Thursday, March 31, 2011

American Idol Season 10 -- Top 11 Perform, Again.

So continuing to ignore their own press releases, American Idol will again force a theme night onto the remaining contestants -- exactly the same number as last week, as we'll all remember.  Tonight they will be singing the songs of Elton John.  On the plus side, his catalog is not that narrow and Sir Elton has certainly explored a number of different musical genres over his many decades writing songs.  On the other hand, he wrote Philadelphia Freedom and The Bitch is Back

Scotty McCreery raised pandering for votes to an art form this week.  A shout out to Grandma?  Check. Introduce the new guitar which he calls his baby?  Check.  Sing a song with the words old-fashioned, home and truck in it?  Oh heck yeah.  I don't know how he managed to miss the chance to bring in the American flag and apple pie during the song that had the word "Country" so prominently in its title (talk about your obscure Elton John song!).  It was a smart move putting the guitar in his hands as it kept him from ending up in some awkward, borderline risque poses with the microphone as he has done the last few weeks.  He sounds good, but it's getting a little predictable and predictable is just a short trip over to boring which could spell trouble for him.  He needs to take a risk and not just be the country ballad guy.

Naima Adedapo is apparently done competing on American Idol.  That's the only rational explanation for why she would sabotage her chances with this silly reggae version of an originally silly song -- I'm Still Standing.  She adopted a "pass me the ganja" accent and parodied a Jamaican wedding singer as she jumped around on stage in what she continues to think is dancing. This is the leading contender for ironic song choice of the night, because after this failed attempt to channel any of the Marleys (except, perhaps, the dog in that sad movie), Naima will not be standing tomorrow night.

Paul McDonald is doing Rocket Man and he tells us that his band covered it once before and it was a disaster.  Well, that won't happen tonight, right!  Oh wait, it's Paul singing.  So, grab your life preserver, this ship is going down.  Paul tells us he's going to approach this song like he's singing his encore. Oh, it's good to dream, Paul, but for you to get an encore the audience has to first sit through your whole set and then beg for more.  Two of those things will never happen because you...can't...sing. 

He starts out cheesily, with an awkward shout out to the crowd which is not something you would do during an encore unless you were stoned and had no idea where you were in the set.  Hmm, this is starting to make sense.  Maybe rather than a sounding like a creepy, breathy sexual predator whispering menacingly into the phone in a horror movie, the better description of his voice is someone who has smoked too many low quality doobies and is so fried he can't find his voice.  Paul ignores the melody, singing whatever he can manage to squeak out raspily through his throat, randomly assigning notes as he sputters through the song.

For once, the judges seem less than enthralled and hint that maybe this wasn't the best performance ever.  Maybe last week gave them a wake up call that unending, unwarranted praise is not the answer.

Pia Toscano is anathema to bloggers.  She's pretty, she sings well, she's consistent.  There is nothing you can do with her except heap praise.  Boring.  She sings Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, and I wonder if the lyricist really intended the title to be as open to various funny, and a little dirty, permutations as run through my head every time I hear it.  Probably -- those British guys do have a subtle, sneaky sense of humor.  Regardless, Pia nailed it and looked great doing it and I'm bored.

The first time I heard Stefano Langone sing Tiny Dancer I was totally blown away.  The second time, less so.  There's just something a little forced about his performance and a little too Broadway.  He has moments, don't get me wrong.  Though the first couple of notes were clunkers, the way he sang "ballerina" gave me goosebumps.  It's just that over a two minute song, the voice just doesn't hold up.  And, note to his Italian father in the audience, it's pronounced kvelling, kuhvell, blurred together.  Not felling which is what one would do to a tree.  Kvelling is that feeling Casey Abrams' parents get every time they look at his cherubic punim, which is why his ego is as big as his head.

So country girl Lauren Alaina is tackling Candle in the Wind and it seems like a risky choice, especially when she starts out in a key that seems too high for her.  But she pulls it out on sheer determination alone.  She can belt like nobody's business and, even if she comes off like the love child of Stevie Nicks and Kellie Pickler, that girl is all business on stage.  I love the little country "cry" in her voice and her tone and the Patsy Cline-ish breaks when she goes for the high notes.  She looked great and sounded great and I'm inching ever closer to saying country music is not so bad.

