OK, so I completely whiffed on Ashthon leaving last week. That means I have a chance to do better this week, right? Let’s find out, as it’s “The Year You Were Born” week on American Idol.
DISCLAIMER: I was running the board for Ram Radio coverage of VCU’s (mild) upset of USC in the NCAA First Four last night, so I’m doing this on DVR delay. I have spent the day carefully avoiding spoilers and recaps so this will be my opinion, and not that of anyone I might have read on the interwebs. So… shall we fire up the DVR?
We start with the judges (and Seacrest) sending good wishes to Japan – announcing that the proceeds from this week’s iTunes downloads are going to the American Red Cross for Japan earthquake/tsunami relief, and promising that we’ll be able to help more during the results show. With that, let’s introduce everyone because THIS… is American Idol!
Hey, was the show live? No pretape? What a concept!
Oh, thanks for reminding us about the ridiculous Judges’ Save, Seacrest… we already have one too many finalists, we don’t need to have a triple-elimination night at some point… hey… look… it’s the finalists, complete with planted signwavers in the audience!
Naima Adedapo (1984) – “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (Tina Turner)
Interesting song choice… she sounded more polished in the studio than in the live segment… that said, it was a pleasant enough rendition (without the rawness that Ms. Turner brought to it)… I just wonder if it was enough to overcome batting leadoff…
Because I don’t learn from experience, I’m bringing back The Cut Line tonight… later in the recap.
Paul McDonald (1984) – “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” (Elton John)
I did find out that he’s maintained his VFTW status… let’s see why… he sounds a bit hoarse… wonder if he’s working with a cold… that would at least explain the awkward nasal sound… because if he’s healthy, this is terrible. It’s like a bad Bryan Adams impersonator doing this song in a karaoke bar. Yipe. That said, the tweens will probably shove him through. OK, Jennifer made it clear that he is ill. No pass, though. It’s still bad.
Thia Megia (1995) – “Colors of the Wind” (Vanessa Williams)
She definitely maintained her momentum from last week… terrific song to showcase her voice… enjoyable performance… solid enough to get her through to next week, I think… I have to agree with Randy, though, she’s 15, why is she singing old-school ballads? She might want to try something pop-sounding, and soon…
James gets the Product Placement Zone treatment… interrupted by a Kate Hudson sighting.
James Durbin (1989) – “I’ll Be There For You” (Bon Jovi)
He brought the “tail” (scarf) back… He is *so* different from the other finalists that it’s hard to really judge… a rocker amongst a bunch of balladeers… I enjoyed his take on the song… I think he’s got a future (he’s got a definite feel for performing)… I think he’ll be back next week… but I still don’t know that he can actually win this. I like his confidence (and apparently, if he makes the finale, we can look forward to a duet with Steven Tyler)…
The early Cut Line: If Paul survives that mess, he will coast most of the way home.
Haley Reinhart (1990) – “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (Whitney Houston)
Definitely an improvement from last week… got a chance to show off a bit of vocal range, and avoided a karaoke version of the song… a good performance, but might get lost in the shuffle…
It’s been a bad week for the next singer… something about a past DUI? Oops…
Stefano Langone (1989) – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (Simply Red)
I get the sense this is going to be a tough week to predict… we’ve had enough lite-pop to make any Lite station happy, but it’s homogenized everyone… only James stands out. Stefano did another pleasant, good-but-not-great, slightly jazzy rendition. Good, but not great. (“Slayed it!” count = 1)
Pia Toscano (1988) – “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” (Whitney Houston)
I didn’t realize she was from my old neck of the woods in Queens… She’s definitely got a powerful voice, but another lite-pop track doesn’t make her any more noticeable. Nice job, might be one of the better ones tonight, but that large group is growing… (“In it to win it!” count = 1)
The Cut Line: Paul… and then… well… Naima and Haley, simply because they were the least memorable of the lite-pop cluster…
I’ve gotten on Scotty for being a one-trick pony… but that might help him tonight, *if* he can distinguish himself…
Scotty McCreery (1993) – “Can I Trust You With My Heart” (Travis Tritt)
At this point, we know what we’re getting with Scotty. He’s the kid who leaves college after a year to go star in the NBA… he’s got a prefab country career waiting for him no matter when he leaves Idol. That said, it’s his voice, and not the overall performance, that stands out tonight. I want someone to break the mold… please?
Karen steps into the Product Placement Zone…
Karen Rodriguez (1989) – “Love Will Lead You Back” (Taylor Dayne)
Oh, good, another lite-pop number… considering that she went into the Bottom Three last week, I think she needed to stand out tonight… not sure she did. Good, listenable, but not a breakout.
The Cut Line: Paul, Naima, Haley
Did Seacrest say “Nirvana”? And after the break, a “SYCYTD” pluglet…
Casey Abrams (1991) – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana)
I wanted someone to stand out… let’s see how this goes… and we have a singer playing an instrument! Even better, he’s not mumbling the lyrics… thus making it his own… technically, it was OK. As a performance, it was fun. As a relief from the parade of mediocre song choices tonight, it was terrific. He should go through on sheer balls…
I guess they’re worried about Lauren, as she gets Product Placement Zone time… and a mention that she’s ill (so she gets a good slot, an interview, and sympathy… hmmm…)
Lauren Alaina (1994) – “I’m The Only One” (Melissa Etheridge)
I’m trying to figure out why she’s not getting the love Allison Iraheta got two years ago, as I’m almost positive that’s what AI is looking for here… I think that the problem is that she doesn’t really connect with the audience. She comes off as distant, and that’s not good. But this is supposed to be a singing competition, and despite her “flu”, she sounded as good as ever. Actually, she did stand out a little, so I’m sure we’ll get her back next week…
Of course, the fact that Lauren survived her illness buries Paul that much more…
The Cut Line: hasn’t changed. Paul, Naima, Haley. And the Pimp Spot is next…
Jacob Lusk (1987) – “Alone” (Heart)
More lite-pop… better make it special… OK… recasting “Alone” in the soul/gospel vein is an interesting choice… it got a bit screechy at times, but I’ll give him credit for taking the shot and (mostly) making it work. I think this could be his “moment”… the one they talk about later in the season. Nice job. (“In it to win it” count = 2)
Cue the montage… which, for the first time, is taken from the live show instead of dress rehearsal (because dress no longer has an audience)…
The Final Cut Line: I think Paul needs VFTW to save him. If they do, Naima is likely singing for her life, with Haley rounding out the bottom three.
I won’t be around my TV for the live results show tonight, but I plan to get something up late in the evening (or, at worst, first thing tomorrow morning)… appearing on the show tonight: the reigning Idol, Lee DeWyze, plus Black Eyed Peas. See you later…