Judgment Day - American Idol Top 5 Perform
This was a hard night to sit through. Between some really bad performances and the inconsistent judging, I'm beginning to wonder why I began to watch American Idol in the first place. However, thanks to a few bright spots, the night wasn't a total loss.
The theme was Now and Then, with contestants singing something old and new, with varying results. (Also notice how they went for ballads the second half?)
James Durbin was first, singing "Closer to the Edge" by 30 Seconds to Mars. While I agree this is the type of music James should be singing, I'm not sure this was the song. Don't get me wrong, I've been a big James defender from day one, but the whole song was out of tune (slightly flat I think), and it didn't go anywhere for me. The judges of course, loved it. (And I will admit that they do hear something different from us, or so I've been told. But more on that for James's second performance.)
Jacob Lusk chose to sing "No Air", a duet by Jordin Sparks and someone I refuse to acknowledge. Again, it was interesting to see Jacob go for a more pop sound, but this worked in zero ways for him. Randy agreed with that much, although I don't get how they can call him one of the best singers. I think he has that potential, but he hasn't shown it much since making the top 24.
Lauren Alaina lived dangerously and sang "Flat on the Floor" by Carrie Underwood. (Although, if you are going to sing Carrie, at least she chose a lesser known song). I loved the confidence and swagger she showed on stage. She needs to work a little on her breath control if she's going to keep singing fast songs, but this was really really solid.
Scotty McCreery: "Gone" (Montgomery Gentry) Points in Scotty's favor: you could see him struggling with his microphone technique, which shows he's trying at least. This was fun. I loved that it was a different type of country than he normally sings. Points against him: it seemed really lightweight and bordered on being karaoke. (And the judges loved it)
Haley Reinhart "You and I" Lady Gaga. Apparently Gaga sings this at concerts. I really liked this performance. It wasn't great great, but it had a lot of solid moments. That said, why in the hell were the judges critiquing only her song choice? Since when is it a bad thing to take a risk on Idol? (coughHeartlesscoughYouGiveLoveaBadNamecoughBillieJeancough) Why not say: I'm not sure I liked the song choice, but you sang it well (thank you Steven Tyler)? I just didn't get where the starkness of the commentary from the judges came from, considering how awful James and Jacob sounded. At least Haley sang well, and connected with the song.
Part two had James singing "Without You". He was really emotional the whole time and I was pulling for him. The beginning of the song was really really good. But then James went into power mode, which with his emotional state, did not work. I wish (loke last week) he would have stayed restrained, and I think it would have been better. The judges talked about emotions affecting pitch and so on, which made me sort of mad, because what was he feeling the last song to make it so bad? At the same time, I did feel for James, so it's a hard thing to judge.
Jacob came back with "Love Hurts", which also started out pretty awesome. Then he got into the Lusky Stank and I was done. Officially done with him. Another case of overpowered vocals that make the pitch go off and lose any sense of emotion. (The judges, for the record, loved it.)
Lauren took a risk by singing "Unchained Melody". Not perfect, but pretty darn close. I loved her country twang on this, and it felt for the first time that she was connecting to something in this song, something she's been sorely missing. I'm excited to see more of this Lauren as the competition moves on, as she should be safe.
Scotty sang "Always on My Mind." Points in his favor: this is exactly what he needed to do as far as showing different sides. This was sung with emotion and tenderness, and his tone still amazes me. Points against: I still don't have Anoop Desai's version out of my ears just yet, and Scotty painted inside every line of that song.
Haley took on a risky song, "House of the Rising Sun". Sheryl Crow suggested she start a capella (wouldn't it have been awesome if she had done the whole thing on her own?), and then Haley dug into the song with such a force that I sat up, glued to the screen as she told America that she didn't care what the judges thought about her song choice, or what Jimmy said about her last week, she was going to sing. If anything, this was the Idol Moment I've been waiting for all season. (And color me surprised that she's slowly become my favorite.)
The judges gave her a standing O and then acted like they'd never spoken to her before that moment, as if the other critique didn't exist. I'm not sure how to feel about this, except perplexed at the stark contrast of the two moments. It seems weird to me, but I'm not going to expound on conspiracy theories here.
That said, if America is listening, Jacob should go home this week and James should join him in the bottom two.
Tomorrow will be interesting.