Wednesday, April 06, 2011

American Idol Season 10 - Top 9 Perform

Hello Idol fanatics and welcome back to another week of amateur singing dissection!  So it seems like some of the contestants didn't get the memo that this was "ROCK N' ROLL" WEEK!   Yes yes, I know that some of the best known ballads come from rock artists but COME ON!!!  I'm not saying that all of those performances were necessarily bad, they just didn't really fit with the week's theme in my opinion.  Some shined, some were just okay.  But I think I have this week's bottom 3 pegged (or at least who it probably SHOULD be).

Before we get to the recap let me just rant about a few things.   I said it after the results show last week (in the comments of last week's recap), what is up with all of the love on Idol?   First of all, it's ROCK N' ROLL week!  Don't even try to pass off that Black Eyed Peas crap music as Rock!  (Mazel Tov!)  Maybe Will knows something about being a performer, but the dude can barely sing, why has he been showcased on American Idol for 3 episodes so far?  Makes no sense whatsoever to me!    Gripe #2 - I think we have known this was the case for weeks now, but I finally need to raise it as an issue.  While entertaining, the judges are bringing absolutely NO VALUE to the table.  They are a group of praisers.  Even Randy when trying to keep it real, still can't just flat out say when something didn't work.  So, we are left to our own devices to weed out who really wasn't good.

Hey, I'm more than up for the job!  And the best part?  Simon can't steal my lines before I write them on this blog!   So here we go folks!  Let's find a contestant to give the boot!

The Recap

  1. Jacob Lusk - "Man in the Mirror" - This was kind of unfair for me.  I pretty much have Jacob written off from winning American Idol, but he FINALLY did something I enjoyed!  It may be an odd choice as a favorite Michael Jackson son, but I have always loved "Man in the Mirror" ever since childhood.  It's my jam!  It's actually the first song I played when I heard he died.  Great stuff.  Anyway, on to Jacob, I guess I'll give him props for changing it from the more predictable "Let's Get it On" and he did sing it really well.  How could he not?  He has the voice and it's a great melody.  This redeemed him in my book.  But I still can't get past his facial expressions and bodily movement on stage.  And I think something from his "Let's Get it On" act still made it on stage.  What was up with all of those hip thrusts!?!!?  
  2. Haley Reinhart - "Piece of My Heart" - Last week I speculated if it was possible for the person I despise the most to make me do a full 180 and support her 100% from here on out.  Thankfully, Haley did not make me carry that speculation through.  After an outstanding outing on Elton John week, she returned to her good ol' awful growly self.   This week was almost comical though.  I feel absolutely certain that Simon would have called her out for impersonating the Cookie Monster through the chorus.  "TAKE ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY COOOOOOOKIE BIG BIRD!!"  Seriously, sing it like Cookie Monster, you can sound like Haley too.  What on Earth is her obsession with that growl?  It does NOT sound good.  I think the only redeeming quality of this performance was one high note that caught me off guard.   I liked that.  The rest?  Sesame Street.  I don't know what the judges were listening to, and really don't care.  I think she has gone straight back to the bottom 3. 
  3. Casey Abrams - "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" - I know Casey really is an acquired taste.  If there's a chance that some may never really see it.  I still love the guy.  (in a totally straight and manly way)  This is the first time he has brought the stand-up bass onto the live stage, and I've been waiting for that.  And of all songs to do it, a CCR song.  I thought he sounded great.  Yes, it was not a perfect vocal but with his style I almost feel like it shouldn't be.  That's a little unfair to all the pitchy contestants out there that get called out on it.  But this is Rock N' Roll man!  Mess it up a little, make it raw!   The one part I didn't really enjoy was when he tried to hit some falsetto notes and it just went all squeaky.  I still think he's on a redemption train since the "SAVE" (which I still don't support even if I'm glad he's still in it).  I don't think Casey will win, so saving him was kind of pointless.  And would we really want a contestant that America voted off to win the show anyway?   I almost feel like the Judges' Save has become a reason to make the show 2 hours for an additional week before they get into single digits.   I just love how the whole reason for having the Judges' save was to keep people like Chris Daughtry and Tamyra Gray from getting booted.  And they have yet to hold onto the Judges' Save to a point where something like that would happen (Top 5 or Top 4).   Hence, further proving my point that it's all about fudging the TV ratings for Fox more than anything.   Anyway, off my soapbox, I think Casey will be fine. 
  4. Lauren Alaina - "Natural Woman" - Oh, Lauren Lauren Lauren.  No No No.  Once I heard what song she was doing, I thought of this.

