American Idol Recap: The Top 4 Get Inspirational, Work With Lady Gaga

The Top 4 sang inspirational songs. And Lieber & Stoller songs. And worked with Lady Gaga. Yeah, I was saying "huh?" too.

I'm not a big fan of "Inspirational Songs Night." Inspirational songs mean big ballads, usually bigger than the singer, and that just make me go: Blurg.

Image courtesy FOX

But hey, throw in some Lieber & Stoller songs and a little Lady Gaga, and all's right with the world, right?

Well, actually, not really. It was a weird cobbled-together evening for me. Luckily, it was filled with some great performances.

1. James

a. Inspirational: Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. OK, Pet Peeve: I really wish he (and others, but he's the worst offender) would stop exhorting the crowd to respond before he's done anything. Dude, if you're good, I will gladly get up, I will gladly "put my hands together," I will gladly "make some noise." But not because you tell me to -- you gotta make me feel it! That said: Wow. Best performance he's ever had. Clear, strong, high, perfectly on pitch. Loved it. And I don't usually say that about James. He got a little buried by the backing vocals during the chorus, but that's a minor point. This was the most consistent he has ever been, the first time his end-of-song screaming fit and was on pitch. I had to say "wow", absolutely. He must have been inspired that Erin and her son Jack were there!! Great, great performance of a song we've certainly heard more than plenty of in the last couple of years.

b. Lieber & Stoller: Love Potion #9. Hmm. Meh. Actually didn't mind the screamy ending; it was the rest of the performance that was boring and more about the guitar than the vocal. This just didn't seem like a singer's song, or that he made it his song.

Bottom line: I think Don't Stop Believin' sealed his entry into the final three. That was an amazing vocal.

2. Haley

a. Inspirational: Earth Song by Michael Jackson. While I agree that she relied a little too much on the growl through the chorus, this was exactly the kind of emotional committed performance that the judges say they want and that people tend to respond to. And she certainly showed she could sing clear, smooth and sweet at the beginning and end. Why is her use of vocal pyrotechnics not acceptable, when they don't seem to have a problem with what James and Jacob were doing? Hmmm?

b. Lieber and Stoller: I Who Have Nothing by Ben E. King. I actually didn't love it. I thought it was absolutely fine vocally, and she has a great voice. But I didn't really buy the drama. I much more bought her emotional delivery of Earth Song.

Bottom line: I think Haley is in trouble, not just because of the judges, but because she went 100% angsty, and we like a little light with our dark.

3. Scotty

a. Inspirational: Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning by Alan Jackson. Pretty boring for the first two-thirds of it, but towards the end he got caught up in some real emotion, and I got caught up in that. Look, the guy has a really nice, and really radio-friendly, voice. He is going to record, and he is going to have a career. And in the last two weeks, he has even made me think I might care about that!

b. Lieber and Stoller: Young Blood by the Coasters. But then he did his second performance. And he was back to his weird squatting and mic technique. That was just weird and creepy. I didn't find it funny, charming or cute. And vocally it didn't go anywhere or do anything. Ew.

Bottom line: I do think he's extremely commercial, and that he's likely to be safe. And since I feel like he's made the most significant progress over the season, I can live with it, despite not really being into his style of music or voice.

4. Lauren

a. Inspirational: Anyway by Martina McBride. Lauren actually delivered with this performance. She sounded fantastic. OK, it was more of a sweet, poignant performance than a powerful , gut-wrenching performance, but I have to say: Nice job. And no wiggling. Which is a plus. My one comment for Lauren: You will seem a lot less pageant-y if you stop saying a sheepish "thank you" at the end of your performances. You're welcome. :)

b. Lieber and Stoller: I'm Evil. Yikes. Back to the wiggling. Also back to getting a little out of control and out of breath (and therefore off-key) because of nerves and adrenaline. The fact is Lauren is young, and this is how it shows. I thought this was pretty amateur.

Bottom line: Lauren was on the cusp of being eliminated last week with a really weak set of performances. Last night hse had one very strong one, and one that most people might think was cute and fun. I think she saved herself.

Bottom line for the Bottom Two:

Should be: Lauren and Haley, with Lauren going home.

Will be: Lauren and Haley, with Haley going home.

But what did you think?

Elisa Camahort Page
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