AI 10: R-O-C-K in the USA

Tonight’s theme is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which opens up a TON of possibilities.

But at the beginning of the show, the only thing I can think about is what in the world is J.Lo wearing?

Then Ryan says Gwen Steffani is styling the girls in her clothing line and I’m even more afraid.

The tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame given by Steven Tyler is nice. He’s crazy, but somehow it’s a good kind of crazy.

And now it’s time to see how the Top 9 fared:

Jacob Lusk “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
• Understated—Jacob uses the least vibrato and quavery-ness since the beginning of the season
• I can’t take it when he dances around.
• Bottom line: I don’t personally like Jacob’s voice, but for me, this was his best performance of the season because it was so stripped down, and he didn’t rely on all the gimmicks. For me this felt more honest than any other performance he’s done.

Haley Reinhart “Piece of my Heart” by Janis Joplin
• Before hearing her perform, this seems like a good song choice.
• First thought when she starts singing: She’s a better singer than Janis was.
• It’s well-documented on this blog that I think Haley growls and sings at the back of her throat too much. . . but if that’s your style, this is the right song to do it on. Though, I think she’s a little too happy throughout this song which isn’t a happy song. Emotional, yes, but the singer is basically be begging the other person to break her heart. That’s not happy.
• Bottom line: Her best performance all season, in my opinion.

Casey Abrams “Have you ever seen the rain?” by CCR
• I’m scared! He’s playing the bass, which I’m glad he finally decided to bring back out.
• Somehow, he’s made this song sound like beach music. . . weird.
• His voice sounds good and he’s on the notes, yet I feel like in places in the song he really didn’t know what it was about.
• The last 1/3 of the song is awesome. I sort of hated the very end, but I loved the way he amped up the emotion in that section.
• Bottom line: Good performance, but not astounding. After two really great performances, does Casey have enough to survive? (I personally like him and enjoy him doing crazy things like playing the upright bass, but I don’t know that I’m sure about him as an artist just yet.) Watch it here.

Lauren Alaina “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin
• Awesome song choice. . . but taking on Aretha is FRIGHTENING!
• Oh, my word! Gwen Stefani did Lauren NO favors in the styling department! Shorts were a terrible idea!
• Beginning is understated and simple, but beautiful. She plays with the notes a little in the first chorus, then goes crazy toward the end. It’s awesome. FANTASTIC!
• Bottom line: best performance of the night so far and her best performance on the show tonight so far. Beautiful, well sung, and good job. Watch it here.

James Durbin “While my guitar gently weeps” by George Harrison (Beatles)
• I like it when James is more restrained. So I’m intrigued by this idea.
• You know what would have been awesome on this song? ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GUITAR AS HE SANG IT.
• His voice is very clear and pure throughout most of the song, but he finds a way to wedge in a very controlled scream at the end.
• Bottom line: It’s a good performance. He sounds nice. But it’s not amazing.

Scotty McCreery “That’s Alright, Mama” by Elvis Presley
• Oh, sheesh! I have no idea what to think about this song selection.
• Why does he hold the microphone so awkwardly? The facial expressions are also killing me tonight. Does no one tell him that he looks weird when he performs?
• He does most of this song in his actual singing voice without relying on his runs and those crazy dips into his lower register. He backs off on all of that, and this is actually one of his better performances, vocally.
• Bottom line: It’s good, not great. But he won’t be in the bottom three because he has the teen girl vote. (The judges think it’s amazing and show off a “new” Scotty.)

Pia Toscano “River Deep, Mountain High” by Tina Turner
• OK, Pia, if you’re going to do Tina, you’ve got to bring it. I mean bring it! SHOW SOME PERSONALITY (because you’re coming across as really boring and bland, which I don’t think you truly are).
• What is she wearing? Oh, Gwen. Seriously? I’m not buying anything from your line.
• Vocals are amazing. She’s pitch perfect. But sometimes, I feel like her performances are a little antiseptic and cold. She’s singing the song and it’s great and the notes are there, but the connection maybe isn’t all the way there.
• Bottom line: beautifully sung, but I still wanted more fire.

Stefano Langone “When a man loves a woman” by Percy Sledge
• OK, I love this song, but he’s either got to rock this and overcome the performance of the song we all know and love or it’s going to drown him.
• He makes a few changes in the melodic line and some of them I really don’t like.
• Stefano can sing, but sometimes he’s just a bit shouty. And then there’s his addiction to runs. Can he sing a song and only use a few? Maybe not slide around on the notes in every phrase? Maybe he can, but he sure doesn’t.
• Bottom line: Well done, not fantastic.

Paul McDonald “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash
• Oh sweet Lord! Cash is revered in Nashville. Is this going to honor him or mock him? I’m so nervous.
• I love the jam band feel he’s got going on.
• Props for taking an iconic song and singing/performing it in an entirely different way. Paul also knows how to work a stage, with all the “come ons!” and leading the crowd in clapping.
• Bottom line: It’s quintessentially Paul and the whispery voice is there; but he also shows way more personality, focus, and passion than in any other song he’s done. It’s one of his best performances, I think. I think I loved it. . . but I’m not sure. And I’m not sure that not knowing what I feel is a bad thing. Watch it here.

Best of the night: Lauren Alaina, Paul, and Haley

Safe: Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, James, Scotty, Pia

In trouble: Stefano? I mean, I don’t know. This thing could go anywhere. What do you guys think?


4 thoughts on “AI 10: R-O-C-K in the USA”

  1. Always enjoy your posts on this. Fun to compare your comments to what my wife and I thought. The only one we really disagree with is Paul. We both just find his vocals annoying. Oh well, to each his own. 🙂

    I think Stefano and Paul will be in bottom 3.

    1. I like Paul. . . but it may simply be because he’s from Nashville. I doubt I’d listen to a whole album of him. He’s just different from everyone, and I like to be different. I don’t think he’ll win.

      Stefano and Paul will probably be in the bottom. I think they’re all pretty good this year, so it’s hard to say who should go home.

  2. First of all…the girls’ clothes??? What’s with all the balloon-y stuff??

    As for the performances…I thought everyone did really well this week. Pia and Haley were my least favorite. Not sure why. But…I absolutely LOVED Paul this week!! I’m not normally a fan, but he looked more natural during this performance than any so far and I truly enjoyed watching it 🙂

  3. I think Paul was just having fun and that’s what made it fun. I am not a big Pia fan (she leaves me cold; she has no emotion), so I wasn’t really that surprised when she got voted off. I’m not a Haley fan either, but I thought she did well on Wednesday.

    The clothes?! I know! It wasn’t very flattering on anyone!

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