    I always do when anyone decides to do this song.  I really don't think anyone can top it.  And Lauren does have a good voice but she just brought NOTHING to the song.  She basically went through the motions and bored anyone that wanted to root for her.  At least, that's how I felt.  This is not the contestant with all the confidence in the world that walked into that audition room.  I'm sure it's the age thing again like it is for other contestants that get to this point.  They just can't hack it week after week.  Anyway, I'm a little worried for Lauren tonight, but I'm not sure I have the guts to pick her as the one leaving us.   We'll just have to see what happens. 
  5. James Durbin - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - Well, that's just great.  James thought of his family and connected with the song and actually wept tears.  I'm sorry to say, but I must have missed the emotional connection because once again I was bored.  It definitely is good to show the softer side of a rocker, but I just don't know if this did him any favors.  I'm sure the tears was all he needed to stay alive this week.  It wasn't awful.  It kind of reminded me of when Adam Lambert toned it down and did "Tracks of My Tears" a couple years ago.  But, as we've mentioned, Tracks may be one of the best performances ever (by one of my most reviled contestants ever!).  I don't think we'll be talking about Guitar after this week.    My favorite part was when he said that he "wrote his own version" of the song.  Ummm, wouldn't that be ARRANGED your own version? You can't write a version of a song already written!   James will be fine this week.
  6. Scotty McCreary - "That's Alright Mama" - Aw shucks, here comes Scotty again!  I'm back into "how can you not love this guy?" mode this week.  Yeah, he has his silly mannerisms that he brings to every song but at least he brought a little Rock N' Roll to the stage this week, unlike others!  The kid idolized Elvis as a kid, so he did his thing.  His voice totally fits with the King's vibe.  But yikes, the way he holds that microphone.  I swear sometimes it looks like he's going to play the flute, which made the "dee dee dee dee" part of the song that much funnier for me.  But, I agree with J-Lo on this one.  He WAS entertaining, and that's more than I can say for others tonight.  So, he gets the pass for me again.  Plus, America loves this kid.  He'll be around for awhile. 
  7. Pia Toscano - "River Deep Mountain High" - Well, Pia promised to bring it and she did.  She sang the song with all of the perfection that she could.  One little problem.  Remember when Chris Daughtry sang "Walk the Line" back in season 5 and was given credit for performing an original version of the tune and no one ever gave credit to the band LIVE for coming up with the version that Chris sang?   Guess what folks?  This Pia performance was note for note and arrangement for arrangement the Celine Dion version of the song.  I'm starting to think Pia may have a limited repertoire.  And I'm sure there will be lots of talk of how this was Celine's version of the song and Idol didn't give props to it.  All they talked about was Pia bringing out her inner Tina Turner.  I mean, it was an absolute carbon copy!  I should know, my wife plays it all of the time!   We know for sure that Pia wants to be the next Celine Dion.  And if she keeps trying to do that by covering all of her songs, she WILL pale in comparison.   I agreed with the judges on this one that she needs to work the stage more.  All of this standing around in high heals and bubble pants won't give her the flexibility to really rock it.  She was walking around like a pageant queen or something. (ironically, in the video I referenced Celine stands in place in high heels for practically the whole performance but still is able to rock it out)  Pia has to really sink her teeth into a song and go nuts.   I believe she can do it and I still think she has the best voice in the competition.  Based on the rest of the competition, I still feel she has Top 2 written all over her, at LEAST top 3.  We'll see how things go. 
  8. Stefano Langone - "When a Man Loves a Woman" - Ugh, here we go again.  Stefano has picked a over the top ballad to try to woo the ladies out there.  All I could think through the whole segment was "SERIOUSLY!?!?!".  All of these ballads he is doing just are starting to string together in my mind as one long and dull song.  Did he connect with the audience FINALLY as Jennifer suggested?  I don't know, I tuned out halfway through the song.  Look, we know Stefano will be leaving us very soon.  His buffer zone got a lot smaller when both Naima and Thia left last week.  I like the kid, but Stefano only has so much to provide.   I think I have seen enough (actually, I think we've seen it all). 
  9. Paul McDonald - "Folsom Prison Blues" - You know if a contestant is going to end the show, that means they probably have come out of their shell do do something great this week.  Paul McDonald, welcome back to the competition!!!  This is the ONLY contestant tonight that I felt took the challenge of "Rock N' Roll" week seriously.  Paul had lots of fun out there, sounded great and just flat out rocked to the Johnny Cash tune.  I was so happy to see him come out and rock it!  Just when we thought he was on his way out, he has pulled himself back into the competition.  I'm surprised Randy and J-Lo didn't start trading back and forth with "WE HAVE A COMPETITION IN HEEEEEREEEE!!!!"   I hope Paul learned something from the success from this performance (actually causing me to vote for him) and keeps the momentum going.  I need someone to root for because no one else did that for me this week! 
And there you have it America.  Some shined, the rest...MEH.  Let's figure out who is going home. 


