American Idol Recap: The Pitch Is Back!

You can’t teach an old Dawg new vocabulary words, but pretty much everything else on American Idol‘s daft, delightful tenth season is subject to frequent, sometimes thrilling change. On Wednesday night’s Elton John-themed performance telecast, Naima Adedapo and Stefano Langone adopted unexpected and unusual accents. Ryan Seacrest got a daring (unfortunate?) new ‘do, and one contestant was allowed to utter the phrase “hardcore bangage” without so much as a bleep. Heck, even Nigel Lythgoe embraced the mood, putting his favorite punching bag Haley Reinhart in the pimp spot and not dousing her with a bucket of pig’s blood during her show-stopping cover of “Bennie and the Jets.”

Okay, to be fair, there were still some constants on Wednesday night. Pia Toscano performed yet another ballad with power and pitch perfection. Scotty McCreery got his twang on. Steven Tyler said almost nothing of any consequence. And also, Thia Megia was there.

But it was perhaps the biggest change of all — that not just one, but two contestants will walk the Idol plank on Thursday night, without the safety net of the Judges’ Save  — that seemed to light fires (mostly figurative, though in one instance literal) under the current crop of performers, resulting in a memorable 120 minutes of music that didn’t contain a single “John Stevens does ‘Crocodile Rock'” debacle. And that fact, of course, will make “goodbye” the hardest word for the Idoloonie Nation to hear on two separate occasions during Thursday’s results-show telecast.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict we’ll see gender parity in the eliminations. And while there’s not much that would shock me in a season where no clear front-runner has emerged, and even the strongest finalists keep lifting their hems and pointing to their Achilles’ heels, I’m guessing that our two evictees will come from a four-person pool that includes Stefano Langone, Jacob Lusk, Thia Megia, and Naima Adedapo. So let’s make a closer inspection of all 11 performances, focusing on why the aforementioned foursome might be at risk, how a trio of ladies stepped up to dominate the proceedings, and which young man should be thankful he came into the week with a nice big fan base. “Kieran, lock them doors and dim the lights down low…

Stefano Langone, “Tiny Dancer”: Motown Week was pretty brutal for Stefano, what with his “Hello” disaster, his trip to the bottom two on results night, and the grotesque Gordon Ramsay insulting his mother’s cooking. Unfortunately, Elton John Week could turn out even worse. Because while there’s no denying the guy has got a lovely tone to his voice, and the ability to sing mostly in tune, he’s also developed a strange cadence and accent in his singing that makes it seem like he’s trying to do an impression of Katharine Hepburn, or maybe Billy Crystal saying “waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash” in When Harry Met Sally. Seriously, listen back to the performance, the way Stefano pronounces “ballerina” as “ballerinum” (what is that, exactly? a foot bone? a chemical compound?) or “sheets of linen” as “she’s of linen.” Even worse, as Stefano ended his performance with the line “tiny dancer in my hand,” he ambled directly toward the judges’ table and outstretched his own paw toward Jennifer Lopez, a move that is pretty much the musical equivalent of taking a filet mignon (be honest: “Tiny Dancer” is probably Elton’s finest cut of music) and smothering it with a pint of liquid Velveeta. It also doesn’t help that condensing “Tiny Dancer” to 90 seconds robs the song of its delicious slow build, or that Jimmy Iovine acts like he’d love nothing more than to send Stefano out to fetch his coffee, then scream at him mercilessly for screwing up the ratio of cream to sugar. Of course, if Stefano’s fan base hangs on to fond memories of “I Need You Now” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” it could spell trouble for…

Jacob Lusk, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”: True, Jacob has yet to make a bottom-three appearance. But seeing how it’s pretty early in the season, I don’t think it’s crazy for me to wonder just how many members of the Idoloonie Nation want to endure another eight weeks of the man’s face-pulling, octave-scaling melodrama. I had to laugh when Jimmy Iovine warned that the former spa concierge’s performances can occasionally veer into being “overdramatized,” as if “overdramatized” was just a place Jacob visits from time to time and not his permanent address. To his credit, Jacob managed some moderate restraint for the opening half of his ballad, but as sure as Jennifer Hudson’s week-old fog was rolling across the stage, so too did this number devolve into an all-too-familiar Luskian car crash of key changes and caterwauling and overly rehearsed “crying faces.” Things got so heightened with Jacob’s fluttering eyes and trembling lips and downturned mouth that he might just as well have performed in full “sad clown” makeup and costume.

The judges, for their part, refused to utter the words “indulgent” or “oversinging” or “oh. my. God. no.” Like a baby robin peeking out of its nest for the first time, Steven Tyler almost managed some constructive criticism. “The first half blew me away; the second half was, was,” said the Aerosmith frontman, suddenly noticing the terrifying distance from treetop to ground, “equalled for me.” (Cue sad trombone sound.) Randy sputtered something about racehorses and gas and wanting Jacob to give him one spot where he really goes all the way (forgetting he was the one who told Jacob in Hollywood week to always put the pedal to the metal). At least J.Lo had the decency to give a shout-out to Robbie Rosen (remember him?), who gave a far more genuine rendition of “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” during the Wild Card portion of the semifinals.

Still, since it seems unlikely Idol will send home two guys on the same night — I sometimes have nightmares that Uncle Nigel has a whole slew of fresh male recruits (Jerome Bell and Caleb Hawley and John Wayne Schulz) ready to sweep in and pinch-hit for the final three ladies — we’ve got to expect at least one woman is going to be sobbing to the tune of David Cook’s “Don’t You Forget About Me” on Thursday. My top prediction for the role…

Thia Megia, “Daniel”: Finally this week, our “world-class” mentor — hang on, I’ll pause so you can stop giggling — gave Thia some good advice: Crush all the terrible habits she picked up as a little girl, and connect to a song and its lyrics on a visceral level. Unfortunately, in Thia’s 16-year-old mind, this meant literally forcing her square-peg experience of having her older brother move away from home when she was just a wee lass into the circular shape of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s haunting ballad of loss and remembrance. I’d be lying if I said Thia’s vocal wasn’t pretty or on pitch, but there was nonetheless a vacancy when she delivered lines like “your eyes have died, but you see more than I” that made me wonder what — if anything — was going through her mind as she sang.

Side note: Anyone else notice that Entertainment Weekly’s fashion-shoot photographer has something to say about 10 out of the 11 finalists, excluding only Thia? Of course, if voters are a little more cognizant of her existence than that fine gentleman, it could spell doom for season 10’s most (pick an adjective: intriguing/exciting/confusing/maddening) contestant…

Naima Adedapo, “I’m Still Standing”: Color me shocked that zero out of three judges managed to hone in on precisely what was wrong with Naima’s reggae interpretation of one of the evening’s few uptempo ditties: The fact that she sang it in a phony Jamaican accent, mon! I mean, otherwise, The Lady Adedapo’s personal twist on a played-out ’80s jam was actually kind of genius, and sung decently enough that it should’ve helped her to easily sail through to the Top Nine. There’s a reason the “yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah” breakdown worked especially well — because it’s hard to put a forced Jah-Rasta pronunciation on it. I’d be making my “J.Lo for President” buttons right this second if La Lopez had looked at Naima and said, “Girrrrrrl, you from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, not Kingston, Jamaica!” And don’t get me started on why Jimmy Freakin’ Iovine didn’t put the kibosh on the Miss Cleo ridiculata. That said, we’ve got to give props to Ryan for making fun of Randy’s “for me, for you” critiques. Respeck, Seacrest. And booyakasha to ya.

Of course on this strange season of Idol, I don’t think there’s a single contestant who should head into Thursday’s results feeling entirely at ease. And if viewers reward Naima for succeeding in concept if not in execution, and if they buy the judges’ love for Jacob or rally for Stefano due to his brush with elimination last week, there are two other singers who have the potential to wind up as shockers on the Silver Stools of Doom on Thursday.

Scotty McCreery, “Country Comfort”: On the surface, there was absolutely nothing wrong with Scotty’s fine Elton John cover. Sure, he tended to drop the ends of certain phrases (as he’s done all season). And, yeah, his awkward crouch-and-lean stance was still somewhat visible despite the merciful addition of his acoustic guitar, Scarlett. Plus, I kinda sorta wish that Scotty had gotten a little more creative in his song selection, maybe picked an Elton track he felt could’ve benefitted from a little torch and twang tinkering instead of simply scanning for a title containing the word “country.” But the kid did give a shout-out to his grandma. And he was in tune almost all the way through (except maybe that last wobbly low note). And Randy had a point that “Country Comfort” could easily be on Scotty’s self-titled debut album, due out around Thanksgiving, on 19 Recordings; pre-orders begin on iTunes on May 26. Ahh… I can hear those holiday cash registers ka-chinging. Clearly I’m out of my gourd for suggesting a “Scotty in Peril” scenario, so let’s move right along to…

Paul McDonald, “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)”: Color me crazy, but I kind of knew where Steven Tyler was coming from when he said Paul is the type of singer where it doesn’t matter if he hits a note or doesn’t. And to be honest, I couldn’t tell (and didn’t care) if Paul was in tune or not as he croaked his way through Elton’s killer chorus. Dude sounded amazing on the verse, phrasing the words in an intimate, conversational way that really drove home the longing and isolation of the story’s protagonist. Unfortunately, Paul closed the performance with a carelessly whispered “long, long time” that was accompanied by an earnest/creepy/comical eyebrow raise, and I worry that final impression could cost him votes.

That leaves us with five singers who I’m 99.9% certain will survive into Top Nine Week, four of them on account of being pretty darn spectacular on Wednesday, and one of them based on prior reputation and a free pass from the judges. Let’s start with the positives.

Lauren Alaina, “Candle in the Wind”: I won’t lie and pretend I’ve ever really been aboard the Lauren Alaina Is The Chosen One Express, but tonight, as she delivered a twangy, restrained vocal on what Randy ridiculously called “one of the greatest songs ever written,” I actually started to get the hype — both for the singer and the ballad she was delivering. It takes a pretty special vocal to make you hear an overplayed, overbaked track with new ears, but that’s exactly what Lauren did for me, especially the way she chose to zig on notes where I expected her to zag, like when she switched up the melody on that first pass at the words “your legend ever did.” Yep, I’ll admit it: Lauren was pretty much perfection tonight, or as Randy might put it, “She’s in it to win it! What? Yo! Yo!” (Ugh.)

Casey Abrams, “Your Song”: Also getting the Full Dawg is the recipient of last week’s Judges’ Save. But before I praise Casey’s tender interpretation of Elton John’s prettiest melody, can I just take a moment and thank producer Rodney Jerkins for encouraging Casey to tame his manky beard? I’m always shocked how seldom struggling contestants use a physical or fashion reboot to signify a new beginning in the competition, but Casey’s less bedraggled look perfectly suited his new musical mood. “Your Song” was both tuneful and artfully interpreted, with a closing bit of growl that conveyed real passion, not forced stage shtick. I think Steven Tyler may have tried to point out that Casey’s last two notes got away from him, but then he tried to turn his constructive criticism into an empty platitude, and I remembered why he’s been dead to me since the live performance rounds began. But anyway, welcome back, Casey! Next week please break out the upright bass. Thank you.

