Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Top 11 Take on Motown!

Article first published as American Idol: The Top 11 Perform on Technorati.

Doesn’t Detroit already have enough problems?  OK, in all seriousness, the idols did well last night!  I’m going to have to focus almost all my rants on their fashion choices, on the judges and on Ryan. So, let’s start there…Jennifer is dressed like Rachel from Glee tonight.  Steven is obviously wearing a woman’s shirt from Chico’s – maybe they’re a new sponsor?  Randy is proudly sporting a Bill Cosby cardigan. Nice.  Finally, after plenty of nonsense, they haul out the Idols.

First up is Casey with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”.  Here’s what we know – he’s quite a character.  The judges love him and comment more on his uniqueness than on his actual singing, which wasn’t that great actually.  Not bad, just not his best.

Next is Thia who warns us in advance that it’s a tough week for her…uh oh.  She chooses “Heatwave”.  The good news is that she looks gorgeous.  She’ll end up on a Disney show before long, I promise.  Unfortunately, it’s a very karaoke performance but J. Lo gives her props for finally letting loose a little.  The general consensus seems to be that she did better this week but still needs to dig deeper.

Jacob is up next – this should really be his week, right?  He does “You’re All I Need to Get By” and is reminded by Jimmy Iovine to show restraint.  I guess that was his version of restraint? Steve Tyler storms the stage and hugs him, so I guess he liked it.  The judges all dug him, and I have to admit he was good.  Seacrest wants to be certain he’ll stick around so he invites the entire front row, that’s right, the whole front row, to come up and hug Jacob.

Poor Lauren has to follow that and goes with “You Keep Me Hanging On”.  She’s good enough, but nothing I’d really remember.  The stylists have her dolled up like a younger version of one of Bravo’s Real Housewives.  Randy calls it swagger.  The panel really likes her apparently.  She’s safe.

Stefano is the next victim and before he sings, Ryan warms the crowd to him by highlighting his adorable mom who cooked pasta for everyone at the Idol Mansion.  Stefano loves his mom….and her cooking….and the mansion.  He’s a good boy – we get it.  As for singing, he chooses “Hello”, the Lionel Ritchie classic.  Stefano was awesome last week, right?  Sadly, the old Stefano is back. He over sings the ballad a bit, and closes his eyes for most of the last half of the song (even though Iovine told him not to do so).  The judges call him out for not connecting (code for not keeping his eyes open).

After the break, Ryan introduces Gordon Ramsey and asks him to review Stefano’s mom’s pasta.  He trashes it, officially proving that with Simon gone, he is the biggest meanie on Fox….and that’s saying something! 

Now that the audience is feeling very awkward about that whole exchange, they haul out Haley who has been flat-ironed beyond all recognition to sing   “You Really Got a Hold on Me”.  I don’t totally dig her performance but she’s definitely better than the last 2 weeks and has her blues-y growl back.  The judges are ecstatic, but I’m not sure the audience agrees.

Scotty is next and admits that he was way too country to listen to Motown growing up, but he decides to do a take on “For Once In My Life”.  We all knew this would be a rough week on him…but you know what? He’s great and totally transforms that Stevie gig into a valid country tune.  I give him credit for staying authentic and for staying on key.  He should leave the dancing to the others and sit still, but he sounds good.  A friend of mine pointed out that he’s a dead ringer for Alfred E. Newman from MAD magazine – totally.  Now, I’ll never get that out of my head.  Tyler compares him to Glen Campbell and the other judges give him thumbs up too.  Safe.

We have the ever-lovely Pia taking on Stevie Wonder too, but opting for “All In Love Is Fair”, fully utilizing her 3-octave range.  It’s not my style of music, but her vocal talent is undeniable.   The judges are appropriately awestruck but do call her out on being a little boring.   Randy quips, “You cannot live on ballads alone”.  Amen to that.  

Paul is stoked to do Motown and goes with “Tracks of My Tears”.  That actually seems like a great choice for him, and he’s going to do it as an acoustic jam with his guitar.  OK, big fan.  I like almost any big song stripped down to an acoustic moment with a guitar.  I’ll say this – the guitar seems to limit his normal desire to do a jig, so that’s a plus.  Unfortunately, he’s pitchy and the back-up singers suck some of the coolness out of it.    Randy wants him to “bring the tender”.  Tyler calls him a true original “like Dylan” (that’s a stretch, right?).  I like how Ryan points out that Paul is wearing an actual cougar pin.  For real? Yes, he’s really stomping for that voting bloc!

Naima does “Dancing in the Streets” which seems like a natural choice for her.  Spoiler alert – she gives us a heads up that she’s going to incorporate some African Dance.  Bold choice.  Also, she may be wearing the biggest bell-bottoms ever.  She’s going big tonight. Steven says she was “E to the Z to the Tweedly Dee” Whatever that means…Randy and Jennifer say something too, but I’m still working out in my head what Steven meant?

James is in the final slot and goes with Stevie Wonder’s “Living in the City”.  He delivers a version very reminiscent of Adam Lambert, but with some of Paul’s signature jig thrown in for good measure.  Jenny-from-the-block can’t contain herself, and calls him serious business.  Randy isn’t having any of it – he thought it started rough but finished amazing “once he got in the pocket”.   Tyler loves him.

Tonight is tougher for me to pick, because unlike previous weeks, nobody was flat out terrible.   They were all actually pretty good.  For sure, Pia, Jacob, Scotty, Lauren, and James are safe.  My guess is that Casey, Stefano, and Paul will be too.  That leaves Naima, Haley and Thia in the bottom three, or at least that’s how I’d rank them.  I could see Stefano in the Bottom too, (thus, likely saving Thia).  I think Naima is going home.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking and if I predict it enough weeks, it will eventually happen.  What do you think?  A few other sites I read say it’s Haley’s turn to go.  Tune in to Fox tonight to find out on the Elimination show:

Photo: Fox.       

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