Last night on AI, our top 13 hopefuls had to choose and perform a song from their personal idol. And, for the life of me, it’s endlessly interesting to see who people choose as idols. Because some of the choices were just, well, strange. At least to me.
As a viewer, I will give you my overall thoughts on the last night’s show before I dive into who sang what. Basically, the show was good, but there wasn’t a lot of sparkle. There were some really good performances, a lot of good performances, no completely terrible performances, and no one had that amazing performance that I’m waiting for.
Now the specifics:
LAUREN ALAINA “Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain
• I’m sad that Shania Twain is her musical idol. Sad, sad, sad.
• I was incredibly confused about her outfit. I think the dress and skinny jeans thing is awesome, if you have the right build for it. The proportions were all off on Lauren Alaina.
• My quote after she was done performing: “I like her; I did NOT like this performance.”
• Song choice was blah, something was missing from the performance and I can’t put my finger on it. I felt like she wasn’t really finishing words, phrases, or sounds very well.
CASEY ABRAMS “A Little Help from My Friends” by Joe Cocker
• He makes me smile!
• Love the gruffness. He attempted the Joe Cocker scream and didn’t quite achieve it, but he made this song his own thing and I was engaged the whole time. I love watching him sing.
• Casey puts every bit of himself into every song he sings. He’s got personality! I’d definitely go to one of his shows and expect to have a great time full of laughs and great music.
ASHTON JONES “When You Tell Me You Love Me” by Diana Ross
• Did NOT like the breathy voice at the beginning of the song
• She didn’t seem to be on quite on the notes throughout the song. She was a little sharp or something. It wasn’t awful, but she just wasn’t quite on pitch.
• An OK performance when she could have had an amazing performance.
PAUL MCDONALD “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams
• OK, I am an RA fan and I really do like this song because it’s so gritty and gut-level honest. I connect with the emotion of the song a lot. It’s about loving someone you know is going to mess you up real bad and knowing they don’t necessarily love you, but you still love that person, even if it’s going to destroy you. BUT I was curious how Paul would perform this song on primetime TV since it uses one word that can’t be said on TV and a few others that probably shouldn’t. Because of this, Paul had to do some rewriting/editing of the song and I think it lost some of its punch. I wish he’d done “Crossed Out Name” or “Everybody Knows.”
• I love Paul, but this wasn’t my favorite of his performances. A few enunciation issues and at the end, I asked aloud: “What just happened?”
• Paul is quirky and fun and I like him, but I don’t know that most AI viewers will get what he was trying to do. But props for singing RA on AI.
PIA TOSCANO “All By Myself” by Celine Dion
• Great, a diva song. But this girl performed the heck out of it and she has an undeniably beautiful voice that she can do a lot with.
• Beautiful ending.
• My concern is that while she has the big voice and the big notes, is she going to pigeonhole herself into this diva song genre? Is this ALL she’s going to do? Can she reinterpret a song into a style that’s all her own? Does she have a style that’s all her own? Does she only do ballads?
JAMES DURBIN “Maybe I’m a Man” by Paul McCartney
• When James said he was doing Sir Paul, I was highly confused. I mean, the dude sang Judas Priest last week. As it turns out, James turned in my favorite performance of the night and proved he actually can sing without all the screaming.
• I loved the vulnerability in his voice at the beginning and end of the song. He CAN really sing (not just scream) and let this song showcase how much control he actually has over his voice.
• Understated and beautiful and I like him more for it.
• Also: Is James like SUPER tall or is Ryan just that tiny?
HAILEY REINHART “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes
• Do you have to wear blue when you sing this song? Is that like an unwritten rule?
• Every time she began the word “Blue,” she wasn’t quite on pitch. She’d get on it by the time to do all the runs and “yodeling,” as J.Lo called it, but it never started exactly on pitch.
• She did a fine job; it just wasn’t a GREAT performance. No sparkle. I agree with Randy who called it “sleepy” and a bit “boring.”
• I’d like to see her reinterpret some Patsy Cline. . .
JACOB LUSK “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly
• Really, this is your song choice? Really?
• And he has a gospel-esque choir. I’m surprised it took him this long into the season to do that.
• I’m sure Jacob is good. He seems nice. But he’s just not a style I like or enjoy. I think he gets a bit shouty in places and there’s too much vibrato. I admit that I don’t like him as much as everyone else seems to and I can’t really put my finger on why.
THIA MEGIA “Smile” by Michael Jackson (but she learned it goes back to Charlie Chaplin, who she called Charlie Chapman. . . )
• I did not like her dress. Boring and weird. Dress your age, not like a matron.
• Interesting voice, beautiful at the beginning of the song. Then it got all jazzy and there may or may not have been sitar-like music. The middle was ROUGH and she had definite pitch problems. It was like meshing together two drastically different styles. I liked the beginning way more than the end.
• She picks songs and performs song in a style that seems to old for her youthfulness.
STEFANO LANGONE “Lately” by Stevie Wonder
• Hate how he said “feel-ing” like it was two separate words.
• When he got to the big notes, it was simply beginning. I wasn’t sold at the beginning and do think he had some nerve and possible pitch issues, but once he got going it was next to perfect and one of the best performances last night.
KAREN RODRIGUEZ “I Could Fall in Love” by Selina
• Did she have to dress like Selina? I mean is she going to do a different diva impression each week?
• Girl can sing, but I always feel like she’s doing impersonations or impressions of people she likes. Who is Karen? I have no idea!
• Some pitch problems that the judges called her out for.
• Good performance, but not even close to great.
SCOTTY MCCREARY “The River” by Garth Brooks
• Scotty had a great quote in his intro: “You’ve got to be country music; you can’t just sing it.” Word.
• Beginning wasn’t as strong as I would have liked. Also, was the sound off or something? I felt like he was hard to hear in places in the chorus, but that could have just been that the song was a bit out of his range. He just lacked vocal presence in places when I really wished he’d had some.
• Great ending, just an OK performance.
NAIMA ADEDPADO “Umbrella” by Rihanna
• I. Hate. This. Song.
• A little shaky on some of her notes early on, then she got shouty, then she rapped, but did fairly well on all the well-known portions. I felt like there were some range/pitch problems that left her not sounding that great.
• Good performance, but not great.
Best of the night:
Casey Abrams, James Durbin, Stefano Langone
People who might be in trouble:
Hailey, Karen (for being utterly forgettable), Naima, and maybe—I hate to say this—Paul if America didn’t get what he was trying to do.
Sound off in the comments!