Pia Toscano, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”: Pia’s entire Idol run is turning into a case of “How can something so wrong be so beautifully, addictively right?” I mean, earlier this week, I wrote an item called “American Idol: What Should the Top 11 Sing for Elton John Week?” in which I stated that “Cecile Frot-Coutaz ought to secretly deduct 250,000 votes from whichever finalist dares to” tackle “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” seeing as how it’s been DONE TO DEATH (sorry, ALL CAPS necessary to reduce my blood pressure) on the Idol stage. I mean, after hearing such standout finalists as Bo Bice, David Archuleta, Justin Guarini, Jorge Nuñez, Clay Aiken and Jasmine Trias (well, four out of six ain’t bad) tackle the tune over the course of the past nine seasons, did Pia really think there was anything new to add to it, especially while wearing a hideous nude-and-metallic-shards figure-skating costume? And yet add she did! Pia took out her vocal machete and she slayed this beast in the best possible way! Not only was every note perfectly rendered, but Pia dug down into the water table and squeezed new juice out of this dry husk of a ballad (how’s that for mixed metaphors). And what’s more, she’s already promising “River Deep Mountain High” if she cracks the Top 9. (Frankly, if she’s determined to do Tina Turner, though, I’d prefer “Steamy Windows” or “Nutbush City Limits” or even “Better Be Good to Me” — none of which, to my knowledge, have gotten the Celine Dion treatment).

And now, before we get to my favorite performance of the night (and Randy’s, too), I need to call b.s. on all the praise the judges heaped on the steaming pile of karaoke that was James Durbin’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” Honestly, have Steven, Randy, and Jennifer never seen a performer start a song from up in the rafters or jump up on top of a piano or hurl the mic stand across the stage? Have they never seen a bit of on-stage pyrotechnics? Does Randy honestly believe that “having a good time” is the most important aspect of a vocal performance? Because all those layers of nonsense (and James’ ill-fitting “rocker” outfit) couldn’t cover up the fact that the guy’s vocal was a total “color by numbers” hack job. I wouldn’t be quite so scathing to a guy who’s consistently been near the top of the season 10 pack, but the dude is capable of better, and someone needs to say it out loud.

And now…speaking of things that need to be verbalized (and things that happened on top of a piano), can we get a slow clap in the house? HAY-LEE! HAY-LEE! HAY-LEE! That’s right everyone, it’s time to discuss The Emancipation of Haley Reinhart, by virtue of her robust, loose, growling, bluesy, absolutely delightful take on “Bennie and the Jets.” Haley kicked things off Michelle Pfeiffer-in-Fabulous Baker Boys style, sprawled across a red piano, and giving the number a gin-soaked, late-night lounge vibe. Midway through the song, though, Haley tore into the melody like a lioness into a baby impala’s leg, and while it wasn’t always graceful — Haley clumsily scooching herself off the piano was the opposite of sophisticated and sexy — it was most indubitably enjoyable. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a real Idol underdog literally come into his or her own in the middle of an actual performance, but that’s exactly what Haley did with “Bennie.” Maybe her choices could’ve been more nuanced, maybe her crouch-and-wave antics were a little less than polished, but sometimes you have to stop nitpicking, remember that we’re on the hunt for the next undiscovered, inexperienced potential superstar, and simply enjoy the delicious taste of unbridled grit mixed with undeniable vocal horsepower. Have I said too much? Have I gone way over the top? Well, sometimes “hardcore bangage” trumps tasteful restraint.

And now, onto tonight’s grades…

Haley Reinhart: A-
Lauren Alaina: A-
Pia Toscano: A-
Casey Abrams: B+
Scotty McCreery: B
Paul McDonald: B (downgraded from B+ on account of that damn whisper)
Naima Adedapo: B- (downgraded from B+ on account of that damn accent)
Stefano Langone: B-
Thia Megia: C+
James Durbin: C
Jacob Lusk: C

What did you think of tonight’s performances? Who was your favorite? Who’ll be in the bottom three, and who will go home? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!


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340 Comments
  1. AdamWasRobbed says:

    Dang it!! I post this in the other thread just as you put up the recap… :-)

    So I’ll copy and paste here… LOL!!

    Okay, here’s my thoughts on this….

    For starters? I REFUSE to rank Scotty. He is, as one of the coaches said, a one-trick pony and is PHENOMENAL at what he does. However, IMO he symbolizes EVERYTHING that’s gone wrong with Idol over the last few seasons. We have theme weeks for a reason, and it isn’t to twist every single song into your specialty genre. Honestly? They should pull him off the show and sign him to a country record label and let the kid start his career. He is that good. I get it. But I don’t need to hear a deep-voiced country version of every genre of music. Just send him to the studio now.

    With that said, the top 10 of those remaining?

    1) Haley – Atta girl… Those who don’t like her hate her style, and I understand that. I like it. It’s different and she picked a song that really showcased what she can do.

    2) Casey – Yes, you needed to listen to America and you did. You were out of control and forgot that AI isn’t about being a crazy growling jack-a** every week. We know you can sing too and I’m glad America reminded you of that fact. THIS is how you showcase your talent. You can get back to having fun and being a little goofy too, just remember to actually SING in some of your performances..

    3) Lauren – Okay, I actually teared-up a bit during this. She connected with the song and sang it beautifully. Nice change of pace for her from the usual bouncey country-rock thing she does.

    4) James – Dude’s a performer and certainly has a future as a rock singer. At some point we’re going to have to hear your softer singing voice though man. Adam had that too. I’m not sure you do.

    5) Paul – Let me be clear. I really have not liked Paul one bit, but he did well here and his style actually fit the arrangement well and he sang it well I thought.

    6) Pia – My wife noticed her singing a little off-key through almost the entire song and that’s what I’ve been thinking for WEEKS now. Sorry America!!! She always seems to sing her “glory notes” in a key that doesn’t match the rest of the song. I feel like I’m the only one in America that hears it… She’s very good, but I don’t get the rediculous praise she’s been getting. We’ve seen MUCH MUCH better ballad singers on Idol than Pia.

    7) Stefano – Sang the song beautifully as usual, but he has a stage presence that just doesn’t work. You could tell he desperately needed toothpicks to keep his eyes open. It isnt’ natural for him and you could tell he was fighting himself. Also (I don’t know how else to describe it, but I’ll try) pop-and-lock throwing one arm out to the side, leaning back, closing your eyes thing on every tenth word looks rediculous… (I wish I could physically mimic the motion for everyone so they’d know what I’m referring to.)

    Jacob – The “I’m constipated on the toilet” look he has when he sings makes me cringe and the whiney tone is too much… Seems like a nice young man and he can definately sing, but at some point he fell into a permanent whiney gospel type of purgatory that he cannot seem to escape and I can’t listen to it anymore…

    9) Thia – The girl has one of the “sweetest” voices we’ve ever seen on Idol I think and she sang very well last night IMO. But she is just not ready for the Idol stage.

    10) Naima – This girl is lost. The judges loved you for your Ella Fitzgerald voice, not your ethnicity that you are trying to force upon us every week. African last week, Jamaican this week, and we can only wonder what part of the world you’d take us to next week if you somehow make it through… I actually thought the reggae arrangement of that song worked, but you made a mockery of it with that fake Jamaican accent. Honey, you aren’t Jamaican. If EVER there were a time for the judges to tell a contestant to “just be themselves” and that they’re “confused”, now would be it.

    That’s what I think…

    • Irishize says:

      I agree with everything said here, except that I (as usual) took a nap during Thia’s ever borinnnnng singing.

      • betsy says:

        I took a nap during this comment. I came here to read Slezak’s review, not yours. You’re supposed to just comment, not write your own column.

        • Alan says:

          Wow, Betsy-Wetsy must have herself a damp diaper ’cause she’s certainly a missy McCranky-pants.

        • Erin says:

          i agree… who would read all that? just comment.

        • AdamWasRobbed says:

          Feel free to not read the comment then. Was just giving my own opinion on each of the contestants. If you got down this far, I’ll assume you read Slezak’s review, so feel free to skip what I wrote. I won’t be offended.

          BTW, I hope you went down the comments and blasted EVERYONE who posted opinions on all the contestants like I did… :-)

    • gigi says:

      I agree, Pia is Boring. i’m tired of the over praising

      Go Hailey!!

    • JB says:

      Regarding Pia, the reason you may be the “the only one in America” hearing her sing off key is because you’re wrong…

      • AdamWasRobbed says:

        Certainly possible. My wife hadn’t heard it either up until this week, but she was thinking the entire song was a bit off-key this week. Usually, what I’m noticing, is its just her “glory notes” that are off key with the rest of the song it seems. She’s good, but we’ve seen better on the Idol stage.

        • JB says:

          Agree to disagree then I suppose. One thing I can agree on though, Adam WAS robbed :)

        • Elena says:

          I noticed something wonky when the choir started singing, but whatever, Pia is boring. As she graciously thanks the judges each week, do you ever get the sense that she’s about to whip out a queenly screw-in-the-light-bulb wave? Seriously, there’s a pageant for her somewhere, isn’t there?

        • Joe says:

          Adam was not robbed. Both were good, but the right person won.
          It is almost two years since the competition and you still cannot
          let go. It is time.

    • Sally says:

      Naima -As I mentioned in other boards, she came to us as a jazz singer and has morphed into a “world” music singer (Reggae, African) and that’s going to be her undoing. At the same time, she don’t give a f**CK….honestly, check her attitude. Girlfriend is going to sing what she wants to sing and not please Middle America, because she probably feels Afrocentric music has been missing from the music scene and she’s here to revive it. :)

      Lauren is the one to watch. She has magnificently grown in style, looks, and she’s consistently a good singer. That girl is dangerous.

      I am not loving the Boyz at all. None whatsoever.

      • AdamWasRobbed says:

        To be fair, it isn’t just Naima that’s trying to score points by “playing a role” here. Scotty with his, “I’m still just a North Carolinuh boy” schtick and Lauren’s Kelly Pickler, dumb naive cutesie southern act are worse in some ways. Don’t think they’ve escaped my notice. Thing is that they were like that when they got here and haven’t pretended to be anything other than that…

        Naima, as you point out, comes to us with a VERY mature and beautiful voice that already separates her from the others. But instead of showcasing that voice with some songs that would suit it, she’s gone on some solo journey/world tour to draw attention to “her roots” or make some ethnic statement. Just isn’t working for me.

        • DZ says:

          Agree on Naima. I feel like she pulled the wool over America’s eyes. I don’t mind the afrocentric vibe, but that’s not who she first represented herself to be.

          • takakupo says:

            SO does this mean she’s only allowed to show us what you first perceived? I think that’s a bit short sighted.

        • Buggys says:

          If only Simon were back for a show or two! We would have heard the term “self indulgent” many times over during this season’s live performances. I believe Naima’s arrangement choices personify this idea.

        • Joe says:

          It is not an act. That is who they are. Do you have something against
          people from the South? Why should they give up who and what they
          are? Your comments about “North Carolina boy schtick” and “dumb cutsie southern act” are offensive and insulting. Maybe that is why
          you are so upset that Kris Allen won, and Adam came in second. In
          truth they both won. I like both of them as different kinds of performers.

          • AdamWasRobbed says:

            FYI, I live in a fairly rural part of a southern state and have no issue with it, so cease fire with the generalizations.

            So in other words, you haven’t noticed that when you see Scotty or Lauren talk when they aren’t getting interviewed that they sound relatively normal, but when they are being interviewed or KNOW the cameras are on them that Scotty’s voice gets a few octaves lower, and Lauren’s goes a few higher and BOTH of their accents get remarkably thicker?

            They’re playing the part to the fullest… They aren’t the first, won’t be the last. Still believe in my heart of hearts that there is NO way that Kelly Pickler was THAT naive. Its a schtick that makes their voting base go, “Awwwwwww, how CUTE!!!” and I’m sure they play to it….

