We're caught in an American Idol trap...Everyone's good, no one's great. And yes, I realized I should have quoted Elton John there, sorry! After last week's Premature Save incident, we're going the Top 11 again, and I'm wondering if the outcome will be any different? I'm thinking maybe not!
But now I'm being premature.
This week's theme was singing Elton John, and the filler material was provided by subjecting us to the contestant's photo shoots with my favorite magazine, Entertainment Weekly. No, I have no idea why we were supposed to care, but they had two hours to fill people!!!
So, let's dig in.
1. Scotty sang "Country Comforts" (playing the guitar)
Well, Scotty found Elton's only country song in his entire oeuvre, I think. And I'm sorry, but I was pretty much taking a nap throughout the performance. I like Scotty for a country guy, but man … It's getting a little Poor Scotty One Note, isn't it? I'm guessing he's safe, but can't they FORCE him to sing something else, just to give us all a little variety?
Image courtesy FOX
2. Naima sang "I'm Still Standing" as a reggae tune
Wearing a 70s-Elton-inspired rainbow jumpsuit, Naima rocked out a pretty good reggae arrangement of this song, particularly the backing vocals, which verged on authentic-sounding some of the time. I didn't agree with the judges that this song didn't work as reggae. It worked for me just fine. I'm guessing this was interesting and different enough to pique the audience's curiosity and make them want to keep her around a little longer.
3. Paul sang "Rocket Man" (playing guitar)
Again: Hiding behind the guitar-crutch is a very very good idea for Paul. It didn't save him entirely from himself, though ... I mean, what the hell was he doing on that chorus? Much as I love the Elton, and I do, I felt like this was the start of everyone singing his most ballady ballads and not really bringing much emotion to them. Listen, I've thought he deserved to be in the bottom before, but no one seems to agree with me. So, safe? I guess?
4. Pia sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Well, Pia took the advice not to try to be so perfect to heart and actually hit a bad note or two, but her emotional intensity still reminded me of JLo's comment about Stefano last week: It was more about intensity to do well than intensity of the song. Still, she is a total package kind of contestant, so I'm guessing she can get as far as Kat McPhee did, no?
5. Stefano sang "Tiny Dancer"
Oh, Stefano, why must you break my heart? Yes, he's still cute as a bug, and he still has a basically good voice, but he's still not quite getting there. Too many vocal tics and weird vowels. And turning away from the audience. I think he's a goner.
6. Lauren sang "Candle in the Wind"
I kinda thought Lauren was a bluesy chick, but apparently she is actually Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks. I don't think she really knows who she is, so everything seems kind of put on. This definitely sounded great, but it was just not that deep. Still: Vocal cords of steel and no depth never hurt Carrie Underwood any, so Lauren should be fine.
7. James sang "Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting"
Hmm. I was not fully convinced by this rocker dude performance. I can't shake the AdLamb wanna-be vibe, and a piano on fire seemed a little ludicrous. Absolutely a great voice. Now, I wanna see him do something else with it. He should sing that Cheap Trick song "The Flame." Fun fact: I sang that in one of my cabaret acts. It's an awesome ballad.
8. Thia sang "Daniel"
That was really sweet. I believed that she was connecting on a personal level. It was poignant. But it was also probably her ticket home. She's really young, and her performance skills are still really slight. She sounds so pretty; her heart and soul are in the right place, but she just doesn't know how to light fire to her spark. I think she's totally at risk.
9. Casey sang "Your Song"
Nice haircut and beard trim, Casey :) Randy refers to last week as their "Greatest Save Ever," and I'm trying to remember how many have they actually done. Here's my theory on why Casey was almost booted: They are trying to shove him down our throats as the most talented musician since sliced bread (you know what I mean), but he hasn't shown us that since before the semi-finals. This, for example, was nice, but it wasn't deeply moving. He's a Taylor Hicks sort of guy, but frankly, Taylor had more heart! So, Casey might just be at risk again, because we American Idol watchers are a rebellious lot.
10. Jacob sang "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word"
The first half was great, and I thought he was really on a roll and winning me over. Then came the second half (after the key change), and it was cheesy and over the top. Sigh. Jacob: You got some 'splaining to do!! But he'll probably have all the time in the world to explain.
11. Haley sang "Benny and the Jets"
I really do like her voice. And I thought her attack on the chorus was awesome. But there is this weird way she has of moving that makes her seem like she has a really lackadaisical attitude. It's weird. I want to like her more than I do. But if you closed her eyes, this version was pretty stellar. She was incomprehensibly saved last week ... Will her luck hold out?
Bottom Line for the Bottom Three:
For me, it should be: Stefano (despite my fond feelings for him), Scotty (because seriously I was SO BORED) and Jacob ('cause I still just don't like him, sorry!) with Jacob going home
But of course, that won't happen. No, it will be: Thia, Stefano and Naima, with Stefano and Thia going home.
I think the hype will keep Casey in place one more week.
But what do YOU think?
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