American Idol, Season 10: Top 8 Performances – “Give Metal A Chance.”

American Idol, Season 10: Top 8 Performances – “Give Metal A Chance.”

What a night on Idol.  The theme was “Songs from the Movies”.  My wife commented on how each theme has allowed a broad selection of songs for the contestants (no “Songs from Broadway” this year).  I think it was a calculated move and one that has made the show better.  From Bob Seger, to George Straight, to Blondie, to Sammy Hagar – there was a little of everything on the show tonight.  On balance, it was the strongest show so far this season.  How did it all go down?  Glad you asked.

Paul McDonald – “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger

First off, was back again this week.  Really?  Paul’s song was from “Risky Business”.  Let me say, for the record, I’m glad Paul decided to ignore Jimmy’s advice to slide on to the stage in his underwear, a ‘la Tom Cruise.  I also have to say – to be fair, and to be honest – deserves props for killing Jimmy’s asinine idea of putting a beat box in the middle of the song.  As he correctly put it, “The song’s saying – I like old time rock and roll – and you want to bring some drum machine in there?  That’s not what the lyric is talking about.”  As much as it pains me to say it – made a brilliant point.  On to the performance.  For the first time all season, Paul didn’t have a shout out for the audience before the song.  He was rocking his best black “Nash-Vegas” outfit – and sounded great.  I don’t know that his voice was perfect for the song, but he filled it full of energy.  Then, he brought out what had to be the hottest sax player I’ve ever seen (she was Orianthi with a woodwind instrument).  Everyone sat up and took notice – especially Steven.  It was a great way to start the show; high energy and a lot of fun – and as a bonus, Paul plays a mean tambourine.

Lauren Alaina – “The Climb” by Mylie Cyrus

Jimmy is obviously getting more comfortable with his role as mentor, and really showed an understanding of the Idol process with his advice to Lauren.  She has to get the Pia voters to swing her way if she has any chance of making the top three.  They’re not going to vote for James or Casey.  It’s Lauren, Hailey, or Stefano.  To get the job done, Lauren chose to sing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus from “The Hannah Montana Movie”.  My first reaction was a deep groan.  My second reaction was to think – “yep, she really is 16 years old”.  But then she came out and started singing.  Wow.  Just wow.  I’m not a Miley Cyrus fan – but Lauren really took the song to an entirely new level.  It was, hands down, her best performance of the season so far.  It was a controlled, mature, and moving performance.  There was just the right dash of country in her voice, but it was still pure and bright.  (She even threw in a key change at the end to make sure the Pia fans knew to vote for her.)  I said last week that Pia would be the last girl standing.  With this performance, I hope Lauren just claimed that honor for herself.   (And by the way – I’m tired of seeing her sister-mom in the audience.  It’s creepy.)

Stefano Langone – “The End of the Road” by Boyz 2 Men

As usual, Jimmy pushed Stefano really hard in his mentoring session, telling him, “Last week you did one of the greatest songs ever written – and it kicked your ass.”  Go tell that.  To his credit, Stefano continued to take the criticism in the most constructive of ways.  He chose to perform “The End of the Road” from “Boomerang”.  With a horn section on stage, Stefano came out and gave the performance of his life.  He was emotional, he was connected to the audience, and he really performed the song.  He had an intensity I haven’t seen from him so far this season and his phrasing, for the first time, really fit the song.  It was the right song for him, at the perfect time, and should be enough to keep him out of the bottom three this week (I happen to think he will pick up some of Pia’s votes, along with Lauren).  The crowd really loved his performance, as did the judges – as did I.  To quote the most beautiful women in the world – “That was the sh!t.”  (Evidently, Steven is rubbing off on Jennifer just a bit…)  Somewhere, Chandler is feeling much better this week than he did last week.

Scotty McCreery –  “I Cross My Heart” by George Straight

Originally Scotty was going to perform “Everybody’s Talking” but changed to “I Cross My Heart” from the movie “Pure Country”.  Jimmy liked the other song but, in what became a trend over the night, Scotty decided to ignore his advice.  Scotty sounded great – it was a perfect choice for him.  BUT – I have found that I simply cannot watch Scotty sing now.  If I close my eyes, I love his voice.  If I watch him, I can’t get past the exaggerated head movements, the singing out of the side of his mouth, and the strange faces he makes.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – he reminds me of Will Ferrell doing George Bush when he sings.  I just can’t get past it.  Do I think it will hurt him?  Probably not – its clear America loves him, and he’s got the country vote sewn up.  They just need to get him some performance lessons…