Who was the standout? Paul
Good?  Pia, Jacob, Casey, Scotty
Other people may have thought was good? James
Forgettable?  Lauren, Cookie Monster, Stefano

Bottom 3 Picks: Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart, Stefano Langone   Wildcard Pick: Casey Abrams

Elimination Pick:   Stefano Langone

As much as I'd love it to be Haley, I think we have a lopsided top 9 right now between guys and girls.  I'm guessing it's the guy's turn to lose someone.  And, based on the fact that Randy actually ALMOST gave a negative review to Stefano, I would think most of America felt the same way.  And as I already mentioned, we've pretty much seen all that he brings to the table.  It seems like the right time.

I'm feeling pretty good about this pick, but I can see it going another way too.  We'll tune in tomorrow to find out what happens.  Before we close up let's go to Steven Tyler's most incomprehensible line of the night.  Paraphrased of course...

"You know Janis Joplin was rocking to that song back in 1968.  So, yeah, I think you did a good job tonight."   And together we all say.....HUH!?!?!?!?!

So, for the most part, I think I have found that I just don't have the energy to be doing results show recaps this year.  But I have actively been sharing my quick thoughts in the comments of these posts.  So be sure to tune back in the day after the eliminations to check for my thoughts and everyone else's comments and thoughts too.  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings as always and I'll see you next week!

Check Out My New Blog!

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.   (returns April 18th)
  • Fringe airs on Fridays 9pm EST on FOX (returns April 15th).  The show has been renewed for a 4th season so it's time to catch up on what you're missing!
  • Game of Thrones starts on HBO on April 17th.  Not sure if I'll be recapping but I'm very interested in watching this one (and reading the book). 


Ian said...

Good to see your recap as always Mike! Here's my quick rundown:

Jacob - Good performance, but nothing beats Kris Allen's version from Season 8. That was the performance that turned him from unknown to finalist, and as such it was one of my favorites looking back on the season.

Haley - Totally agree with you. It was nothing but a cheap Janis imitation, and I know Simon would've called her out on it.

Casey - Still not a fan. Good song choice, interesting arrangement, but his vocals are still grating. I was hoping he was actually going to do "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," since the contestants who've attempted it in the past always ended up crashing and burning (Constantine Maroulis, Chris Sligh, Casey Carlson (remember her?)). Also, how did he think that was a Sting solo track rather than a Police track?

