Yes, another late post. It’s May 4, so of course I had to go to the Star Wars themed variety show here in Richmond (called, what else, “May the 4th Be With You”)… Star Wars comedy, Star Wars parody songs… and a long chat with a long-time friend I don’t see enough of. So it all works out – except for the fact I’m doing a late-nite blog off the DVR.
It’s “Now & Then” night, as the remaining 5 Idols sing two songs each (one from now, and one from the ‘60s and ‘70s, representing “then”), as we continue to search for a modern pop singer with 40- and 50-year-old music. Why? Because THIS… is American Idol!
Hmm… judges and Seacrest are already onstage BEFORE the open? Odd… and why is Seacrest carrying a hand-held microphone? And then, during the open, Seacrest runs off-stage so he can be introduced while walking back on-stage. Duh?
Just 3 weeks remain before the overblown finale (set for the last 2 days of May Neilsen sweeps)… so let’s bring out the Top 5. Randy takes the opportunity to break out his first “in it to win it” before we even start… then we meet tonight’s guest mentor, someone who really isn’t a fan of Idol but will hold her nose to plug a new album and new tour, Sheryl Crow…
The “NOW” Round
James Durbin – “Closer To The Edge”, 30 Seconds to Mars
Really? A song from Jared Leto’s vanity project? Wow… not one of his better performances… maybe it’s the song choice, but he’s just yelling and playing to the crowd… I don’t think he can hurt himself too badly, but I wasn’t buying what he’s selling here. (“In it to win it” count = 2)
Back to Jacob getting the Product Placement Zone treatment… he needs it, as he has to pull something stunning out of his pocket to avoid going home tomorrow night.
Jacob Lusk – “No Air”, Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown
I swear he called it “No Hair”. Thus, the risks of blogging late at night… this isn’t the “something stunning” he needed… even the audience’s reaction was a bit subdued… OK, I guess, but he resorted to volume in lieu of style… if he doesn’t hit a home run on the “Then” song, he’s done. Then again, the way Randy dumped on this performance, he’s in real trouble.
Lauren Alaina – “Flat On The Floor”, Carrie Underwood (“Carnival Ride” album track)
Of course… Lauren wants to be Carrie when she grows up, which means there’s a junior hockey player somewhere whose fate is out of his hands… She really is in “little Carrie” mode tonight, from the hairstyle to the outfit to the performance… well, if you’re going to try to evoke a past Idol, why not the most successful? All kidding aside, solid country-pop performance that will definitely help her road to the finale. (“In it to win it” count = 2.5 – Randy stopped at “in it”)
Seacrest notes that tomorrow’s performers are J-Lo and Lady Antebellum… and speaking of country music…
Scotty McCreery – “Gone”, Montgomery Gentry
Now that’s what we needed to see – Scotty getting out of crooner mode and attacking this uptempo song with a bit of gusto… and showing a stage presence we haven’t seen much of… and sky-high confidence. This was his moment… and when he gets to Nashville, he ought to consider doing this cover as his first single. Very good, very contemporary performance. (“In it to win it” count = 3.5)
Haley gets a visit to the Product Placement Zone… interesting choices for the pimpage, as the two clear backmarkers get the extended interviews. Interesting that they got Lady GaGa to give Haley an unreleased track for the competition, too…
Haley Reinhart – “You and I”, Lady GaGa (“Born This Way” album track)
If you have any pics of Haley as a Hooters girl in Naperville, Illinois, please contact VFTW… … She’s sounding a bit too much like Lady G at the start of the song… and unfortunately sounded a bit flat much of the rest of the way. She rallied toward the end, but overall, not the kind of breakout performance she needs.
The “THEN” Round
James – “Without You”, Harry Nilsson
Holy (censored)… talk about a major risk… a ballad? Now? That’s it. Close the books. Write the check. James Durbin won American Idol tonight. Taking a song that is completely outside his established genre and nailing it… I don’t care if he wins the vote, but he won the battle. As far as I’m concerned, this is what we put up with Idol for. The rare moments where we get 90 seconds of an honest, emotional performance. Wow.
Obligatory tour plug as we segue to…
Jacob – “Love Hurts”, Nazareth
Well, if he’s going to do a rock song, this one actually makes sense… and we get a bonus Sheryl Crow mini-performance… Essentially, he’s all-in on this one… The Idol mantra is “make the song your own”… that, he did… it was a little bit uneven, and got a bit screechy toward the end… overall, a solid performance, and he gets extra credit for trying this, but I don’t think this was the Big Song he needed… he’s very much at risk tomorrow night.
Kelly Preston and Sir Anthony Hopkins get the “star in the crowd” treatment… on our way to…
Lauren – “Unchained Melody”, Righteous Brothers
Interesting choice. Something’s missing here… even though she said this was her parents’ song, I don’t feel any kind of connection in the performance… it was solid, professional, technically good… but it was the kind of performance that got Pia Toscano voted off a few weeks ago… kind of dry, really… it won’t hurt, but it’s a missed opportunity to follow up on the first track.
Scotty – “Always On My Mind”, Elvis Presley
Natural choice for Scotty. This song fits his vocal style perfectly. And, of course, he nailed it… a very enjoyable performance… and both of his songs tonight will probably be part of his Idol Tour set… I still think James is going to win Idol, but Scotty’s consolation prize of a long and successful Nashville career should comfort him…
Jacob has given Haley has a chance to extend her stay… but she needs a huge performance…
Haley – “House of the Rising Sun”, Animals
Whoa – completely unexpected choice… did I mention the cliché about “making it your own”? This is the textbook example… and I really think it was enough to elbow Jacob out of the way… one of her best performances, simply because it wasn’t over the top… it was a well-earned standing ovation… (“slayed it” count = 1)
Cue the montage…
Parting shot: No matter what VFTW does, Jacob is heading home tomorrow. He needed his “Idol moment” tonight, and didn’t find it. On the other hand, James and Scotty have set their course for their finale showdown… Scotty with two eye-opening performances, and James with the most memorable song of the season… while Lauren and Haley will get a chance to come back next week for their own mini-singoff…
Tomorrow’s results blog will be out moments after the show ends… see you then…