James Durbin had a vision for how he wanted to do Saturday Night's Alright and though Jimmy Iovine seemed a bit dubious, Durbin was not to be deterred. And you know what?  The kid was right.  It was a fun, entertaining performance that showed poise and confidence beyond his years.  Durbin is comfortable in the audience and up on stage (and even up on a piano that's about to burst into flames).  He gave a thrill to some middle aged guy in the audience and recovered nicely from his Pepsi faux pas (a Coke moment is a good thing, he offered as an explanation, setting yourself on fire, not so much).   He rocked the song, the hair, the scarf and the stage.  He got my votes.

Daniel is one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written.  The lyrics and the melody just tug at your heart.  It is hard not to be moved by someone singing this and Steven Hawking's computerized voice could not  dampen the emotional power of the song.  Having said that, Thia Megia did not convey the feeling of the song as well as she could have.  In fact, not until the very end did I feel any sincere emotion. Thia looks great, sounds great -- she has the best, purest voice in the competition -- but the emotional connection just wasn't there for me, for her, for you, for Randy, for whoever.  It's a shame, because it's like all the parts are there but one and that one missing piece is crucial.

Look!  It's Casey Abrams, brought back to life last week by the judges' save and fully aware that if he shows up, there is no way he is not getting enough votes this week to survive this week.  Finally, Jimmy Iovine says what I and many others outside of the judges have been saying for weeks.  Casey needs to tone it down, try to remember that this is a singing competition and not a carnival sideshow and, for crying out loud, show a little humility.  You don't have this in the bag and if you keep acting like you do, you will manage to unite all of America on one idea -- this kid has to go.  So, if Casey wants to last in this competition beyond the next two weeks worth of sympathy votes, he has to start behaving like the teenage band camp nerd he is and not like Justin Bieber. 

Casey made the first step towards redemption by singing -- for the most part -- the tender ballad, Your Song.  He cut way back on the antics and only brought out the growl a couple times.  The plus was that this was less of a freakshow than what we've seen the past few weeks and his occasional bum notes were less off-putting than his screeches and shouting.  But, on the negative side, it showed that even when he tries his hardest, Casey is not a great singer.  He may be in an interesting musician, but his voice. unadorned with shtick, is just average.  Liked the last note, though.  Wow, I thought I'd be struck by lightening if I said anything nice about Casey, but no, I'm just fi

Got you for a second there.  I barely had time to recover from Casey when Jacob Lusk comes on my screen.  What I love about Jacob is he's so unpredictable.  I mean, you never know if he's going to over-sing or sing like he's giving birth to a VW bus without anesthetics.  Will he make extreme facial expressions of pure agony or contort his face like the tragedy theatrical mask?   Will he channel Liza or Judy?  Jacob, as if singing just to me, chooses Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.

It's all I ask for.  A simple, repeated apology for making me have to sit through another of his bombastic, overwrought performances.  He starts in a key that seems to excite all the neighborhood dogs (didn't Mary J. Blige sing in a lower register?) and then he just lets go, crying about how it's sad, so sad.  Yes it is Jacob, because you have the spot that Robbie or Jovanny or Brett should have had.  When Jacob sings "what do I have to do to make you love me?" I yell at my TV screen, stop singing.  That would be a great first step!  But he doesn't hear me and he continues till he finishes with the money note that makes Randy all gooey inside.

The last performance of the night is by Haley Reinhart.  Rumor has it that she and Casey Abrams are getting a little more than chummy and, aside from needing to add "eww" here, I wonder -- after hearing her feral cat take on Bennie and the Jets -- if the need to growl randomly during a song is a sexually transmittable disease.  Haley, after turning that cute, retro pop song into some soft porn number, all I could think of was ba-ba-ba-bye Haley.

My bottom three of the night: Naima, Jacob, Paul
My top three: Lauren, James and...  Okay, make it top two.
The voter's bottom three: Naima, Stefano and Thia
Going home:  Naima and Stefano

Let me have it!


  1. Because it's been a long day here in Las Vegas and I'm wiped, I'll just add Adam Lambert's tweet ... if for no other reason than a little fodder for discussion. I find myself just not caring this time around Idol and I can't figure out why? They're a talented group.
    Adam Lambert says, "Haley/Pia/Casey are killing it on Idol. So great!! Ever wonder what Simon would say to some of the others? Hah"
    I think Shari may have just said it.

