Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another Idol Is Crowned

Article first published as American Idol Finale on Technorati.

On Wednesday night, Ryan Seacrest finally got to tell America who their next Nashville Star is….oh, sorry, I meant who their next American Idol is!  The winner was crowned after nearly two hours of pop performances, judges patting themselves on the back, and some nostalgic looks back on the high’s and low’s of the season.  This year’s Idol winner didn’t get there easily; apparently we pop-obsessed Americans logged nearly three quarters of a billion votes over the course of the season, with more than 120 million last night alone.  Imagine what we could accomplish as a nation if we could inspire that level of voting enthusiasm for ACTUAL elections!  That’s a topic for another blog I suppose.  Here’s how the big finale event went down, in case you missed it, or just want to relive it.

The Idols kicked things off with a rousing rendition of Gaga’s “Born This Way,” followed by James doing Judas Priest…..with Judas Priest.  Pretty cool.  Who says Idol isn’t for rockers?  James sounded really strong and the band rocked out, but I could have done without the S&M / Biker Bar Halloween Costume he was wearing.

Next, they honored the judges starting with Randy.  Or rather, with a montage of Randy’s really questionable fashion choices all season, with a soundtrack of “In It To Win It” in the background.  I like Randy – he’s really fun, and I’m glad he put the “Dawgs” away for most of the season, but he needs a new mantra for next year.  Please.  I guess they’ll roast the other judges later in the show, because they broke away to Jacob Lusk, singing at the top of his game with Gladys Knight and Kurt Franklin.  He sounded much better than I ever remember him during the season.  After a short break, Casey Abrams arose from the Idol graveyard to sing “Fat Bottom Girls” with none other than Jack Black. This WAS a night of surprises!  That was a truly inspired and brilliant pairing.

Next, the Ladies of Idol Season 10 performed a Beyonce medley that was markedly better than the final group performances of years gone by.  Maybe this really was the best Idol season ever.  The medley ended with an additional group member, Beyonce. Yes, actual Beyonce.  See, more surprises. 

Then, we were back to the judges.  This time, it was a look back at some of Steven Tyler’s best moments.  He really brought the crazy this season, right?  Wow – watching all of his antics again was great fun.  I really hope he comes back next year.  That was followed by Haley, performing with the legendary, and apparently still living, Tony Bennett.  Now, come on, where else can you get Tony Bennett, Beyonce, Jack Black and Judas Priest all in the same hour of television?  This performance was followed by a rundown of JLo’s most memorable moments of the season, most of which seemed to involve her hair, and the millions of adoring fans and scattering of contestants who had crushes on her.  You know, I’ve been a bit harsh on the judges this year, mostly because they acted so much more like a pep squad than like critics, but they have great chemistry and I genuinely hope all three are back together next year.  The only staffing change I’m pushing for is for Randy to get a new wardrobe stylist. 

JLo’s mini-roast was followed up by a performance by TLC, accompanied by the Idolettes, with a cameo by Lil’ John.  Finally, one of the finalists was then given a chance to sing.  Scotty sang “Live Like You Were Dying” with Tim McGraw.  It was a top shelf pairing, maybe not as inspired as Casey and Jack Black, but a solid rendition of a wonderful song.  I have to say that Scotty really held his own up there against the Nashville Uber-star.  Impressive stuff.

Marc Anthony performed, with a little help from his wife, Ms Lopez, kind of like a modern day Sonny and Cher, except that JLo didn’t say (nor sing) a thing.  She just shook her moneymaker around and looked pretty.  My husband along with millions of other American men, was desperately pining for some sort of wardrobe malfunction, but alas, it was not to be.

Finally, it was the guys’ turn to perform en masse.  They took on Tom Jones, with surprising aplomb.  Even Scotty joined in the fun…as did Tom Jones.  Actual Tom Jones.  Apparently, it’s actually Sir Tom Jones now.  I really like that Idol is trying to expand its demographic reach deep into the realm of Baby Boomers by incorporating Septuagenarian’s like Jones and Bennett.  That’s bold.