Lauren - I think I was more impressed with her than you were. I didn't think it was outstanding, but I thought it was pretty good.

James - Agree. It was boring. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," despite its popularity, has always been one of my least-favorite Beatles songs, so that's probably another reason it didn't do anything for me.

Scotty - Voted for him again! Go Scotty! I noticed that what they say about him is true: That low note he hits is his "money" note. However awkward the rest of the performance might be, if he has that note in his back pocket, he's good.

Pia - Another strong performance. Good to see her up the tempo a little.

Stefano - With you again. He sang it well, but every week seems like the same old thing with Stefano. I'm ready for him to go (though I'd tolerate him for another week if we could be rid of Casey instead!).

Paul - Great way to close out the show. Picked a song that fits his style well, and proved he belongs in the competition.

I think it's either Stefano or Haley leaving us tomorrow night (though you're right, it would be pretty bad if we lost yet another female contestant). Even though Jacob did a good job, he did go first, which could put him in danger. I'm guessing it's not his time yet, though.

Mike V. said...

Thanks Ian!

Funny, I totally forgot about Kris Allen's version of Man in the Mirror. It's true, he did do a good job on that one. I just love that tune so unless someone butchers it, they're gonna get a seal of approval from me! lol

I figured you wouldn't be thrilled with Casey's performance! Actually, I don't think I DO remember Casey sounds familiar though. I'll have to do a search on the blog to see if I can dig her up lol Did Casey refer to that as a Sting song? Ugh...the horror! I think I sometimes tune out during those pre-performance clips...especially when is a guest mentor!

I also figured that this week I'd probably be harder on Lauren than most (or at least some). But, I have a strong bias for anyone that tries to do something that Kelly or Carrie or any previous contestant slam dunked and made their own. It's just going to pale in comparison. And that's what happened here for me.

Yeah, agreed, as long as Scotty keeps pulling in the LOW note(s) he's going to woo boys and girls alike across the country.

Agreed on Pia, I just thought I'd give a little constructive criticism this time with the judges. Although, I still stand by the fact that Carrie didn't really come out of her shell until AFTER American Idol. But Pia has to get out of the Celine comfort zone. It's probably what she has always done at karaoke bars so whenever she gets the chance she's going to sing them. She needs to do something that will SHOCK America.

I could tolerate Stefano for another week if Haley was sent packing, but I just don't think that will happen this week!
And agreed on Paul. I thought about Jacob going first, but I think the rule usually applies more when you do something fairly forgettable and went first. I think he'll be okay this week.

We'll see what happens tonight!

Mike V. said...

Wow, I can't believe you remembered Casey Carlson. I just did a search on her and she never even made a top 12! But once I saw "bubble tea maker" I totally remembered LOL For a little reminiscing, here's what I wrote about her back in season 8:

"Casey Carlson - 20 Minneapolis, MN Bubble Tea Maker - Yep, worse than Stevie Wright. Lots of people had hoped Casey Carlson was going to be more than a pretty face. Sorry Shania Twain, that's all SHE is! (please tell me someone out there got that!) She tried to pull of The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" And she failed with a 60's hairdo, awkward facial expression, 60's dance moves and a very weird smile between lyrics. The singing was bland. I don't have as strong a stance as the judges on Police Tunes. Sure they're a great band and Sting is a famous musician. But come on....the dude isn't GOD as much as he thinks he might be. Casey definitely will not be gracing our top 12 this year. Just awful. Flat out awful!! "

And ironically, my schtick for refencing the Kelly Clarkson "Natural Woman" clip was alive and well back then too LOL

Ian said...

Yep, that's Casey Carlson! I'd forgotten about the "bubble tea maker" part. I just remember how ridiculous her performance was. She spent the whole time flirting with the camera while exhibiting no vocal power whatsoever, so it was pretty much a disaster. I remember the sudden shift in her face once the judges started criticizing her. She went from all smiles to crestfallen almost instantaneously.