            No matter. Just resent the implication that I’m anti-southern.

      • CrackBaby says:

        Yes…Lauren has certainly GROWN in many ways. How many 16 year old former stars of Toddlers and Tiara’s have a double chin, and not to mention her mid section. Poor girl, she needs to punch her mom and dad in the FACE!! Rock on…

        • Tarc says:

          Sorry, but just because Lauren isn’t an anorexic, unhealthy stick figure doesn’t make her less beautiful (if anything, this year’s ladies are all a bit more realistically curvy than usual). The girl is curvy, not fat, and it’s appallingly braindamaged to suggest that.

        • LisaW says:

          Yeah!! that’s right attack the pretty teenager for not being a stick figure. Lets never ever ever forget there is nothing to unforgivable in a woman as to be less than perfect, cant be a singer if you dont look good – girls, not so for boys of course……this is why jennifer hudson had to lose weight, to get another album out……you men laugh and judge all you want, just dont forget once we perfect cloning technology you guys will be HISTORY – NO NEED FOR YOU, cloning and dildos’ will take the need for you away……….

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Okay, someplace else on this message board I asked if it was just me or did Naima “switch gears” on us completely?

        Sorry Sally, I missed your post. You wrote exactly what I was thinking.

        If we were buying a sofa they would call this bait and switch, but why are we surprised? The hair and goofy clothes should have been a clue!

    • missing Adam and Cookie says:

      I too have noticed that Pia is not as pitch perfect as the judges claim she is – but she still has an impressive voice. I don’t agree with you about Scotty. Yes, he is a one trick pony but he is being very, very clever. I have always found the theme nights ridiculous. When I buy a CD from Adele I do not want rap and when I buy a Black Eyed Peas CD I do not want country. Most artists are specific to their genre and I want to hear them do what they do best. I am not a fan of old school country so Scotty’s voice is not for me, but for the first time in all the Idol seasons, I can totally appreciate how someone could win who isn’t my personal favorite.

      • AdamWasRobbed says:

        Well, I get that Scotty is good, but there really isn’t anything “clever” about what he’s doing. David Cook and Adam Lambert were “clever” in the way they altered songs. Heck, the dude last season with the over-hyped version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” was “clever”….. Scotty is just each week about, “How can I get my well-rehearsed deep country voice to fit into a song in this category.” every week…..

        I just don’t really find it to be in the spirit of the competition. Next week? Scotty does the BeeGees ‘Stayin Alive’, the country version ;-) LOL!!… Oh well, to each their own, right?

        • Michael says:

          David Cook and Adam Lambert weren’t exactly clever in the way they altered their songs. They, in most cases, sang alterna-covers of the originals. They had little to do with the arrangements. Those two aren’t geniuses; They just know how to search I-Tunes.

          I’m not a country fan, at least not the country that Scotty sings, but what else is he supposed to do but fit his voice to the song? How often does Travis Tritt do Elton John covers in front of millions of people? AI isn’t about versatility. it’s about selling a product. The people who vote for Scotty and who will buy his record aren’t going to do so because he can sing country music AND a Britney Spears cover.

        • Joe says:

          In truth, Kris Allen did more with changing the arrangemens than
          Adam. What Adam did, and what was good, was to make a great stage performance. Kris was lauded for his music arrangements. One good
          thing about Adam, was his ability to vary his performance.

      • Missing Kris and Cookie says:

        I totally agree with what you said about Scotty. I like that he is fitting the genres to his style not the other way around. That’s what’s frustrating with Naima, Haley and in some ways Pia. I don’t know what their styles are. Naima and Haley have been all over the board. And Pia . . . I’m beginning to fear she truly is a one-trick pony and that is power ballads.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I’ve got to stick up for Scotty, here. Is he my personal favorite? No, but country music fans are not going to stand for him doing something off the wall.

        Has anyone ever listened to George Strait? One of the biggest county acts ever. Every single song sounds the same to me. Each song sounds like the one before it and the one after it.

        I think Scotty is doing just fine. I’m sure his fan base isn’t complaining.

    • BTGS says:

      I actually agreed on the Pia situation, there’s something a bit off, so “you’re not the only one”. At least she moved this week.

      As for Naima, I also thought the reggae arrangement worked, and worked well, but the Jamaican accent thru me a bit as we have not heard even the slightest accent from her. Someone also stated that Naima feels “Afrocentric music has been missing from the music scene and she’s here to revive it” which I honestly don’t think “middle America” has a problem with but a fake accent doesn’t fly.

      Thia has no understanding of feeling the lyrics and their meaning as I believe she may just be a bit too young. But the same can be said for Stefano and not sure he’s too young perhaps too structured and uses odd phrasing.

      Love Paul but keep hoping for that explosion that I know he is capable of.

      Jacob did a great job last week of “making us beg” and showing restraint… but that was last week. Why on earth would someone that needs to show restraint even pick a song title “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” let alone when you know the lyrics – doesn’t it just scream DRAMATIC?!? Then let’s add fog! Please stop making Jacob sad face. You seem like a fun and spiritual guy but I’d like the *fun* to come out and play too.

      Have become a fan of James but would like to see another time that he shows his restraint like on Maybe I’m Amazed. Everyone compares him to Adam Lambert (Yes, he was ROBBED!) but the thing that Adam did that was so brilliant was he switched it up every week. Couldn’t wait to see what he would do and what he would sing and how. No one before or since has do that good of a job making songs their own. James needs a few more things to be considered Adam 2.0 IMHO. Casey could stand a bit of that same advice but I was glad see him actually SING & get a trim. Keep mixing it up and show us *all* your sides/tricks.

      Like you said they have themes for a reason, to help show your range, push you out of your respective boxes a bit, learn and have a better understand of music as a whole. This leads into my biggest issues… Lauren & Scotty. First, let me say, I like Scotty, but that smirk, leaning forward and the addiction that one low note, feels a bit rehearsed thus fake and can be off-putting. Frankly, I feel the same about Lauren. Her cutesiness just feels too fake. It makes me not like her at all not matter how good her voice is. Forget that she is “the chosen one”, her sexuality and flirting are distasteful (No, I’m not a prude, just think a girl of her young age needs to not be rubbing up against men in the 20s let alone men on Randy & Steven’s age.).

      Which leaves Haley, and me almost speechless, just yikes. Sorry…

      • Tarc says:

        And there are plenty of people – like me – that think Haley is great, and sings circles around most of the rest of the contestants (because she actually does, even if her performance isn’t quite as polished as the nearly robotic Pia).

      • karenb says:

        FYI-Adam was not ROBBED-he was SMACKED! and rightfully so!

      • LisaW says:

        I agree with a lot of what you say but I really did love Haley, she showed spark and made the song her own and her voice really is good. I dunno everyone loves Pia and yeah she can sing of course but I am bored to tears by her…..I think all the changes they made to the show have improved it and its a talented and diverse bunch but I am pretty tired of them doing the same thing over and over, pretty much all of them. Scotty, James, Jacob, Pia, thia, its the same song over and over, you are right that the great thing about Adam was he really changed it up week to week and kept people guess, I called saturday night for James, what else?? He has a pretty good voice but that was just no…..I loved Jacob at first and now I want to slap his face and tell him to get over it, stop with the tortured faces already……Casey redeemed himself with this performance really liked it, Casey & Haley FTW

    • Suncatcher says:

      Good observations,all, AWR! Another thought – Love Elton John but overdosed on him. The show dragged like pants on the ground.

      For what it’s worth, no particular order:
      – James – More pyrotechnics than Bagdhad. Expect him next week to come out with that dumb tail on fire, in a tank firing shells at Iovine, and wearing Ryan’s Kevlar underwear.
      – Pia – switch with Durbin;
      – Paul – burn that suit – or donate it to a Pasadena float.
      – Thia – wakey! wakey!
      – Jacob – Did he have gas, again?
      – Stefano – Carnival called; ship leaves Friday; be on it.
      – Naima – tally your bananas elsewhere; maybe next year?
      – Casey – is that YOU in there? Missed ya, man!
      – Lauren – You compared yourself to Lady Diana / Elton’s lyrics?
      When’s the last time YOU walked through a mine field? A real one.
      – Hailey – Casey in drag. Love your spunk but not your voice-sorry.

      – Steven Tyler – your crack to Lauren, “Maybe you can earn enough money to pay for the rest of that dress,” was a riot!

      BOTTOM “3”: Jacob, Naima, Thia, Paul, Stefano
      HOMEWARD BOUND: Jacob, Naima, (take Thia with you, it’s past her bed time)

    • Gale says:

      I agree with everything in your comment, AdamWasRobbed. Lauren had a moment last night – I heard that song in a new way. I am so done with Pia. Another sappy ballad, another presentation with her shoes glued to the floor. And watch her face – she is not connected to the lyrics! It’s absurd to compare her to icons like Celine Dion. All you have to do is close your eyes to realize she ain’t all that.
      They can warm up the bus for Jacob too. I loved how you summed him up AWR. I don’t get the appeal of Casey. And about the judges…Nigel gives plently of constructive criticism on SYTYCD. I wish he would tell all 3 of these judges to stop overhyping these people. Steven Tyler, not everything is “beautiful”.

    • Chele says:

      I can just about agree with all said by AdamWasRobbed. I’ve said it from almost day one that country has a typed up ready to sign contract for Scotty on their desk.
      I hear the same thing with Pia….she’s missing a key or something. She’s all Broadway to me. I don’t know if there is a place for her on today’s radio.

    • 2centsally says:

      “We have theme weeks for a reason”

      What is the reason? I never understood why. If these contestants were vying for a crown and cash reward based on singing ability then, yes, themes seem like a reasonable way to challenge them. But they are vying for a contract to make relevant music in a specific genre, so who cares if they can sing outside of that genre? I rather see them take lesser known or original songs, that suit their style, and sing them in a way that is current and radio-ready. The ability to select unproven songs or write original songs and make them hits is the primary objective of a successful music career, yet it’s not one of the challenges on the show. Reinterpreting a hit is a cover at best, and karaoke most of the time.

      As for the performances:I thought Lauren was the best. I was skeptical when she said that she related to it, but the emotional connection to the lyrics was obvious and the arrangement was perfectly suited to her. She may not be most popular, but at 15,16? she is a natural performer. Scotty is always solid. Haley was a nice surprise. The rest were over-hyped. Pia can sing, but I don’t care. James is too rambunctious. Jacob, if you’re into Gospel he’s the guy. Casey, no. Stefano, no. Paul, NO. He should have gone home, his voice is terrible.

    • Jack says:

      Get ur wife as well as urself a HEARING AID ur dead wrong about Pia & she was the only one the judges commented on with ballads others sang ballads not 1 word said to them & from what I read on the net Scotty sang a bunch of ballads nothing said & Elvis night he bombed my cousin can sing Elvis better hands down sick of hearing people voting 4 cute instead of talent

  2. takakupo says:

    I have to say that I think the boys were once again OVERPRAISED for doing nothing special and the girls were bashed for the smallest technical misstep (or in Naima’s case, an entire rearrangement which wasn’t bad at all).

    • djm says:

      That has been my biggest issue with Idol for a while now – it’s become a boys show and no matter what the women/girls do it seems like it’s never enough – unless of course you stand on a stage singing ballads while boring the viewing audience at home to death or you are Wittle Wauren and the producers love you. Here’s my take:

      Scotty – sorry, but I am over him. I agree with the post above that said to take him off the show and sign him to a country contract – frankly I am bored to death.

