Final eight perform

The theme tonight is “Songs from the Movies”. It’s a pretty wide open theme; it’s not like they are all going to sing Gershwin. Before I watch the show, a coupla song choice guesses: JD, “Do You Love Me” from “Dirty Dancing”, and Scotty, “I Cross My Heart” from thatGeorgeStrait’s “Pure Country”. Nothing else jumps out. On to the show…

J-Lo was on the cover of “People”, for being voted the most beautiful woman in the world. Inset on the front page? Pia…..

Very quickly, there are some conspiracy rumors floating around the internet about Idol deliberately booting Pia, because she wasn’t going to win and they wanted a big splash to help ratings. My own opinion is that Pia getting booted was about the WORST thing that could have happened to Idol. The idea that they would bring that on deliberately, to me, seems insane. The logical truth is that Pia was voted off fair and square; not because of a conspiracy, but because of a flawed voting system.

The Singers, the Songs-

Paul: “Old Time Rock and Roll”, Risky Business (Bob Seger)

Will I Am is back, and like last week he cut to the chase better than anyone else. Jimmy mentioned beatboxing, and Will said “the song is about old time rock and roll, and you are gonna bring in techno drums?”

He’s gonna get hammered for intonation, but I just don’t see that intonation matters with Paul. It’s not what he does. I liked his energy, and it was a good idea to carry the tambourine to keep him from doing the chicken dance. Overall he was solid, and I was entertained, but it wasn’t anything amazing. Going first won’t help him, because nobody is going to remember that he was here in an hour and a half.

Judges: Gushed. Here we go again?

Lauren: “The Climb”, Hanna Montana (?), Miley Cyrus

Lauren seemed really nervous, more than usual, and her old breathing issues resurfaced. She sounded terrific for most of the song, especially on the normal melody parts and the couple of slides that she did. There were a couple of places where she seemed really stilted, like she wasn’t committed to what she was going to do. I wonder if she was completely ready to sing this song tonight? Does she have some sort of cold? She just didn’t seem quite herself.

Judges: Gushed. I should get a “Judges: gushed” stamp, to save me a few keystrokes.

Stefano: “End of the Road”, Boomerang (Boyz 2 Men)

He had to blow it up, and while he sang fine (he’s a really good singer) he didn’t sing as well as he did in the earlier shows. He seemed to be tapped out at the top, and he spent the entire song in one dynamic place.

Judges: Gushed obtusely, as if they are completely unaware that Stefano has been singing the same song for a month. Are they giving a big middle finger to the critics? They got a lot of the blame for Pia’s exit last week, for being too nice and not giving any criticism. I wondered how they would react. It appears as if they are going to be afraid to say anything. Not good. They might have trapped themselves into the gushing corner.

Scotty: “I Cross My Heart”, Pure Country (George Strait)

Scotty ain’t going anywhere and his first verse was beautiful, but man was the rest of the song a mess. I said in my power rankings post that Scotty is in a position to try out some new things, and he sure as hell did, didn’t he? Did any of them work? Not really. The kid has charisma, though, and that last look on his face was the look of a confident star performer. Ok, Scotty, now go back and make sure that you can DO the things that you are trying out before you pull them out on a stage in front of 20 million people.

Judges: Gushed, and J-Lo commented on their critics, saying “they want us to be critical, but you are all so dammed good!!!!” Well, I get that, but the problem now is that they bit the lollipop and gave too many positive reviews to lesser performances earlier. They are scared to say anything negative, since their one negative critique last week got the blame for Pia getting tossed.

Casey: “In the Air Tonight”, Risky Business (Phil Collins)

Thanks for making me dig that old relic from the 1940’s up and then changing your song, Casey. I hate you. Just kidding….. Giving Casey this song is like giving Kirstey Alley a line of coke and a table full of wedding cakes. It might be fascinating, but it might make us want to turn our heads away, too.

