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Home » Music, TV

AMERICAN IDOL S10: Were the Top 5 Inspiring?

Submitted by on May 12, 2011 – 1:24 am 15 Comments

by Poncho

As I’ve written a few times, I don’t get American Idol [in Mexico] until about a week after it airs in the U.S., so I only watch the performances [online] and none of the judges’ comments. A week later, I watch the whole show. During my initial viewings, after writing about what I saw, I often read online what the judges said and find I rarely agree with them.

But this show brought a few surprises for me. By this time in the competition, they’ve gotten rid of the bad, the mediocre, the preachy and the ones unwilling to grow. The four left are definitely good and have delivered fine performances, and even a couple of great ones (*cough* Haley *cough*). So as some people say, “the game is on.”

This week there were two rounds with two themes. For round one, they performed “Songs That Inspire,” and this is how it went:

James Durbin opened with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Blame my uncle, but I love Journey and I love the song. I enjoy Glee and LOVED The Sopranos, so what’s not to like when that song is treated with respect? It was very well done and, unlike last week, James was on pitch the whole time and his vocals were very clean. The only turnoff was that he didn’t add much to the song, so it felt unoriginal and a little karaoke, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case.

Next was Haley Reinhart channeling Michael Jackson. “Earth Song” is a great song and there was nothing that Haley could do wrong with it. It was very well done and filled with emotion while she stayed on pitch. Mr. Dawg & La Lopez told her that the song didn’t fit her and that she shouted. I call it BS! She overgrowled (if that’s a word), not yelled. I know Randy has a very limited vocabulary but I think that’s too much. And yes, the song didn’t quite fit her but she was limited by a theme that asked for a specific feel, so she couldn’t parade sexily or lament angrily—which is more her niche. Anyway, she sang nice, and the gospel choir definitely gave the performance extra feeling.

When I heard Scotty McCreery singing Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” I started yawning. I became very angry, well after having a whole mug of coffee (my Don Quijote mug can hold about 500 ml, so you can guess how hard it was for me to wake up after the performance). I agree that Scotty has been somewhat consistent, he’s never actually botched a performance, he has a very mature voice and marketable singing style, but he has never really given a good show. Not once has he stretched himself, not once has he tried something different, and not once have the so-called judges told him that he’s always played it safe. According to many critics he’s the frontrunner and he’s never thrilled the audience enough. If he wins, he will be competing for the lamest winner ever. I do like his voice—I actually like it very much—but I’m bored of watching him.

Lauren Alaina then sang Martina McBride’s “Anyway” and for the first time, she showed some sort of connection to the material! Not only was the pitch and arrangement perfect for her, but it felt like she understood what she was singing about. I’m not quite buying this pseudo-growth shtick the producers are trying to sell just yet, but I do see a little improvement in her. I mean, she’s just very young. What she needs is not to perform songs too mature for her and start belting age-appropiate songs and she’ll find her connection. “Anyway” was the perfect case.

So those were the pseudo-inspiring songs. I call Lauren a questionable round one winner.

For the second part, the performance order and the theme changed. Now it was time for the Leiber & Stoller songbook. And the guest mentor is Lady Gaga but…why is she trying to channel Billy the Puppet?

The first one was Haley with a fantastic rendition of “I (Who Have Nothing).” I’ll say it: My favorite growler could never match the raw anguish Jordin Sparks brought to the song when she performed it during her season 6 run. Haley changed it into some sort of stalker plea. And it sold. It wasn’t as amazing as her “House of the Rising Sun” last week (I doubt anyone can match it now), but it was great nonetheless. And I got angry again when I read the judges’ comments. I sort of understand why they are so unfairly hard on her if they’re pushing her toward brilliance, but what I’m missing is why they don’t do it to the others. They deserve constructive criticism too! That’s the point of them folks being there! Anyway, Haley should be in the top three just for her lungs alone. That girl can hold a note!

I’m changing Scotty McCheesy’s nickname to Scotty McCreepy. He sang “Young Blood” and trotted around the stage like a drunken monkey trying to be sexy. I gagged, then got goosebumps (not the good kind) and then wanted to barf. The cheese factor was so over the top that it became completely uncomfortable. The whole visual was completely wrong. I listened to him again without the visual and noticed the vocals were nice and his lower register was on fire. It wasn’t superb and the visual part almost made me want to tear my eyes out, but he’s still consistent. The judges had cheese-gasms, though.

If singing Elvis Presley was the only chance we saw Lauren, I’d say she should be in “Trouble.” She wasn’t bad, though she lost her breath in a couple of verses, but it was pretty underwhelming. I agree she has the IT factor, but she hasn’t found IT. She does look more comfortable on stage than she has in weeks past, but she doesn’t know yet how to match her body movements with the song. I think “Trouble” should be sung by a girl in a more teasing and sexy kind of way and she’s too young for that! I often ask myself about the people behind her: Are they trying to screw up this girl’s teenage years, or are they really clueless about what to advise her?