      Naima – She was my favorite going into last night but she lost me with that fake accent. Sorry girl, you need to take a cue from Pia if you make it through, plant your funky-a$$ feet on the stage and blow people away with your vocals. You are capable – we’ve seen it. Good god I just want all the shenanigans to STOP.

      Paul – Barf. Sorry, but if Casey’s voice came out of his mouth when he sang i’d get it. But let’s face it people – if Paul’s voice came out of Casey’s mouth when he sang NONE of you would be havin it. I get it – he’s attractive, but this AINT America’s Next Top Model.

      Pia – Speaking of ANTM – I just get beauty pageant with Pia. I agree with “AdamWasRobbed” (which, Adam was robbed!) – we have seen better ballad singers on this show. I just can’t picture her selling out concerts – she has no stage presecence.

      I started losing intertest after Paul, so I can’t remember the exact order of the rest, but here goes:

      Casey – Yeah, he toned it down but that growl was perculating right under the surface and you could tell he so wanted to go there. I actually think America got it right last week and he should have gone home.

      Stefano – I loved him at first but I can’t stand him now. He seems desperate at this point and everything he does just rings false to me.

      Thia – Yes, she has a voice – but at this point who cares? She is such a BORE.

      Haley – OK, so I liked her vocals last night but I can’t stand – even for one more second – to watch her on that stage. Girlfriend is CLUELESS.

      Lauren – Sorry, but I don’t get her either. Correction – i get her voice, but she is so not interesting to WATCH on that stage. Oh, and I hate her mom.

      James – I actually think he’s now the only person on the show that I find interesting. I didn’t care for his vocals last night but I like him.

      Is that it? Oh, wait. Jacob – Sorry dude, this is American Idol, not RuPaul’s Drag Race. You are NOT, I repeat NOT lip syncing for your life, so there is no reason in the world to have your face do all that. Oh, and by the way, after the 20th vocal run it just starts to sound like screaming to me.

      So there you have it. After my opening remarks about the ladies I guess I have to stop for a sec and say that frankly, I wouldn’t actually BUY a CD from any of them – at least based on what I’ve seen so far, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

  3. Ablo says:

    I thought Elton John night was way better than Motown night (which I still believe was a mess — probably because no one on stage had ever heard a Motown song).

    Haley sounded pretty good to me. I thought Casey did well — certainly better than last week.

    Pia and Thia are still like listening to paint dry, but they weren’t horrible. Paul really needs to figure out how to sing other people’s songs, but there were good moments.

    Naima was interesting, though kind of bizarre. Scotty sang ok, though I think there were better songs for him to choose. James was ok — a little over the top (not in a good way), but pretty fun.

    Stefano and Jacob should be given a chance to see the clips of their journey.

  4. Steph says:

    Haley FTW! So glad you’ve finally joined the bandwagon, Slezak!

    • darclyte says:

      Slezak originally had been critical of Haley even cracking the Top 13, but because of her goofy attitude, he’s gotten behind her. She isn’t Carly, Allison or Crystal. She’s been in the bottom 3 twice, she doesn’t have the best voice, and she isn’t the best performer, so there’s no way she’ll win. Besides all that, listen to her performance without watching it, and it wasn’t good.

      Jimmy Iovine has REALLY stepped up these last couple of weeks with his constructive criticisms of the contestants. It’s been weird but interesting to hear him make negative comments and those get aired, but he’s really showing that he is trying to help the kids out…and doing a pretty good job of it.

      Scotty: I thought that it was his best performance yet. The guitar seems to eliminate the creepy leaning that he does while singing, and the weird way he holds a mic. He also seemed to tone down the eyebrow crap. I think if he made a real version of this song (and not just the MP3 that they make for the week) that it would be a BIG hit on the Country charts.

      Naima: I thought that she looked pretty good in the photo shoot, as long as she kept her mouth closed and smiled. She has very pretty eyes. I actually thought that the song DOES work with the Reggae beat. The problem was Naima from Milwaukee was singing with a Jamaican affectation to her voice. Maybe she is Jamaican, and that’s her heritage. The problem though is that it sounded cheesy. At the end of the movie Sucker Punch, Carla Gugino sings a duet version of “Love is the Drug” by Roxy Music. She sings it in character with a deep German affectation. Now, even Germans who sing in English may have a bit of Germanic tone to their voice, but not like she did where it stood out like a bad thumb. Same thing here.

      Paul: I really liked it a lot. I agree that perhaps he could get more out of his voice, but I really liked it. It was his best since Maggie May, and he NEEDS to sing with a guitar so that he doesn’t do his goofy dance.

      Pia: I thought that it sounded pretty good. She looked good last night, but was AMAZING in the photo shoot. She might have lost some of the older women voters because of that. If she’s back next week (she will be) it should be interesting to hear her take on the song. I’m guessing it’ll be like Celine Dion’s, but I hope not. Pia needs to BURN the Celine Dion handbook and take Fleetwood Mac’s advice and go her own way.

      Stefano: Improved from last week, but still WAAAAY behind where he had been. He needs to get his confidence back, and enunciate better (he has an accent now when he sings.)

      Lauren: She looked ok, even with her mullet Goth dress, but while this may have been her best performance yet, it still wasn’t very good. I figured it out last week, but couldn’t quite nail down how to explain it. I got it this week. She has NO CONNECTION to the songs that she’s singing. She’s as soulless as Celine Dion when Celine first starting singing in English and didn’t KNOW English, she was just taught the words phonetically. Lauren is like that. She can sing, but there is a total disconnect in her eyes. She’s looking around and doesn’t seem involved at all with the lyrics. This again goes to show that she should have gone through vocal and performance training for at least 2 more years before getting on AI. Had she done that, she’d be amazing. As it is, she’s a clueless girl who can sing well.

      James: While again not the greatest vocal of his or of the night, but by FAR the best performance. The dude can carry a show. His vocal was good, just not mindblowing, and he hit all of his notes. The end was a NOTE not a scream. I’m also glad that he didn’t have the stoopid “tail.”

      Thia: It was weird how Jimmy said that she could go home if she didn’t connect. It’s interesting that Idol is allowing “negative” comments about the performers to be aired on the live shows. Had she performed the entire song the way she sang the last few lines, she would have killed it (in a good way.) But she only killed it in a bad way. She may have connected to this song emotionally, but it didn’t appear until the end. She has a decent voice and can sing, but that just isn’t good enough. Still boring.

      Casey: His best performance since he made the Top 24. As someone with a very close cropped beard, I’ve been saying that he needed to trim his hair and beard down, focus on singing, and stop with the growling and angry faces. He did ALL of that last night, but he still is well behind where he was prior tot he Top 24.

      Jacob: Jimmy also had negative things to say about Jacob and his being too dramatic. I think he did that again as he got too emotional too early. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but had he started slow and built (telling a story as they say) it would have been 1000 times better.

      Haley: Were the judges and I watching the same show? As I mentioned above, put this on and listen to it without watching it, and it was NOT good. Even watching it the performance was comical. It probably was Haley’s best performance in a long time, but it still was kinda cheesy and desperate. Because she went last and the judges praised her which tends to sway the minds of weak minded AI viewers (like a Jedi Mind Trick) she’ll be safe. Had she gone much earlier, I think she might have been in trouble and not gotten the feedback that the last singer usually gets (AI likes to end on a high note with the pimp slot, even if it wasn’t the greatest performance.)

      Bottom 3: Naima, Stefano and Thia
      Going home: Naima and Thia

      • SpyKi says:

        You can just listen to the performance and it’s still great. It wasn’t sung as perfectly as her previous performances due to the whole piano thing but still. and I think she has one of the best voices in the competition and possibly the most control.

      • cookie says:

        Hailey was better then Carley and Crystal.

        Hailey gave one of the best Performances ever and I have been watching Idol for a long time

        Her clumsiness if reminicent of Janice Joplin or Ricki Lee Jones it’s part of her appeal as a soul girl

      • chistosa says:

        I have to agree with darclyte on almost everything. I found Haley’s performance to be appropriate for a lounge singer. The growling was not pleasant and I felt she was overpraised.

        I did not like James’s performance though. I have liked him as he has progressed through the competition but last night the performance seemed manic and was definitely self indulgent to borrow a phrase from Simon. He needs to re-connect with some humility.

        Agree with the bottom 3 but I think Stefano and Thia will be going home.

      • JLo's Lipstick says:

        Pretty good review, except for the Hayley part. Pimped spot or not, it would have ranked high. Good vocals and it was fun and interesting. The “crouch and arm wave” (as Slez puts it) was kinda cheesy but she’s learning.

      • Chris says:

        On behalf of older woman, I’d like to condemn you to a month of cleaning toilets at your local high school. Why would we dislike Pia for being pretty? We enjoy beauty and have the maturity not to resent it in others.

        • Edmonton Girl says:

          Thank you, Chris – that was my reaction too. You expressed my feelings beautifully!

        • darclyte says:

          There have been articles about why a woman “can’t win” AI, and one of the reasons that’s been noted is that more voters are women and they vote for guys and they don’t vote for cute gals. The AI reviewer over at Slezak’s old stomping grounds has even written how she felt that up until this week’s photo shoot by her employer, that the AI stylists had been downplaying Pia’s looks to try to not turn off women voters. I certainly hope and would like to believe that “beauty” is not a factor in why gals haven’t been winning AI and AGT, but there certainly has not been a plethora or women who have won those shows.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            If they are going to “downplay” Pia’s looks they are going to have to put a bag over her head! Holy moly, she is one of the most stunning contestants to grace the Idol stage – ever!

            Signed, a middle-aged woman that is not offended by beautiful young women!

      • Sally says:

        “The problem was Naima from Milwaukee was singing with a Jamaican affectation to her voice. Maybe she is Jamaican, and that’s her heritage.” The more I think about it, she may be was trying to be Bobby McFerrin on “Don’t Worry”.

        Am I the only that thinks that Naima has a “f**ck” you attitude about the songs and how to sing them?

        • Suncatcher says:

          @Sally – Yup. I’m pretty sure you’re the only one…

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          I’m going to steal Simon’s “self indulgent” line here – I think Naima has become “self indulgent”. I don’t think she has a bad attitude. Just bad judgement.

      • Tarc says:

        As usual, not agreeing. Haley’s vocal was amazing an interesting as usual. She’s easily the most underrated singer on the show. Scotty is boring and one-trick, and if I ever have to lay eyes on his Shrub looks and dirty-clothes-off-the-floor wardrobe, it will be way, way too soon. Paul was again a non-started, and I could go a lifetime without hearing Stafano’s irritating, choppy flat out weird vocals. Lauren just looks like she’d rather be somewhere else most of the time; she’s clearly not having fun. Thia is so very dull to watch. And I’d like Casey to go back to singing the types of songs that he did during auditions – and let loose. Jacob was bad – again. Halaey had a terrific vocal – again.
        Bottom four: Jacob, Paul, Thia, and Stefano.
        Going home: Thia and Stefano.

      • chillydogs says:

        I was in the kitchen listening to AI in the family room so I couldn’t see it. When Hailey sang, it was not good. I thought, uh oh, that one is going home. Then what a surprise when the judges fawned over her! Are you serious? Listen to it without watching it. It’s pretty bad.

    • SpyKi says:

      I’m with Steph, I’ve been in love with her since Hollywood.