Also, I checked YouTube, and my memory was correct. At the beginning of the clip for Casey Abrams' performance he said "I was going to sing a song called 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic' by Sting." The guy supposedly lives and breathes music, but he doesn't know who Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland are. Tsk tsk.

Joe Clarkson said...

I agree with Ian. Lauren's performance was not my favorite, but I still think she sounded great. Nothing compared to Kelly, but I thought she did a wonderful job, and I think Randy hit the nail on the head.

I have to say I'm so impressed with this season's top nine. I've been watching the show since the second season, and in my opinion, there has never been such a talented group like this one.

I have been thinking a lot about who will do well in the current market. Lauren and Scotty are bound for success. Country fans will love and embrace them, and they have a bright future ahead of them.

I'm having difficulty envisioning where the local giants like Jacob and Pia would fit. Pia doesn't sound mainstream to me. I would love to hear her sing something current, so I could piece together this puzzle. I agree with Mike V., it's time for her to come out of her shell and really catch us off guard.

I'm not on the Casey and James bus, but I know that they have a strong fan base that could take them far.

I think Stefano could be in hot water tonight, and even though I think Haley has really stepped it up these past three weeks, she could be sitting right there with him. It's going to be a crazy night, and I CANNOT wait.

Mike V. said...

@Ian - Funny stuff with Casey. I can barely remember it and could probably look it up on youtube, but your description is enough for me! lol Pretty crazy with Casey not giving the Police a shout out. Of course, you never know what else he said in those clips that the Idol producers drop to the cutting room floor. I'm sure many won't catch his slight inaccurate reference lol But, if it was Adam Lambert that had said it, I'm sure I would have caught it a couple years back and slammed him for it too! lol So, I completely get where you're coming from.

@Joe - Yeah, I wasn't saying that Lauren's performance sounded AWFUL. It just didn't do anything special for me and I do blame my built-in bias for the song lol I hope Lauren will be fine tonight.

I agree that this is a pretty talented crop of kids this season. But, I'd have to say that season 5 also had a lot of great people in their top 12 as well. It was a pretty fun season to watch just because everyone was likable and sang well. Of course, even in the seasons with a very talented group, the bar gets raised higher and we have to start nitpicking on good singers to weed out them out and find the best! lol (btw...can't believe you didn't see season 1! Actually I can because most people started watching in season 2. Most of the top 10 couldn't sing a lick, but it was awesome watching Kelly transform from nobody to a star.)

I guess that's been the problem with Idol for the past several seasons. There really hasn't been a break out success since season 4 with Carrie (and Kelly before that in season 1). Yes, any with middling success and large enough fanbases for them to make a living at what they do. Daughtry was the next biggest success. The goal this year for Idol was to get back to basics and find a true STAR. That's why they have Jimmy Iovine so involved this year (which, I'm not so sure that's working as well as they planned). I agree I don't see where Pia or Jacob would fit into the mainstream. Even if Celine Dion was just starting her career today, she wouldn't be considered top 40 with the music she made. She'd go straight to the adult contemporary charts. It definitely would be interesting to see Pia try and tackle something current. We'll see if the upcoming theme nights will afford her that chance!

Mike V. said...


Ian said...

Toldja Pia wasn't making it to the finale.

Mike V. said...

I may have to post a blog tonight after that. Stay tuned after prime time tv!

Mike V. said...

Even you didn't think she'd go tonight.

Ian said...

True. I was as shocked as anybody, though when it was down to Stefano and Pia I had a feeling it'd be her, because Ryan announced at the top of the show that the results might be shocking tonight.

Mike V. said...

Yeah. I blame bad judging this year. Too much praise for subpar performances. While it may not have saved pia in the long run It could've been better than this. No one that good and as big a favorite has ever left that early.

Anyway I'm on my phone so I'll write something up a bit later.