  2. Let me start by saying Casey James was my favorite contestant last year. (I wasn't ever really into American Idol, until I accidentally saw Crystal (!) and Casey in Hollywood Week last year. Now I'm curious enough to follow along.) That's what led me to your blog. Since then, I've discovered that your AI commentary is my favorite out of the multitude I read, even beating realityrocks, rickey, and idol-worship. It's accurate (a.k.a. I agree with it) and always heartfelt. And funny, too... giving birth to a bus. :) It's not specifically what you think so much as how you phrase it and pace your feelings across several sentences that really make this all work for me. Thank you for having written about AI each week, thus far. After I dine at an Idol banquet, reading your thoughts serves as a nice dessert, one that makes the whole experience quite satisfying, leaving me with a good taste in my mouth, regardless of how unappetizing any of the performances might have been.

  3. I love your comments and agree 100%

  4. I said the very same thing on FB before I read your recap, Shari!

    Whaddya gotta do to make me love you, Jacob Lusk? Easy...shut up.

    Great minds!

    James FTW!!!!!

    Goin home: STEFano (as JLo insists he be called) and Paul....YAY!

  5. Tuned in late and missed Scott, Lauren and Naima, but Naima and Scott have been my least favorites and I cant remember Lauren's voice from early shows. Pia and Stefano have most impressive voices, but dont have that "it" factor, that's because James has all of theirs and a whole lot more! I disagree with Shari about Jacob, he is extremely talented and extremely emotional, and found if I just close my eyes, Casey sounds amazing singing "Your Song."
    I'm still putting all my money on James.

  6. OMG! I almost peed my pants when I ready what you said about Paul! He's cute and interesting and all, but the dude has no range. And Pia has the opposite problem. That girl can sing and she's beyond beautiful, but not really insteresting at all. I agree on most of what you siad, but I really like Jacob and Haley.
    My favorite: Lauren
    Buh, bye: Thia and Naima (please, please send Naima home)

    Thanks for the awesome review! I can't wait to hear what you have to say about Paul next week if he makes it through!!

  7. My top three : Scotty, Haley, Lauren !!!
    My bottom three : Paul,Thia, Naima !!!
    Going home: Paul and Thia !!!

  8. Absolutely love your recaps, so funny !!!! Agree with everything you said this week. Thought Lauren was really good and I love James he just has so much fun out there, along with having a nice voice.. Thanks for all the recaps enjoy them so much!! Chris :)

  9. Right now, Naima is down on one knee at the Church of the Evil Leaf thanking God for creating Stefano, Paul, and Thia.

    And did Paul really say, " in a van with a bunch of dudes just bein' dudes together" or was that the suit talking?

    The AI ship continues to plow through a field of icebergs with that kooky Valdez captain at the helm. Women and children first. No running.


  10. Karen Smith from HillsboroMarch 31, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    I love rar745's analogy. I'm not caring for the main course, but I'm loving the dessert. It must just be me but I'm not feeling any of the over-praised performances. I just need to copy and paste my comments every week.."Casey James has ruined Idol for me forevvva". Thanks, Shari, for the one bright spot of the season. I'm saying Naima and Thia are going home.

  11. I hope like hell Paul,Jacob,and Casey A. on bottom can't stand to listen them attempt to sing.Thia Naima hang in there....but all n all
    who ever goes fine my favs made the tour.but I
    will not follow the tour.I did that with Casey James which btw was well worth it.I'm addicted to his personality and his talent.he definetely has the WOW!!!!!factor.there's nobody like'em

  12. LMAO Shari. Agree with all you said.

    I think Naima has a split personality. It takes over her body on stage and not in a good way. Haley is just ridiculous at this point. The judges are on drugs (Naima's ganja?) saying that was the best performance of the night. Liza/Jerry? I have no words left for him except, please go home and don't make that stupid pained face when you do. Paul still needs a throat lozenge and a big drink of water. And that suit is awful, please make it go away. Scott, Thia, Stefano, Pia were all pretty boring. Casey was better but that whole business last week up to this week was all staged. From Casey's shaking and dropping to his knees in "shock" at being saved to his "comeback" this week. Please, do I look that stupid American Idol? Pfffft. Lauren was really good last night but that girl should just sing. Please don't let her talk again. What the hell was she saying anyway? (Naima's ganja must have been really good). James was the best last night. He brought energy, fun, and a comfort zone that no one else seems to have.

    I don't have a favorite in this group because they are all just "eh, whatever". Not a Casey James among them.