  5. sneakin says:

    My thoughts:
    Scotty: mic in stand=good. Keep that eyebrow down!
    Naima: I liked it. I thought that DID work as a reggae song.
    Paul: did Paul, which I like.
    Pia: Yes, we know you can hit those notes, What else ya got?
    Stefano: wrong song. Can’t put my finger on it, but it was off. Think he’s in trouble.
    Lauren: top three performance. two thumbs up
    James: When that piano lit up….thanks for the laugh of the night. Glad you took the advice and got all your audience love out DURING the song.
    Thia: I wish you had waited at least 3 years. Lovely voice-blank slate
    Casey: Top 3 performance. There’s the Casey I loved!
    Jacob: He started singing and all I thought was Sylvester ( If you don’t know who I’m talking about, Google- not the cat) Just don’t get the Jacob love.
    Haley: Home run! Top 3 performance!

    Tyler was wandering in Gary Busey territory last night. WHAT was he talking about?

    • DonNY says:

      OMG! When I saw Jacob perform I immediately thought of Sylvester, too!! Too funny.

      • Chichi says:

        Um, when is Sylvester’s voice a bad thing?

        • sneakin says:

          I never said Sylvester’s voice was a bad thing. I actually think Sylvester is better than Lusky Stank. It’s just the vibe I got when he started singing last night. I’ve said for weeks that Jacob needs to quit Idol and go on RuPaul’s Drag Race. He wouldn’t need to lip sync for his life, he’d kill it!

      • Sally says:

        OMG thank you. I kept wondering who Jacob reminded me of and it’s Sylvester! I thought Luther Vandross 2, but nope, it’s Sylvester.

        • dude says:

          i thought Jacob looked like he was a cross from either taking the biggest dump of his life to birthing a 30lb child with all his painful face expressions. “Come on man”

    • Tina says:

      I knew he reminded me of someone!
      I fell out laughing last night when during his final notes, the camera cut away and came back to his face; eyes closed, mouth wide open he looked like a child that’s about to have one of those cries where there’s no sound at first, but the the screaming flood gates open. I almost died laughing.

  6. Larry Page says:

    Anyone else offended by the fact that Naima just had to sing a reggae with a fake/crappy Jamaican accent? That would be like singing a Beatles song with a fake British accent. The whole thing was stupid.

    • The Wheeze says:

      I agree, and what made it even worse was the TOTALLY fake shout out at the begining.(Especially, since we watched “The Mentor” tell her to say it!!!!)

    • Jen says:

      I agree. It was embarrassing! I was like wtf is she doing? Totally lame. I think she is going home.

    • sneakin says:

      Wasn’t offended like I would have been if someone else had done it. That’s Naima’s schtick. She’s always entertaining even if it isn’t in the right way….

    • takakupo says:

      Naima is Rhasta. She is reggae. I don’t understand why people keep calling it fake. Reggae and Rhasta singers regularly adopt an accent when they sing. I’m very sad that a lot of people didn’t get the performance because she was great and she’s the only one who livens up the show.

      • The Wheeze says:

        I call Bull$hit!

      • Teresa says:

        I agree with you. I used to have a room mate from Jamaica. Most of the time he spoke with a flawless American accent (I didn’t even realize he wasn’t born on the continent). But when he was talking to his relatives on the phone, his accent was pure Jamaican.

        It’s presumptuous to call Naima’s accent fake. I don’t think we know enough about her background to do that.

    • Metzmom says:

      Not offended just not impressed. I’m ready for her to go home.

    • marie says:

      I wouldn’t say I was offended, exactly, but I did roll my eyes at what a downright stupid choice it was for her to do it. The song, I thought, actually worked well enough with the reggae beat, but the fake accent was ridiculous.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I agree with Marie, Slezak and everyone else that is of the opinion that the arrangement Naima sang was not bad – I thought it was one of her better performances, actually. But the accent needed to go.

        Is it my imagination, but Naima portrayed herself initially as a bluesy, Ella Fitzgerald-type singer, now suddenly she’s getting in touch with her roots (whatever they are) and doing African dances, Jamaican accents, etc.

        What a waste of a save. I really wish they’d saved Lauren Turner and Kendra Chantelle instead of Naima and Ashthon.

    • Mddmouse says:

      Totally, agree. Could get into the reggae version as the song is so well known and the version fits her voice. The “accent” though, no. Just no.

  7. Allie says:

    I’m so glad Michael pointed out the weird Jamaican accent that Naima adopted during her performance – I was shocked that the judges didn’t acknowledge it at all. I actually fast-forwarded through her performance (something I never do on Idol) because it was so uncomfortable to watch. And color me surprised – I actually really enjoyed Hailey! Enough so that I went back and watched her a second time! Strange week…

  8. KED says:

    Thank you, thank you for finally pointing out that James is more spectacle than singer.
    I think Jacob has a fine voice, but I think his future will be in musical theater. Pia has the best voice, but she has got to figure out how to entertain us. I hope Naima stays one more time. She is entertaining and will liven up the summer tour.

    • stevenjaba says:

      I agree that last night James was more spectacle than singer, but on previous weeks, his voice has taken the spotlight. See “Maybe I’m Amazed”… I downloaded his version on itunes and cannot stop listening to it! His voice is just delicious.

    • Chris says:

      I laughed out loud when the piano started shooting flames and I still don’t know whether to dock James a point or give him an extra one. I like it that he thinks about the complete performance and realizes you need more than just hitting the notes. Pia and Thia perform like they’re auditioning for a performing arts school while James and Naima are trying to entertain.

    • Sally says:

      Pia is programmed, she doesn’t now what “entertain” means.

    • tuckywoman says:

      Someone needed to point out to James that 90 seconds isn’t enough time to:
      Sing in the audience
      Come down long flight of stairs
      Jump on piano
      Piano catches fire
      Throw mic stand
      Back to audience
      End with rock star back bend.

      Just too much! Did he sing? He tried to use every “rock star” cliche he knows.

      • Marta says:

        A million times…YES! Just when I started warming up to him- he had to pull out this schtick. Did. not. work. Can’t believe more people aren’t talking about how gimmicky it was. Not to mention that the rockin’ vocals were ALL on the back-up singers.

        • dude says:

          And if Daughtry were in this James would have been voted off by now. Daughtry sounds way better and actually sang good all the time on idol. He is def more spectacle then singer. He has good voacls sometimes not all the time, but him throwing stuff everywhere gets him votes I don’t get it…..

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        @tuckywoman – made me laugh! :-)

        Yes, that performance of James’ was a bit much but on some level it worked for me. I enjoyed it – but I’d like to see him do another “Maybe I’m Amazed” where he acutally SINGS.

    • Suncatcher says:

      James – I couldn’t see him for the smoke nor hear him for the explosions. He’s escalating. Next week, street fighting sung to a different drummer.

  9. adamfan says:

    A night of 1000 accents!! Michael, I would have melted had James listened to your recommendation and done “I want love”. That would have been so touching and brilliant. I did not really care for his performance yesterday although I am still a huge fan.
    Scotty was dull, but I guess country good.
    Naima crossed the line from interesting to gimmicky and the accent was just nuts, bad nuts.
    Pia, sorry can’t even remember what she sang, but I bet it was good.
    Jacob, well, I don’t really care for his voice. Hold on, I have to stop typing, Mary J. Blige is here……. OK, I am back.
    Casey, I thought that the song was really soft and actually quite beautiful.
    Lauren, this was the fist time that I really got to appreciate her.
    Thia, quite weak vocals, Why are the judges not saying that? And as far as the emotion was concerned, I guess she did not miss her brother that much.
    Haley, great vocals, I like her “screw it” attitude. Should have stayed on the piano the entire time.
    Stefano, sorry but the entire song I kept thinking “is he wearing a lipstick?” Was he wearing a lipstick? some tinted lip gloss? Just kissed a lot before going on stage? Weak vocals, maybe due to the lipstick.
    Paul, Quite nice but am afraid soon I will need one of those old fashioned horns in my ear to hear him sing.
    Randy had a cool watch. Was Steven Tyler, whom I really dig, told that he was there just as a cheerleader?
    Michael, there needs to be a night where you get to pick the songs for the contestants, wouldn’t it be great if they had the fans pick a song for each of them?

  10. TV Addict says:

    Two years ago I was in complete agreement with you of the wondrousness that is Allison Iraheta. This season I had completely disagreed with you on Haley. Glad you finally see the light…Haley ROCKS!!!

  11. Finian says:

    I was beginning to wonder if I was alone in my total lack of love for James’ act last night. it just felt plastic. The song is a stand-uyp in your face rock song, not a feel good, strut the stage with a smile anthem. he’s been great,but that wasn’t.

  12. ARCHU-D2 says:

    Once again, another great article Mr. Slezak. I’m now on board the Haley train. I just think she needs to tone down the sexy, songtress act. She doesn’t have to act like every song she sings is being sung at a strip bar!

  13. IdolWatcher says:

    I agree completely with what you have to say about Haley~she was absolutely the best of the night, and I think it definitely worked in her favor to close the show on such a high!!

    Thank you for pointing out the karaoke-ness in James’ performances. I’m not sure why the judges think he’s so special…I personally don’t like the quality in his voice when he sings lower, and I find him out of tune when he goes (way too) high.

  14. Musiqluvr says:

    Michael, you definitely were on point (and hilarious) with your recap. I was on the Haley shouldn’t be in the Top 13 bandwagon but she really impressed last night. Unfortunately that had a lot to do with the quality of the song and how it fit her, not sure she will find many more songs in the coming weeks to ride that lane but more power to her.

    Also, much props for giving James the criticism he deserved this week. First off, for the first part of the song he was barely audible but that may have been a sound issue. Second, for the rest of the song the tone didn’t sound like James at all and was very much in a karaoke vein.

    I think you may have been a little too harsh on Jacob. I’m not a fan of him and certainly couldn’t see buying his album but the first half of the song was well sung. Overall it was just too melodramatic but still thought he was better than Thia and Stefano. Unfortunately, I think those two are going home. Its unfortunate because they both have wonderful tones for recording they just somehow miss the connection with the material especially the last two weeks.

    I would love Jacob, James or Scotty to be the safe one in the bottom three this week so they can get the wake-up call Casey got and tone it back a bit to focus on their musicality.

  15. Adam says:

    Lol, I knew Slezak would come to like Haley before the semifinals (just like with Katelyn) but never thought he would do it so dramatically.

    Hope we get at least one guy eliminated tomorrow. Don’t care if it’s Stefano or Jacob.

  16. Scarlett says:

    Paul, what’s the name of YOUR guitar? I gotta change my name ASAP!

  17. Ghost of Kelly Clarkson says:

    Pia sings very well, I’ll never dispute that. But after watching her sing the same type of song, the same way, for four weeks running, I have a pretty clear idea of what a Pia concert would be like. And I think I’ll save my $. Same goes for Scotty and Jacob, who sing the same song, with different lyrics, every week. And even though you know she’ll never make the Top 5, one thing you have to say about Naima is that she’s never boring and none of her performances have been predictable. And I’ll take that over Pia, Scotty and Jacob any day.

    • The Wheeze says:

      I agree with you on Pia, and I really do not think last night was her best vocal performance. I wish that she/Jimmy/the judges would realize she is really starting to BORE me to tears!

      Also, WTF is up with Steven Tyler? Did he have a lobotomy between the auditions and the live performances?

      Take the Paula at her worst + Ellen = Steven Tyler! He is so pointless and I am starting to wonder if it would be better to have only 2 judges.

    • Sally says:

      “I have a pretty clear idea of what a Pia concert would be like. And I think I’ll save my $.”

      have you ever seen the Boston Pops concerts? That’s Pia singing with them.

