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.    


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