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American Idol: Drumlines & F-Bombs

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Wednesday night’s American Idol started out kind of all over the map The show kicked off with a group performance from the eliminated contestants. Ashthon Jones, Karen Rodriguez, Thia Megia, Naima Adedapo, Pia Toscano, and freshly eliminated Paul McDonald sang Pink’s hit, “So What.”

Where to begin? First off, season eight’s contestants performed this very same song during their finale. And they did it so much better. And secondly, making Paul sing a Pink song is just mean. He doesn’t have a pop voice to pull it off, and it just caused me to have so much secondhand embarrassment for him.AMERICAN IDOL: The Final 7: Clockwise from Left: Haley Reinhart, James Durbin, Stefano Langone, Jacob Lusk, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Casey Abrams. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Moving on, Scotty McCreery was up first singing LeAnn Rimes’ version of “Swingin.” I was actually expecting Scotty to dive head first into Carrie Underwood’s songbook this week, so I was surprised about his song choice. Also, the song was originally done by John Anderson in 1983, so Scotty managed to avoid the actual theme this week.

That said, I thought he did really good. There was a key change about midway through that I raised an eyebrow at, but he was never off pitch. I thought Scotty worked the stage, and showed a lot of personality. The judges thought he was playing it safe, and to an extent I kind of agreed with them. I felt like they really went after him this week, which seemed almost ridiculous, because he’s been consistent week after week, unlike the judges who have been consistently inconsistent with their critiques.

Last week the judges jumped on Haley Reinhart out of the blue, after praising every other contestant. I think it was fine that they critiqued Scotty, but after a point they came across as asses. And I think if the judges are going to be asses to the contestants, that’s fine, just be consistent asses and critique everyone.

Next up was James Durbin, who sang Muse’s “Uprising.” His performance opened with him walking up to the stage accompanied by a drumline. Oh yeah, that happened. I don’t understand why Idol keeps giving James all these “perks” to his performances. What’s next, a pre-finale confetti shower?

James’ vocal performance was a hot mess. He was pitchy all the way through, and the only thing I could do was cringe. If you take away the drumline, the flashy lights, and that ridiculous outfit, you are left with an awful vocal performance. When he went up into his screech, oh my ears, I just wanted his performance to be over. It was like the second coming of Danny Gokey’s “Scream On” performance from season eight. For Randy Jackson to say that he thought it was going to be the best of the night was kind of ridiculous. Because in short, it wasn’t. It was painful.

In my opinion, the performance of the night belonged to Haley Reinhart, who bravely took on Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” I thought that Haley did a fantastic job. The vocals weren’t perfect, but you believed her performance. Haley is definitely putting the work in, and it really showed in last night’s performance. I dare say that this was the closest thing we’ve had to an “Idol AMERICAN IDOL: Hayley Reinhart performs in front of the judges on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, April 20, (8:00-9:30- PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.Moment” all season.

Haley is a contestant that we have truly gotten to see grow as a performer on the Idol stage. Yeah, she stumbled a bit last week, but she shrugged it off and got out there and rocked one of the most popular songs on the radio last night. I say cheers to Haley!

Following up Haley was Jacob Lusk, who performed Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father.” We learn that Jacob lost his dad when he was 12-years-old, and that he’s performing this song in memory of his dad, which is sweet.

I think performing Luther Vandross was playing it extremely safe. It’s a fairly predictable song choice from Jacob. I totally disagreed with Randy about wanting Jacob to just let go with the notes. No dawg, Jacob sounds awful when he goes crazy with the notes. Showing restraint is a good thing. Overall, this wasn’t my favorite performance of the night, but I can appreciate the sentiment that Jacob brought to the song.

Casey Abrams was up next performing “Harder to Breathe” by one of my favorite bands, Maroon 5. If you’ve been reading Idol Wired all season, you already know that I am protective of music done by my favorite bands. I just don’t appreciate having one of my favorite songs ruined.

I do think that Casey’s version of “Harder to Breather” was alright. I liked that he chose a Maroon 5 song that hasn’t been done on Idol before. I really liked the beginning of the song. It was very much his own version, but when he jumped into the chorus, the arrangement sounded just like the original. I think staying closer to the original version is fine, but as the song went on, his vocals seem to fall apart some. It’s like he gets excited and forgets that we’re listening to him sing. I definitely didn’t think that this was the performance that Steven Tyler would get bleeped for dropping the f-bomb. The performance just didn’t move me as much as it apparently moved him.

Casey definitely plays to his strengths and shows a lot of personality while onstage. The kissing Jennifer Lopez on the cheek thing was cute, but let’s be honest; it’s not going to win him the competition. I would like to see Casey do some work on his vocal performance, because we’re getting down to the wire and he hasn’t really had a moment during the Top 13 other than getting the “Judges’ Save.”

Stefano Langone was up next performing Ne-Yo’s “Closer.” Good on Stefano for finally going with a legitimately upbeat song. His dancing was a little awkward to watch, and as much as it pains me to say this (and it really does), he sounded pretty good last night.

The thing that Stefano has going for him is that he has the most current sounding voice out of all the contestants that are left. Doing a fun and upbeat R&B number may do him a huge favor and keep him in the competition for another week.

In the coveted “Pimp Spot” was Lauren Alaina singing Sara Evans’ “Born To Fly.” I thought she sounded really good, but she has to get her self-confidence up. What happened to the girl from her initial Idol audition that had the confidence to duet with Steven Tyler? She needs to return, stat.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty decent night for Idol. Probably the best night overall since the Top 13 were announced.

What did y’all think of last night’s Idol performances?

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.
  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    I only heard a bit of James and thought he sounded fine and considering the original still exists, not sure how anyone can ruin a song

  • Butch

    Glad to see Idol Wired back this week – was interested in your thoughts on last week’s movie-themed week.

    As for this week, agreed on Hailey – best of the night by a mile.

    Stefano – my favorite voice this year – I felt had his shakiest week. The “dancing” was lame and seemed to distract him from his usually rock-solid vocals (he was flat during much of the song).

    Casey has just worn out his welcome. He thinks he’s funny, but I find him annoying as hell. The biggest problem is that he just isn’t a very good singer. He set the bar so high with his “Georgia” during Hollywood week, and he’s never come remotely close since.

    James is such a cocky guy, I think he gets a pass on that because of the Tourette’s. It humanizes him, I guess. Otherwise I think a backlash would’ve set in by now. I do think he sang well this week, but I don’t care for his style.

    Scotty is kinda coasting at this point. If anyone really needs a “moment” this year, it’s him. I know he’s super popular but I’d really like to see him show a little more emotion and to stretch his vocal range a bit. At least he had the Blue Crew there to cheer him on.