American Idol Recap: The Top 8 Go to the Movies

BlogHer Original Post

I thought that this year the American Idol producers were going to change things up, but thus far the season's "theme nights" have been about the same as they ever were, and they've kept the contestants stuck in the past -- which is just weirdly anachronistic for a show that claims it wants to find the next big star. I don't know what decade the song Scotty sang was from, but other than that, I counted only one song from this decade.

And remain stuck in long-past decades.

I thought that this year the American Idol producers were going to change things up, but thus far the season's "theme nights" have been about the same as they ever were, and they've kept the contestants stuck in the past -- which is just weirdly anachronistic for a show that claims it wants to find the next big star. I don't know what decade the song Scotty sang was from, but other than that, I counted only one song from this decade.

I had to watch the performances online, so I'm not sure what order they were in on the show: This is the order they were online.

1. Casey Abrams sang "Nature Boy" from Moulin Rouge

I'm sorry, but I did not think this was the second coming. There were so many problems for me, not least of which is that I don't think Casey was singing about anything. He kind of mistook vocal tics, melisma and weird extraneous breathy sounds for interpretation. I found the whole opening verse painful, it was so affected. And let's just say that tight close-ups don't do him any favors when he makes those weird crazy-dude faces. The vocal definitely warmed up when he got about a third of the way in, his voice sounded freer and more natural to him, but it wasn't too long before he was throwing in a bunch of unnecessary runs, which offset the nice raspy quality of his held tones. A classic line about loving and being loved in return should be sung simply, honestly and give you gooesbumps. In this rendition it got lost amongst the weeds.

Bottom line: You can say I just didn't get it, but I think the audience won't get it either. I think he'll be back at risk, because this might remind people why they weren't inspired to vote for him three weeks ago.

2. Haley sang "Call Me" from American Gigolo

Haley American Idol
Image courtesy FOX

Call me a prude, but I just can't stop remembering this girl is 16. Vocally, it was pretty good, although I would recommend that Haley do something that lets her show a little heartfelt emotion. She's not going to keep moving forward if we just get eight more weeks of raspy rocking out. She needs that moment. That vulnerability-behind-the-tough-chick moment. The other big thing that someone should coach her on is moving with intention. She doesn't look as geeky as Paul does when he's without guitar in hand, but she has that same kind of aimless wandering and flinging her arms about style that's pretty distracting. It managed to even distract from the hooker outfit they had her in. So, maybe that's a good thing.

Bottom line: Will the sexy wild child act be too much for folks? I wonder.

3. Jacob sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" from The Pursuit of Happyness

I have one question: Why is he SO happy about a friend being in trouble? Jacob played it remarkably low-key through much of the song, avoiding some of the most over-the-top vocal theatrics that have troubled me in the past, so I totally give him credit for that. It allowed us to feel the song with him, instead of feeling like the song was attacking us. But he does have to work on the self-satisfied demeanor he gets when singing. There's a fine line between singing with joy and enjoying your self a little too much when singing. As Janeane Garafalo might say: Love your singing, just don't LOVE your singing." (Since it's movie night and all.) Now that his comments from last week let us all know that he thinks we're bad people if we don't love his performing, he's going to read a bit smug until that sting wears off. So my advice: Stop smiling when singing a somber spiritual.

Bottom line: Has America forgiven Jacob? Hmmmm.

4. James sang "Heavy Metal" from Heavy Metal

I kept thinking that if James wanted to sing a heavy metal song from a movie, there must have been a better one than this one. As a song, it's kind of boring. He did a pretty good job with it, vocally. Most of his wailing was a bit more on key and, more importantly, musical than he can sometimes can be. Maybe it's watching on the small screen of my laptop, but I did not feel excitement coming off the screen in waves.

Bottom line: I think we've established he's a fan favorite. Do we think he can win?

5. Lauren sang "The Climb" from Hannah Montana

Let's just say this first: Lauren's voice is about 10x better than Miley Cyrus's, so that a plus. (Although I do advise all singers to avoid breathing in the middle of a single word, PLEASE!) But much like James, I would like to see Lauren sing something, anything, with which she connects on an emotional level. I'd like to see something behind her eyes. She's young and like so many this season, she doesn't know how to tap into a song's meaning and feel it from the gut. I miss that, even when a vocal is iron-clad.

Bottom line: I'll say it again: Carrie Underwood made it an entire season with expressing a single emotion when she sang, so it looks like maybe Lauren is following in her footsteps.

6. Paul sang "Old Time Rock and Roll" from Risky Business

No, nooooooo....get him behind a mic and a guitar, please!!! Aimless wandering guy is back! Singing a song that isn't exactly a show-off tune for a vocalist. So, this entire thing left me feel extremely "meh". Nice suit, though.

Bottom line: Can we be done with him yet?

7. Scotty sang "I Cross My Heart" from Pure Country

Nice job. I'm happy to have a guy sit on a stool, sing something simple, and tell me a story. I will say that his one bum note (the long held note at the end) made me realize that he's never really sung a song where he had to hold out notes much, and he should work on that. But otherwise, I think he certainly cemented his position with this performance.

Bottom line: Oh, he's safe, no doubt.

8. Stefano sang "End of the Road" from Boomerang

That's right, show off those guns, Stefano! And show off the really excellent vocal facility in the highest part of your voice. This was probably Stefano's best performance so far, and I think it may save him. He still needs to work on feeling specific emotions, and not just some generalized angsty pain -- but angsty pain works for a lot of artists :) Stefano was back to being an adorable little pocket balladeer (with good guns) with this performance.

Bottom line: Like I said: I think he bought himself one more week.

Bottom Line for the Bottom Three:

As I've said each week, these are tough calls: Each of these singers is competent. There's no one who totally sucks, but they're all mildly annoying for different reasons, too -- mostly because they're not yet living up to their full potential as artists, not just vocalists. So, it becomes a matter of taste. Is Haley's oversexed teen more annoying than Jacob's over-the-top self-satisfaction more annoying than Lauren's complete lack of emotion more annoying than Stefano's completely generalized pained emotion? I'm not sure. But here's my guess:

Should be: Paul, Casey and Lauren with Paul going home

Will be: Paul, Stefano and Haley with Paul going home.

I really think it's time for Paul to go home, no? What do you think?

Elisa Camahort Page
BlogHer
elisa@blogher.com
My BlogHer profile truly shows you everything I do online...Check it out!!

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.