    • Jack says:

      what u just said about Pia, Scotty & Jacob but it was Pia alone who was criticized about the songs
      (BALLADS) when like u stated jacob & scotty did the same plus all girls get criticized on thier outfits while the guys can mostly wear jeans & a tee or dress shirt & nothing is said

  18. Jake says:

    Right on, Slezak! I agree with 97% of your comments – the 3% being your failure to appreciate the disaster that is Naima.

    I am still debating who I liked best between Pia and Haley. I’ve always thought the latter was underrated and underpraised, but tonight she was undeniably excellent. I really enjoyed her performance, but in my mind Pia is just on a different level, somehow managing to top each excellent performance with an even better one the following week. I look forward to seeing her more than anyone right now, though I’m already pumped about Haley next week. And I like that Idol hasn’t overplayed their sexuality. Both are gorgeous (especially Pia), but thankfully they manage to focus on their singing rather than their bodies – other than Ryan’s need to show off Pia’s backside last week.

    Lauren was very good – maybe just stepping up and singing instead of engaging in schmaltz helped – and Casey was right up there as well. I agree about James being way overpraised by the judges, along with Jacob. I was excited Steven Tyler almost articulated exactly what I was thinking with his critique, but then veered off into the safety of his “second half equalled first half” escape. Jacob was one of the worst of the night, IMO.

    Thia was again vacant emotionally, but Naima was the worst of the night. She is getting better pitch-wise, but still hit some real grimace-inducing notes. Not to mentioned she lacked any intrinsic consistency, just as she has all season. Sure, I’ll give props for creativity, but the execution was poor at best. She’s just all over the place, and in my mind dangerously close to weekly jester-type performances.

    Surprisingly great season so far. I hope this quality continues through May…

    • Marta says:

      You hit the nail on the head for me about Naima. I’m all for creativity on Idol- and I do think she has a sense of who she is— but she does lack consistency and execution. In this era of Idol, when you are a “creative” contestant (David Cook, Lambert, Bowersox to name a few)- you are bound to take some chances that aren’t people’s favorite….but oftentimes it’s the execution that people can respect, even if WHAT you did isn’t necessarily people’s cup-of-tea. It was respect for his execution of “Tracks of My Tears” that made me do a complete 180 about Lambert.
      The quality of Naima’s performances (as well as that awful Jamaican accent this week) is what has prevented me from hopping on board.

  19. Ktct says:

    There’s something about Lauren that annoys me. Her singing is fine, but when she speaks..ugh! I’d like her to stop kissing up to the judges.

    • The Wheeze says:

      I feel the same way. I think it is because of whittle wauren act of total whineness.

    • stevenjaba says:

      Yes, and she has zero emotional depth. That’s why, to me, her song had no impact last night. Her claim to be able to relate to the song was just nauseating.

      • C says:

        Of course she could relate to the song! She thinks she’s as wonderful and fabulous as Marilyn Monroe was!

      • JBanana says:

        I totally agree. I did not find Lauren’s performance convincing last night. She wasn’t ‘connecting’, she was ‘trying to look like she was connecting’. It was totally fake and didn’t work for me. I just wish she would go away… and I realize that will not be happening any time soon.

    • josie says:

      Even though Lauren looks like she’s 23, every time she opens her mouth I am reminded that’s she’s a sixteen year old. She’s been told to lose the stank attitude so she’s trying in her clumsy way. The worst act of brown nosing of the night was Stefano’s homage to JLO. ERP!

      • cmj says:

        Wauwen actually has zero emotional maturity, and it shows. Her constant sucking up is annoying…as for Stefano’s, well JLo did tell him to look at her, which is what he did, but I understand Idol historical revisionism.

    • Brittany says:

      I think the problem is that whenever she gets nervous/uncomfortable, her immaturity shines through. I feel the same way about her. I wish I could listen to her without actually having to watch her cutesy act and then they should pull her off the stage before she has a chance to talk. What was up with her pulling her dress over her legs in mock embarrassment? STyler was joking! Maybe she’ll eventually quit taking everything personally as the show goes on because that would be a huge advantage to her and her performances.

    • Nedsdag says:

      That’s why I cannot get into her at all. This isn’t the Little Miss Baby Bonnie Belle Beauty Pageant. You are not going to get a question about world peace. Also, who is dressing and styling this child? It’s starting to become a distraction.

    • Marta says:

      After her bumbling post-performance interview, I was taken back to the days of Lee DeWyze not being able to construct his thoughts into pleasant, TV-friendly sound bytes. He drove me nuts all season. Similar to Lee, Lauren looses some ground in my mind after decent performances because of her interviews.

    • dude says:

      Lauren is so awkward when she talks….there is no persoanlity in there its like talking to a brick wall lol Lighten up girl your on american idol

  20. Applesauce says:

    As much as that was haley’s best performance, it was defenetly not as good as caseys

    • The Wheeze says:

      I know right! From where her performances started all she could do was get better. Can people stop drinking the kool-aide already?! I agree that she has a unique rugged raspy voice, and she usually does stay on pitch. Unfortunately, she has no real stage presence (which can be worked out) and her enunciation SUCKS!(she could be saying “Nuts of Wonder” and I wouldn’t be able to tell.)

      • Brittany says:

        Even though Haley actually earned my vote last night, I am in no way a Haley fan. If she reverts back to previous performances next week, I will still want her to desperately go home. However, she does not deserve to go home this week, even with the double elimination. I don’t think she was the best performance of the night, but she was vastly improved and deserves major kudos for that.

        • Tarc says:

          I have no idea where the Haley dislike comes from. Her Blue was one of the very best vocals in 10 seaons of Idol. Sure, the one song was very Mariah, but the others have been amazing. Her vocals have been VERY underrated until this week. Sure, her live performace isn’t there yet, but it’s not any worse than Pia’s robot impression or Thia’s… whatever it is thia does. Lauren usualy moves around a little, with that terrified look in her eyes. *shrugs*

          • stevenjaba says:

            I actually don’t like any of the singers you just mentioned. That said, I’d be much more on board with Haley if she’d quit growling so much. It seems like a gimmick, and it’s distracting. Too bad because she does have a great voice.
            Oh, and also, she’s got to enunciate!! Just sounds sloppy.

          • Brittany says:

            I agree completely with stevenjaba. It’s not that she doesn’t have a good voice, it is just that she doesn’t know how or when to use it tastefully. If the entire song is growling and runs and riffs, the melody becomes unrecognizable and the performance becomes overdone instead of artistic. Not every song needs a growl or that whiny-tone thing that she does (I don’t know how to describe it better than that). In some ways I feel like she is just slightly better than Jacob in that regard. I agree her performances are not quite there yet, but she is better than robot, Princess Lauren, or boring Pia. She needs to not crouch around and have her boobs and legs for the world to see every time.

    • GiGi says:

      Disagree Apple Sauce

      Hailey’s rendition of Benny was on the best I have ever heard

  21. Cat says:

    Scotty – Use of guitar really helped his on-stage appearance. Loved the shout-out to his grandmother.
    Naima – Vocals were good, but song got boring and repetitive. And, yes, where did that accent come from?
    Paul – Voice is AWFUL! He sounds as weak as raspy as a 90 year old man. His high notes were weak, but when he tried to strengthen as the song went on, the quality of his voice got worse. And then, of course, the last note wasn’t there at all. MUST GO!
    Pia – Perfection of voice gave me goose bumps. And, she blended in well with her back up group. She could have gone more “diva” than she did and that restraint was a good idea.
    Stephano – Voice was better than last week. Had a richer, crisper tone.
    Lauren – Don’t think ANYONE should have done this song, given its history. Felt that she was totally flat from the beginning and didn’t right that until about 30 seconds into the song.
    James – Loved it. He doesn’t have Adam’s voice, but he does have his showmanship. And his voice is pretty good on its own. It just suffers by comparison because Adam’s was so perfect.
    Thia – Suffered by being right after such an amazing entertainment, but she had a better connection with the song and the audience, and her voice needs no improvement, so I hope she can stay and continue to grow as a performer.
    Casey – Finally sang and looked decent. But his consonants and “ee” vowel sounds were quite harsh in the middle of words, and the consonants were kind of non-existent at the END of words, where you need them. Voice is okay, but not as good as James or Scotty.
    Jacob – Really good ARRANGEMENT and back up vocals. Maybe a little pitchy at the beginning. Facial contortions and wobbly pitches are beginning to grate on me.
    Haley – Ridiculous choice of song for a female voice. Actually, given how repetitive the song is, it was a dumb choice for ANYONE! I’m totally tired of her growly voice and “sexy” vibe.
    Will go – Thia and Naima
    Want to go – Paul (PLEASE!) and Haley or James

    • Mel says:

      Thank you, Cat! Paul was simply NOT GOOD last night. Rocket Man is one of my favorite Elton John songs, and it has a lot of power and depth. Paul had neither. His voice was just scratching the surface, and he totally eliminated a lot of the higher notes (which JLo pointed out). He’s got a great smile, but for the life of me I can’t figure out where all the love for him is coming from. When he does his own limited repertoire, then I guess he’s fine, but last night he was a disappointment. And Steven Tyler, for Pete’s sake, you can offer criticism without being mean. I know you don’t want to be mean. I admire that. But please step up and do your job!

    • Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

      Thank you for your entire critique. I thought Lauren was completely disconnected to her song. She smiled at incorrect times and just didn’t have any presence to me. Slezak and the judges apparently disagree with me. I also think Haley is such a smarmy mushmouth. Not the worst of the night, but hardly the best.

      For me the two most boring singers had to be Paul and Thia. I think Pia is actually great and engaging, her songs just happen to be slow.

  22. karenb says:

    I thought Haley stole the show last night! Paul was great, as usual, and I thought Stefano was the most improved from last week. The others were fine, good night over all for the contestants.

  23. Jen says:

    Lauren needs to go to deportment classes…or charm school or something. She has a nice voice…but the rest of the “package” is lacking.
    Naima is going home for sure. That was one of the worst Idol performances I have ever witnessed.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Oh no, Jen. that Hayley chick with the guitar that slaughtered Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” is the worst Idol performance ever!

      On the other hand, here’s an interesting performance – last years’ contestants (Season 9) singing “The Climb”

  24. JenniferForPresident says:

    I am a country music fan and I think Scotty’s range is limited. He has potential but has not reached it yet – that is WHY he keeps doing the same song-style over and over. It is the only one he knows. The judges are doing him a disservice by not telling him to strengthen his vocals, finish his phrases and stop ending every song the same way. It’s nonsense.

    I love Naima. She is exciting, but she is not Jamaican. Um…why does she thinks she’s Jamaican? That is just weird. I do love how she is daring – but Simon would call her “self-indulgent” – and he would be right.

    I am over Paul and Jacob. Neither could hit a note if it were right in front of them. Paul doesn’t seem to even try – and is mistaking lack of ability with artistry (and artist has control over their voice and he doesn’t not). Jacob is starting to annoy with the Gumby-facetwisting thing. It is really disconcerting and it makes me want to slap him.

    Stefano has NO CLUE what any of the lyrics mean. It was very clear last night. Coupled with his new “accent” – I really need him to go NOW.

    I used to like Steven Tyler. I thought he was a bada$$. It annoys me that he cannot give constructive criticism. It’s ridiculata for sure.

    In my dream world – Stefano and Jacob would go to a far, far away place where they are not allowed to sing.

