Last night was “American Idol” night again and it was a special night: the night that some audience members are transported back to the good times of high school dances and first kisses. And the night that some of us get to feel really, really old. Yes folks, last night all the remaining twelve contestants sang a song from the year they were born.
First up was Naima Adedapo. She sang Tina Turner’s classic “What’s Love Got to Do with It” (1984), but with a modern arrangement. And here we go; right away the judges fail to get on the same page. Randy and Jennifer both mentioned pitch issues but Steven gushed, “You’ve got a sorcerer’s grasp for melody, girl.”
Next, another 1984 baby, Paul MacDonald sang Elton John’s “I Guess that’s why they Call it the Blues” and once again it was, well, weird. I seriously like this guy. He has… “something”. But it’s gonna get harder if he continues his dance around and not really pay attention to the lyrics thing much longer, even if Steven thinks that makes him a “cool dude in loose mood.” Jennifer defended Paul as he has a cold but I think he’s in danger of appearing too cool for school and we’ll want to see a little more effort in future.
Thia Megia again brought home the shocking fact she is just 15 years old, born in 1995. If we’d remembered that, we could probably have predicted she’d sing “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s “Pocohantas”. Spookily, in tan dress, with hair loose, she even looked like Pocohantas. Her performance was one million per cent better than last week but was pretty boring, as all the judges agreed. “Is that song who you think you are?” Steven asked, astutely pointing out that it’s beginning to look like there’s no place for Thia in the big girl pop world.
James Durbin’s momma made him curse! “Son of a b***h!” he exclaimed as she revealed he used to sing to his dolls (yeah, you read that right, no wonder he cursed) as a kid. Hey, he’s still a kid! His song was the 1989 “I’ll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi. He worked the stage like a rocker and sang pretty good too, but Steven urged James not to get too poppy. The judges loved him and the pyrotechnics and so did we, and we want to see the first gig of the band he, Stefano, Casey, and Paul have formed.
Haley Reinhart was next up, with her version Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1991). This was karaoke trying too hard so we’re going to steal one of former judge Paula Abdul’s sayings, “it wasn’t good, baby”, since Jennifer resorted to Paula’s other old tactic when the singing was awful of telling the girl how great she looks. Not sure that’s true, either. When did leggings become pants? Honestly, the highlight of Haley’s segment was Ryan running over to fix the “red lipstick massacre” but at least Haley handled that with good humor. She may need that sense of humor tonight.
Stefano Langone got us back in the zone with “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red (1989). Randy called it “The best performance of the night so far,” and we have to agree, although James was the only real competition so far. But as Randy pointed out, this song is the Olympics of singing. Stefano also picked up Brownie points for running into the crowd to hug his Mom. Don’t tell me you didn’t think that was cute!
Pia Toscano, apparently born a diva whose Dad used to video singing as a tiny tot, sang “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” by Whitney Houston (1988). Sigh. This performance was a little boring, but the judges loved it, with Randy raving that she’s “in it to win it.” And Steve gushing, “you are why this show is called ‘American Idol’”. But we just don’t know, ya know? Most people are media-savvy enough to know that this is a popularity contest as much as anything and so far Pia hasn’t shown much personality.
Ok, I admit I’ve always loved Scotty McCreery (born 1993). You knew that, right? But now I love his parents too. Both took a shot at Scotty’s famous “Baby lock them doors…” opening lyric and were so sweet! And now I don’t even need subtitles for Scotty’s interviews, so I was as excited as anything by him singing Travis Tritt’s “Can I Trust You With My Heart?” Uh…yep! Ok, back to earth; if you love Scotty, you’d have loved this, as the judges did. But I also hope he heeds their warning and mixes it up a bit in the future. He will need to, but he can do it. Come on, Scotty!
Next up, Karen Rodriguez was dressed like a futuristic flight attendant to sing Taylor Dayne’s “Love Will Lead You Back” from 1989. Of course, she sang a few lines in Spanish. We know what to expect from her as much as we do Scotty! It was OK, but just OK. Steven seemed to be suggesting that she was going for the ethnic vote (at least, we think that’s what he meant) but she’s never had much appeal for us.
Casey Abrams, born 1991, got the second bleep of the night. He pointed out that his parents were in their 40s when he was born, so that meant they really “know their s__.” And he does too! Casey’s rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” was the first time an Idol contestant has sang Nirvana or played the bass while performing. He was awesome at both things, and also sort of angry again. That upset Jennifer, who wished the performance has been more pleasant. Um yeah, OK, Jennifer! We’re more with Randy, who told Casey he loved that he was putting art before commerce. Oh yeah!
Lauren Alaina got her excuses in early, to tell us she had flu. By the time the news got to Randy, it had been downgraded to a cold. He told her, “That was very nice, so… have a cold every week!” She was pretty good on “I’m The Only One” by Melissa Etheridge, from 1994, though, the best she has sounded in a while, even if she didn’t quite hit the right emotionally anguished tone here.
Last up was Jacob Lusk, 1987, Heart’s “Alone”. It’s an awesome song, just not, unfortunately, when sang by Jacob. For “pitch problems” read “shrieky”, but of course he nailed the emotions and that may see him through with the voters.
Our prediction for next evictee is Haley, but what do you think?