Dammit, back to Nature Boy. Probably a good idea. Don’t tell Kirstey what I said, ok? Let’s try this again:

Casey: “ Nature Boy”, The Boy With Green Hair (Nat King Cole)

I liked it, but I don’t know that he hit all those runs as well as he might have wanted to. Simon would have called it self indulgent rubbish, and this time he might have actually been right. Still, I love that Casey gambles. This performance won’t change the simple fact that he is the one person left that MOST gets me sitting on the front of my seat, waiting to see what he is going to do next.

Judges: Standing O, and more gushing. J-Lo made a good point, in that pop music is so much more diverse now, and that just about anything goes anymore. It’s too late to worry about them ever judging how they sing the song, and I might actually be ok with that. More later on that subject.

Haley: “Call Me”, American Gigolo (Blondie)

Dangerous choice for Haley. Debbie Harry liked to peak on the high notes for effect, but she lived in her lower range where she brought out her punk toughness. Haley is going to have to be much better low than she has ever been.

It wasn’t moment good, but she made it into a good Haley version of the song. She hit pretty much every note, even the screaming high run that she did, though it didn’t sound quite right and I had to rewind and listen to it a couple of times to know that she hit the notes. Not perfect, but close enough. The energy was there, and nobody this side of Adam ever hits those kinds of runs perfectly anyway. I liked it.

Judges: Randy didn’t gush. J-Lo didn’t either. I can’t believe that they picked Haley to suddenly start being judges. I was about to call it the best that I’d heard so far.

Jacob: “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, The Pursuit of Happyness (Simon and Garfunkel)

There is no denying it. The man has some crazy pipes. He got loose on the song a couple of times, but for the most part he was restrained and on point. He sounds like Luther down low, then he sounds like Johnny Mathis in his main high range, then he is a gospel tenor up high. His range is remarkable, but to me his most remarkable quality is just how much he can move up and down in just a single breath. He has true three octave range, and he moves around in it almost effortlessly. His voice is so rubbery, though, that it finds some places in between notes that sound harsh.

So what do with him? How do we solve a problem like Jacob? First off, he needs to get down on his knees and apologize for what he said last week, and hope that the audience forgives him. Without that, he’s on seriously borrowed time. Nothing that he does from now on will ever be spun positively. Personally I don’t really have an issue with what he said, since I don’t believe for one second that he really meant it the way it came out. What I think doesn’t matter, though. Jacob has a serious image problem with the audience, and that audience will decide on his fate.

Judges: Gushed. No apology, but he did look a bit contrite. I’m going to look at Jacob hard from now on, looking for the arrogance that his statement showed. The whole thing seems weird, really. Jacob is such a God Squader that I can’t believe that he would really feel something that personally arrogant. Before last week he always seemed really humble.

James: “Heavy Metal”, Heavy Metal (Sammy Hagar)

This reminded me of late night at a rock and roll jam session. Some singer from a rock band sat in, and they didn’t really have anything worked out, so they just played the song by the numbers and some drunk guitar player pulled out a few hammer-ons and stuck his tongue out. The singer was good (JD is good), and he showed off a couple of cool screams, but the rest of the song was pedestrian and almost boring. This was just not an Idol performance. I am really bummed, because I remember what Adam did to songs like this a couple of years ago. He tore them apart, and he left everyone gasping for breath and feeling like they were at a rock concert. I like JD, but this was a total microwave milkshake of a performance; all packaging and no product.

Judges: Gushed, shockingly. I forgive J-Lo, because she doesn’t know the difference, but Randy? Steven? JD is a metal wannabe, not a metal star. Haley should be throwing something at her TV by now.