  25. Bill says:

    Talk about overpraise! What did people see in Haley’s amateurish take on “Benny and the Jets” that I missed? To me she was just as bad as she’s ever been. She and Thia should by rights be saying buh-bye tonight, but instead I’m scared Thia will be joined by the underpraised and vastly talented Naima, who has been sabotaged by some bad choices. (That Jamaican accent was ill-advised to say the least.) I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Naima. Meanwhile, Scotty continues to makezzzzzzzz

    • takakupo says:

      Haley was very good last night. You’re right on Scotty though. I really think two of the boys, INCLUDING Scotty, should get the boot tonight and Idol should keep Naima who is a beautifully entertaining musician/artist.

    • dbanimate says:

      i’m with ya bill – week after week i am baffled as to what people are hearing in haley that is talent? if simon were there last night, he’d have told her she sounded like a drunk lounge singer because that’s what it reminded me of!

  26. KWise says:

    I’m sorry, but Haley was only good if you closed your eyes. She is SO awkward in all her movements. Getting off the piano was just the start. How about her awkward swaying of the arms back and forth (off beat) and then her, again, off-beat walking while bouncing up and down, while one or the other arm was flailing up over her head. That girl can sing, but she cannot move. She has no rhythm whatsoever. She was also continuing to do her whole “I’m so sexy routine,” which doesn’t exactly fit with Bennie and the Jetts. Her vocals were undeniably good, but I can’t overlook how horrible she is to look at. That girl needs to STAND STILL while performing and not move.

    • SpyKi says:

      Yeah, I hope she becomes stationary and boring like Pia and Thia.

      • Bill says:

        Please do not mention Pia and Thia in the same sentence, even if their names do rhyme with each other. Pia is one of the most accomplished singers in the entire history of the show. Thia is a teenager with a pretty voice and no stage presence or savvy.

      • KWise says:

        Good point. I guess to each his own. I suppose as a former dancer, it pains me to see someone moving so awkwardly, so offbeat, and so lacking in rhythm. It truly distracts me and prevents me from enjoying her performance. So for me, I would rather her be stationary, or at least with minimal movements. But I can see how others would find that…..very Pia- or Thia-like.

        • kayk says:

          If you could go back and watch the majority of Carrie Underwood’s AI performances (and I adored her as a singer!) you will notice that all season long, she also had ZERO dancing skills, unless you count her only move, the patented Bent Knees Side-to-Side Hip Waggle. I could hardly pay attention to her stellar voice due to her distracting “dancing.” I guess it depends on how important it is to you for the artist to be able to sing and move at the same time.. I prefer the ones who can do both well… :)

    • S. Lee Stack says:

      “I’m sorry, but Haley was only good if you closed your eyes.”

      totally disagree…
      closing my eyes would mean that I would have missed her amazing legs up on that piano, which was the most enjoyable part for me…I was wondering how (if?) she was going to dismount and if there was going to be a quick blue American Idol logo show up on-screen around her middle area when she did…

  27. Mike says:

    Less than 24 hours after I said I never enjoyed her, Haley goes and does that. She totally sold me.

    I’m glad you called James out for barely even singing that song, surround by tricks and gimmicks. Ugh.

    If I have to see Paul in that suit again, I will commit myself to dialing in to vote for every other contestant for the entirety of the voting period.

    I seem alone in this, but I didn’t get Casey’s performance. I’m glad he sang rather than growled, but I didn’t think it sounded that great. I expected more. Naima’s version of I’m Still Standing worked well as far as I’m concerned, and the accent didn’t bother me.

    My vote for the ouster would be Thia Megia and Jacob, but since the person I want to get the boot never does, I’m not expecting that.

  28. ATM says:

    All through the performance I was trying to figure out who Paul sounded like then it hit me- he sounded like Adam Sandkler singing “Turkey for me, turkey for you,…”

  29. mrsmartineau says:

    what?? haley was slurring the whole song! yes she had a good tone, but i couldn’t understand what she said besides benny and jets. and she is too awkward. am i the only one who thought she wasn’t very good??

    • Dallas says:

      But Benny and the Jets is not supposed to be understandable.

    • KWise says:

      No I’m with you all the way – her awkwardness on the stage totally distracts me, preventing me from appreciating her voice.

    • teece says:

      And here I thought I was the only one who thought Haley’s performance was horrible! Thank you, mrsmartineau. Haley’s growl was so irritating and I think she was trying way too hard. I could not believe the judges’ praise.

    • Erin says:

      Benny and the Jetssssssssssssssssss. No one noticed that? Three times!

  30. stevenjaba says:

    Over the years, Michael, I’ve tended to agree with you 100%. Today though, not so much. I’m on the fence about both Haley and Lauren’s performances. Overall, I enjoy the tone of Haley’s voice, but I keep wanting her to dial back the growl. It feels like she uses it as a gimmick, and anytime a performer does that, it’s hard for me to get past it. I keep wanting Haley to just sing a song straight. Last night, if she’d used the growl only in the chorus, it would have been much more effective.

    On Lauren, I feel like I finally had a chance to hear what the judges were talking about in her voice. So, props on that. However, she delivered it with absolutely zero emotional depth, and her claim to be able to relate to the song just seemed ridiculous. Couldn’t get past that either.

  31. Lin says:

    Let’s start with Thia. Her problem is she’s on the wrong stage and belongs on Miss Teen America. Yes, she can sing. But would you pay to see her perform? Buy her music? NO. Next. While I actually really like Paul’s voice, I’m starting to get the feeling that he’s banking on his good looks and Nudie suit to get him through the competition and not putting much else into his performances. At least with Stefano, Jake, and Naima you get the sense that they’re putting everything they have into their performances – like them or not. As for James, I love watching his natural exuberance, joy, and enthusiasm each time he performs and last night was hardly a “paint by numbers performance”. You try running around a stage and still sing on key – and hit the high notes! There’s not another contestant among the other 10 who can do what he does.

  32. Heather says:

    I loved Haley last night, she was my favorite of the night
    Casey – sang one of my favorite songs and I wanted it to be great, but it was just okay for me, he didn’t do anything great with it, but it was better than previous weeks.
    I was kinda digging on Lauren last night, was the best I’ve heard from her.
    The rest were okay, but no one else blew me away…
    My wishes to go home – Scotty and Naima
    Will probably go home – Naima and Stefano

  33. Dallas says:

    Is Paul losing his voice or has he already lost it? I like him but I’m wondering if the rasp is fading like a candle in the wind. I don’t see the vocal chords being around a long long time.

    • cardrey says:

      Last night, I went on youtube and compared the video of Paul’s AI audition with the video of last week’s performance. His voice is definitely failing him. For sure he has vocal nodules, and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that he gets steroid shots before performances just to make it through. Just compare the quality and range of his voice in his original audition (which I really liked) with his most recent performance. He’s lost range, and tone quality.

  34. takakupo says:

    Naima was really good last night :] I know I’m in the minority but she did Elton John in her own style (bad choice of accent or not). She’s the only one to have taken a ginormous risk.

    I also think that Casey was WAAAAAY overpraised only because the judges would look really bad if they were honest cause he BORING! And to all the people who are still hoping for him to bring out the upright bass. Ain’t gonna happen. He’s a one trick pony.

    Jacob, Stefano and Paul were also disappointing. they are totally fake when they are trying to connect to the song. Big turn off. Scotty is getting old too.

  35. JayK says:

    Scotty – Still too country for me to really enjoy it, but I can totally see him being a massive country star. You can tell he definitely was working at not pulling George W. faces.

    Naima – Oh holy hell. Good try – I guess – but what were you thinking? Bye. It’s been fun.

    Paul – Paul is letting me down. I keep expecting him to be one of my favourites, and he keeps not. And I love the suit, but it was not cool wearing it again. Find something else kick ass to wear. (This season finally has guys who make fashion choices beyond the Kris Allen/Lee DeWyze look, so let’s make the most of that!) I think I’m done with expecting Paul to blow me away.

    Pia – Bored out of my mind. Yes, you can sing. Great. How about we DON’T do this song for the zillionth time?

    Stefano – Really wanted to like it, really didn’t. It felt all wrong. Could be in trouble.

    Lauren – Thought she sounded terrific – she makes great off-melody choices like Slezak says – but I have yet to really love one of her performances. She kind of leaves me emotionally empty. Hated the mullet dress, as I hate all mullet dresses.

    James – I love watching him have so much fun. Getting over the “Not Adam” problem I have, but still not totally there.

    Thia – Good lord. Found myself pulling for her – really wanted her to finally connect – but alas, it was not to be. Don’t know this song and couldn’t understand about half of the words she sang. Bye. It hasn’t been fun.

    Casey – Possibly biased because I want him to return to the “Georgia on my Mind” brilliance when I fell in love with him, and because it’s one of my all-time favourite songs, but my favourite of the night. Way to tone it down and just sing! (Straight-on full frame close-ups, however, are not his friend.)

    Jacob – Hate. His. Voice.

    Haley – I REALLY want to get on the Haley bandwagon, because I find her adorable when she’s not performing, but I did not so much like it. Thought the dress was totally wrong for the song, the red piano, and Elton night in general. Lying on the piano was ridic. And her movement is still just stomping and flailing. Too much growling. BUT great song choice and SOME nice moments. Frustrating. Sigh.

  36. Jersey5 says:

    Why no love for “Levon”? Such a great Elton John song that would’ve worked for Pia, Haley, James, Paul, maybe even Jacob? Yes, Pia slayed DLTSGDOM, but really? Again we have to hear that?

  37. CMJ says:

    Scotty – Sounded the same as last week, and the week before, and the week before. Not offensive at all, but dull.
    Naima – (insert all “bad accent” and “phony” comments already made.
    Paul – Should be dismissed for wearing that damn ugly suit from the Georgia O’Keefe collection a 3rd time!
    Pia – Nothing wrong with Pia…still would like to see her let loose…Nigel, get that girl a pole to dance on!
    Stephano – I’m not hearing the accent that Slezak is…perhaps it is just an articulation issue? Or is it because I may have the same accent? Not quite worthy of the boot this week.
    Lauren – She country-fried a gorgeous song and poured gravy all over it. I didn’t care for it.
    James – More show that substance…why do I always want to smack him when they show his clips?
    Thia – Best performance yet, but I think it may be too little too late.
    Casey – Wow. When he’s not growling, I’m not so sure he’s that good.
    Jacob – I can’t watch him perform. Its ugly. I can’t listen to him ppeform…too screechy
    Haley – Eh…better than she has been but what is it about her that grates on me besides her voice?

    Will go – Thia and either Jacob or Naima
    I’d like to see go – Jacob, Paul, Wauwen, or Naima

    …and I’m starting to get bored….this exceptional season is getting a bit drab.

  38. dkw says:

    For all of Pia’s technical proficiency and pitch perfection, how would she have fared doing that arrangement of Bennie? Instead, it took perpetual underdog Haley to give us the kind of dynamic, soulful performance that we’ve been asking to see from Pia. She may give us a couple of “upbeat” performances going forward, but we’re never going to see her do anything as dynamic and exciting as what Haley did last night, because, frankly, despite her crown of “most current/talented” I don’t think she’s capable of it.

    I just really have to give it to Haley for not only picking a song that normally would have been suicidal, but turning it into a rare idol “moment” that may well carry her forward a couple more weeks.

    The past couple of weeks have been brutal for Stefano, between his performances and the ridicule his parents are taking. I’m reminded of that Seinfeld episode with Elaine’s sudden career plummet and George’s(Haley’s) equal and opposite rise. I’m envisioning Stefano showing up to the results show in a backwards baseball cap and muttering “Oh my God. I’m George! I’m George!” with one of Jacob’s expressions on his face.