Closing the show was James Durbin. I wonder why is he both opening and closing the show. His song choice was “Love Potion No. 9” and, yet again, it was nice. He missed a few notes here and there but I was feeling quite pleased with the arrangement and the performance until the very end. During the final notes, twice he stopped singing and the band quit playing for him to grasp the audience’s love for him. If it didn’t make me laugh I would’ve gotten angry at that. The way he did it was overconfident and just too much, which made me uncomfortable, and he looked the most like Sloth from The Goonies. I know I’ve teased about that a few times, but this time the resemblance was uncanny!

And so, round two ends with a definite win for Haley. If it was my choice I’d send Scotty home. If you had asked me last week, I would’ve said Lauren had the toughest chance, but I think she might grab a few votes [this week] for her “Anyway,” if “Trouble” didn’t hurt her that much.

Who do you think will make the top three?

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX

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15 Comments »

  • Pop Culture Nerd says:

    At this point, Haley deserves to win. I’m with you in disliking the judges’ unfairly harsh critiques of her. And you know how she came out and did a really strong second number and Lopez was all, “See? It’s because we were pushing you that made you step up”? That’s bullshit. Haley sang great because she’s talented, not because the judges made her mad. They’re trying to take credit where none is due. Haley’s the only one who takes risks every week while the judges praise everyone else for playing it safe.

    • Poncho says:

      Exactly! I know Haley is far from perfect. Though she’s had some great performances, she started very rough, and there’s still room for improvement for her. But the other guys are far from perfect too! Haley’s first song tonight had a lot of troubles, I’ll agree, but it was better than most of the others’.

      I plea myself a bit biased for Haley, but it’s hard not to when she’s being consistently trown under the bus. I know the judges have given lukewarm feedback to some of the other contestants, but the way they always find some way to be harsh about the growler (specially when she’s the one who’s shown more growth this season) makes me very sympathetic for her. I hope she wins, and rubs her trophy in the Dawg’s face.

      • Pop Culture Nerd says:

        It really bugged me when one of the judges (I think it was Randy) said Haley was just shouting at the end of “Earth Song.” Hellooo? James shouted through his entire performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'” (and every thing else he sings) and they praised him for setting the bar!

  • EIREGO says:

    I know I keep saying I’m going to stop watching, but I had it on in the background while I working online. I stopped working a couple of times to scream at the TV in disbelief.

    Durbin: He reminds me of Adam Lambert-lite in he performances. Anyone who thinks his screaming for a high note way beyond his reach is talent in top form, they are nuts. When I heard feedback praising him for what did to the retro-cool “Don’t Stop Believing” song last night, my hands froze on the keyboard. What?! Really?!? It made me want to check the speaker connections to my TV. I get it, the guy’s has Tourettes, but he still has to awesome if he wants me to lay down money for his cd. He should have been voted off a while ago.

    Haley: Night after night, performance after performance, she is the one to beat. Tyler was sooooo right in his comments about her last night. “Don’t listen to the other two.” I would buy any cd she put out. Her voice is unique and passionate. She’s the one.

    Lauren: I’m not picking on her because she’s a kid, I picking on whoever is advising her to make these song choices and whoever dresses her. The only thing I have ever thought about her is that she is bubbly. The only way she could win this is if it were an American Idol: Country Edition. She fits that mold I suppose, but as Simon Cowell once said to a crowd booing him for his critique: “Really?! I guarantee none of you would buy that record. We are trying to find the next American Idol. I take this seriously.” His sanity is sorely missed.

    McCheesy: I not only yawn when I see this guy perform, I fastforward through the entire song and the critique. The judges who praise him are seriously drunk.

  • EIREGO says:

    And another thing: Penguin?, I mean…Lady Gaga? Tick, tick, tick….OVER!

  • Paulette Feeney says:

    Results show starting NOW, so must be quick….I agree with you Poncho and PCN and EIRIGO: Haley is it.
    I believe that James and Scotty could carry a concert. Lauren, on the other hand, not so much. She has a lovely voice, but not there yet…I think she is going home tonight.

  • Paulette Feeney says:

    well…I am wrong!

  • Nan says:

    I am an Idol fan and now a Poncho fan. Love your comments. Scotty went for the 911 vote. C’mon. He’s a kid. Wasn’t he in diapers then? Playing for the votes of people I try to avoid.

  • Paulette Feeney says:

    Well, I am a PCN fan, a Poncho fan and a Nan fan! 🙂

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