In a true study of contracts, and an unintended pun on titles, Sir Tom Jones was followed by Lady Gaga, who was dressed like a character in a future Star Wars installment.   Then, Lauren finally got her moment in the sun, singing Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”, with none other than Carrie Underwood.  The young hopeful held her own pretty well against the former Idol winner and Country superstar, but it was clear that her vocal cords were not in fact, fully recovered.  Thankfully, they held up well enough on Tuesday night, when it really mattered.      

The evening rounded out with an encore performance by Beyonce, doing her best diva impression on her newest song.  That was followed up by an appearance by Spiderman, accompanied by Bono and the Edge.  Finally, we got Steven Tyler doing “Dream On.” I’m absolutely certain that I saw his outfit in a Chico’s catalog this week, but he really rocked the song out.  It was a treat.  Too bad we didn’t get to hear Randy play bass this year, since the other judges all had their moments in the sun.  I’m sure he’s not upset about that at all – he doesn’t really like to self-promote much (stifling a laugh).  This show had more performances than the actual Grammy’s!  Oh yeah, and they announced the winner.  I’ve never seen two more scared kids in my life.  To nobody’s surprise, Season Ten’s Idol is Scotty McCreery.  He looked genuinely overcome with joy and surprise, and Lauren was as graceful a runner-up as there ever was. No worries Lauren fans, she’ll surely be a staple on country stations for years to come.

So now it’s over.  Season Ten has come to an end and we have crowned yet another Male Idol.  I’m already excited about January…and Idol Season XI!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Finale: A Country Showdown!

Article first published as American Idol Finale Performances on Technorati.

“Tonight, you change lives.”  That’s how Seacrest kicked off the Idol finale.  Wow – we’re going deep this year! In all seriousness, it is a big deal for the two youngest ever Idol finalists who went head to head on Tuesday night.  Both seem destined for Country stardom, but winning the Idol crown is still hard to beat as a launch pad.  We learned that Lauren, already an underdog if you believe the odds makers, had another disadvantage tonight, in that she has strained her vocal cords.  They even hauled out the Official Idol Doctor for those of us who think that strained vocal cords sounds like what you wake up with after a good night of karaoke.  The Official Doctor assures us it is MUCH more serious than that, so serious in fact that they apparently drugged her up for the evening. Now, I understand her calm sense of grace and peaceful smile…..she’s on painkillers!  Nice!

Scotty kicked things off with….wait for it….a Country Song!!  Just kidding.  Of COURSE he picked a country song.  That’s the girl that brought him to the dance, he’s not going to shift gears now.  He went with “Gone” and offered a really solid performance.  Not his best work of the season, not even very memorable, but very safe and entertaining, which is all Scotty needed tonight.

Lauren followed that up with “Flat On the Floor.”  Her stage presence was that of someone way beyond her tender years, and she sang it okay, although it did seem that she was holding back due to the aforementioned vocal strain.  Overall it was good, but not memorable and I think Lauren needed to take risks in the finale to improve her odds.

The second round is usually the Idol creator’s choice, but again, they’re really shaking it up on Season Ten, so this year, we got to hear the Idols’ Idols’ picks for them.  George Strait chose “Check Yes Or No” for Scotty.  It showed off his baritone and old school Nashville style reasonably well, and he managed to keep his often-goofy stage antics to a minimum.

Lauren’s Country Idol is prior winner Carrie Underwood.  She chose “Maybe It Was Memphis” for Miss Alaina.  Lauren sounded pretty solid and it was a match for her vocal range, but her stylist unfortunately chose a get-up that just screamed Tennessee’s Junior Miss Pageant, with glitter eye shadow and all.  Again, a little too safe I fear to bring it home for Lauren.

Speaking of poor style choices, Seacrest went to Randy for the first judge’s commentary of the night.  He was brief and mostly complimentary all around, but did give the slight edge to Scotty for Round one and Lauren for Round two.   JLo agreed with Randy, because that’s what they do.  Thanks RanLo.  Tyler gave both rounds to Lauren, but only because she “is prettier than Scotty.”  Hmm…maybe her stylist’s pageant-esque choice helped her after all!

So, the final song for the Idols is to be a song written specifically for them, that each Idol would release as their first single, should they win.  Before we heard that though, we got Taio Cruz and a band of neon-lit robot drummers (or were they startroopers?) singing something that I’m sure will be Number One on iTunes within the week.  I didn’t like it, confirming once more that I’m too old to be the target demographic for this show.

