I think next season, American Idol should put a poll on-line of what “theme weeks” we want to hear. This week it seemed to be “one of these things is not like the other.” The contestants were asked to pick a song that inspires them. In the second half, they chose from a list of lyricist Jerome “Jerry” Leiber and composer Mike Stoller, who brought you long-ago hits like “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog”, “Stand By Me” among many others. These song choices were mentored by Jimmy Iovine and Lady Gaga. I was looking forward to seeing the awkwardness of Lady Gaga and Scotty McCreery.
James Durbin got the sweet spots of both opening and closing the show. Part of being a contestant is choosing smart songs. While the audience is tired of hearing “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, especially given the resurge in popularity because of “The Sopranos” ending and for it being used in “Glee,” Randy Jackson is not. James did pick wisely; however, once again, his pitch was off. The last few shows when he is singing in his usual register, he has been mostly sharp. I think James enjoyed his time with Lady Gaga who helped him to move his hips better. When James does this, it is sexy (not so much on Scotty, see below). James closed the show with “Love Potion Number 9.” When comparing him to the other contestants, he is the most talented of the ones that are left. When comparing him to other Idol seasons, he is not quite there yet for me. He is my pick to win this year.
Haley Reinhart picked a self-indulgent song (“The Earth Song”) versus a song that is what she would produce as an artist. Perhaps she thought doing Michael Jackson was a risk, but it did not pay off. By the end of the song, she was screaming like a banshee. You could hear the strain in her voice. Wardrobe is making her wear that horrid red lipstick again. Randy and JLo had some issues with it; Haley did not take what she felt to be an attack well. The music industry is not for the timid, but one also needs to know their place within the music industry. She is a rookie and when professionals are giving her advice, even if it comes off as criticism and not constructive criticism, she should be eager to accept the advice and take what she can from it and apply it to her music. People who talk back to the judges are generally voted off, especially when it begins to go on and on. She told the judges, “That’s NOT the top of my range” and “You don’t have to say it again.” I had a feeling that the judges or maybe even Jimmy Iovine gave her advice during the earlier part of the week and she did not take it to hear. She enjoyed her time with Lady Gaga (I bet she is singing with her during the finale show). Even with Lady Gaga, however, she appeared a bit snarky. When Lady Gaga suggested a way to put a dramatic point into her song, she retorted, “Why?” It wasn’t a “why” as in, please teach me; it was more of a “why” like “why are you criticizing me.” I thought how she sang the song during the rehearsal sounded great, but it never translate to the stage, it seems. I’d like to see her do a stripped down song with no growling in it. The song in rehearsal had that. In the end, “I Who Have Nothing” was much better than her first song.
I had some thoughts that maybe the producers were going for reverse psychology in the voters. Perhaps they really want Haley in the final 3, but she wasn’t going to get there with the number of votes she was pulling in. So they set her up to take a fall with harsh criticism during the first number and then she is redeemed in the second number. I can tell you that people who would not have voted otherwise for Haley said in Twitter last night that they would be voting because of it. Whether her talking back turned off more voters than she gained trying to protect her, we will soon discover on the results show. There is one fan for sure of Haley’s — Casey. Did you see them cutting to him in the audience several times and he way-over-the-top support of her? Casey’s pheromones were on fire.
Scotty McCreery is a smart young man. People who chose patriotic songs do not get voted off. I think it was Kelly Pickler who did this when she was in jeopardy of being voted off and she was saved for another week; Simon told her it was a brilliant move. In light of the death of Osama Bin Laden by US forces, “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” was either a Rudy Giuliani move that will turn people off, or secure his place in the final 3. Poor Scotty. I was embarrassed for him with Lady Gaga. Was he old enough to even be in the same room with her? “Young Blood” by the Coasters was an embarrassment. I hated the weird Casey-like exaggerated eye movements. Note to Scotty: Please don’t try to move your hips or pelvic thrust; it’s just not sexy. I think he is secure in the final 3.
Lauren had the best night since her audition. I do not know what happened to this feisty young lady who auditioned and had the guts to sing a duet with Steven Tyler in the audition. It seems like she came to the stage and lost her nerve or was intimidated by the competition. I still do not believe that she believes fully in herself. She picked a smart inspirational song: “Anyway” by Martina McBride and did a wonderful job. Her time with Lady Gaga helped break her out of her shell and she performed a great rendition of “Trouble.” She came onto the stage very confident. But is it too late? I think this will all depend on the audience’s reaction to Haley.
I was thinking perhaps we could morph Lauren and Haley and create a new contestant called “Laley.” Laley would have Lauren’s voice and sweetness and Haley’s confidence.
Steven Tyler’s secret password this evening was “beautiful.” Everything was ‘beautiful.”
If I have to call it, I think James and Scotty are definitely in the top 2. I think Lauren sneaks by because of Haley’s backtalk.