American Idol: Then and Now

It’s getting down to the wire on American Idol, and on Tuesday night the five remaining singers performed songs from the 60s as well as today’s charts. I was looking forward to seeing what contemporary music the contestants would choose, since it’s often the best indicator of whether someone will be able to fit into the current music scene.

To add a little extra oomph to the episode, Sheryl Crow was on board this week as a mentor. I love Sheryl Crow, so I was psyched about that.

James Durbin – Closer to the Edge
This wasn’t a song I knew (apparently it’s by Jared Leto’s band, so…there’s that…), but that wasn’t the biggest problem I had with James’s performance. No, that would be the outfit. Sleeveless, James? Really? Did you leave your trailer in the studio parking lot? The performance was OK, but I didn’t love it. As far as James Durbin performances go, it was not his best.

Jacob Lusk – No Air
This was a song choice I was surprised by.  Then I realized how it would provide Jacob the opportunity to, once again, rely heavily on backup singers and I understood why he chose the tune. Anyway, the singing was screechy and the dance moves were disconcerting. Really, really disconcerting. His blazer was nice, though. I was glad Randy actually bothered to critique him.

Lauren Alaina – Flat on the Floor
This is a song I love, and even though it was a little out of Lauren’s depth I thought she did a good job. Her energy was great, and it was nice to see her push herself. I’ve seen Carrie Underwood live and she is a REALLY good singer, and this is a hard song to sing. Lauren didn’t measure up to the original, but she still delivered a decent performance and did a good job of showing where exactly she’d fit into contemporary music.

Scotty McCreery – Gone
Oh my god, did anyone else catch Scotty’s major serial killer eyes at the end of his performance? Creep alert! OK, for realsies though? I can’t judge Scotty anymore. It takes everything I’ve got not to fast forward through his performances. I only suffer through it for my art, aka being able to justify placing him last in my rankings. For me, for you, for me, dawg, this kind of music just isn’t for me.

Haley Reinhart – You and I
I’d heard on Twitter that Haley had done Gaga and I was excited. “What did she do?” I thought. “Born This Way? Bad Romance? Alejandro?” Nope. None of the above. She sang an unreleased song. Unreleased! No one knows it! I mean, ultra-fans of Gaga might, but not your average bear. And you can’t really blame her for it, because Jimmy pushed her into the decision. Do I smell sabotage? Questionable, Jimmy…very questionable. That said, I thought Haley was FANTASTIC. Haley has really figured out how to showcase her talent over the course of the season, and she just slayed the performance. I loved it.

Round One Rankings

  1. Haley Reinhart
  2. Lauren Alaina
  3. James Durbin
  4. Scotty McCreery (I know I said I’d rank him last, but Jacob was truly awful…)
  5. Jacob Lusk 

And now let’s all pile into the DeLorean and head back to the 60s…

James Durbin – Without You
The truth? I almost always hate when people cry while they sing. Unless someone in your family died, or it’s Michael Jackson’s funeral, or your guitar gives you a really bad splinter, it’s not OK. In fact, it makes me want to throw up a little. Most of the song was decent enough, but I felt like James was wailing rather than singing at the end. I just didn’t love him this week, and the tears certainly didn’t help.

Jacob Lusk – Love Hurts
If this were The Voice and I was in an awesomely pimped-out chair with my back to Jacob for his performance, I totes would have thought he was a woman for a lot of this performance. Why do I feel like he’s always trying to throw his vocal range in my face? Instead of just singing, he’s going “Look! Look! Look how high I can sing! Now look! Look how low I can sing!” His performance was, as always, about seventy more times as dramatic and affected than it needed to be.

Lauren Alaina – Unchained Melody
I think this might be my favorite Lauren Alaina performance to date. The arrangement was lovely, and brought out the beautiful tones in her voice. Plus, it was for her parents! Awww. Enough to melt even my tiny heart. Lauren sounded more powerful than ever, but she didn’t lose the delicate subtleties that I’ve always loved about her voice. With the gorgeous hair, the pretty dress, and the great singing, I felt like this was a “moment” for Lauren.

Scotty McCreery – Always On My Mind
Damnit! I knew I should have bet someone a million dollars that Scotty would do an Elvis song. What a missed opportunity to make a little cash. I get that Scotty came into this show with enough talent to score a record deal in Nashville right this second, but it bothers me that he hasn’t grown or developed at all this season. He’s never even dipped a toe into unknown waters when it comes to song choice. There is no way to distinguish this performance from any other he’s done.

Haley Reinhart – House of the Rising Sun
Um, WOW. Best performance of the night. Best performance of the season? I’ll have to watch it again and think about it, but holy crap was Haley amazing on this song. Great song choice, great arrangement, outstanding vocals. Unlile Scotty, whose entire Idol journey has been a plateau, Haley just keeps getting better. I can’t say enough good things about this performance. Haley won’t win, but right now I think she should.

Round Two Rankings

  1. Haley Reinhart
  2. Lauren Alaina
  3. James Durbin
  4. Jacob Lusk
  5. Scotty McCreery

If Jacob Lusk doesn’t go home on Wednesday night, I will absolutely lose it. Haley does not deserve to go, I highly doubt that Scotty will, and I don’t want to see Lauren or James go either. What did you think of this week’s show? Who was your favorite?




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