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It was a terrific night of performances, as we should expect from this very talented group of performers, but it was also a night of flawed performances. I tried to be fairly honest and direct in my reviews, but the onslaught of judge love has me reeling and confused. Didn’t Stefano sing ANOTHER cute boy band ballad, not as well as he had in the past? Didn’t JD hit 2 notes that were special and a bunch of notes that half of my singing friends could sing just as well, if not better? Didn’t Paul basically just growl and scratch at us for his minute and a half? Didn’t Casey hit about the same percentage of notes as Shaq hits free throws? Didn’t Lauren look so nervous that I was worried that she was going to throw up on stage? Didn’t Scotty spend the last two thirds of his song so out of tune that I wondered if he could hear himself?

I worry that Haley was the only one that got any criticism. We are down to two females now, and the judges might have signed the death warrant for another. I was going to say that I am ok with the judges just loving everyone, because it does make for better performances. I am fine with that, but they hammered one single performer for the second week in a row, even as J-Lo pleaded forAmericato vote for Haley. Pia got tossed last week, from a position of strength. What chance does Haley have, after tonight? I get that the judges are new to this, and I forgive them for being less that polished at their job, but do they see that, by not giving any negative criticism when deserved, they are killing anyone that they actually give pointers to, even in a positive way?Americais a beautiful place; full of splendor and big dreams, and mostly populated by people that don’t think for themselves but have unlimited text messaging.

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Grades-

Paul- C+

Lauren– C+

Stefano– C

Scotty- C-

Casey– C+

Haley– B

Jacob- B-

James– C+

I am grading on a slightly tougher curve now. We are down to eight, and I don’t accept just singing a song as being worthy of a B anymore. I liked every performance on some level, but nobody completed one tonight. Nobody came anywhere near a moment, and a couple of them (Scotty especially) were wildly out of tune. Some of them gave big performances, like Paul and JD, and some of them took on big gambles (Casey, Haley), but nobody combined the two. I enjoyed the night, but it was mediocre by the standards of this group’s collective talent. It will be better next week. The Idols are just as shellshocked as we were by Pia’s exit. They were all tight, confused and uncertain this week. Even the mentors and the judges were off their feed. It wasn’t a comfortable week on Idol. I appreciate the performances that we did get, because I doubt that anyone on the show felt comfortable tonight.

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Safe to in danger-

Locks:

Scotty

James

Mild Danger:

Casey

Lauren

Grave Danger:

Paul

Jacob

Stefano

Haley

I hate to list Haley at the bottom. She should be about fifth, but she was the only one who got any criticism at all. If last week is any indication, we can get a shocker at any time. I would pick Lauren as this week’s potential shocker. She seemed to get forgotten tonight.

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What a weird night, and what a self conscious night for the singers, the judges, the mentors, and pretty much everyone that works for Idol. The whole show seemed haunted by the ghost of Pia’s exit last week. The judges were defensive, the mentors were almost angrily stubborn about what the contestants need to do, and the contestants all seemed to feel like the show was trying to make them do things that they didn’t feel comfortable doing. Nobody really performed as well as they can, and the feedback was contrived and overly enthusiastic, like they are selling the contestants instead of judging them.

I loved Pia as much as anyone, but common guys. She ain’t the second coming. Let’s get back to trying to create amazingness and get over the crap that the internet blows out, just like we all blow out to keep from exploding. Relax, Idol. You are still the number one show on TV. Get back to doing what made you the number one show, and stop worrying about the small crap. Pia is fine. Let’s worry about Casey, Scotty, Lauren, Stefano, Haley, Jacob, Paul and JD. Jimmy, teach. Randy, J-Lo, Steven, lead the cheers. Ryan, well – just do what you do. Nobody does it better, my man. Contestants, find your moments.America, stay in the game.

Idol is a lot like college sports. We root for our favorites, hope and dream of greatness, and when they get bounced out of the tournament we whine, bitch and complain – and then next year we start over and we root for our favorites and we hope and dream of greatness all over again. We follow the careers of our faves from the past when they show up on the big stages, but we mostly care about the latest crop. Idol moves on, and we move on with Idol. Pia was cried over, but now she has her own TMZ van following her. She is fine, so now we pick from the rest – and move on.

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