To introduce the final original songs, Jimmy Iovine (Best Idol Mentor ever) told each contestant why that song was picked for them.  He seemed genuinely excited about the song they chose for Scotty, “I Love You This Big.”   I wasn’t as sold on it as Jimmy, but again, it was a good, solid and very safe performance for the country crooner.  Randy said he was brilliant and “in it to win it”, blah blah blah…I was unable to concentrate trying to figure out where on earth Randy bought that suit?  Seriously!  JLo also loved it though, so maybe it was really good and I am just grumpy tonight?  Not that I thought it was bad, it just seemed like he was phoning it in and not really finale-worthy.

The last song of the night was “Like My Mother Does” chosen for Lauren.   It was a real crowd pleaser.  Jimmy eluded to the fact that it was chosen to really solicit emotional appeal (and votes) from all the mom’s out there.  The judges unanimously gave the final round to Lauren, who the producers clearly want to give a fighting chance, given the much better song choice on her behalf.  Tyler even said that she was always his pick for Idol – and then added, “hands down.”  Pretty bold prediction Steven.

Scotty went into the night as a 1:5 favorite (over Lauren’s 3:1 odds), and I think that through the first 2 rounds, she didn’t do anything to narrow that gap.  I agree that the third round went to her, but don’t know if it was enough to shift such a large fan base in the final hours.  Scotty was consistent and authentically himself, which may have been all he needed.  My kids love Lauren and made me promise to vote for her at least twice, so maybe my votes will be the ones to put her over the top!  Tune into Fox ( on Wednesday night to find out for sure.  It promises to be a star-studded and suspense-filled finale for sure!  For me, I found myself saying “good”, “safe” and “solid” a lot, but nothing blew me away.  None of the songs brought me to tears (and yes, sadly, that has happened before).  Were the Finale performances as strong this year as in some other years?  Was it anti-climatic after a season so rife with talent and surprises?    

 Photo: Fox.

Monday, May 23, 2011

An Oddsmaker's Take on This Year's Idol Finale...

Article first published as American Idol: Countdown to the Finale on Technorati.

So, we’re down to the final countdown.  The American Idol Season Ten Finale airs tomorrow night on Fox.  Check here for local listings and pay attention!  The finale will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week, rather than Wednesday and Thursday as per usual (

Who will win the big event?  How will it all go down tomorrow night?  I stay up at night worrying about these and other burning questions (plus, how I’ll pay for my kids’ college and weddings, but that’s a topic for another article altogether).  I have my own thoughts about who America (or at least American Teenagers) will choose as their American Idol, but I thought I’d reach out and see what the pros had to say on the topic.  Did you know that American Idol is an enormous Vegas event?  Apparently, it is one of the largest Events in the Entertainment Book, or non-sports betting.  Imagine laying down hundreds trying to predict how America’s ever-fickle-under-20-set will vote on any given night?  How maddening! 

I solicited the help of Richard Gardner, Sportsbook Manager for Bodog, an online gaming giant and trusted source for information and odds for major sporting, cultural and entertainment events all over the world (

Sorry Lauren fans, but Bodog has Scotty as a 1:5 favorite, with Lauren trailing in 3:1 odds of winning the Idol Title.  So, here were my Questions and Answers with Richard. 

Q:  I’ve seen the Bodog odds on who will win and they look like a landslide to me. In your expert opinion, what do you feel is driving the dramatic spread between the two hopefuls, given that both contestants appeal to the Country Music demographic and to younger voters?

Richard -“Scotty is a clear favorite here at 1/5 and has been very consistent and likeable which is important in a contest that is voted upon by the public while Lauren has been in the bottom 2 or 3 quite often near the end of the season and lacks some confidence.  What also plays into him being such a heavy favorite is that most likely when James Durbin was eliminated the majority of his votes went to Scotty.  But if we have learned anything in the history of this show is that the favorite does not always win and would not be surprised if Lauren won even as a significant underdog.”

Q: This is the first finale I can remember where the final Idol wannabe's are so alike in terms of music genre and style. How do you think this will impact viewership and number of votes?  Do the odds makers weigh in on those data points, or just on choosing the winner?

