Wednesday, March 16, 2011

American Idol Season 10 - Top 12 Perform

Well wasn't that a mix bag of disaster and awesomeness?  Hello Idol fans and welcome back to another one of my "why did I get back into this?" recaps!  They really did front load this week's "Songs from the year you were born" agenda with most of the bad performances.  About 6 singers in, I was about to call it a day and give up.  But naturally, I forgot about some of the people still in the competition, and they didn't let down.  There were a couple surprises and a couple letdowns along the way as well.  I'm sure people will disagree with some of my critiques but I can only call them as I see them, as usual.  So, no more hesitation required.  My brief thoughts, after the jump.

  1.  Naima Adedapo - 1984 - "What's Love Got To Do With it?" -  There is making a song modern, and then there is this load of crap that was delivered to us tonight.  They made it way TOO modern and besides Naima's butchering of the melody pitch-wise, the backing music barely resembled the song it was trying to modernize.  And don't get me wrong, I do realize that Naima has a "sorcerer's grasp for melody" but I think she used her magic to make it sound terrible.  Sorry, Steven.  Bottom 3, if not worse. 
  2. Paul McDonald - 1984 - "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" - Great song, love the performer.  Then why didn't I love the performance?  I think I started expressing my concerns for Paul last week.  His quirkiness just may not be the best fit for the Idol stage.  I'm not sure why he feels the need to dance around the stage for ALL of his performances.  I know some people enjoy it, but some songs like Elton's classic could have been done with a little less fanfare to far more effectiveness.  And didn't I see Casey playing bass?  Why not bring out an acoustic guitar and just sing the song with some real pain behind it?   Paul technically sang the song fine, but his skill gets drowned out by the waves of flailing arms and body parts and the tempo of the song.  It was just weird for me.   If Vote For the Worst wasn't helping him out, I may for sure put him in the bottom 3 this week.  We'll see. 
  3. Thia Megia - 1995 - "Colors of the Wind" - Does it annoy anyone else when someone refers to "I Will Always Love You" as Whitney Houston's song?  Clearly, it was Dolly Parton's song first, but whatever.  Why oh why oh why do you pick a Disney motion picture theme song when it isn't required by the night's theme!?  I love a Disney song just as much as the next person but the songs just seem a bit too melodramatic for the Idol stage.  I know in season 2 they did Disney night and if everyone is doing it that's fine.  I know Jennifer Hudson sang "Circle of Life" before she was "Academy Award Winner Jennifer Hudson."  But Colors of the Wind????  Come on!  That may be the worst Disney song from the worst Disney animated film.  It was also Thia's 3rd ballad in a row (if you don't count her jazzy twist to "Smile" last week) and it was just boooooooooring!  We may be saying "See ya Thia Megia!" after tonight.  
  4. James Durbin - 1989 - "I'll Be There For You" - This had all the makings of a classic.  James has turned around his image in the past few weeks.  He picked an awesome song that has stood the test of time.  He had J-Lo thinking that he was performing the song of his life to get her dancing like a fool and singing along.  There is just one thing he forgot to do.  SING WELL!  I dunno, he just seemed to be going through the motions of a great performance, but the voice coming out just didn't impress me at all.  I felt like I should be enjoying it but just couldn't place what was wrong.  The singers that followed in the latter half nailed what I was missing.   THE POWERFUL VOICE!   Oh, and his missed his high note pretty badly.  And, what's up with the scarf tail coming back?  Even if it's hanging to the side a bit, it's still a tail! 
  5. Haley Reinhart - 1990 - "I'm Your Baby Tonight" - Ugh, I just do not see any appeal to this girl. I understand she has a good voice, but she abuses it with all of the growling and the theatrics and the stringing words together into nonsensical sounds.  Her facial expressions are ridiculous throughout the performances.  I think I'd rather listen to her parents jam it out on stage for a few minutes instead until she is voted off.  I have no interest in critiquing her performances any more and no interest in her being in the competition anymore.  But, alas, I'm sure she'll be fine for this week.   The only redeeming part of her segment was when she tried to apply Clown Makeup during the performance by kissing her microphone and then smearing the lipstick all over her face.  Why did Ryan have to come to her rescue!?!?  

