Thursday, April 7, 2011
American Idol -- Top 9 Performance Show
I'm having a hard time sitting still to write this post. I was so unmoved by almost all of the performances that my notes consist of the name of the contestant and the name of the song. That's useful.
I want to point out before I start that when I critique these performances, there is no malice or rancor intended. Especially now because all of the people left (except Paul McDonald) I once considered top contenders to make it to the top 3. So, I'm when I'm harsh I'm not alleging that the contestant has no talent, just that s/he is not performing at a level that makes him/her worthy of the title American Idol.
So this week is Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame week. My favorite portion of the show was probably Steven Tyler's intro piece. Others may disagree, but it seems to me that the wider selection of songs they have to choose from the worse the decisions they make are. It's also not helping them that there are too many egos in the studio producing their performances. Often, the band is too loud and the arrangement is devoid of drama and build-up because these producers are more interested in showcasing their work than in letting the singer's voice be the star. I long for Adam Lambert's Mad World or Kris Allen's Heartless right about now.
Jacob Lusk (Man in the Mirror) -- I think my internalized homophobia (and prejudice against church music) is in play here. Every time he starts flouncing around the stage I find myself saying aloud, "Simmer down girl; simmer down!" He totally didn't help himself with his comment that if people didn't like the performance it would be because they weren't willing to look in the mirror and not because he didn't do it well. Arrogant, party of one. Your chair in the bottom three is ready.
Honestly, I think this is the most I've liked one of his performances since Hollywood week. But his facial expressions and dance moves make me want to punch him in the back of the head. The arrangement didn't help him much either. And he went first. I smell trouble. 80
Why bother even commenting on what the judges say? They are becoming beyond useless. Jennifer picks one or two spots to be insightful, but it's almost as if she has to build up to it and then, once she does it, she's exhausted and and couldn't possibly make sense the rest of the night. Her spot this week was after Pia performed. We'll get to that.
Haley Reinhart (Piece of My Heart) -- There was no way she could have another week like last week. The song suited her personality perfectly so it was like lightning in a bottle. But I expected better than this. I can only assume that Janis Joplin had a time machine, came to the year 2011 and saw Haley's tepid, emotionless cover of her song and decided to go back to 1970 and kill herself. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but that's about as bad as you can get when all the notes are in tune (which they seemed to be). 78
I do agree with Jennifer's assessment that if Haley keeps going like that she's going "to be around for a minute" (but only a minute).
Casey Abrams (Have You Ever Seen the Rain) -- I love this song AND I love when Casey brings out the base. I know it's completely out of step with a pop star but I love that he can do so many things. I think he did a pretty good job with this, but I was so distracted by how pleased he looked with himself the whole time that I can't know for sure (and I'm loath to rewatch any of these performances). 84
From this point on, the only note I have besides name/song for the rest of the show is "Country-fried Aretha."
Lauren Alaina (Natural Woman) -- She was better than Haley. What else? What else? Oh, she looked like Kelly Clarkson trying to look like Gwen Stefani. I absolutely didn't hate this performance AND she almost seemed to understand what she was singing about. Almost. 82
James Durbin (While My Guitar Gently Weeps) -- James wanted to show us another side of him. How about the side that doesn't try to manipulate the audience with more tales of family woe? No? OK. Well, no matter because I was unmoved by it. And it's hard to believe how little I felt his connection to the song when he seemed afterward to be just drained by it. 80
Scotty McCreery (That's Alright) -- Now, that's more like it. I'm not really a big Scotty fan anymore (even the producers and the judges continually acknowledge that he's a one-trick pony). However, not only was that one of my favorite Scotty performances, it was probably my favorite performance of the night. 86
Pia Toscano (River Deep, Mountain High) -- What the hell was she wearing? And bitch, if you can't walk around the stage in those heels, WEAR DIFFERENT SHOES! As always, she sounded amazing. At this point, it will almost be a felony if she's not in the top two. But she really needs to spend some quality time with a performance coach. 85
Here was where Jennifer finally spit out some constructive criticism. Although maybe I just think that because she said almost exactly what I just said in the last paragraph.
Stefano Langone (When a Man Loves a Woman) -- The arrangement was horrible. He started way too high. He never built the song to any kind of crescendo or conclusion. Other than that, well done. Sigh. 80
Paul McDonald (Folsom Prison Blues) -- Who says you can't be happy when you sing the blues? Everyone, Paul. Everyone. 72
Because I was so disappointed in almost everyone tonight it's really hard for me to figure out who should / will be in the bottom three. But I'm not a coward, so here goes. I would put Paul, Jacob and Stefano in the chairs. America might see it a little differently. Something like Jacob, Haley and Stefano. I have a feeling that Jacob has a pretty big fan contingent (minus me) and Stefano has the 14-year-old girl vote locked up. Unfortunately, that leaves Haley saying goodbye, which sucks because I really like her. I hope I'm wrong.