Richard -“I don't think it will really affect anything too much, the finale is the finale and will surely be watched by everyone who has been watching the show all season and then some.  However, when doing odds on something like this predicting how the public will vote is much more important than what the judges say or how we think they actually did in their performances.”

Q: Idol ratings and voting was slightly down last season and there has been much brouhaha over the new judges and re-energizing of the Idol brand this year.  What changes have you seen this season in level of interest as it relates to the sportsbook?

Richard -“By far the biggest bet event this Season in my experience in this business as far as entertainment betting, and I agree that it is correlated to the raise in the viewers and voting.”

Interesting, so the Pros have Scotty taking home the title in a landslide, but leave the door open for an upset.  They confirm that the casting and production changes made this year have driven more money to voting, as I suspected from this year’s ratings.

So what will we see on Tuesday night?  Each of the singers will get to perform three songs.  First, they’ll sing a tune of their own choosing.  Next, Simon Fuller, the show’s creator, will weigh in and select a song for each Idol.  Finally, the Finalists will sing the newly created Idol songwriter’s number, which will be released as the winner’s first single.   It should be a great night, although it may sound a bit more like The Next Nashville Star, than American Idol, given the country orientation of both of this year’s finalists.

For me, I’ll say that I think both of the contestants are likeable, talented and wholesome American kids.  Neither were my favorite to be sure, but I only voted a few times.  As of now, I believe Scotty will win, but I’m sure they’ll both have successful Nashville careers, no matter how it all goes down.   The finale performances always have a few surprises though and certainly the producers can manipulate us a bit with song choices, so it is not over until it’s over.  Be sure to watch it all unfold on Fox!

Photo: Newsday.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Final Three Bring It Home...

Article first published as American Idol: Top 3 Perform on Technorati.

So, we’re down to the final three on American Idol Season 10.  This week, Lauren, Scotty and Haley got to take road trips and we were treated to some highlights of their visits with hometown fans…plus, a few songs. Actually, did anyone else notice that the shots of the Idols’ hometown fans were sparse at best this year?  What gives?  Where were the thrilling stadium shots filled with legions of loyal fans?  Maybe I’m just getting cynical in my old age.

On Wednesday night’s 90-minute show, it all went down. We saw the homey highlights and three songs from each Idol.  Each contestant chose a song for themselves, with a little help from Beyonce, followed by a song choice from the ubiquitous Jimmy Iovine, and then finally, a song chosen by the judges.  The night kicked off with Scotty singing, wait for it, a country song (“specifically, Amazed”).  Beyonce seemed worried that he wasn’t comfortable in the higher end of his range, but Scotty said, “no Ma’am.”  He wanted to shake it up a bit.  It wasn’t bad, but he definitely shines in the songs featuring his signature baritone and should stay there now that we’re so close to the finals.  Nevertheless, Tyler and RanLo showed him nothing but mad love….shocker!

Next up was Lauren, who performed Faith Hill’s song, “Wild One,” with such poor phrasing that she couldn’t really finish some of the lyrics.  Too bad – country should have really been her genre.  The judges must have been listening to something else, because they still managed to give her praise.  Where is Simon when you need him?

Haley wrapped up Round 1 with Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.”
That’s right – go big or go home sister! So, this week, Haley’s a rocker. OK – I’ll go with it.  Now, purists like my brother were probably ticked off that she had the nerve to desecrate and “pop up” that which is most sacred, but I give her props for showing some nerve and doing something different.  Also, she managed to contain her growling reasonably well and (naturally), received big love from the judging panel.   I may catch some flack for this, but I’m giving Round 1 to Haley, as did the judges.

The next circuit of song choices was courtesy of Jimmy I.o.vine.  Scotty was given “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” and seemed really happy with the gift Sir Jimmy had bestowed upon him.  It was vintage Scotty all around, weird faces and all, but he sounded great, and the song perfectly showed off his range.  Everyone agreed; zero controversy.  Scotty is apparently also “In It To Win It.”

Jimmy’s choice for Lauren was “If I Die Young,” which again showed her voice to its best advantage, proving that Jimmy is truly the best Idol Mentor ever.  I hope he comes back next year.  I personally thought her performance was a bit boring and flat, but the vocal was good.  Again, the judges seemed unwilling to be anything but cheerleaders for the young singer.  Lauren actually had a little mid-song stumble that Simon NEVER would have let slip.  The judges all mentioned it, but seemed to give her a pass, and in fact, gave her props for such a quick recovery.  Those guys are so nice!  Really.