    OH and what is up with the contestants so rudely interrupting the judges before they're all done critiquing?  They go into 5 minute soliloquies about nothing while Poor J-Lo is trying to talk!  Let the pretty woman talk for Pete's sake!  For Marc Anthony's sake!  And I'm fine with Steven Tyler taking the stage (it's been confirmed that Aerosmith will take the stage before season's end) but I have no interest in him singing with James Durbin.  Whatever.
  6. Stefano Langone - 1989 - "If You Don't Know Me By Now" - This was the surprise performance of the night for me.  I always knew Stefano had a great voice, but I really didn't plan on ever really getting attached to his performances.  Well he really slayed this song.  He brought some raw emotion to it and just sang it powerfully and beautifully.  He kept my attention the whole performance and not one eye roll.  Can't say the same for the ones that preceded.  Nice job Stefano!
  7. Pia Toscano - 1988 - "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" - It really is almost unfair how crazy good her voice is.  The Mrs. was a little worried about a potential 3rd ballad in a row for Pia.  No fear, she brought the dance version to us.  They gave credit to the producer working with her, but I'm sure they just took it off of Whitney's DANCE REMIX album of all her hits.  Regardless, it didn't matter.  She was just unbelievable.  The American Idol stage was BUILT for singers like her.  She has now tackled Whitney AND Celine on the stage.  Just 1 to go for the trifecta.  Mariah, you're on notice!   (And no, I'm not saying she is better than any of those 3, just making the comment for the fun of it!  But she is reaaaallly good)
  8. Scotty McCreery - 1993 - "Can I Trust You With My Heart?" - Every time Scotty takes the stage I get nervous that it's going to be the week he just can't contend.  But, this week I was quite impressed!  Awesome performance for the young country crooner.  Travis Tritt was before my time of getting into country music, but my resident expert wife told me that Scotty really changed up the song but did an amazing job with it.  I'll take her word for it!  I didn't even have to know that the version was changed to tell that he brought his A Game.  I look forward to seeing what else he can do!
  9. Karen - 1989 - "Love Will Lead You Back" - Here is another person I do not expect to win me over EVER during this competition.  She had a chance when she said "I don't want to be known as the Spanish Singer on Idol this year."  Yet, the first chance she got, she switched to Spanish during the song.  WHY!?!?!?!?!?!   Oh and the outfit and the hair?  It looked like she was returning from one of the Apollo Missions during the 60's!  This is another case of her voice being technically proficient, even impressive, but it just doesn't translate well to the stage.  Maybe it's nerves, maybe she's just not as good as everyone else.  But, I'm not impressed! 
  10. Casey Abrams - 1991 - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - I admire risk taking.  I love that Casey told Jimmy Iovine "Is it a big risk? I don't care!"  That's an awesome mentality to have.  But come on, let's be realistic.  You're not going to showcase your singing voice on the Nirvana anthem.  And I LOVE the song.  I'm part of the generation it defined.  (I think)  It was great that he brought out the bass and just wanted to rock.  And he did sing well, and he did sing the song the way you're supposed to sing it.  And he continued the trend of just being all around CRAZY on the stage.  So, if that's what he is going for...mission accomplished.  But come on, we know this guy has MAD vocal skills.  We saw them on display BEFORE the live shows.  I want to see him bring that to the live performances.  Obviously, he'll be safe this week.  He has a big following and he can afford taking these risks right now.  But, based on some other voices in the competition, you might want to start showing off that vocal range, buddy!  I'm counting on you to be a contender! 
  11. Lauren Alaina - 1994 - "I'm the Only One" - I'm sure the whole segment about Lauren having the flu was an "advanced notice" to the viewers so they didn't prejudge her performance in case it was awful.  We already know the producers want Lauren to succeed.  And hey, maybe they wanted us to know that she was sick but still was going to sing really well!  Whatever the mission was, Lauren really brought it tonight.  Last week was a disaster and she totally recovered.  The low notes were a little rough, but when she went into the upper register, I heard nothing but beautiful music.   And, that's pretty impressive considering this song is completely played out on AND off of the Idol stage.   And if she WAS sick, then I had the same thoughts as the judges, you might want to STAY sick.  Phoebe Buffay style!  ("MY STICKY SHOOOEESS!!!")  
  12. Jacob Lusk - 1987 - "Alone" - Okay, first of all, I cannot believe that Randy did not mention that someone has performed this song on American Idol and made it an instant "if you ever perform this song on Idol you will always be compared to" performance.  Miss Carrie Underwood practically turned into a star before our eyes when she sang it.   So, I had to keep that in mind when MALE (with feminine tendencies - just sayin) Jacob came to the stage to sing the girly song.    I'm not going to sit here and say that Jacob is not an amazing vocalist and that he didn't sing well throughout the song.  But there IS such a thing as OVERDOING it, and I think we saw an example of that tonight.  He seemed to be screaming most of the performance.  It was still good and he'll be fine, but man...I'm gonna give you some advice the judges refuse to give you.  Tone it down a bit and only overdo it in small doses!  It's more effective that way.   Oh yeah, and here's Carrie. 
And that's how you do it! 