    • funkycoldmedina says:

      To be fair to all of the contestants, I believe that they pick their songs by the draw…and what is left over after those ahead of you in that draw have chosen is what you get to stuck with…I mean is what you get to choose from. And it seems that AI continues to recycle the same short list of copyright approved, sung to death songs from their yearly theme weeks. Of course we have heard them before! Not all artists want to sign away their songs to be butchered…I mean interpreted on the AI stage. It took a while before Kelly Clarkson was “convinced” to allow her songs to be sung on AI.
      Sir Elton has some of the most gorgeous and beautifully written and performed songs on this planet…most of which may NEVER be heard on AI, much to my disappointment (ie The One, Blessed, Love Song etc)

    • RJ says:

      I totally agree about Pia! This girl bores me to tears. She’s like a robot and I find that all her performances are about HER and how she can hit the notes. I don’t feel any connection to the lyrics she’s singing. If she wins, you’ll have to give her a sash and tiara.

  39. ladyhelix says:

    Just a few reactions

    (1) When Thia kept slipping into her “automatic” but totally inappropriate smile during Daniel – I found it almost physically painful. The vocal was very nice – but I felt like I was being scammed.
    (2) Why was the “awkward teenager” so endearing with Allison S8, and so… NOT with Lauren? Is it because when she was in front of the judges she was always a total professional – and that’s exactly when Lauren is NOT? Hmmm Her voice and stage presence are incredible.

    (3) It wasn’t pitch perfect – but these last two weeks have been MILES better. I declare mad crazy love for Marc Anthony – because this show had become almost un-watchable. (just don’t tell my husband, ok?)

    • rgd says:

      I agree about Thia and the smile-it was driving me crazy! And Lauren smiled a few times in her song and it was totally incongruous with the lyrics. They should never have lowered the age-in fact, I think the minimum should be 18 or older. Just my opinion.

  40. Delon says:

    Dear Slezak & others : There was nothing wrong about what Naima did in reggae fans’ eyes. It seems like the fans of the other genres got offended by her Jamaican accent. Even white American bands like Groundation adopt Jamaican lingo and accent in their music. Reggae has some stock lyrical material that all reggae singers around the world use. She gave the full Jamaican vibes treatment to the song’s lyrics with her twist, turning it into a genuine reggae tune, which made the song completely fresh. So, this issue with authenticity is redundant. That’s how you sing reggae. It was an unexpected song choice and turned out to be immensely enjoyable.

    • ladyhelix says:

      Yes – I thought so too! Do you think Idol was trying to “mobilize her fan base” (as they say)

    • Yo says:

      I was fine with her version. For all the criticism, do we know she is not Jamaican?

    • funkycoldmedina says:

      I don’t think there was anything WRONG with Naima choosing a reggae style to her song choice, but at the same time, I do think it’s ok to individually like or dislike the interpretation. We all have different flavors. For me…for my tastes…I didn’t care for the reggae version of Im Still Standing. Naima is a beautiful and I’m sure lovely woman. (I don’t know her personally) I just didn’t particularly care for the interpretation. Different strokes for different folks is what makes the world go round.

    • S. Lee Stack says:

      agree that questioning the authenticity of her interpretation probably isn’t right…but it is fair to question the decision-making of choosing it…

      reggae by nature isn’t a wide-appeal, high-energy crowd pleaser…it has its time and place for its fans, but most of ‘Murica just isn’t down with it…Megan Joy was kicked to the curb after covering a low-energy Marley song and I expect the same for Ms Adepo tonight…

      cool points for her being true to herself, but because of that choice she will likely be humming reggae to herself next week when she’s back cleaning toilets at the ampitheatre…boom, fi-yah

    • Tarc says:

      I’m also perplexed with the suggestion that naima’s vocal was ‘fake’ or whatever. Apparently, a lot of people have never listened to reggae before. I loved the song, even if there wasn’t time to perfect the arrangement.

      • Jason S. says:

        Reggae can be done without a JAmaican accent though!!! When MEgan Joy and JAson Castro did Bob MArley covers they didn’t automatically put on a Jamaican accent!!! There are countless bands who do reggae without an accent. ie. Sublime, No Doubt, The Police, The Clash, 311. They take the previous reggae style and incorporate thaeir own singing style to it! MAybe if she had been singing like that from day one it is acceptable (Like Billy Joe from Green Day and his faux English punk accent)(

        • b-line says:

          but all these groups you re talking about the music they are doing is not considered real reggae, it s more a fusion music like punk reggae fusion or jazz reggae fusion etc. when it s fusion yes you dont have to put a reggae accent but if you try to do an authentic reggae that’s how you do it. Groundation, Gentleman etc..these are very popular white singers in reggae world, and you wouldn’t understand the difference between a Jamaican artist.
          naima translated the words of the song into reggae jargon like shinehead did to sting’s englisghman in NY, there’re many exemples like that…
          naima tried to do an original real reggae song and i think she did it. this version may be very popular in the reggae charts, and reggae poeple still buy records, vynils, escpecially 7 inches, and this song could be a great 7 inch hit in reggae world.

  41. donNY says:

    I totally agree about Haley. I only enjoyed her performance when I closed my eyes. I also closed them when she awkwardly slid off the piano — I thought the censors were going to have to blur the area between her knees and waist!!

  42. Ward says:

    Hailey was great and will survive to finish 9th as destiny has decreed.

  43. Libby says:

    I’ve not been a Lauren fan, but thought last night she sounded like Natalie Maines. Loved it, but Paul still remains my favorite.

  44. Delon says:

    I have to point out that after watching tonight’s episode i am completely convinced that Michael Slezak has become the ghost judge on AI. They are all definitely watching Idoloonies and taking notes.

  45. Jake says:

    The most startling thing last night was that no one in the top 11 played the piano on Elton John night. I thought it would’ve been a nice touch to any of these performances. Made me miss Robbie.

    • Marta says:

      (sigh) Robbie. Still wish he would have had another shot….would have loved to see his talent rather than Stefano. Go back and watch some of his Hollywood week stuff….incredible. SO glad J-Lo gave him props during her critique of Jacob. Its ALL I was thinking about during Jacob’s crack at that song.

      • Li-Li says:

        I sigh for Robbie, too. What a pitch perfect rendition of that song he did – and still didn’t make it through. J-Lo seemed to have some sort of crush on Stefano – who knows the REAL reason why Stefano made it over Robbie. I don’t like Jacob either, but I get why they chose him.

  46. Ash says:

    I don’t have a problem with Naima putting a reggae beat on an Elton John song. What I do have a problem with is her using lines that were fed to her AND saying them in a fake Jamaican accent! Yuck. See ya, Naima.

    • b-line says:

      but that s exactly how you do in reggae world
      reggae is sang in JA accent, even white people who sings reggae sings in JA accent, and if you can do it like a real jamaican that^s when you get praise, really reggae is like that. it is never enough to put a reggae beat you have to sing it with jah words in reggae jargon…that s the difference between other genre…
      i understand that reggae is not popular and people including slezak dont know this about reggae business.

    • Erin says:

      I hated that Jimmy iovine gave her those lines: she looked like her dad forced her to say them. That makes her come off as disingenuous and she is anything but. The accent didn’t help either. Maybe Reggae purists know that is the right way, but that is not to say it won’t be off-putting to the general public.

      I will miss Naima, though because at least I never knew what she was going to do week to week. I’m sure I know what Jacob Lusk will do next week.

  47. Sophie says:

    If there is a God, Thia and Stefano will be going to the rehearsal hall to practice for the tour because they both need lots of work. It was so painful to watch them try to connect with the lyrics of songs far more complex than the lives they have led. Hollow…just very hollow. Say what you will about the antics of Naima, James or Jacob, but we are always talking about them in these blogs. They invoke discussion about their artistic choices every week and that is good art.

  48. Yo says:

    That show was an excellent production. Pia is, however, lost to me b/c I drifted off during her performance. Never a good sign. Lauren was close to a moment, but didn’t quite fulfill the promise. Nevah smile in songs that remind us of Di’s death, sweeties. Paul, the voice is cracking so just make a quickie album for me; I loved the treatment and I will buy anything from you. Casey growls when his voice lets him down. James MUST do something small next week, to (again) demonstrate vocal ability. Naima is good entertainment, with or without a Jamaican accent and I didn’t mind it. You rock creativity, girl! Haley, you had me at Blue and I am way out of sync, because I haven’t liked the last two performances. Go figure. Jacob, you need to leave. Really. You just can not restrain and love has become loathing.

    • KWise says:

      Lauren also has a tendency to look distracted while performing. It was better last night than in past weeks…..but sometimes her eyes wander up to the ceiling or up to the rafters, like she’s just kind of glancing around….not paying the least bit of attention to what she’s singing about. I only saw it once last night, but plenty of time in prior weeks.

    • Pam says:

      I think Haley had a good performance last night, although I still feel that the LeAnn Rimes song was her absolute best performance. I think that’s who she is, but because the judges tell her she’s a bluesy rock gal, she’s trying to appeal to them. She needs to stop trying so hard and sing what she wants, and maybe things will work out to get her to the top. And I agree with you about Naima. She’s the only girl willing to be creative and different, and I really like that about her. Jacob does need to go, but I think it will be Thia and Stefano going home tonight.

  49. AprilD says:

    There is no one in this top 11 that I’d like to see win. Maybe that’s the opposite of having “No clear front runner” and perhaps the same thing at the same time.

    Scotty-I think if I still listened to country I’d love this kid’s voice on the radio. But to watch him perform is like watching George W Bush as a young adult knowing he’s going to tank an entire country years later. Dread. I feel dread when he performs. But I like his voice.
    Naima-I liked the reggae version of this song. I think it worked. The fake accent? Is there really any other way to sing reggae than with an accent? No.
    Paul-I liked Paul’s Rocket Man. I might have even felt engaged in the song cheering him on as he went. Sure his face didn’t exactly match the music at the end. But Paul’s quirky, remember? (I say that jokingly.) I thought it was good and worthy of going on.
    Pia-While technically stellar she bores me to tears.
    Stephano-Just no. I never bought into this kid either.
    Lauren-It wasn’t much of a stretch to do what she did to “Candle in the Wind”. I’m half tempted to say that it was coaching that got her from point A to point B instead of her purposely making those choices. I say that because the Wizard behind the curtain doesn’t seem to be there when we finally get to hear her speak. That said, the choices and her voice resulted in a good performance.
    James-I’ll start off by saying that I like James. I don’t always like the musical choices he makes with his songs. But I like that I’m entertained when ever he does perform. Last night looked fun despite a safe choice of song & not much re-arrangement. It was my 2nd favorite performance of the night.
    Thia-I didn’t get to see much of the performance and I don’t think I missed much.
    Casey-Much better this week. I was afraid when he pushed into growl territory, but he dialed it back to make that “contrast” work. Fave of this week.
    Jacob Lusk-I was okay with this performance. I think what Randy tried to say was that Jacob peaked too soon leaving us with this really awkward last note. I generally like Jacob’s performances and thought last week’s was very good.
    Haley-I don’t get her. She turned a fun poppy song into a smokey lounge bar song. I don’t think growling Benny over and over did anything for the song and the hissing at the end of “Jets” wasn’t very appealing for me either. If she had a “moment” with this song it was lost on me.
    I wouldn’t watch tonight’s results show except there’s 2 going home. 2 is better than 1, right? Right?

  50. C says:

    Given that Pia said she was singing “River Deep, Mountain High” next week, what do you think the category will be? They’ve already done Motown….

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