Jimmy’s final song pick of the night was “Rhiannon” for Haley.  Wow – hard to be objective now because that is by far, the best Fleetwood Mac song ever.  She did the opening verse beautifully, but then the producers put a giant fan on her, which clearly distracted her as she sped up into the body of the song.  The whole windy thing was VERY Stevie Nicks (gauzy, flowey, witch-like dress and all), but I ended up not loving the performance overall.   The judges all totally ate it up though.

The judges had a split decision on who took Round 2 with Tyler giving it to Lauren, and RanLo giving it to Scotty.  Sorry Haley.  I say it went to Scotty.

Before we got to hear Round 3, the Judges’ Pick, we were treated (subjected?) to the debut of Beyonce’s new Video.  It seemed to be some sort of post-apocolyptic feminist anthem about girl power, albeit one that was shot in the style of a Playboy photo shoot.  Okay Sascha Fierce.  If you say so.  I did not like it one bit, but I’m sure it will be a number one hit.

Then it was back to the singing competition, with Scotty kicking it off with “She Believes In Me.”  I thought that was an L-A-M-E song choice, but the judges all patted themselves on the backs for choosing it for him and for his delivery of it.  

They chose “I Hope You Dance” for Lauren, which seemed pretty safe to me.  She sounded fine, but it was a totally pageant-worthy performance, complete with a typical Miss America gown.  JLo loved it though and said it gave her “goosies”, while Randy just had to tell us what great friends he and LeAnn Womack were before telling us how good she was.  Tyler aptly rounded out the praises.

Wednesday’s last performance was from Haley, doing Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know.”  That seems a little unreasonable.  They chose total softballs for Scotty and Lauren and then socked Haley with a really hard song to sing, replete with raunchy lyrics and all.   I thought she struggled a bit but again, the judges called it amazing and gave her props, focusing their praise mainly on the chorus, since she flubbed the verses a bit.

Tyler gave Round 3 to Haley, while Lauren got the applause from Randy and JLo.

For me, I’d say that overall, the night went to Scotty, with Haley and Lauren both potentially in some trouble.  Given that scenario, I’d prefer to see Lauren go home, so we don’t have a totally country finale.  Also, Haley has grown on me a bit.  It will be an interesting night on Thursday for sure: don’t miss it: (!

Photo: Fox 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vegas Weighs In On American Idol Finals

Sorry I missed posting last week.  What a week in idol!  James???!!  

It was a very busy week for me at home and work and I had planned to take one day off, then Blogger went down for an extended period of time and just completely wrecked any posting plans I did have! Who is more reliable than Google?  Both surprising and disappointing.  I only hope whatever they were patching or upgrading is now fixed for good.

Anyway, I received some info today from a source in Vegas who does sports publicity.  He shared the latest Vegas odds on who will win Idol Season 10, courtesy of Bodog.  Here you go:

Odds to Win American Idol Season 10           
Scott McCreery                         1/2
Haley Reinhart                           7/2
Lauren Alaina                            7/2

Surprising, right?  Now obviously, this isn't an exact science, but truth often follows money so I found it interesting on many fronts.  First off, while Haley's trajectory seems to be improving, I still see a TON of negative chatter about her on the blogs and in other social media outlets.  I am surprised to see her tied with Lauren, who seems to be on a bit of a downward spiral.  I did expect Haley to get a bit of a bump due to Lauren and Scotty splitting the Country Contingent voting bloc.... I definitely did not expect to see such a dramatic spread between Scotty and the other two Idols.

This week's performance show will feature recaps of the Idols hometown visits.  Each Idol will also perform 3 songs: one chosen by Jimmy I.o.vine, one chosen by the Pep Squad (aka, the Judges' Panel), and one more chosen by the Idols themselves.  What do you think we'll hear?  What do you think about the Vegas odds?  Stay tuned for the week ahead!  
Photos: Fox.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Top 5 Results Recap: One More Hopeful Goes Down

Article first published as American Idol: Top 5 Results Show on Technorati.

