Tape-delayed… sorry, but it’s that whole “Real Life” thing…
For some reason, we have a two-hour show for 3 singers doing 3 songs each. We are in for a truckload of filler tonight… at least, the producers have contrived to ensure at least one of the girls is in the final next week… will they gang up on Scotty now? Let’s see… because THIS… is American Idol!
We start with audition interview footage… because “it started as a humble dream… but now they return home… as heroes” (according to the graphics)… leading into Hometown Hero footage for the three remaining Idols… LOTS of hometown footage (did I mention “filler”?)… before the intro/credits… and the judges’ introduction… and Seacrest’s introduction…
Don’t forget, the finale is Tuesday night at 8, and the final bloated results show is Wednesday night at 8, so that FOX can get both shows into the May Nielsen sweeps…
Before we see the Top 3, we get footage of James’ Hometown Hero return… the Top 3 come on stage, wave, accept applause, and then vanish.
Three rounds tonight: Contestant’s choice (mentored by Beyoncé), then Jimmy Iovine’s choice, then the Judges’ Choice (complete with the Idols getting their AT&T Texts with the song information at their Hometown Hero AT&T Store visits – was that enough product placement?)…
Contestant’s Choice Round
(which starts with a lengthy retrospective on Beyoncé’s career… and I mean LENGTHY)
First song at 8:11 pm… wow.
Scotty McCreery – “Amazed” (Lonestar)
Baby, turn them lights down low… Beyoncé thinks he’s wonderful, by the way… the first few seconds tell you everything about Scotty. Denim jacket, flannel shirt, leaning against the piano… he was really born 30 years later than the style of music he’s meant to do… and he gives Lonestar’s 1999 country love song the Scotty Touch. Solid opening performance.
One downside to the longer show is that the judges can blather for longer, and they do. I’m “amazed” at how they can talk so much and say so little…
Lauren Alaina – “Wild One” (Faith Hill)
Beyoncé wasn’t quite as effusive about Lauren… hmm… this was Hill’s debut single in 1994 (wow, 1994???)… but I’m not sure it was the best choice for Lauren… she got swallowed up by the song a bit, I think… she’ll have two chances to redeem herself, but this wasn’t her best start. Good, but a missed opportunity.
Haley Reinhart – “What Is And What Should Never Be” (Led Zeppelin)
Beyoncé thinks Haley is a risk-taker and a “rock star”… newsflash!… and her father is part of her backing band on this one… wow… this was a treatment I’ll bet Jimmy Page and Robert Plant never expected when they wrote this in 1969 (!)… but if you buy the Idol mantra of “make it your own”, this may well be the performance of the year. Even when she tripped up the stairs while moving around the stage, she was clearly in command of the song and the stage. An eye-opening performance, arguably her best. (“slayed it” count = 1)
Round One Scorecard: Lauren took a step back in this round… Scotty hit his stride… Haley conquered a Led Zep classic… and Lauren got lost in a Faith Hill song.
Randy and Jennifer said that Haley won Round One as well (now, I’m scared)… Steven said the same, I think, but my Tyler-to-English translator broke.
Jimmy Iovine Round (replacing the Simon Cowell round of earlier seasons)
We return in the Product Placement Zone – and an audition highlight (which I think each contestant will get): Scotty’s includes the Baby lock the doors and turn them lights down low riff that’s become a jumping-off point for comedians everywhere (especially one I know on Facebook)… and Tyler’s semi-coherent “f**k a duck” response…
Scotty – “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?” (Thompson Square)
Man, Jimmy took him way out of the comfort zone, no? Scotty’s on guitar for this one… The song, a current country hit, doesn’t really have a country twang… and frankly, the performance sounded a bit affected… far less natural than his usual work… this should have been a slam-dunk and he missed on it… I’m surprised. Not a bad performance, but not his best… (“in it to win it” count = 1)
Back to Lauren backstage getting her legs made up to replace her torn pantyhose (I can’t make this stuff up) before we cut to her Nashville audition… where she sang Aerosmith in front of the judges and her family… and then back to the Product Placement Zone…
Lauren – “If I Die Young” (The Band Perry)
I see a pattern here… Jimmy’s trying to establish the artists the Idols will be… it’s a chance for Lauren to regain lost ground… too bad they cut out the heart of the song… she gave it a good run, but I think the arrangement betrayed her… she did well with what she was given, but I still feel like there was something missing… and I know it’s not fair comparing this version to Kimberly Perry’s, but… definitely an improvement from her first song, but it’s not a strong night so far… (“in it to win it” count = 2)
They’re so desperate to fill time that they actually gave Lauren’s mother, Kristi Suddeth, a microphone so Ryan could ask her a question. Wow.
Back in the Product Placement Zone with Haley’s audition footage… where she let Randy know that the season 9 judges had rejected her… clearly that changed this time… and Randy acted like he remembered her previous audition (thank goodness for producers’ notes?)…
Haley – “Rhiannon” (Fleetwood Mac)
Wow. No pressure, just an absolute classic… if she pulls this off, watch out… “will you ever win”? After the first two songs tonight, she damn sure can… terrific performance, and she might not even need the Worsters at VFTW to push her along… Haley is hitting her stride at just the right time, and it’s fun to watch… between getting the Pimp Spot in each round, and flat-out out-singing the competition… I would never have predicted this… she’s actually a contender now.
Round Two Scorecard: If this were a prize fight, they’d have to stop it now, as Haley has run away from the Country Kids… this could create the vote-split scenario that costs Scotty his spot next week, although I think Lauren’s actually behind here…
Tyler gave Round Two to Lauren, J-Lo and Randy gave it to Scotty, and Jimmy Iovine said nice things about everyone… after which Neil Sedaka bowed to the crowd… and then we got Beyoncé’s new video “Run The World (Girls)”. Gee, you think the producers were trying to send a message by slotting this video tonight?
Judges’ Choice Round
Scotty – “She Believes In Me” (Kenny Rogers)
Back in Scotty’s comfort zone… now this sounded a bit more like the Scotty we’ve heard all season… and the best time for it, as this is the one voters will remember… his best song of the night, and enough to put a little pressure on the other Idols… very good.
To complete Parental Involvement night, Scotty’s dad gets some interview time after the judges’ comments. And yes, he even does Baby lock the doors and turn them lights down low…
Lauren – “I Hope You Dance” (Lee Ann Womack)
A little pop-country… and as with Scotty, she sounded a bit more like the performer we’ve seen all season… she still seems a bit restrained tonight (she could have pushed the song a bit further), but it was also her best song of the night. (“you slayed it” count = 2, “in it to win it” count = 3)
Haley – “You Oughta Know” (Alanis Morrisette)
She just needs to build on her momentum and take this home… they bowdlerized the lyrics for TV (“will you go out with her to the theatre”?)… but that didn’t matter. Haley hit the trifecta with a passion and enthusiasm her colleagues didn’t seem to find. She felt the song, and you could feel it with her. This was Haley’s night. Remember it. She might just have won the whole thing in the last two hours. (“in it to win it” count = 4)
Round Three scorecard: Haley sweeps the night. I think Scotty’s solid final performance will carry him through… and – believe me, I’m stunned to write this – I think Lauren’s number is up tonight. It’s country (Scotty) vs. blues/rock (Haley) in the finale next week.
Steven gave the round and night to Haley, J-Lo to Lauren, Randy gave Round Three (only) to Lauren…
I’ll be tape-delayed again tomorrow, but I should have the results up in time for my Left Coast friends to decide whether to watch or skip the show… 50 Cent with Nicole Scherzinger, and Italian sensations Il Volo are set to perform tomorrow. See you then.