    Top 3 - James, Lauren, and Casey
    Bottom 3 - Naima, Haley, and Liza/Jerry or Paul


  13. Tracy Scott-Crazy CEJFanMarch 31, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    I agree with Karen Smith-Casey James ruined Idol for us, because, this year nobody-Nobody can compare to him. He's got it all. You could put all the Season 10 contestants together and still not come up with a Casey James!And Shari, "Country music is not so bad" - COME ON SHARI, SAY IT- SAY IT !!! lOVE, lOVE, lOVE reading all your "stuff" Thanks for all you do !!

  14. I am so glad someone else thinks this about Lauren everytime she's asked a question she goes back in time when she was 4yrs.old.
    I hear Haley and Casey A.are an item.oooh how gross what is with this girl?must be one of those girls.alotta girls are attracted to sloppy looking guys with brown teeth that can't sing.only thing worse would be Paul.imagine being seen in public wearing that suit.

  15. Shari, I adore your blogs! You crack me up terrifically, woman! AI is barely holding my interest this year, especially since Casey James' rising star has my full and complete attention. Thanks, as always, for all you do for us fans, Shari!

  16. Shari,again 'well done' I said last night that Thia Megia and Stefano Langone were the only contestants with vocals that held any interest for me.I was wrong after listening to all here I must add Pia Toscano to my list.Which means none of the three can win.

  17. I don't always agree with you, but I think you nailed it tonight. The whole night dragged on and on and on. Naima and James were entertaining but his execution was better than hers (props for her at least trying something different). Pia is, as always, technically proficient and BORING. Ditto Thia. Paul needs surgery stat before he can't sing at all. I liked Casey, and thought Lauren was one of the best and usually I find her singing okay but nothing special and I find her to be a brat. Scotty is becoming a parody of himself. Jacob looked liked the character Miss Jeanette from True Blood (who came to an untimely and bloody end). Stefano who? I thought Haley was trying to hard.

    I'm bored with the judges, with Jimmy Iovine every single week (although he was the only one doling out truth last night) and his band of "prfoessionals" that put a glossy adult contemporary shine on everything, tired of the same old tired song lists... with Elton John's vast catalog, the kids had 20 songs to choose from. Etc.

    55 million votes cast and I couldn't find anyone who I wanted to vote for even once. Obviously, I'm in the minority but ... meh.


  18. I agree with some of the above comments, but I would keep them to myself. Like many of the above, Casey James has spoilt American Idol for me, he was so so amazing last year. He always comes over as such a nice, kind guy and I think he would be devistated if he knew some of his fans were blogging such derisory comments about the current idols. Perhaps we should all try to be more like him at the same time as enjoying his music. He must appreciate more than anyone how hard the American Idol ride can be. The kids don't deserve some of the above comments.

  19. @Anonymous April 2, 2011 9:44 AM -- -- Casey James has a sense of humor, and while on AI last year, he participated in pranks and in the occasional practical joke, which he referred to as "good-natured fun". If he read this stuff, he would not be devastated. Casey would probably laugh a bit, but he would also feel obligated to mention how there is a lot going on that the kids have to deal with which we don't see, as you suggested. And clearly, no one deserves to be made fun of. They're just kids, after all. So, yeah, we're bastards. Thanks for stopping by. Of course, maybe if the judges' "critiques" weren't so impotent every week, we wouldn't feel the urge to make up for them with actual analysis, which is then delicately dipped in scalding sarcasm and left on a tray to cool for 10-15 minutes. Place on a plate drizzled with irony and a side of diced crow. Serves 3 judges.

  20. @Anonymous April 2, 2011 9:44 AM -- -- Casey James has a sense of humor, and while on AI last year, he participated in pranks and in the occasional practical joke, which he referred to as "good-natured fun". If he read this stuff, he would not be devastated. Casey would probably laugh a bit, but he would also feel obligated to mention how there is a lot going on that the kids have to deal with which we don't see, as you suggested. And clearly, no one deserves to be made fun of. They're just kids, after all. So, yeah, we're bastards. Thanks for stopping by. Of course, maybe if the judges' "critiques" weren't so impotent every week, we wouldn't feel the urge to make up for them with actual analysis, which is then delicately dipped in scalding sarcasm and left on a tray to cool for 10-15 minutes. Place on a plate drizzled with irony and a side of diced crow. Serves 3 judges.