After a particularly long introductory montage, Ryan Seacrest kicked off the Idol results show this week, announcing that 60 Million votes were cast on Wednesday for this week’s performances.  After some quick bantering with the judges, the Idols did their weekly group number to “Happy Together.”  I can honestly say that I’ve heard better renditions of that song in my living room, enthusiastically performed by my 5 and 6 year-old daughters.  Thankfully, it was short.  It actually made the Ford music video that followed sound pretty good by comparison.  Lady Antebellum performed next, and showed the Idols how it’s done.

Ryan continued to promise us results, but we were 23 minutes into the 60-minute show, and still no closer to knowing who would go home.  Finally, at the 26-minute mark, Ryan sent James to a remote corner of the stage.  Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be….the next victim was Lauren, who was sent to a different region on the vast Idol stage…oh, the drama! 

After some shameless promotion Fox’s upcoming season of Hell’s Kitchen, JLo and her extensions performed her new club hit, dressed in a blinged-out version of MC Hammer’s pants from 1992.   Her performance frightened me on many levels, but my kids liked it and my husband tried to pretend he wasn’t desperately hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.  Don’t worry – I’m onto him.

Finally we were back to the results and learned of Jacob’s fate – sort of.  He was sent to join Lauren.  A now very unhappy Lauren now, I’ll add.  Next, we saw Haley join James, in what I can only hope is the “safe” group.  That left Scotty, who joined Haley and James in what Ryan finally revealed as the TOP 3.  So, the bottom 2 were Jacob and Lauren, and then we learned that the road ended this week for Jacob. 

While I give props to Ryan for trying to add some drama this week to the results, I don’t think anyone was surprised by this, right?  In my humble opinion, he should have gone home a couple of weeks ago.   I admire all the contestants for all their hard work and the courage to follow their dreams, but I won’t shed any tears about not hearing Jacob’s crazy overdone vocal gymnastics anymore.  Sorry big guy!  

Check out FOX ( for more recap information and details about the Top 4 Performance Show next week.  Only 3 more weeks to go before we crown the first Idol not blessed by Simon Cowell!  It should be interesting- be sure to tune in.

Photo: FOX.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Top 5 Perform Old and New Classics

Article first published as American Idol: The Top 5 Perform on Technorati.

The Top 5 Perform Classic Pop Songs, Both Old & New

Ryan introduced the judges on Wednesday evening’s show and for a minute, I thought that Randy was dressed like a grown-up this week…until I saw the POLKA DOTS on his suit sleeve.  Maybe they’re on the lining of the jacket and he has the sleeves rolled up? Thanks Randy; now I’m going to focus on that all night instead of the singing.  Where pray tell would you go to buy a men’s sport jacket with polka dots on the sleeve? Jennifer must have an engagement at church following this taping, because she’s definitely wearing her Sunday best and Tyler, always one to bring the the crazy, is dressed like Mick Jagger meets Wham from 1982.  Wow!  Ok, enough fashion talk, its go time!  Seacrest brought out the idols and reminded us that the finals are only 3 weeks away!  This week, the Idols took on 2 songs – one current hit and then a second, old school hit, with Sheryl Crow as the mentor-of-the-week, along with the ever-present Jimmy Iovine.

James kicked off the evening with “Closer to Edge.”  Not his best work, but he has legions of voting fans.  He sounded authentic and clear on what kind of artist he’d be, so naturally he solicited nothing but high praise from the Pep Squad (sorry, the judges). Tyler called him, “Ready for Freddy”, JLo was feeling it, and Randy once again quipped that “James is in it to win it.”

Next up was Jacob, sporting yet another Carlton-worthy outfit (Fresh Prince, circa 1990).   He chose “No Air” for his first performance of the night.  I’ve said all I need to say about Jacob in prior posts.  I just can’t be objective about the guy.  I don’t love that genre of music, but I’ve heard Jordan Sparks sing it and she does it better in my opinion.  JLo gave him faint praise but surprisingly, Randy trashed him and the song choice.  Tyler rounded it out with lukewarm praise.  

