American Idol Recap: The Top 5 Sing Now and Then

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Sheryl Crow must have a new album coming out.

Yes, last night producer Jimmy Iovine was joined by Sheryl Crow in the coaching circle, and she was there with mic in hand, ready to sing back-up to our Idols (much as she did for Michael Jackson back in the day). Together they thought everyone was awesome and was going to have "a moment" -- which only means that they learned their lessons from Jimmy making a bold prediction that Jacob would go home last week.

The theme was "Now and Then", with each contestant singing a song from today, and a song from some undefined long time ago. And I will say, again, because I like reiterating when I'm right: Three judges means less talking, more time for singing. I think it's AWESOME that we get to start having two songs as early as the Top 5. Way to go, AI producers.

American Idol Haley
Image courtesy FOX

So, here's how it went down:

1. James: Can this AdLam wanna-be exceed the AdLam himself???

Now: He sang "Closer to the Edge" by 30 Seconds to Mars

This is a great song, and it's also a surprisingly rangy song. It has some significant chunks in the lower register, which is not James's strong point, so he sounded fairly weak to start out. Then he went crowd-mingling, which I believe distracted him and drove him off-key.

Then: Sang "Without You" by Harry Nilsson

With all that tearful build-up, James was going to have a tough time living up to the expectations he set for an emotional deliver. But he did deliver. There was a heartfelt beginning. Again, some wading through his weak lower range, and then a reversion to his typical screaming high range. But, and it's a big but: I really did believe him, and it really touched me, and that is indeed what matters most sometimes.

Bottom line: Oh, he'll be safe. No one's going to boot the boy he cried. But personally, as an AdLam fan, I will actually be pretty annoyed if he wins, given AdLam didn't. Yes, I'm petty like that.

2. Jacob: Did he save or skewer himself last night?

Now: "No Air" by Chris Brown and Jordin Sparks

OK, pet peeve #1: Why was he smiling? Pet peeve #2: Why was he screaming? Pet peeve #3: Why does the guy who wouldn't sing "Let's Get It On" feel OK with down and dirty hip rolls? Only I don't think he really felt OK, he seemed to distract himself with the dance moves and go a little off. Now, the ending, when he brought it back down, that was fine and true. But Randy is right...the rest sounded off key and felt corny.

Then: "Love Hurts"

This has some really good moments, especially during the quiet poignant beginning. I really like when Jacob keeps it sweet. This also had some irredeemable screaming. And Anthony Hopkins in the audience, what the what???!!!

Bottom line: Hmmmm. Y'all know I'm no Jacolyte. But I'm not sure he was the worst he could be. I think he'll be at risk, but may not go home.

3. Lauren: I know you're tryin' to work the Carrie Underwood angle, honey!

Now: "Flat on the Floor" by Carrie Underwood

So, I've been saying for a while that Lauren is all pipes no passion, but hey, I guess she's reading this blog because this week she decided to just go for it and sing some Carrie. This may have been rough, but it may also have been her best effort yet, because it was the first time she blew it out, actually. Of course she still just does not know what to do with herself on stage. Lord help her. She just can't help herself from wiggling and shimmying...awkwardly.

Then: "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers

This had some loveliness (not her 70s "lounging dress" and feathered hair, though), but her low range is really weak. And she totally and completely bailed on the famous, soaring falsetto ending. What a disappointing ending. I just don't think one can perform that song if one is not willing to shoot for the sky on the final "I neeeeeeeeed your love." And I kinda cracked up the way she said "Thank you" at the end, like she was an obedient child reaching the end of a long-dreaded recital.

Bottom line: Lauren's the only one who can save Jacob tonight, I think.

4. Scotty: Isn't it sweet to watch them grow up before our very eyes?

Now: "Gone" by John Michael Montgomery

This was a good song choice for Scotty, because he was able to show a little personality. And have you noticed he doesn't finger his mic anymore? Yeah, I'm glad.

Then: ""You Were Always On my Mind" by Willie Nelson

Nice, smooth, simple. Actually a nice antidote to all the wailing. He may be young, and he may not bring quite the gravitas the song can handle, but he didn't muck it up, let's just put it that way.

Bottom line: I'm going to shock you now: I think Scotty joins Haley as the most improved contestant this season...and perhaps he has improved the most. He's gotten rid of some of his annoying tics; he's made the most effort to show the full range of what he can do; he's made an effort to show actual emotion and specific interpretations. Don't faint. But he's safe, and I'm OK with that.

5. Haley: Wow, the Woman can Wail, and yes, I Adore Alliteration

Now: "You and I" by Lady Gaga (unreleased)

Wow. Well, she can wail, and that's for real. But yeah, what a mistake to sing this song. Hopefully she'll be rewarded for her chutzpah, but I just don't think this song was worth it.

Then: "House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals

And yet again: Wow. What can you say: She can sing. She has what they call "chops" :)

Bottom line: Haley is who we thought Lauren was going to be after her first audition. Remember that no-holds-barred seemingly wild child? Lauren lost that essence. Haley has it. If she goes home, it's really too bad, because her voice is solid like a rock and really current too. I still think she needs work on her movement, but even that has gotten much better. Like I said above: She and Scotty have really worked on growing, changing, improving. The others have stayed pretty much the same.

Bottom line for the Bottom Two:

Should be: Jacob and Lauren with Lauren going home

Will be: Jacob and Haley with Jacob going home

But it's a total guess, as you may have noticed I do a lot of with these predictions!

So, what's your guess?

 

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