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American Idol: Soft Rockin’

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Last night the American Idol contestants sang songs from the Rock and Roll AMERICAN IDOL: The Final 9: Clockwise from botom right: Haley Reinhart, James Durbin, Pia Toscano, Casey Abrams, Jacob Lusk, Stefano Langone, Paul McDonald, Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Hall of Fame. For some reason this translated to many people, including myself that we were going to hear the contestants singing rock music. This would prove to not be the case at all. If anything, it was soft rock night, due to five out of the nine contestants singing mid-tempo songs to down right ballads. For the word, “rock” being involved in this week’s theme, I was surprised at the lack of risk-taking and not performing an actual rock number that’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Going in performance order, let’s start with Jacob Lusk, who sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” I wasn’t loving his performance. He’s dialed the vocals back some, but he was still having a lot of pitch issues. And his outfit last night was distractingly awful. They really need to get him in better fitted clothes. What I really didn’t appreciate were his comments during his pre-performance package.

“If I end up in the bottom three, it won’t be because I sang the song bad, it won’t be because I sang the song wrong, it will be because everybody in America wasn’t ready to look at themselves in the mirror.”

Um Jacob, how should I put this? If you’re in the bottom three tonight, it’s going to be because you made a really unneccessary comment in your pre-performance video, AND because you didn’t have a great vocal performance. Sorry, bro. AMERICAN IDOL: Haley Reinhart performs in front of the judges on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, April 6, (8:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

Following Jacob up was everyone’s Idol sweetheart, Haley Reinhart, who performed Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” If anyone fulfilled this week’s theme week’s requirements, it was Haley. She sang a rock song on rock night.

 Performance-wise, I thought Haley brought a lot of energy to the stage, although I don’t feel like she really connected with the words in the song. I feel like the only reason she chose to sing a Janis Joplin song is because of all the vocal comparisons. I think if Haley can restrain all the unnecessary growling and just let her voice shine, then she could be a contender. That said, she also needs to watch her vocals, because when she wasn’t growling, she was kind of yelling the lyrics. I don’t like being yelled at through my TV. I think it’s possible that Haley could make a return trip to the bottom three.

A quick sidenote: No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani styled all the girls last night, and Haley seemed to be the lone survivor of that endeavor. She looked good.

Casey Abrams sang “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. With his upright bass in tow, Casey had a pretty nice vocal. I like that he’s been showcasing his vocals for the last couple weeks, I just wonder how long it’s going to last. We’re not seeing as much personality from Casey, and I think it could be because he’s afraid that if he does too much, he’ll be eliminated. That is definitely a possibility, but it’s the same risk for each of the singers. I wish Casey could figure out a way to have a nice vocal and show his personality. He needs to find that balance, because I’d really like to hear him do something a little more upbeat if he makes it through to next week.

Lauren Alaina flipped through Kelly Clarkson’s Idol performance songbook, and AMERICAN IDOL: Lauren Alaina performs in front of the judges on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, April 6, (8:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. sang Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Lauren actually had a very nice vocal. If she could have held onto the larger notes a bit longer, it would have made the performance standout a little more. To me, it was just kind of an average performance from Lauren. She sounded great, but nothing about it really wowed me. Well, her outfit wowed me, but not in a good way.

Seriously Gwen Stefani, what did Lauren ever do to you, that you would put her in that awful jumper? But that outfit still wasn’t as bad as what Gwen put Pia Toscano in.

Following Lauren was James Durbin, who let the flaming pianos sit this week out, so he could showcase his softer side with George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I have to say that even though his personality bothers me some, this performance was actually pretty good. I could have lived without the last note. I swear, it’s like screechy note or bust with this kid. Overall, I was impressed. I like low-key James Durbin. He and I would get along. I hope to see more of him.

I had two personal favorite performances last night, and Scotty McCreery’s take on Elvis’ “That’s All Right Mama” was definitely one of them. I thought he had anAMERICAN IDOL: Scotty McCreery performs in front of the judges on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, April 6, (8:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Frank Micelotta / FOX. outstanding vocal performance, and I loved that he worked the stage and the audience the entire time. Scotty really showed off his personality; he has more charisma than I thought. This was an overall great performance from him. That bit at the end with the girls rushing up was so staged, it was ridiculous. As far as the judges are concerned, I agree with Randy Jackson; Scotty is in it to win it.