Lauren next covered Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor”.  Those are big shoes to fill, but she did a good job and I could really see her releasing a song like that in the future.  Oh, and my 5 year old loved it.  I mean, loved it.  Since she is closer to the average voting age than I am, I am assuming this means Lauren got a lot of votes.  The judges roundly agreed.

Scotty was next with “Gone”, which showed his vocal range better than some prior week’s choices.  He sounded good, but his stage antics once again reminded me of Alfred E. Newman, of MAD Magazine fame, who looks alarmingly like Scotty.   Tyler said “he danced with he devil”…in a good way.  JLo was “so excited!”  Randy brought it all home and said we were “sitting at concert Scotty.” Safe.

Haley was the last Idol to perform a current song before they went back to the 60’s, with Gaga’s heretofore unreleased song, “You and I.”  That’s actually showing some Kahunas!  I don’t know the song since it’s unreleased, and I haven’t yet been lucky enough to score Gaga tickets, but she sounded good, and the song definitely felt authentic for her.  Strong choice Haley!  The Pep Squad all seemed concerned that the audience (aka, voters) might not rally behind a song they didn’t know.  I disagree, and thought it was an amazing song for her.  But, truth be told, I don’t know half the songs on this show, because I’m 44, not 24, and don’t listen to much Top 20.

Next, it was time for the Idols to bring back the olden days (aka my childhood).  James kicked us off with 1970’s, “Without You.” It was good to see his softer side again, even if it was a tad boring and pitchy.  Poor James balled through the entire song.  What was that about? The judges and the girls in the audience lapped that up for sure.   I found myself trying to listen to Randy’s commentary and figure out why James was so tearful, but I kept getting distracted with possible glimpses of the polka dot arms again!  Jeez.

Next, showing us that he could kick it old school too, was Jacob with his second pick of the evening, “Love Hurts”.   It was much better than his usual mush, and the judges responded well.  Ok…next!

Lauren chose “Unchained Melody” for her walk down memory lane.  Oh Simon, where are you when I need you most?  Other Cowell fans will note that it was his favorite song and he was brutal with anyone who took it on and showed it less than the respect it deserved.  Lauren, or her Idol stylists, chose to dress her like a 1970’s pageant queen for the rendition (complete with signature Charlie’s Angels wings and waves), which made it hard for me to take it seriously.  I’ll just say that the song was bigger than her and leave it at that because I like Lauren and no matter how much anyone criticizes her on this particular performance, she’ll be 100% safe this week.  JLo seemed scared to say anything bad, and Randy and Steven were very complimentary in a nonspecific way.

Scotty chose wisely and did, “You Were Always On My Mind,” which was a dead hit song choice for him, really showing the texture of his voice and his tenderness.  He seemed pitchy at times, and the song didn’t build to the momentum that I would have liked, but that kid can sing.  He knows who he is, and who he isn’t.  Good for you, Scotty!  Tyler dug him too.

Ok, I know I need to get off this, but I just got a glimpse of Randy’s OTHER arm and there are NO polka dots!  Did I dream them?  No, there they are on the left arm alone…that’s just weird, right?  I’m sorry – I promise I won’t bring up “dot-gate” again.  Really.

Haley brought the show home with the evening’s final performance of “House of the Rising Sun.”  Haley’s been up and down for me this season, but this was her performance of the season.  She started off a cappella, and continued with a great arrangement, which really demonstrated her vocal control and range.  How soon can I download it on iTunes?  She definitely wants to win this gig.  The Pep Squad gave her a standing O, and Randy said she slayed it with the best performance of the night.  No other judge disagreed.  Ok, I know I said I’d get off the whole polka dot thing, but when Randy stood up, I noticed that NOT ONLY are there dots on his left sleeve, but on the right lower front panel of the jacket.  For real.  I just can’t seem to look away.  Enough about that, it’s onto predictions.

Will they do Bottom 3 when there are only 5 left?  I cannot recall how they’ve handled it this late in past seasons.  I’ll just rank all 5 in order of who I thought rocked it and who botched it:

Best – Haley
Next Best – Scotty
Tie for 3rd – Lauren and James
Bottom – Jacob

I’m sure I’ll take some hits for putting James anywhere but the top, but that’s just how I heard it last night.  I really hope it is Jacob’s time to go but stay tuned to FOX Thursday night to find out for sure (

Photo: FOX.