Well, you’ve probably guessed by now, seeing that this post is just now going up, that I’m not live blogging this week’s episode of “American Idol.”
That’s because I had a chance to go see a friend of a friend and amazing musician do a short live set last night for free. Guys, definitely check out Charlie Worsham. He’s a great musician; he’s going to make a mark on country music; he’ll be touring with T.Swift a little later this year; he’s a nice guy. . . and he gives good hugs. So there’s my endorsement.
And now, on with my synopsis of last night’s AI. Ready? Let’s go!
Scotty McCreery “Swingin'”
• First off, someone needs to tell Scotty that “Swingin'” is not original to LeeAnn Rimes. And I think including it as a song from the “new millenium,” as Ryan put it, is a stretch. Because this song was originally released by John Anderson in 1983. Ah, the curse of youth.
• Overall, I thought this was vocally one of Scotty’s better performances. He didn’t do a lot of the gimmicky stuff, stayed in his higher register, and just sang the song and looked like he was having fun. It wasn’t my favorite performance of the night and it didn’t knock my socks off, but it was one of his best vocals. The judges didn’t agree with me, though. Which is why I need to be a judge on American Idol. (In the judges’ defense, their problem with this choice is that it was safe. And it was. Very safe. But judges, in reality, Scotty’s got two things he does very well: dip into the lower register and get teen girls to vote for him. He doesn’t exactly have the vocal chops of some of country’s greatest singers. At least not that he’s shown us on the show so far.)
James Durbin “Uprising” by Muse
• OK, I’ll just admit this: I don’t get the whole Muse obsession. I think they’re enjoyable, sometimes, but they just don’t fill my tank, so to speak. But then, I also don’t get Arcade Fire and some people I know and love are huge fans of theirs. So I guess, we’ll just chalk it all up to the fact that we’re all different and that’s a good thing.
• As a performance, this one’s pretty good. James always has crazy antics in his performances (pyro, screaming, writhing on the floor), but I loved, loved, loved the use of the marching band drummers at the beginning of this song. I thought his vocals were great. The dude has one crazy range. I’d like it if he’d reign the screaming in a little more, but that’s just me. I also liked it that he picked a song I actually know. . . because metal is SO far off my musical map that he’d never make me a fan with that.
Haley Reinhart “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
• I’ve been harsh on Haley in the past, because the growling and runs in every line annoy me to death. But guys! Last night she was amazing. First off, amazing song choice. Maybe the best one of the night. She picked a song with a throwback, jazz feel and sang the heck out of it. I loved every minute and liked the raspy, slightly harder-than-the-original version she delivered. Haley may have won me over as a fan last night!
Jacob Lusk “Dance with my Father” by Luther Vandross
• I think it’s funny that his video package before the performance included all the other contestants calling him a diva when I said the exact same thing to a friend of mine last night before watching the show.
• I’m not Jacob’s biggest fan. The vibrato, the quaver, the whatever in his voice that the judges seem to love just isn’t my thing.
• Some thoughts on the performance: It’s great to pick a song you’re emotionally connected to, but all you sing are ballads, Jacob. Why don’t the judges call you on that like they did Pia? Secondly, with all the emotion and build up you gave us about this song. . . you really didn’t deliver. It was kind of a lackluster performance that didn’t tap in to all the emotion you have. The judges made mention that Jacob had “lost the track” at some points and he did falter early on, and it seemed like he was having monitor problems, but in a performance that could have been AMAZING, he just delivered OK.
Casey Abrams “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5
• I may have laughed out loud at this song choice. . . but it was almost midnight when I was watching and I was tired. But still. Maroon 5?
• The actual performance was better than I could have imagined. I liked that Casey backed off on that annoying grunting thing he’s been doing in every song for weeks (Uh!) and seemed to also tone down on the weird way he cuts off his phrases. I think Casey is probably an amazing artist who is in love with a lot of different kinds of music. But he may be a better artist than performer.
• Casey also kissed J.Lo in a weird ploy for attention. Or news coverage. Or something. And then Steven Tyler dropped the F-bomb over and over and didn’t seem to realize it; J.Lo freaked out a bit; and Randy seemed to be saying over and over “Dude, what’s happening.” I like the way Ryan put it as he tried to regain control and send us to commercial. “Well, the wheels have fallen off this program.”
Stefano Langone “Closer”
• Oh, Stefano. We didn’t need a video package to know that you’re a big flirt. But Jacob’s comment about you flirting with a piece of paper if there’s a chance there’s estrogen in it cracked me up.
• For me, this is just eh. I actually got a little bored and didn’t watch all of the performance. There were apparently some dance moves and some working the stage, but I’m not a huge fan of the song and the performance was just OK.
Lauren Alaina “Born to Fly”
• OK, I’m just going to say this: I think Sara Evans is great. She’s a Missouri girl and I respect her for the career she’s carved out for herself. But she’s not a vocal powerhouse and her range, frankly, isn’t that big. But Lauren Alaina is a vocal powerhouse and I’d love to see her pick a song to show that off. This one wasn’t it.
• Don’t get me wrong. The performance is good; it’s just not great. And it’s time for great.
• Lauren needs to know that of all the contestants, she’s the only one that I think I’d buy a record from (and that includes Paul). My friends agree. The girl needs a boost in confidence! Lauren Alaina, you are awesome! Don’t listen to the lies about yourself that you’re internalizing!
Best of the night: Haley and James (which is weird for me to type)
Safe: Scotty, Lauren
My bottom three: Casey, Jacob, Stefano