Pia Toscano finally sang a legitimate upbeat number with Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” Pia sounded pretty phenomenal. She was leaps and bounds better than Haley and Lauren. However, she needs to work on her stage presence, because she still managed to come across a little boring. Just standing in the middle of the stage for the majority of the performance and singing doesn’t work at all for this song. If she would have shown a lot more personality during her performance, she would have easily won the night. But you know, if I had been wearing the weird jumper/one piece, I wouldn’t have been exactly glowing. I hope Idol doesn’t let Gwen Stefani dress the contestants ever again.

Up next was Stefano Langone performing Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” I totally cringed when I heard his song choice. However, this is the best Stefano has sounded in weeks. He’s really put the work in to improve his overall sound. That said, I wasn’t blown away by his performance, but it was good. I do think that he could still possibly land in the bottom three. My thinking is that there will be probably more guys than girls in the bottom, and someone has to round out the group. Though, I don’t see him being eliminated this week.

Ladies and gentlemen, say what you will, but Paul McDonald is back! His AMERICAN IDOL: Paul McDonald performs in front of the judges on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, April 6, (8:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker / FOX. performance of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” was great. His performance was also my other favorite of the night. Paul brought a great energy to the stage, and last night was hands down the best he’s sounded in quite some time. His interaction with the band members on stage was fun to watch. Paul seemed to be really in his element, and he didn’t need any hijinks to make him standout. Paul’s performance was a great note to end the night on. Hopefully his great vocal performance will keep him out of the bottom three this week.

I really liked Scotty, Paul, and Pia this week, because their vocals all sounded tremendous, and they all went with upbeat song selections. I also liked that they all picked songs that fit their voices, and that they were really able to showcase themselves well this week.

Overall, it was a pretty decent performance night for the Idol contestants. Who had your favorite performance last night, who do you think will be in the bottom three, and what did you think about Jacob Lusk’s comments in his pre-performance video?

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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.
  • Sherry

    The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame includes all kinds of music, it just had to have an impact on “The Rock Era,” so I wasn’t expecting exclusively rock songs. I’m not sure what you mean about the songs not being in the Hall of Fame? There are no songs in the Hall of Fame. All of the artists that the contestants covered are in the Hall of Fame, so I thought it worked.

    I don’t think Rock n Roll means hard rock or fast music, so CCR, Beatles, and Elvis all fit the term.

    I agree completely on James Durbin. I thought the final note actually ruined the intensity of the song. I also agree that Casey needs to work on developing his own sound and personality to work together.

    I did not like Jacob Lusk’s pre-song comments at all, I also didn’t think his performance was all that great. I won’t be surprised if he ends up in the bottom three.

    I really don’t know who will be in the bottom or going home this week. It should make for an interesting results show.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Some individual performances have been disappointing, but overall the high vocal quality has been remarkably consistent week to week. Not too many moments when you think, what is that person doing on this show.

    Someone like Stefano would have seemed way above average in past seasons, a sort of muscled-up version of David Archuleta; this year he’s barely good enough to hang on, because the others are so good.

    Good but too rarely exciting. I certainly enjoyed Scotty, Paul and James last night, but there’s no since of discovery and surprise, as there was with say, David Cook or Adam Lambert or even Kris Allen.

  • Butch

    I think Stefano is, hands down, THE best singer out of this year’s finalists. His voice is the most technically impressive. I think he has also improved by leaps and bounds with his performing abilities.

    The shame is that the show’s PR campaign has tricked so many people into thinking that the whole group is extremely talented. Some of it boils down to a matter of opinion, of course, but I really think AI has done a great of selling a bunch of mediocre show-boaters this year.

    Jacob Lusk is truly terrible. I used to feel that way about Paul McDonald – but he has grown on me over the weeks, with last night being great. But Lusk is just God awful. And his sanctimonious CRAP before his performance last night might just get him booted from the show tonight. If not, it certainly hurt.

  • docdave

    Scotty and James are the two best overall. I thought Pia would be in the top three. Jacob has become annoying and is clearly a self centered racist diva who is not that good a singer. Paul has improved the last two weeks, but is frequently off-pitch. Casey has clearly peaked and has not impressed me. Stefano is okay buy nothing special. Lauren and Haley pale in comparison to Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. I expect a Scotty versus James finale.