Casey Abrams – “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole

Before I say anything, I have to ask – was it just me, or did Casey look like Andy Kaufman tonight?  I half expected him to come out and perform the Might Mouse theme.  It was a case of stylists run amok.  Anyway – Casey came in and wanted to perform “Nature Boy” from 4 or 5 different movies.  Jimmy and (and some other random guy) thought he would sound small with that song.  They pushed him to do “In The Air Tonight”.  Casey stuck to his guns, and decided to do the “Nature Boy” – because it really spoke to him and who he is as an artist.  Jimmy seemed rather pissy about it, saying, “If you want to win the competition, you need to take the help at this point.  Casey chose not to.  So, he better be right.”  He was.  It was a masterful performance.  Bursting at the seams with musicianship, ambiance, and emotion; it was a performance unlike anything we’ve seen so far this year on Idol.  I loved his scat vocal work in unison with the bass.  Genius.  The judges and the audience all hit their feet when the song was done and gave Casey a well-deserved standing ovation, with Steven yelling, “Encore!”  I still think he could end up in the bottom three this week.  It was a deep and cerebral performance that might not resonate with the teen girl crowd – but if it’s Casey’s time to sit on the stools and possibly head home – he couldn’t have done it with any more class.  America, you should reward Casey’s fearlessness by voting for him.

Hailey Reinhardt – “Call Me” by Blondie

I’ve really run out of things to say about Hailey.  Instead, I’ll just share the video of her performance:

America – please send Hailey home.  Please.

In the crowd – look, its Elvira, Meathead, and Moe from the Simpsons.  (I never thought I would get to say that again…)

Jacob Lusk – “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel

When Jacob walked in, Jimmy called him “Stool Man”.  I laughed out loud.  Then he ripped him for his comments last week, saying – “You look at the audience and you say – ‘If you don’t feel The Man In The Mirror, then you’re not willing to look yourself in the mirror’. You’re going to preach to 25 million people and you ain’t put a record out yet?  Don’t preach to people.  They don’t want to be preached to.”  I was so excited to see Jimmy’s been reading my blog.  Then Jimmy and called him out for sounding corny with “To Dream the Impossible Dream”. It was great advice.  They suggested he sing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (ostensibly from “The Pursuit of Happyness”).  I don’t think they could have done a better favor for Jacob.  Clay Aiken did one of the best versions I’ve ever heard back in season 2, but Jacob came out and held his own.  It had a great Gospel vibe and really showed off his range without him flailing around the stage.  As Steven said, those last three notes he hit were amazing.  Jacob looked very nervous after the performance.  I wonder if he was still feeling the sting of last week?  He may well still land in the bottom three this week but, based on this performance, I think he’ll make it to sing another day.

James Durbin – “Heavy Metal” by Sammy Hagar

James go the pimp spot this week and he made the best of it.  So many things to say.  First, he came in to the meeting with Jimmy with a clear vision of what he wanted to do, and who he was.  He chose to do “Heavy Metal” from the movie “Heavy Metal”.  Jimmy tried to push him into another song, but James held his ground.  He stayed respectful, but firm.  (And by the way – I agree with James.  It was hard to hear his vision of the song from just the vocal and a piano.  Jimmy may be great at what he does, but I would bet my house he’s passed on hit songs before because he couldn’t hear the vision behind them.  No one’s perfect.)  Then, when James hit the stage, he was joined by Zakk Wylde.  Holy crap.  I’ve never seen Idol bring out the stars to perform with the contestants like this outside of the finale.  James was absolutely on fire.  He’s done good rock songs before, but I’ve never heard him this tight and this focused.  There is not a doubt in my mind what type of record James will make after the show – he showed everyone tonight.  (By the way – it was uber-cool that they allowed Zakk time for a proper guitar solo during the arrangement.  The world needs more guitar solos.)  GIVE METAL A CHANCE.  When the song was over, James went over to give a young man in the audience a high five.  Turns out, the young man (Cole) was there as part of Make-A-Wish.  That says a lot about James as a person.  Vote for him for that, vote for him for the song – just vote for him!

What a night.  I’m not sure what they fed the contestants this week, but the performances where a notch above.  James, Scotty, and Casey all stood up to Jimmy, stayed true to themselves, and made great choices this week.   Jacob and Stefano listened to Jimmy and made great choices this week.  Paul and Lauren stayed consistent and turned in strong performances.   Hailey – well, she showed up for the show.

So who will be in the bottom three this week?  My money is on Paul, Jacob, and Hailey.  Paul was too early in the show, Jacob may still have some residual backlash from last week, and Hailey – well, like I said, she showed up.  If there’s any justice in the world, Hailey will be sent packing, running the streak to 6 girls in a row.  Am I right? The only way to find out is to tune in tomorrow.  As the TV Guide says – “One will leave, seven will stay, and it will take an hour to do the math.”  Until then – Word Zombie out.

© 2011, The Word Zombie. All rights reserved.

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