When American Idol Season 9 came to a rocky close, experts, bloggers, and fans alike were incredibly skeptical whether or not the ratings giant had lost its luster. Then came the news of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler being added to the judge's panel. People began talking. While this star-studded line up looked great on paper, many were still worried. However, once January 2011 came, all the doubt washed away as ratings only dipped, rather than plunging as many expected.
Not only were the judges bringing their A game, but the talent was as fresh and new as ever before. This year was familiarly reminiscent of Season 5, which spanned a wide range of musical tastes from country to pop to rock. When Scotty McCreery was crowned winner of Season 10, the only thing left to look forward to (besides upcoming album releases) was the American Idol Live! summer tour. One of those stops was Newark, New Jersey on August 14th (and 15th).
As the crowd took their seats in their "I <3 Scotty McCreery" T-shirts and gripped their "Fano" posters tightly in clenched fists, a thick cloud of energy and enthusiasm pervaded the arena. Even better still, as the faces of their favorite contestants flashed across the jumbo screen, cheers and jeers echoed from various seats. The screams built to a climax as the lights went out and a series of heavenly, but blinding, lights shot across the crowd. There was a moment of shock, surprise and realization as the audience was taken over with insanity and the fist-pumping instrumentals shot to deafening pitch for Pia Toscano, Lauren Alaina, and Haley Reinhart's opening performance of "Born This Way."
During the run of the show, the ladies showed glimpses of being incredibly contemporary and vocally stellar, but nothing compares to a live concert--especially when the pressure is off and everyone can relax and have fun. Toscano, Alaina, and Reinhart were the highlights of this number, as they proved their stage presence and charisma. That isn't to say, though, that Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia did not bring something special as well, as you could tell that they felt right at home up on that stage.
At the conclusion of that number, the ladies scattered and Toscano, resident balladeer, was bathed in a soft pool of blue light. Decked out in sparkles--that was a common theme for all the women--Toscano's vocals were as crisp and neat as one would expect from her. During her American Idol run, she produced many an impeccable ballad. With the energy from the previous performance surging through the crowd's veins, the air in the room deflated, but they were still in awe of the beauty and talent before them. Everyone in the room held their breaths as she wailed and performed vocal acrobatics that would make any of the current pop divas run away terrified.