American Idol 10 Finals: Round of 9

We’re down to single digits now… one of the 9 performers we’ll see tonight will be your 10th American Idol.  Doesn’t seem plausible right now, does it?  I mean… has anyone really jumped out as a pop star?  Maybe tonight will be the night, as it’s “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” night… and not one, but two, legendary guitarists have cancelled on the show… because THISis American Idol!

(The two guitarists, by the way, were Jeff Beck and Lindsey Buckingham.)

Interesting open, to a somewhat generic version of “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”… as Ryan walks the Final Nine onstage before the theme… after which they all scatter to allow the judges (and Seacrest) to make the Official Grand Entrance.

So they brought in Gwen Stefani… as a stylist? Not as a mentor?  LOL WUT?

Steven Tyler narrates the Hall of Fame montage (makes sense, as he’s in the Hall with Aerosmith)… which, of course, leads into the Official Introduction of the Final Nine.  Lest we forget, it’s 6 guys and 3 girls in the season a girl is supposed to win… oh, look, it’s will.i.am as guest mentor (sorry, “coach”)…

Jacob Lusk“Let’s Get It On” “Man In The Mirror” (Michael Jackson)
Jacob changed songs after one day of rehearsals – that might be why he’s got the always-popular curtain-jerk spot… Not a good sign when he pulls out the IFB 3 seconds into the song… same comment as I had about Scotty last week… he is clearly not moving from his spot as the gospel/soul balladeer… which might cause him some problems with 6 guys splitting votes… wow, they got the co-writer of the song to sing backing vocals… which might not be enough.  Good, but possibly a tactical mistake.

*break* I’m watching on DVR tonight, which means this’ll be a real short break… Smile

Haley Reinhart – “Piece Of My Heart” (Janis Joplin)
OK, she’s trying too hard to “get” the song and/or “connect” to the audience… kind of an odd performance… not quite as raw as she was aiming for… she was yelling as much as singing… trying to force herself to sound like Janis… this was a misfire.  I respect what she was trying to do, she was in the neighborhood, I think… but despite the judges’ hype, she’s a contender for her 3rd Bottom Three visit.

*break*

Casey Abrams“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” (CCR)
The mentors basically forced him to change… and he’s on upright bass… This change worked.  Casey’s voice is definitely suited for John Fogerty’s words… nicely done… a lower-key and understated performance that will probably keep him around for another week.

Lauren Alaina – “Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin)
It looks as though Lauren is hitting her stride… despite will.i.am trying to invent a new form of music for her (“countroul”?  Country/Soul?)… this was a soulful performance that really didn’t come off as the country girl she’s been playing for weeks… this might be the night she remembers as the one that turned her Idol experience around.  Down, Steven, down… Very good performance, might be her best so far.

*break* Glad to see Christian Slater stopped by to promote his latest TV failure… and I have no idea what the inside jokes were between Seacrest and the judges…

James Durbin – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (George Harrison)
A conscious choice to get away from the “rocker” image… let’s see… he gets away with a (rock) ballad as he hasn’t done one yet… and he still distinguishes himself from the crowd… I enjoyed it… he needed to show a different side of his talent, and I think it worked… good job.

*break*
Three for the Road: Well… two, for now… I think Idol made a deliberate decision to burn Jacob and Haley off early… I don’t think they’ll be memorable given what’s come after.

Scotty McCreery – “That’s All Right, Mama” (Elvis)
What, they wouldn’t let him do Johnny Cash? Holy (ahem), he CAN sing without doing the deep country crooner voice!  And while it was true to the song, he didn’t lapse into a bad Elvis imitation.   A great tactical decision (although the Elvis-style [worked] stage rush as the end was a bit much)… this may well be his “moment”.  No doubt at all, his best overall performance so far. (“in it to win it” count = 2 – yes, Randy said it twice)

*break* as we come back from break, more pimping of Christian Slater’s pending disaster…

Pia Toscano – “River Deep Mountain High” (Tina Turner)
Well, if you’re going to ditch the ballads, this is one way to go… Oh, dear… where was the power in the song, Pia?  You managed to take a raw, gritty song and turn it into lite-pop.  I can’t fault the performance for what it was, but this was a real opportunity to make herself the favorite, and I think she fumbled.  Good, but… she left a lot on the table. (“in it to win it” count = 3)

*break*
Three for the Road: Jacob and Haley… and I wonder if Pia may have put herself in danger with that tepid performance… and we have a Todd Rundgren sighting…

Stefano Langone – “When A Man Loves A Woman” (Percy Sledge)
I was prepared to hate on this… but I honestly can’t… it’s not Percy (nobody is)… but it’s definitely a step up from where Stefano has been over the last two weeks… one of his best… and his placement this late in the show might be enough to keep him around… it might be close…

*break* They’re pimping PAUL? I’m amazed that VFTW kept him as their poster boy after he got the Pimp Spot tonight…

Paul McDonald – “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash)
And now we know why Scotty did Elvis… Paul’s on guitar… What the HELL was that?  I mean… didn’t he see the word “blues” in the title?  I really don’t want to see a singer smiling while singing the line “But I shot a man in Reno just to see him die”.  I’d really like to see Paul’s run on Idol die, but I have a sense that he is well-nigh invulnerable.  I didn’t like it.  But he’ll probably survive to irritate me another week.

Cue the montage…

Three for the Road: My bottom three are Jacob, Haley, and Paul.  The three singers who either didn’t step out of their comfort zone, or bungled it.  That said, there’s no way Paul is getting voted off – again, between VFTW and the bored housewife (White Guy With Guitar) vote, he’s probably going to the damn final.  So I’d say America will plunk Stefano into the Bottom Three with Jacob and Haley.

The results show, with “surprise” performances, is tomorrow (and I’ll have that blog up right after the show).  I suspect it might be another “surprise” bottom three as well… we’ll see.  Until tomorrow night, everyone…

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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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