American Idol 10 Finals: Round of 11

Once again, real life gets in the way… so delayed, but undaunted, through the miracle of a working DVR… it’s the theme week Idol producers told us wouldn’t happen… after all, themes are always unfair to some of the contestants… but with desperation setting in (OMG!  TWO girls got eliminated in the first two weeks!  EVERYBODY PANIC!), it’s time to sabotage some of the singers promote fairness and drag Motown Week out of mothballs… because THIS… is American Idol!

And since we’re cutting to 10, you know what that means… whoever gets eliminated misses the summer tour and the extra cash that comes with it!  So vote to save the girls carefully, as gender balance on the tour depends on it!

Good thing about DVR… I can skip past the same damn intro package they’ve used on every Motown Week for 10 years…

Casey Abrams – “Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye, among others)
This definitely isn’t a “Motown” take on the song… but should we be surprised that Casey put a rock edge on it?  A bit screechy at the start (after a video package where his screechiness is highlighted)… but all snarkiness aside, he did a good job with it.  Not great, but good enough to give the rest of the performers something to aim for.

*break*

Thia Megia – “Heat Wave” (Martha & The Vandellas)
And in the first 10 seconds we finally find out why the judges were so high on her… she clearly needed an uptempo song to showcase herself.   It was her best performance of the finals, and one that should keep her around.

*break* Was that a Kirsten Dunst sighting?

Jacob Lusk – “You’re All I Need To Get By” (Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell)
This week should be Jacob’s week to shine.  Let’s see. I’m not sure I’m thrilled with taking one of Marvin’s love songs and making a gospel ballad out of it.  I’m really not sure the voting public is going to buy it.  This might have been a misfire.  Don’t get me wrong, the singing is very good.  The arrangement?  Um… yeah, that.  Remember – the live audience is not representative of the voters.  Nice of Seacrest to create a mob scene on stage… I’m sure THAT went over well with the producers.

Lauren Alaina – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (Diana Ross & The Supremes)
A country diva doing Motown’s greatest diva?  Okay… Wow, I’m kind of surprised here… this looked like a minefield for Lauren, and she pulled it off.  A solid performance, that she did make her own, with a bit of attitude (no surprise there)… well done.

*break*

Stefano Langone – “Hello” (Lionel Richie)
He gets the Product Placement Interview… about his mom’s home cooking?  Umm… he’s maiming the words… he’s sliding and slicing through it… it’s clear he doesn’t get the song at all.  This is… really not good.  Well, if the producers were looking to sacrifice one of the guys tonight, they may have gotten their wish. 

*break*
First Cut Line: Stefano should be in trouble (we’ll see), and Jacob needs some help to avoid blowing it.
Oh, look, it’s the loathsome Gordon Ramsey.  Fortunately, the segment is safed by Temptation Otis Williams.

Haley Reinhart – “You Really Got A Hold On Me” (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
She’s clearly going for votes using more than just her singing… kind of a torch-song vibe to her performance… it was a solid performance, but given that she’s spent some quality time in the bottom three, there’s a good chance that it’s not enough to get her out of there this week…

*break*
The Cut Line: Stefano, possibly Jacob, possibly Haley.  And now to see if the producers succeed in screwing up Scotty’s run… let’s face it, with a country crooner like this, it’s obvious who the target was…

Scotty McCreery – “For Once In My Life” (Stevie Wonder)
Although he gets a Product Placement interview to make it all look fair… not a bad song choice, as he can get away with a bit of twang on it… I’d like to think he snuck by the producers’ theme choice… really nice job, and if you want to talk about “making it your own”, this was the definition of that tired phrase… I hope it keeps him around.

*break* We had a Jennifer Beals sighting?  (Hard to tell in DVR Fast-Forward)

Pia Toscano – “All In Love Is Fair” (Stevie Wonder album track from Innervisions)
I have a problem with another ballad, but I guess it does stand out tonight… and my goodness, can she belt out a song… I think it was a tactical mistake, but she may have done enough with it to overcome the song choice… it’s a major risk doing an album track on a night of hit singles… let’s see if she gets through on it.

*break*
The Cut Line: Stefano, Haley… and either Jacob or Pia.  I’m still waffling on that one… I like Pia, I think she’s got a great future, but she may have knocked herself several steps back on song choice alone…

Paul McDonald – “Tracks Of My Tears” (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
Oh, great… we’re in WGWG (White Guy With Guitar) territory… *shaking head* I don’t get it… he doesn’t have a great voice… he doesn’t have a great image… how the hell is he still here?  I’m sure he’ll get votes… I’m sure he’ll make the tour… and I feel sorry for whoever misses the tour because he’s a white guy with a guitar.  I’m forecasting VFTW Victory one more time.

*break*
The Cut Line: I’d put Stefano, Haley, and Paul under the line… although Paul will survive.

Naima Adedapo – “Dancing In The Street” (Martha & The Vandellas)
Of COURSE she is…   unfortunately, due to a severe weather alert for a county nowhere near me, I didn’t get to hear much of the performance.  I wonder if she’s in the same position as Haley – good performance, but not enough to sway the voters to pull her out of the bottom three.  What I heard sounded good.  I’ll try to track down video and update this later… the dancing, I think, is a distraction more than a help to her…

*break*  Ah, it was a Jennifer Beals sighting earlier, as this time Seacrest namechecks her..
Finally, the performance I was waiting for… the rocker doing Motown… and they gave him the Pimp Spot…

James Durbin – “Living For The City” (Stevie Wonder)
Until tonight, I’ve been saying I didn’t think James could win it.  I’m not so sure.  It wasn’t a “moment”, but it was a solid enough performance from outside his comfort zone that I think he can make it work.  He’s got a real chance.  I enjoyed it, not like there was a chance he’d have a problem tonight.

Cue the montage…
My bottom three: Paul, Stefano, and Haley.  And I’d vote Paul off.
Projected bottom three: Stefano, Haley, and Naima.  I don’t think Haley can survive a third trip to the bottom three, leaving the tour with 6 guys and 4 girls, and leaving the producers really, really irritated…

For those who rely on my Thursday recap in order to avoid watching the results show live, I will have it posted by a few minutes after 9 Eastern tomorrow night (barring the unforeseen).  No performers announced yet for tomorrow’s show.  See you then.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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