So, as you can see, I was both excited and disappointed with tonight.  One would think this one would be a simple one to call.   There are 4 contestants that I think are eligible for the bottom 3 this week and maybe 3 that I think have a chance to get the boot.  This is going to be a process of elimination. 

Were great and no danger of elimination - Lauren, Stefano, Pia, Scotty
Good enough - James, Casey, Jacob
Can't Stand Her - Haley
Not great - Thia, Paul, Karen
Ouch and she went first - Naima

Bottom 3: Naima, Karen, Paul  Bonus Pick: Thia

Elimination Pick: Naima Adedapo - 2 rough performances in a row AND she went first this week.  Just isn't looking good for her!  

My first instinct was for the bottom 3 to be Naima, Thia and Paul but I forgot Karen was in the bottom last week and she did nothing to redeem.  There's a chance it could be the 3 girls again and Paul gets a pass.  But he really wasn't that great this week and it was quite forgetful.  I guess we'll just see how it goes!  I'm done thinking about it for now.  

Black Eyed Peas and Lee DeWyze tomorrow night.  Doesn't get more exciting than that (note the sarcasm).  As always, cannot promise a results show recap so if I don't, just look for comments on this post!  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings as always and I'll see you when I see you! 


I've been recapping any and all TV over at the TV Addicts Blog (  Mainly The EventFringe and The Walking Dead.  Occasionally, I'll comment on other shows I'm watching.  I'm already looking ahead to some other returning shows this spring as well as some potentially big shows in Fall 2011.  Keep tuning in and join the discussions!   
  • The Event has returned and airs on Mondays 9pm EST on NBC.   
  • Fringe airs on Fridays 9pm EST on FOX. (I highly recommend watching this show!) 


Ian said...

I agree that James' vocals weren't all that great. Clearly he can sing, but the vocals were missing that extra something tonight.

I'm surprised Haley's still in the competition. She's so middle-of-the-road I can't believe anyone votes for her. I think she might be the one going home this week.

I hate Nirvana (oh, I know, blasphemy if you're under 40), so Casey's performance didn't do anything to win me over. The more I hear him sing, the more I feel secure in my opinion that he isn't really that good a singer.

Anonymous said...

If I would rank their performances it would be something like this:



Deserves to be sent home:

But that's just me.

Mike V. said...

Ian, I'd be perfectly okay with Haley going home! And I actually forgot she was in the bottom 3 last week so it's a strong possibility. I can't imagine many people out there that like her.

I just feel like the first half of the show wad pretty unforgettable which makes it more likely that Naima, Thia and Paul are vulnerable. And well...Karen is always vulnerable! Lol

But yeah anonymous...if we were talking about who should go home after last night (without factoring in previous weeks and popularity), your 4 make sense too! I think we would just disagree on the Thia and Lauren rankings! :-)

Nicole said...

Oh, not such a good night from my perspective - I only thought 2 of the performances were good. My rankings:

Best: Stefano and Pia
OK: Scotty, Paul, Lauren, Jacob
Bad: Casey, Durbin, Thia, Haley
GO HOME ALREAY!: Naima and Karen

So, you must know already that it breaks my heart to put Casey and Durbin in the all-out "bad" category. Both were SO out of tune. Casey screamed the Nirvana song (I, too, am a 30-something defined by Nirvana and like that he took the risk, but it didn't pay off).

I am tiring of Scotty. Yes, he was really much better this week, but I think I've lost my excitement for him. I didn't think his performance was memorable. Same problem with Lauren - her performance was perfectly OK, but not memorable. And didn't hold a candle to the original.

