So what have we learned since last Thursday? First: there were going to be 11 singers on tour even if Casey hadn’t been saved, according to reports out of the Idol camp. Makes you wonder if the Judges’ Save was brought back simply to make the 11-on-tour storyline easier to sell… Second: that wasn’t Mama Langone’s cooking in the Gordon Ramsey segment. Stefano tweeted that it was all a (scripted) setup.
Is there anyone left who believes the “real” part of “reality TV” any longer? Didn’t think so.
Oh, two more things. Third: Simon Fuller has announced that he’ll be personally managing the final two contestants (so root for your favorite to finish third!)… Fourth: the season without genre-specific theme weeks has another genre-specific theme week. It’s the songs of Elton John, because THIS… is American Idol!
We open with a montage from last week’s results show… keying on the “surprise” save that nearly killed Casey. Ending with a reminder… “no more second chances”. And remember, TWO go home tomorrow night. Here we go…
After we meet the judges, host, and Top 11… it’s the official theme montage – the life and times of Sir Elton John (as told by FOX). More stalling, as we get footage of the Idols doing an Entertainment Weekly photo shoot. We start with a misplaced crooner, and apparently each one gets an intro montage based on the photo shoot…
Scotty McCreery – “Country Comfort” (album track from 1970’s “Tumbleweed Collection”)
He’s on a brand-new acoustic guitar… Well, it’s now clear that Scotty has staked out his spot, and isn’t moving. This was another good-to-very-good, genre-perfect, vote-getting performance from a singer who, as the judges love to say, “knows who he is as an artist”. If you like country, tune in each week for Scotty (or just find him on YouTube or iTunes)…
Naima Adedapo – “I’m Still Standing” (Reggae Edition)
Holy (AHEM). She pulled it off. She really pulled it off. The reggae arrangement fits the song perfectly, and she sung as well as she has all season. My only fear is that while it was really good, it’s not something the Idol Voting Audience will get behind. And two of the judges bury it. Big surprise. The third judge is barely coherent at this point.
*break* VFTW is warming up in the bullpen… Paul’s next, and I almost can’t wait to see which Elton John classic he mauls… but first, the announcement of the new songwriting contest, designed to crowdsource a song for Taio Cruz, that’ll be performed on the finale. If you really want to find out more, americanidol.com has your hookup.
Paul McDonald – “Rocket Man”
He’s on guitar for the second time (wasn’t there a rule that they could only use an instrument once?)… Somehow, I’m not surprised at the song choice… and to be honest, I’m not sure I can really like Paul’s performances, as his voice just hits me wrong… that said, while this wasn’t good, it wasn’t as bad as some of what we’ve seen already. I wouldn’t vote for him, but, again, the Idol Voting Audience will. He’s got both the VFTW and the WGWG vote. How can he be eliminated?
Pia Toscano – “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”
Yes, another ballad… one of these weeks, if she doesn’t attempt something other than a ballad, she’s done… that said, she sang the hell out of it. Best of the night so far, and she should be around next week to honor her promise to “get us movin’” with “River Deep Mountain High”. (“Slayed ‘em” count = 1)
Stefano Langone – “Tiny Dancer”
A definite improvement from last week, but a little too restrained, and it may wind up being lost in mid-show… of course, playing to J-Lo can’t hurt, at least when it’s her turn to comment… I suspect he may wind up in the Bottom Three because it wasn’t the big performance he really needed…
*break* There seems to be a line in the sand here… we start with the performers Idol has been pushing next… wouldn’t be surprised if the bottom three comes entirely from everyone before this point, unless someone really falls apart in the second half of the show… after a plug for Howie Mandel’s pilot, “Mobbed”, which (imagine this) follows Idol tomorrow night.
Lauren Alaina – “Candle In The Wind”
Risky choice… this is an iconic song… but sometimes risks bring rewards… a heartfelt performance, and I guess she really did relate to the song (I had my doubts). Well done.
Two For The Road: Two of Stefano, Naima, and Paul. I don’t think any of them did enough to attract new voters…
James Durbin – “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”
Four words: Right song. Right singer. Or should I say, right entertainer. James, like Scotty, knows exactly who he is on stage… and… and… is the piano on fire? For me, at least, the single best performance of the season so far. The producers are going to have to work hard to derail him if they want a girl to win this year… and did he actually joke about Michael Jackson’s infamous Pepsi shoot? Guy’s got guts…
Thia Megia – “Daniel”
I had my doubts about Thia getting a handle on a song with its roots in the Vietnam War… but when she recast it as a song to her own brother, she turned out a solid performance… although Randy has a point that she may have played it a bit safe. We’ll see.
Two For The Road: no change yet. I’m leaning toward Stefano and Naima leaving (Paul will be saved by the Power of The Guitar)…
Casey Abrams – “Your Song”
Interesting song choice… I think he’s lost his way a bit… there’s no indication he has any idea of what kind of singer he wants to be… a bit of a ragged performance… it was OK, but there’s been a lot better tonight… and while being this late in the show could help, I don’t know… he might be back on the silver stools tomorrow…
Jacob Lusk – “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”
Jimmy Iovine warned about over-dramatizing the song… and what does Jacob do? He over-dramatizes the song. I think he’s probably safe, but this came off as overly affected on a night where most of the performers went for more honest performances. Not his best. (“slayed me” count = 2)
Two For The Road: While I still think it’s Stefano and Naima (with Paul in the third seat), I can see Casey or Jacob landing in the Bottom Three. We just have to see what Haley does with the pimp spot. Perhaps that was the wrong phrase.
Haley Reinhart – “Bennie And The Jets”
This is a torch song? Oh, dear… good voice, completely wrong performance… strange and disconnected, she may well regret going last tonight. And, of course, the judges disagree completely. They’re clearly trying to keep her around – perhaps they figure she’s the most likely of the girls to get voted off?
Cue the montage…
Closing the doors on Two For The Road: Wow. There are six singers who may wind up in the Bottom Three. My guess, at this point, is that Stefano and Naima still get the gate, but I think Haley’s performance was weak enough (no matter what the judges say) that she’s nudged Paul out of the Bottom Three. Then again, that’s just my opinion. I’m not part of Idol’s core voting audience… and since only James and Scotty really stood out, we could get a patented IDOL SHOCKING SURPRISE EPISODE tomorrow night.
Your late local news is next. Tomorrow, Fantasia and Jamie Foxx (featuring will.i.am) perform. See you then.