But first, they (whoever they are that aren't us because we wouldn't have done that) decided to bring back the first six fallen idols, Paul, Pia, Naima, Thia and those other two girls. Somehow they missed the point that we didn't like them enough to vote for them in the first place and decided that we just had to see them again, including the ones whose names we can't remember. So they go with the Pink song "So What?" and it was actually an inspired song. They were all, "yeah, you kicked us off the show, but we don't care," even though you know they're devastated and if they had any money -- which they don't and now won't thanks to you America -- they'd be on a therapist's couch at least two days a week wondering why the voters hate them. Naima strutted her stuff and Pia sang beautifully and Thia was adorable and the other two were there too.
The recently departed Paul comes out on stage and once again I'm temporarily blinded by his awful sartorial choice for the night. He opens his mouth and, though I find it impossible to accept, it appears that Paul's voice has actually gotten worse since he left the show. Whatever was plaguing his vocal chords has called in for backup and has now taken his entire voice hostage. He faintly squeaks and croaks and creaks out something not at all resembling notes to the song and even the most fervent Paul supporter has a WTF moment. He talks through the rest of the song while the five more talented vocalists around him, who he outlasted, wonder if they should add a third session with their therapist.
Finally, it's over and we start out with the front runner so far this year, seventeen-year-old Scotty McCreery. Before he sings, the other contestants have an opportunity to talk about Scotty and they each choose to mention something I've never noticed before. Apparently, he holds the mic oddly. Hmm, completely missed that. OMG, people, if everyone sees it, why has no one been able to stop him?! Would you let him smoke cigarettes? Take drugs? Drink and drive? Vote Democrat? Of course not! So please, let this be the night he breaks that horrible habit!
Tasked with making it current, Scotty picks the song Swingin' by Lee Ann Rimes, which sounds like it was first recorded before I was born. He actually starts off sounding great and I'm once again surprised how good his voice is when he's not digging deep for those subterranean notes. But then he starts two fisting the mic and tilting his head and making goofy faces at the camera. It's the same performance on a loop week after week, with the added touch this week of making a recent song sound fifty years old.
The judges, who normally wouldn't say anything bad about Osama bin Laden (you're really rockin' that beard, dawg) decide to go after Scotty this week for playing it safe. Fair criticism, but unfair when you pick and choose when to be honest. And I wonder why the fix might be in for poor Scotty?
The next one up is James Durbin and his fellow contestants kid him about being a rock star and wearing too many scarves oddly positioned around his body. James decides to tackle Uprising by Muse and I immediately recoil. Yes, I know, Muse is great, blah blah, epic, sure, visionary, whatever, but that song drives me up a wall. The singer has zero breath control so he gasps and wheezes and loudly inhales all through the song and I keep expecting an oxygen mask to fall from overhead whenever I hear that song. But I digress.
James has a vision for the song and from his outfit to the drum line accompaniment it's brilliant. He sounds amazing, nailing the passion of the lyrics and the intensity of the music. He takes it up to dizzying heights then brings it back down and always stays on pitch and in the zone. He made me forget all about the original and really see the beauty of this song. This is something I would actually download. The judges rave and I can't argue (which puts me in a weird position!). But I did find it odd that they seemed to be reading their comments and also that they were so sure this was the best performance of the night -- psychic or scripted?
Haley Reinhart next gets ribbed by her fellow contestants and it appears that she and Stefano have some issues that definitely deserve further investigation. They both seem like nice enough kids, yet they apparently have a teensy problem getting along. I think I see a RomCom in their future -- she first hooks up with the goofy side kick (Jonah Hill), while loathing the flirtatious Lothario (Jake Gyllenhahl) then realizes in the last reel that she was in love with the hotter guy all along (shocking ending!!). Speaking of Jonah, where was Casey's comments on Haley? Curiously absent. Hmmmm.
Going with Adele's Rolling in the Deep was a risky choice and so was wearing the table cloth from Daisy Duke's Italian restaurant, but I thought Haley sounded great. Someone else listening along with me thought it was unfortunate that she was going through puberty while singing the song, but I enjoyed the yodel. This unnamed someone thought I might have been swayed by the original and so wowed by the song and Adele's voice that I didn't realize it was being butchered on stage like some poor animal that I don't want to think about because once you cook it and add a nice sauce it's really tasty.
Anyway, I loved Haley tonight and I'm sticking by my decision.
Next up was Jacob Lusk and I was shocked that the word his fellow contestants used to describe him was Diva. Was it the bombastic oversinging, the arrogant attitude or the feather boas that first tipped them off? Having nearly derailed his AI choo choo with his hubristic attack on America two weeks ago, Jacob decided to pull out the stops to beg for votes. He chose a Luther Vandross song (one point for Luther being dead), on Luther's birthday (2 points), called Dancing with My Father, (3 points for tear-jerker song), after mentioning his own father died when he was a child (4 points). Wait, there's more! He then dedicates the song to anyone with a father. Well, that's pretty much every voter. Brilliant.
He sang the song fairly straight forward and didn't do too many runs or his usual, unnecessary excesses of vocal gymnastics. He didn't try to swallow the audience and he didn't make facial expressions like some smallish parts of him were being squeezed in a vise. I still don't like the tone of his voice, he always sounds like he's underwater, but I didn't want to throw anything at the TV either, so for him that amounts to a good performance.
Jacob was followed by Casey Abrams who chose a Maroon 5 song, Harder to Breathe, that I was unfamiliar with. I hear I've been riding Casey Abrams all year. If so, he doesn't seem the worse for wear and I don't seem to be any farther along. He's just as arrogant and self-satisfied as he was the first time we saw him and I'm still at my computer having to write about another performance of his. He decided to switch it up tonight, bringing out a guitar as a prop (the only time I saw him playing it, he was fingering it like a bass) and cut down on his usual array of grimaces, grunts and growls (which sounds like a really unpleasant law firm). But when he sings straight, it only highlights the fact that he has at best an average voice and, at worse, one that he can't stop from drifting off-course repeatedly. If he didn't do the bit -- the teeth gritting, the random guttural sounds, the mugging, the Sammy-eque mannerisms, the scatting -- he'd just be some dude with an ordinary voice and an oversized instrument.
Begin rant: As the song continued, manic Casey came out and he started moving menacingly towards the judges. He finished his song literally right in Jennifer Lopez's face. As he sang, looking right at her, she turned her head uncomfortably away from him, averting her gaze from Casey and looking (for help?) at Steven Tyler. When Casey finished, he kissed her on the cheek. I was aghast and it took at least an hour for me to calm down. This is not shtick and this is not a bit. I was truly upset. I am sick and tired of men objectifying women, of thinking women are their property, and they can do whatever they want whenever they want. I didn't think it was cute, I thought it was a horrible message to send to both sexes.
Sorry for the digression, but it reminded me of when actor Adrian Brody kissed Halley Berry during the Academy Awards and that offended me greatly and still does. Women are not men's toys and they don't get to do with us what they want because they want to. When I complained, I was told "she didn't object" and "it's not like he tongued her." So apparently, a little inappropriate physical contact is a-okay? End rant.