It’s been an interesting night so far… just got home from Gallery 5, where Richmond Times-Dispatch publisher Tom Silvestri gave a talk about transformation – something the newspaper industry is undergoing now.
It occurred to me that “transformation” is, at heart, one of the themes of American Idol. Which of these unknown singers can transform themselves into a performer America wants to see, and votes for? Well, that journey starts in earnest tonight. There are many things we don’t know… we don’t know if tonight is a double-elimination, or if that’s coming later… we don’t know if there are any surprise rule quirks (like the much-reviled Judges’ Save)… we don’t know if the performance shows will ever be live (tonight’s was taped last night)… but we do know that THIS… is American Idol!
It’s fitting that I’m on tape delay, too… watching on about a 20-minute delay after the Gallery 5 event… so I’ll be FFing all the commercials… sorry, advertisers…
We get quickly to the introduction, as there 13 singers and just 2 hours… it’s “Personal Idols” night, and the first night that Jimmy Iovine gets his hands on the performers (as a mentor! Get your minds out of the gutter)…
Lauren Alaina – “Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain
Let’s face it, it’s offputting to watch a 16-year-old sing about “any man of mine”, but hey, it’s Idol. Kind of a shrill performance… good to a point, but she’s more playing a country singer than being one… nice, she’ll get a ton of votes (even from this early position), but not sure this was really right for her.
*break* Tonight, I’m going to just rank who I think is heading for The Bottom Three… so no scorecard for a while…
Casey Abrams – “With A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
Of course, Casey isn’t capable of singing with a rasp, so this doesn’t resemble the Joe Cocker version (or the Sgt. Pepper version, either)… he’s all over the place, and not in a good way… screeching the high parts, flattening out at times… this performance might get lost in the shuffle… OK, but I wouldn’t rush to vote for it… gee, the judges aren’t pushing Casey much, are they?
Ashthon Jones – “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” by Diana Ross
Last week, the judges compared her to Miss Ross… let’s see if it holds up… it took her one stanza before she really warmed up to the song… again, I don’t know if this is the right song of Diana’s to showcase herself with… but she did the best with what she chose… solid performance, I’m sure it’s enough to keep her around…
*break* I’m not sure any of these three are going to go below the cut line… but with 10 singers to go…?
Paul McDonald – “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams
His voice strikes me as an affectation… and he’s kind of awkward on stage… but in a way that’ll be endearing to the “frustrated housewife” demographic. When he actually got into the song, I was less impressed… it fell kind of flat… he’s all sizzle and no steak. I definitely wouldn’t vote for him. A lot of other people will.
Ryan, you’re too stiff to be that “spontaneous”. Please stop. *break* And as for Pia… I’m disappointed… I was all ready to develop an inappropriate crush on you and you went and chose the Evil Wind from the North… you need to transcend the material… At least she gets the Product Placement Interview…
Pia Toscano – “All By Myself” by Celine Dion
OK, you’re forgiven. A little shrill on the higher notes, but an overall very good performance that did allow me to forget the source… let’s face it, she’s got the look and the voice to go far, with or without Idol… she definitely did enough to get through tonight…
Nice of Steven to make the pre-tape obvious (yesterday was International Women’s Day)… off to *break*.
The Cut Line: Paul and Lauren may be in trouble. Lauren didn’t stand out to me, and there is a real risk for Paul that the voting audience really won’t get it.
James Durbin – “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney
From Priest to McCartney? OK, here we go… Well, now… James could screw up Idol’s plan to have one of the girls win. He did a great job on one of my favorite Beatle solo tracks… he definitely connected with the audience… and I like that he defies easy categorization… this performance, I’d vote for.
Haley Reinhart – “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes
Oh, that first note… ouch… and unfortunately, it didn’t get much better than that. She all but yodeled parts of the song. I feel blue for Haley now. This is where the judges needed to be a bit critical. They’re not doing her any favors. Even Randy’s “boring” critique didn’t help. Tell her what to fix, don’t patronize!
The Cut Line: Haley has joined Paul and Lauren in the danger zone.
…and Jacob has joined Seacrest in the Product Placement Zone…
Jacob Lusk – “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly
Now this is what happens when a singer makes the right song choice… although I could have lived without that run in the middle, overall it was a well-done fit of singer to song… one of the best of the night so far.
The Cut Line: hasn’t moved.
Thia Megia – “Smile” by Michael Jackson
She’s never heard of Charlie Chaplin? Oy, youth… this deserves a wow. A jazzy, understated performance that was truly her own. I really enjoyed it. I don’t get why the judges didn’t. Is it because it wasn’t an obvious ripoff of a familiar performance?
*break* (there’s been a lot of those tonight, haven’t there?)
The Cut Line: still hasn’t moved. Paul, Lauren, Haley. But there’s bumps in the road ahead…
Stefano Langone – “Lately” by Stevie Wonder
Ummm… yeah. This happened. And I really have no reaction. The song was there, he sung it, and we moved on. Not bad enough to get cut, not good enough to motivate me to care.
Karen Rodriguez – “I Could Fall In Love” by Selena
For the most part, an understated, beautiful performance (I sensed one rough patch), definitely enough for her to come back. Again, what the HELL are the judges talking about? Why are they burying this?
*break* You can tell there’s too many breaks… I caught up with the “live” broadcast while FFing this break!
The Cut Line: I’m not ready to drop Stefano below it, but he’s hovering close. And while I’d keep Karen around, I wonder if the judges’ burial will hurt her… for now, Paul, Lauren, and Haley remain below the line.
Scotty gets the Product Placement Zone treatment…
Scotty McCreery – “The River” by Garth Brooks
I think Scotty was born 30 years too late… he’d have been a hell of a country singer back in the classic country days… right now, he sounds a little dated, frankly. He did a good job being himself, and he’ll do all right until one of the theme weeks forces him to do a pop song. He’s safe for now, and will probably take a few more votes from Lauren and Haley.
*break* I have outrun the DVR, yet I must fast forward…
The Cut Line: Yeah, Lauren and Haley are in danger… but the line holds steady: Paul, Lauren, Haley.
Naima Adedapo – “Umbrella” by Rihanna
Welcome to the Pimp Spot, Naima. Interesting take on the song… but she again manages to show off the power of her voice while taking full advantage of the Pimp Spot. Really enjoyable performance. She’ll be hurt by the odd phone number (after all this time, they still haven’t bought 866-IDOLS-13???)
Damn, Nigel… I don’t want to hear the judges prattle aimlessly at the end of the show… time this thing out better, man!!! Oh, good, we’re off to the montage…
The Final Cut Zone: Personally, my bottom three remain Paul, Lauren, and Haley. I’m not sure America will go with me… Stefano could wind up in the bottom three. I worry that the judges’ negativity might put Karen or Thia down, too.
At this point, I don’t think there’s a clear favorite or two to win this… although I do want to see where James goes from here… Pia remains a top contender… and I think Naima has talent but perhaps not an audience… yet…
Diddy Dirty Money and Adam Lambert perform tomorrow night… and someone will be eliminated. See you at 8/7c tomorrow… your late FOX local news is next.