Last night was an important night on “American Idol.” The performances will decide who makes it into the Top 3 and who gets sent home tonight. For the latest AI reject, there will be no triumphant rock star home town tour televised to the nation. No, that unlucky person will just get a one-way trip home to the family who will always reassure them they are stars.
The hard part about this year’s “American Idol” is that all four singers left in the competition have undoubted talent and pretty distinctive identities – except maybe Haley Reinhart (I really don’t get her). I can’t remember another season when we could have truly said that.
Last night was not just Leiber and Stoller night: with us at the business end of the competition we get a double-dip of each contestant, this time with songs that inspire our Top 4.
Up first, we found out that James Durbin is inspired by (wait for it…) “Don’t Stop Believing’” by the “Glee” cast… no, I mean by Journey. We know it’s by Journey, right? Just in case we didn’t know, James announced it on his t-shirt.
Maybe that was in case we didn’t recognize the song’s origin as it was a little lame by Durbin’s usual standards. The judges were impressed though. Steven called it “An indication of what’s to come. You did it right. You couldn’t have picked a more popular song. Nice going.” Randy pointed out that the song had “the highest degree of difficulty” and “you did it!”
I would have laid good money on this second song choice as Haley Reinhart sang “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson. Just like last week, Randy and Jennifer panned her first performance. This week, though, I was confused as anything by Jennifer Lopez’s critique. “We talked about this last week, about choosing the hit records, choosing a song everybody’s gonna respond to.” (Disagree. I love the song). “To me, it confused me with who you are as an artist. (Agree, 100%.) As Randy pointed out, this was right at the top of Haley’s range, no matter how much Haley wanted to argue with him over it. Steven was all Team Haley, though, dismissing all the previous critique with “They’re wrong!”
Next up, Scotty McCreery. It was a bit of a surprise to find out his inspiring song was “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson but since the song is all about loving Jesus and loving America, maybe it’s right in Scotty’s lane. Anyway, he sounded amazing, and he finally played his guitar! Randy called it “the perfect song choice for where we are now as a country… I think you set your mark on the stage this season, you’re ready for superstardom.” Oh please let it be so. But I have a rival for Scotty’s affections. Jennifer gushed, “I’m in love with you, I can’t help it.”
Lauren Alaina closed out the first half of the show with “Anyway” by Martina McBride. That’s another song about loving Jesus and persevering through adversity. “You did it again, you broke my heart, man. That was the most beautiful thing. You deliver a song like a blue plate special,” Steven said. “I’m so proud of you, I really do feel like you’re listening to everything we’re telling you. That was exactly what we’re talking about,” Jennifer said. Yeah, it was good!
Next there was a cruel summary of the performances so far. While the other judges wouldn’t decide their front-runner, Randy came right on out and said it was a tie between everyone but Haley. Yeah, yeah, we got it, Dawg.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the order of singing somehow got switched so Haley Reinhart was up first after that. Mentor Lady Gaga wanted her to really bring the crazy to her performance of “I (Who Have Nothing).” Just like last week when her first performance was panned, she came out and rocked it! Maybe Randy should just insult her before the show next week if she gets through; it seems to work. “This is why we can’t take it easy on you, look what you’re capable of! That was amazing, one of the best performances of the year,” Jennifer said.
Scotty McCreery and Lady Gaga. Now there are two names you probably won’t say in the same breath again! Let that marinate for a moment. Okay. Scotty picked “Young Blood” by The Coasters, and I almost hyperventilated when Lady Gaga gave him tips for his microphone technique that included the term “making love.” So did Scotty! Can we please remember how old he is! Gaga’s mentoring seemed to have sent him a bit Gaga too. He proceeded to run around the stage like a crazy person, and the eyebrow gymnastics were off the scale. He sounded good and his performance was hilarious, which is hopefully what he intended. “It was funny, it was good, I liked it!” Steven said. “It seems like you really hit your stride right now, now it’s about the sprint to the finish line,” Jennifer said. Woot!
Lauren Alaina gave a sassy, spunky rendition of “Trouble” by Elvis Presley. The judges loved it. “That was well done, there’s the character that came out again,” Steven said. “I saw a performance quality in you… that I had not seen in you before. It was really, really good,” Jennifer added.
Lady Gaga taught James Durbin to shake his hips and he put his new skill to good use during his performance of The Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9.” The energetic performance and a big, showy ending were hot. “You know what that showed me, James? that you can sing anything,” Jennifer said. “You’re having a moment every single week and I love it!” Randy said. We already know that the Durbz is Randy Jackson’s favorite to win the AI title.
So that was the performances over and for one singer, this will signal their farewell from the competition. With all that talent, a good singer is bound to leave this week. Who will it be? Do you agree with Randy Jackson’s pick for the winner?