Once again, I liked Paul... his quirky ways just REALLY entertain me. They complained about his pitch, but I'll repeat my comment from last week - he builds a little liberty with his intonation into his weird, sloppy style. So the tuning problems do not bother me, which is rare. But, I'm agreeing with you that Idol's not the right stage for him. He can't compete against those big voices. But, I think about the records I buy -- I buy Paul Simon and Dylan and the like... I don't buy Celine Dion. But, yes, Celine would win Idol and Dylan wouldn't stand a chance. Same result Pia vs. Paul. But I'd buy that guy's album LONG before Pia's! Please, Paul, sing a slow tender song next week, just you and a guitar and a mic --- something similar to the Blackbird performance.

Not much else to say. Stefano and Pia was awesome through and through. Naima's out the door.

Mike V. said...

Totally understand your opinions Nicole! I don't think we're "differing" (to quote Randy) too much. I'd probably agree that Stefano and Pia were the best of the night. I thought Lauren rebounded which was nice to see and why I praised her. Scotty, I can see where you're coming from. I did think he did a great job last night though. He has his country following and its going to be tough to detract them when he performs like he did last night.

Yeah, I didn't have the heart to say Casey was bad...but it really was NOT good. I kinda just skirted the issue lol Durbin, yeah...not thrilled with his performance but I think he'll be fine.

As for Paul...I think we're on the same page. I'm not a Celine album purchaser either but I do appreciate the amazing voice (which I know you do too). That's the ideal winner of American Idol. I probably would love a Paul McDonald album but when you're brainwashed into looking for an amazing, powerful and pitch perfect voice on this show....Paul doesn't fit the bill unfortunately. That shouldn't detract from his talent...nor does it detract from singer/songwriters such as Paul Simon and Dylan. (not an obsessive fan of either but still a fan) Sounds like we both agree that Paul's best bet is to slow it down and do some acoustic guitar. Everyone will see him in his element and it might buy him a few weeks, enough to turn a few record producers' heads.

We'll see!

Mike V. said...

Hey guys. Didn't have time to write a blog post and I'm typing from my phone right now. Elimination of Karen was not a shocker! After our discussions neither was the bottom 3. Happy with the results. The "born" mash up was interesting but I would have preferred a gaga/Madonna mashup to prove it's the same song!! Black eyed peas were a joke. Lee's new song is a bore.

That's all I have for now!

Ian said...

So long, Karen. You were starting to look like Carly Smithson anyway. Get that hair curly again and we'll talk.

Funny you said that about the Lady Gaga song, because I recently read that it was ripped off from a Korean pop song that came out a year ago. Judge for yourself.

I agree that the Black Eyed Peas were a joke. I let my brother watch a basketball game while they were performing. I thought Lee's song was OK, even if it's not the type of thing I'd buy. Truthfully, it doesn't sound much different to me than all the other boring stuff that's popular these days.

By the way Mike, not to come across as a shameless self-promoter, but if you were interested in the second part of my LOST ranking, I put it up a few days ago. One infamous episode is still conspicuously absent.

Nicole said...

Let's all hope for a Naima outsting next week... because I just found out today that her reggae band is booked to play at a friend-of-a-friend's wedding this summer... and if she's in the top 10, she can't do the wedding :)

Mike V. said...

@IAN - Ironically, wasn't Carly Smithson at the results show sitting next to Tamyra Grey and another Idol Alum? I love that she got no shout out from Ryan lol

I haven't checked out the Korean pop song yet but I'll have to when I'm home. Although, most comparisons have been drawn to Madonna's "Express Yourself"....I mean...I am usually one for being okay with songs sounding similar. There are only so many melodies and beats and chord arrangements to go around. But this one just seems like a blatant rip-off. It also doesn't help that Controversial Gaga draws comparisons to Madonna back in her hey day. (Even if I think former's tunes are catchy, she doesn't hold a candle to latter!)
I think with Lee I'm still a little bitter over him winning last year and the REASON he probably won. (teenage texters) Crystal was clearly the superior talent in a very bad season of idol.

As for your LOST posts, definitely don't be shy about self-promoting. I'm definitely interested in keeping up with your rankings to see if I agree/disagree! lol I briefly looked when I first read your comment, but I'll take some time this morning to check it out in depth.

@Nicole - Poor Naima...yeah she should definitely aim to be sent home for that wedding! Of course, then I'd probably think..."POOR WEDDING GUESTS!" LOL