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I think we all needed a week just to recover from the drama of Pia Toscano’s ouster. With just two girls left in the competition, it seems the only woman benefiting from Idol this season is Jennifer Lopez, People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Woman in the World.
Of course, Jennifer doesn’t want to be the last woman standing at the Idol finale, exclaiming at one point that she didn’t want any of the girls to go home. The question is: Did the girls do enough to stay? Did either of them inherit Pia’s fans and fill the vortex of her departure?
What better way to find out than “Movie Night,” an evening that historically brings us memorable performances — who could forget Crystal Bowersox killing it with Kenny Loggins and “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack last season? Fox brought out a little movie glamour with director Rob Reiner and … Elvira? Isn’t it April? Did the network mix up its holidays?
Paul McDonald began the night with a serenade of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” not in his BVDs but in a new black Manuel suit. I thought his vocals were stronger in the taped video rehearsal segment, and he annoyed me to no end by banging the microphone with his hand, something they instruct children as young as 8 never to do. He was all off-key as well, but the judges didn’t seem to notice. Steven Tyler cared more about Paul’s blonde female saxophone player (Mindy Abair, by the way –show some love!), but loved the routine and said he wanted to borrow Paul’s suit. Jennifer said it was like watching a diamond in the rough getting polished. Randy Jackson said it was the first number in the Paul McDonald concert and said he is definitely an artist. Come ON! I’ve seen that song done better at weddings and Thursday night karaoke sessions, although his dancing is always entertaining. Do we really love sax with Paul? Where is David Cook in his underwear when we need him???
Lauren Alaina was instructed in how to navigate life after Pia, as Jimmy Iovine told her she had a whole slew of Pia fans ripe for the picking, and she had the best chance to do it by channeling Miley Cyrus. “A little cold, but you have to think like that,” he said, and he has a point. I have to say, Jimmy and Will.i.am are absolutely right. Lauren chose “The Climb,” a song that resonates with teenagers, young girls and their mothers. She made a wise decision to start with her back to the audience and added a little twang to it, making it her own. Lauren is definitely a most marketable Idol candidate. Jennifer passive-aggressively Pias her with the “I know you can go further” critique. Steven said it was “beautiful” and that he was moved by her.
Awwww, Stefano. He’s so cute communicating how much he misses Pia. However, Jimmy warned him to get that out of his head and that he had to concentrate on actually trying to win American Idol. So, Stefano chose Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” from the last great Eddie Murphy movie where he didn’t play a donkey, “Boomerang.” Is that the message you want to communicate to America, Stefano? That it’s the end of the road for you? Are you trying to write your own epitaph? That said, this was Stefano’s best performance in weeks. He kept his eyes open, stayed in his zone and hit the sweet spot with a big note. Randy said he expected a text from Boyz II Men applauding the vocal, and Jennifer had to be censored with her critique.
Scotty McCreery once again went into his comfort zone, picking a song from a movie with “country” in the title. First he went with Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin” from Midnight Cowboy (Cowboy in the title! I must try that song!), but he realizes it’s not country enough and ventures over to the film Pure Country and a George Strait song, “I Cross My Heart.” It was the exact same way he picked a song on Elton John week — it has “country” in the title! That’s it! Eureka! I’m shocked he didn’t delve into “Urban Cowboy.” Allow me to surmise: Scotty finds a country song, Scotty sings a country song, he holds his mike to the side. This was REALLY not a terrific performance — the song is too much for him to handle, and he sailed off-key for the first time this season. However, Steven loved his voice. Jennifer said it wasn’t a favorite song choice. (Wow, a negative? Not quite) Randy said, “A star is born on this stage.” A ginormous fan. Where is the horse and white hat? He’s still safe.
Casey Abrams decided to take on Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” instead of Jimmy’s suggestion of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” Casey said he wasn’t comfortable taking on that song as an artist, but I am increasingly not comfortable watching Casey in extreme close-ups every week. He is starting to frighten me. His growling and snarling face, which some may mistake for intensity, is looking more and more like a guy coming to murder you in your sleep, or constipated. I can’t tell. Plus, did he clear his throat? I counted twice. Why aren’t they calling him OUT on that?? He brought out the stand-up bass once more, and all of the judges were too over-the-top in their praise with the “true artiste” comments. Really, they all need a cold shower. Last week, we had Jacob telling America that if we put him in the bottom 3, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror. This week, Casey said he is here to educate us. My goodness, this group has cojones.
Haley Reinhart chose a song by a band I worshipped as a kid — “Call Me,” by Blondie, from American Gigolo. (Richard Gere is still the hottest man alive. Period.) She botched it. She started off-key, added growls that were not necessary and just about slaughtered an awesome tune. Fun fact: Carmen Rasmusen’s version of the same song in Season 2 was horrendous as well. Why can’t anyone do Deborah Harry justice on Idol? For the first time ever, Randy gave the “karaoke” critique. BRAVO! Finally, someone was on point. Steven said it was “beautiful” and complemented her dress (paging Paula). Jennifer said she was afraid of critiquing the girls, because she didn’t want any of the girls to go home. But, despite the fact she is extremely comfortable on that stage and has shown some decent performance skills this season, Haley stunk it up tonight. As Simon would say: Pack your bags.
Jacob Lusk got a stern lecture about his “Man in the Mirror” sanctimonious comments last week by Jimmy Iovine, and he needed to hear it. He originally planned to go with “The Impossible Dream,” but was advised against going too corny. So he changed his song choice to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” He put some emotion into it, hit some big notes and went off pitch during the moments when he goes for the vibrato (seriously, listen to him when he attempts it). He more than made up for it at the end with a note from the almighty at the end. How does he do that? I think he needed a choir a la Clay Aiken. Jennifer said he gave her chills, Steven said it was incredible, and Randy offered, “What happens to me when you sing is I believe you. It was like perfect, perfect, perfect, harmony.”
James Durbin wants America to give metal a chance, and I have GOT to give him some props for trotting out my man Zakk Wylde on guitar. Wylde played for Ozzy Osbourne, and we New Jerseyans were so proud of our local guy from Jackson, N.J., for hitting the big time. I was thrilled to see him on the Idol stage, and man, did young James wail on Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal.” For the first time, I didn’t think of Adam Lambert or Mark Wahlberg fronting Steel Dragon (in the metal film Rock Star) while watching him perform on top of the judge’s table. How in the world is he so agile? It was a BIG night for James, even without a burning piano. Jennifer said it felt real. Randy said we were at a James Durbin concert. HEAVY METAL IDOL!
So bottom three tonight, in my humble opinion: Haley, Casey, and Paul.
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