiful” to be found.
Poor Haley. She really gets a bad rap. Watching her stand up there and get hammered repeatedly bruised my heart a little bit.
Ryan was right to ask: “What’s she supposed to do with that concoction of feedback?”
Well put, Ry-Ry. Well put.
“Where were you when the world stopped turning” by Alan Jackson
Still staying with that Scotty the Body thing, eh Ryan? Gettin’ some good mileage out of that are you?
In his intimate sit-down with Ryan, Scotty talked about what a hometown visit would mean to him. And it was clear that he has his priorities straight:
1. Kiss the grass
2. Eat fried chicken and drink sweet tea
I liked this performance as much as someone with an aversion to Alan Jackson could. LOVED Scotty with his guitar. He brought emotion to the song even though the background vocalists overpowered him on the chorus. The phrasing really showed his conviction at the end. All I could think is that was a really mature performance. I love that goofy Scotty is transformed on stage when the moment is right. I thought his vocal runs were smart choices.
I didn’t appreciate that his exit interview was pretty much word-for-word what he said in the intro video. Guy, you gotta write some new material or at least make it SEEM different. Mkay?
“Anyway” by Martina McBride
Lauren came across totally staged and I got the impression that she was reading her lines in the intro video. And why does she constantly look like she can’t hold up her eyelids? Igniting the midnight petroleum too much, Lauren?
I liked this song and it showed her voice off nicely, but it wasn’t a ton different from the original version. She did a convincing imitation of Martina McBride, which admittedly is kind of hard to do. and sounded great, but it just wasn’t very ground-breaking.
One question: Why does Lauren always look like she’s going to the prom? Maybe she missed hers or something and is living vicariously through the wardrobe department?
In contrast to Haley’s performance, I kind of can’t believe the feedback she was getting. They practically showered her with compliments. Not that she’s not a strong performer. I just didn’t think it was worthy of all those accolades.
Hey J. Lo, thanks for pointing to your throat when you said “vocal performance”. We really needed that extra help to understand what you were saying.
Ryan sends us to break
But before he did, he handed it off to J. Lo and asked whom she thought had won the first round. She hemmed and hawed a bit and let the audience yell out their favorite, but Randy…who is quickly becoming my least favorite judge…was quick to jump in and answer the question even though Ryan had moved on and asked him “Who do you think needs to up their game for round two?”
Randy’s response? Scotty/James/Lauren tied for first place and Haley needed to work on her performance. And Haley gave an audible and sarcastic “Oh, that’s nice” before turning her head to show how his words affected her.
Randy. Really? Really and truly? You’re going to go there? That was below the belt. It was a jerkface move of the highest kind. Poor Haley was having a hard time keeping it together.
I’m wracking my brain. Did she sacrifice a beloved pet? Blast them in the media? Key their car? It has to be something, right?
Back from break
Ryan alerted us to a switch in the lineup and Haley smoothly took James’ slot, leaving him to close the show. I wonder what happened to James? It’s clear that this was not an intended move because the phone numbers didn’t line up with their performance order.
“I Who Have Nothing” by Ben E. King
I was somewhat gratified to hear Lady Gaga’s commentary after hearing Haley sing this song. She turned to Jimmy and said “It’s perfect” and then gave Haley a note to insert a little more drama. And if there is anyone in the world who is an expert on drama, it would have to be Lady Gaga, right?
After the beat down that Haley got in the last round, this song choice made me tear up. I thought I heard an emotional waver at the peak of the song, but it passed so quickly that I could have been wrong. Haley sang her heart out and gave another great performance
The judges, ever mindful of their place in “America’s” living rooms, gave her a standing ovation. It could have been genuine, the song certainly warranted it, but it came across a little patronizing to me. They wanted to undo the damage they did in the first round…Ryan even went so far as to have Randy and Haley give each other a hug. the whole thing just made my skin crawl.
The one redeeming factor in their critique came from a Mr. Steven Tyler: “You just ‘reinharted’ your way into the middle of next week.” Well, I can’t say it any better than that! I hope she got the underdog vote last night.
“Young Blood” by the Coasters
Could Scotty have been more uncomfortable when GaGa told him to pretend that the microphone was his girlfriend and she was telling him to stick his tongue down her throat or they were through? His reaction was hilarious. And later when she was asked about her critique, she said something like “I guess he’s more conservative. I hope he didn’t take offense…” But what was even funnier is that she exchanged glances with the camera man that seemed to say “There are conservative people in the world? I had no idea!”
Scotty took the whole thing in stride and laughed it off, which I have come to love about him.
I love, love, loved Scotty’s humor showing through the song and his stage presence was great, too. He kept the song on pitch even while he traveled what seemed to be the entire length of the auditorium. I think it was kind of a fun song choice and it did make him push for the higher register of his voice. But I also think it wasn’t diverse enough to really showcase his voice. Honestly? I think it was the wrong song choice for him. He did sing it well, though.
And here is my issue with J. Lo:
Remember when J. Lo told Haley that the song wasn’t recognizable enough? Um, who has ever heard of this song? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a MICHAEL JACKSON song is probably more recognizable to the American public than a song by The Coasters. Yet, there was no feedback of this sort from the lovely Jennifer Lopez.
And Randy told us that this was a view of the two sides of a Scotty concert. Isn’t that what he said last week?
“Trouble” by Elvis Presley
Gosh, she came on stage with more sass and fire than I’ve ever seen from Lauren Alaina. She completely OWNED the first part of that song. But she lost a little steam in the second half and vocally, the end was a little rough. There was so much going on around her that I don’t know if the judges didn’t notice or what. But there were some note wobbles in there.
And here is my issue with Randy:
Remember when Randy told Haley that her song choice was confusing because it’s not who she was as an artist? Um, yeah. He told Lauren that she was outside her “pop/country” zone and complimented her for it! Double standard, party of one?
“Love Potion No. 9” by The Clovers
James’ second performance showed that he was totally in the zone. It was classic James, complete with staging, lighting, wardrobe, vocal, etc. He couldn’t have picked a better way to show his voice off, in my humble opinion. I did think the end “love potion [huge ginormous pause that I could have driven my car through] no. 9” was a bit much. But he was clearly having the time of his life. And I thought his version of the song was the best performance of the night.
Randy: “You are now what I love about sports.” I don’t even know how to touch that one. And since I’m rather a Randy-hater at this particular point in time, I’ll just move swiftly along.
A few quick notes:
1. Did you notice that Casey got more audience camera time than Paul did?
2. I thought it was so cute when Ryan dismissed the show with a “good luck all y’all!” to the contestants and Scotty whipped his head around with a gigantic grin and elbowed Ryan good-naturedly in the ribs. Ah, the south and their verbal redundancies. 🙂
In a fair world, I think Lauren should go home tonight. While she’s a strong vocalist, she hasn’t grown musically as much as her fellow top four-ers. And I think she gave the weakest performances tonight. Haley should stick around for top three and then I’m leaning towards a James/Scotty finale.
What do you think? And more importantly, did you vote?