Wednesday , June 19 2024
Scotty McCreery, Paul McDonald, and Pia Toscano had standout performances during Rock and Roll Hall of Fame night.

American Idol: Soft Rockin’

Last night the American Idol contestants sang songs from the Rock and Roll 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.

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 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 an 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 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?

About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is a writer and editor from the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her long-running music blog, Wait...WHAT, at Follow Kirsten Coachman on Twitter: @KirsCoachman

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