The theme this week gave plenty of scope for awesomeness, although not everyone was awesome. The show kicked off with a group performance of Pink’s “So What?” by all the previously eliminated contestants. And largely that is the feeling I got when listening to it: so what if these guys are gone? We aren’t missing much. Except Paul. I’ll miss Paul. Again he was smiley, smiley, and apparently had no clue what was going on around him. But I like him anyway.
So, after being vindicated that America was making the right voting choices, it was on to the real competition.
Scotty McCreery got us “Swingin’” with a characteristic Scotty take on the LeAnn Rimes song. He sounded amazing and I really like the way his cute personality is allowed to come out to play now. His eyebrow choreography to the rather suggestive lyrics made me giggle. But this was Scotty’s worst week yet as far as the judges’ critique goes. Jennifer praised his storytelling (eyebrows?) but told him “it’s time to pull out the big guns”. They had been expecting more from Scotty, who started well. Randy criticized it as “so safe, it was actually kind of boring for me.”
Next up was James Durbin with Muse’s “Uprising.” He started amazingly, when he was actually singing. But then we got the shrill “rock” screeching we are also coming to expect from him. I could have passed on that but the judges loved the performance. Jennifer even tried her hand at foretelling the future, predicting that would “be theatrically the best performance of the night.” Randy said James was “unbelievable.” We know he meant that in a good way.
Haley Reinhart was up next with a bluesy, sexy yet somehow angry “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. Steven praised her “great performance”. He said the song attuned with the feeling in the US at the moment “and you’ve got that in your voice.” Jennifer praised the bravery of taking on such a well known song “because you’ve gotta sing it just as good, if not better than the singer, and there were moments where you did.” High praise indeed!
Jacob Lusk was intimidated by taking on Luther Vandross this week, and the restraint that caused was liked by all but Randy. “Dance with My Father” is a beautiful song and thats what Jennifer called Jacob’s performance. Only at the end did we hear the vocal insanity we have come to know and dread from Jacob. But it didn’t make Randy jump up and down. He reminded Steven why he loves music, apparently. But then Randy gave Jacob the last piece of advice I wanted to hear: “I need the return for me of the old Jacob, I need to see you go through the roof… just don’t hold back anymore.” Randy, please button it, will ya!
Casey Abrams took on Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe” with an electric guitar. This was rockin’, quite unlike last week’s intimate performance but it was just as good. Casey is a versatile and talented musician. He’s probably a thoroughly nice guy, as well, but will that be enough to triumph ultimately. Perhaps, if he comes out of his shell like he did to kiss Jennifer Lopez on the cheek! “You already are a cult hero… you did what I’ve been trying to do for four months!” said Steven. Unfortunately, much of the judges’ critique was about the kiss, so hopefully that won’t detract from voters. “Casey’s got soft lips!” said Jennifer. “What I love about Casey is it’s always about surprise, surprise, surprise,” Randy said. The kiss was a surprise, but the great singing wasn’t.
In sharp contrast, Stefano Langone’s rendition of “Closer” by Ne-Yo was more like a Chippendales audition than an “American Idol” performance. If you like hip wiggles you may have liked this gig more than I did. Steven had been looking forward to the dancing, though, so he was happy. “Stefano, nobody can say you weren’t all up in it. I was hoping you’d dance and you did,” he said. Jennifer presumed to speak for all the girls in the audience, saying “it was really good, you had your swag going on.” Well, not for this girl, but J-Lo should know what she’s talking about so I’ll defer to her (and expect Stefano on the Stools of Shame tonight.)
Lauren Alaina closed the show with a fairly tame performance of “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans. I know they take turns in taking the first and last spot but we are used to the show gong out with more of a bang than a whimper and Lauren’s performance was closer to the latter. It didn’t matter to Steven, though. “Anybody who doesn’t know they can fail is bound to win, and you are that person,” he said. Doesn’t that just mean you’re arrogant? Anyway, Jennifer praised the “color” in Alaina’s “special voice.” And Randy was impressed too, saying “I don’t think even she knows how good she is.”
Bottom spots are getting difficult to predict now we’re near the business end of the competition. But I would be surprised if Stefano is safe this week. I kind of get that the judges want more from Scotty now. We know what Scotty does and he does it well every time. That is what we expect in artists whose CDs we buy, isn’t it? But maybe a reality TV program requires something more. Jacob and Lauren would be my bottom three along with Stefano.
What do you think?
Check out Casey Abrams’ performance of the night: