Idoloonies: Pia, Lauren, and Haley Battle On; Front-Running Guys Make Idol Missteps

It’s been another rough season for female contestants on American Idol. In the first four weeks of the Season 10 finals, we’ve lost Ashthon Jones, Karen Rodriguez, Thia Megia, and Naima Adedapo, while the sole male evictee, Casey Abrams, scored himself a coveted Judges’ Save. On this week’s Idoloonies, my fellow panelists (including Season 9 semifinalist Katelyn Epperly) and I talk about Idol‘s female problem, and ponder the chances of the show’s three remaining women: Pia Toscano, Lauren Alaina, and Haley Reinhart.

Plus, we’ve got some much-needed advice for perceived front-runners Scotty McCreery and James Durbin (as well as recent bottom-three resident Paul McDonald), appearances by the PowerPuff Girls, Ron Swanson, and Hannibal Lecter, and a performance of Katelyn’s new piano-driven track, “You’ll Do.” So scroll down to get all four parts of this week’s Idoloonies, and for all my Idol-related ridiculata, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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  1. Volcfom says:

    I liked Katelyn’s performance – her vocal was awesome, but the piano was too close to Buble’s “Just Haven’t Met You Yet”.

    In regards to Pia, I think she’s poised and composed, and people mistake her professionalism for a lack in personality.

  2. Sally in Chicago says:

    I think Katelyn will make it in Nashville, esp. as a songwriter. She could be the next Kara G. Nice tune, Katelyn.

  3. darcy's evil twin says:

    Okay, sorry, I can’t stand “The Scientist” or ANYTHING by Coldplay. That is the most sad, boring music on the planet. NO ONE should sing it. Ever. Except at funerals.

    But I sure like Katelyn Epperle and was so sorry to see her leave last year! Thanks, Slezak, for bringing her to “Idoloonies”.

  4. Ledette says:

    You were cruel to Paul. That was unnecessary. Indulgent.

  5. Ruby says:

    First of all, Kaitlyn’s song was AWESOME. I’m going to have to look her site up and download that!

    I don’t understand what people see in Paul. I mean, to the point where all I can do is stare open-mouthed when people say they like his singing. He’s so bad I thought he was a joke contestant at first. And I usually have something positive to say about everybody. But I just don’t get it at all with him.

  6. RandomPenguin says:

    I was in the live audience last week. I agree with everything the judges said to James Durbin. No, on TV it did not come across as well. But there? The audience couldn’t get enough of it. The energy that filled the room while he was performing was intense. I think that is the problem with James: His performances are the kind you need to experience live. Unfortunately, this is not a concert. This is a TV show.

    As for Naima not getting enough credit for her reggae arrangement, it has nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman. People hated Tim Urban’s reggae arrangement last year, and when Jason Castro sang Bob Marley in season 7 he was also hated. America(n Idol) does not like reggae!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Interesting. Thanks for the observation. I didn’t think it came across badly on TV other than there was just so much going on in a mere 90 seconds. I really like James.
      I thought Naima’s performance was one of the better ones, goofy accent and all.

      My husband and I are old Stones fans (me more so than him) and we didn’t think Tim Urban’s reggae “Under My Thumb” deserved the clobbering it got from the judges. We rather liked it! it was just one more confusing message from the judges in a long, confusing season nine. Tim “made it his own” and then the judges told him it was awful and didn’t think it fit the misogynistic lyrics. Oh yea, because reggae is all about peace, love, and respecting women?

      They told Katie Stevens “sing something young”, so she sang “Put Your Records On” and they hated it.

      Kara clobbered on Casey James every single week for his “ram-jam” guitar playing. He’s probably the best guitar player AI has ever seen. Yea, I know, it’s a singing contest, but an occasional ‘Holy cow, that was some awesome guitar – now here are some singing suggestions’ wouldn’t have hurt anything. Who else on AI has ever borrowed Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar?

      The judges were merciless with Lacey and Andrew Garcia rather than steering them in a good direction. Both contestants had some good potential but their talent was wasted by indecisive judges. The reason Crystal was so great was because she didn’t need direction and the judges couldn’t have screwed her up if they tried any harder!

  7. JBanana says:

    Jason Averett, you are a god. That’s all.

  8. tyler says:

    quit bragging about scotty.
    please. there are way better singers and artist than him in the competition.

      • Vetle says:

        Honestly, I think Scotty and Paul are the two weakest SINGERS. Scotty has missed several notes during his last two performances. In terms of artistry – Scotty is quite talented, and surpasses most of the contestants.

  9. Lizbeth says:

    Thanks for having Katelyn on your show. She seems like a really cool girl. I remember being shocked when she was eliminated so early–that was crazy. I can’t even remember half the contestants from the top 12 last year–but I do remember Katelyn and Lily. (Of course, I remember the super fabulous Crystal)

    I am on the Haley train too. I really did not like her performance of God Bless the Child either–and like you–thought she wasn’t all that. She won me over when she sang Blue. That is my fave performance that she has done. Plus, she has a fun personality. She does have to work on her enunciation though.

    Pia is way to pageant like for me. Katelyn pointed out something that I have mentioned before–Pia’s voice is not very distinctive. If I heard her on the radio–I don’t think I could say that is Pia singing. She sounds like a lot of other good technical singers. (Maybe if she picked a song I actually could stand–that I would listen to her more–LOL)

    Paul–I remember reading before the voting began that he had throat issues. I think some were saying he would have to drop out at that time. I guess he doesn’t want to push his voice too much or maybe he just can’t. He does have a very distinctive sound which is in his favor–although I don’t personally care much for the sound of his voice. (I never liked Rod Stewart’s vocals either.) But, that’s just me. He seems like a good guy. But, you do know, if a girl on the show was singing soft and stuff like him–she’d be history. There is a huge double standard on AI–and not just with the song arranging.

    You didn’t mention my other fave along with Haley and that is Casey. I thought he had a great week. He has a very distinctive voice which I do like and I believe he is really talented. I know he has had some missteps–but at least Casey has some b-lls and tries different things. I think the competition would really get boring without him.

  10. CoCo says:

    White guy with guitar winners? Et tu, Slezak? Tsk tsk. Cook and Kris don’t deserve Lee lumpage.

    Paul obviously is having physical issues with his voice. I disagree with you though. He shouldn’t permanently damage his voice for the show.

    When are you going to criticize Pia for her annoying mannerisms? The diva hand, the take a poop squatting-HORRIBLE. She’s another one who needs notes and gets “go uptempo.” I could care less if she sings a ballad, but how about keeping it real instead of Diva 101?

  11. MrSideEye says:

    Ron Swanson FTMFW!

    Oh and good job Slezak.

    Sidenote: No Casey? Or did I miss that part?

  12. donie says:

    I don’t often laugh out loud watching video unless I’m high. Hilarious edits, Jason A.! Fun episode all around.
    (Now that I’ve read about Paul having vocal cord nodules, I feel a little bit sorrier for him.)

  13. RubyBaby says:

    Great Idoloonies ep. Lovely to see Katelyn Epperly.

    Again, I applaud Mr Averett and his endless video references…Silence of the Lambs, Twin Peaks, Powerpuff Girls (so, so apt!). But, what, no mention at all about Casey’s lovely Your Song? Sorry, but that was totally unfair.

    And, I hate to say it, as I am usually so with you on your favorites, but I do not get your love for Pia. Flawless vocals? Nope. When she tries to belt into her upper register, her tone is sharp and her notes lose a considerable bit of warmth. Nothing a good bit of quality vocal training can’t rectify but some of those power notes aren’t at all pleasant…please take another listen.

    As someone said up above, she is also not being critiqued for her performance of a song: that robot pageant arm (also previously heavily in use by Thia and Karen) for example, and the stance she uses – the part-bend in the knees…again, and again. Maybe if she goes mid to up tempo we’ll see her move around a bit – though with those heels it might be a tad risky. At present she is just this side of boring me to tears, and it all seems a bit 1988 when she comes on.

    • luke2 says:

      I know! I think it’s too late for Michael – He has drunk the Pia kool-aid and all he sees is bunnies and hearts when she’s on! Come back Michael!

  14. scorpo says:

    Awesome song by Katelyn! It is a hit!!! I loved the “prick after prick” line lol. I had to rewind to make sure I heard it right. VERY catchy!

  15. Daniel says:

    Does anyone else wonder if Pia’s one-note-ness is calculated. She hasn’t made any missteps, and competition is getting whittled down, leaving her to make a far larger impact by changing things up with song choice later on. If its strategy its not a bad one given that the contest seems to be searing itself away from the interesting (talented)contestants (Jacob makes for good television, but who wants to listen to him). She has to have seen how great she looked in one minute of Granade, so I simply wonder. If it is true, I hope she dosen’t wait too long, I’m getting board, Hailey is peaking and Lauren seems to be figuring things out. And no, under no circumstancs is Scotty thinking the same thing. Sleazak said it right, he is exactly where Idol want him and wont be in danger till their is a much smaller pool.

  16. bobo says:


    So the “women of color” conspiracy could be true.

  17. jrtr says:

    Wow, Katelyn’s “You’ll Do” was amazing. That is something I want on my iPod! I wasn’t a fan of Haley the first few weeks. I had interpreted her bottom three behavior as bratty, but she really made me a fan this week. She seems liberated. Thanks for another great episode of Idoloonies!

  18. Doug Horn says:

    Um, am I the only one that every time I see James Durbin all I can think is “Adam Lambert did it, and he always did it better. Go away.”

    Also I’m so fed up with the guys I’d like to see an all female top 3. THERE I SAID IT.

    The edits this week with Powerpuff Girls, Twin Peaks, and The Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness (my current laptop desktop), pretty much have made this my favorite idoloonies ever.

  19. K says:

    Honestly, Bennie and the Jets wasn’t much different than God Bless the Child. Same bluesy growling, same “sexy” stage-strutting. I don’t see why people like one and not the other.

    Quirky sarcasm doesn’t come off well on TV. That’s one thing Kat, Lauren, and Haley all have, and coincedentally those are all the people Slezak hates (or hated at one point or another).

  20. Timely says:

    Ok I love Idoloonies. Love it with all my heart. But Michael, why are you perpetuating the myth that the last three winners are all the same? Are you kidding me! David Cook deserves to be lumped in with Kris and Lee! And Paul is somehow superior to him. Creepy, wispy, Paul?! No! No mas! No me gusta! I hate this rewriting of history. It’s really pissing me off. Say what you will about his success post idol, but David Cook’s run on idol was amazing and for people to just take this broad brush and lump him in with mediocre dross just boils my blood. Now you have made me rant like a fan-tard. Ugghhh! Ok rant over. Loved Idoloonies this week. Great job. Love the powder-puff girls.

  21. tekkie says:

    Oh my my my…where to begin. Let’s start with the positive. Jason R O C K S…Twin Peaks, Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, Powerpuff Girls, and on and on. Brilliant cut ins (not sure what the tech word for that is) and funny as he77. I appreciate Michael’s passion and committment to critiquing what seems to be an absurdity at times, though I’m not agreeing with him a lot this season. Thanks for the time out on the Luskwails…my ears nearly bled on an earlier episode from them.
    The bad: No mention of the saved contestant? Really? Not even a little prop for taking the criticism and making changes in the right direction? Nothing? You sure had plenty to say in the recap… I also am confused on your reactions to the 4-some band, which started shaky but ended up well enough and the duet with Scotty and Lauren, which went well for them. Of course this is coming from someone praising Lauren for Candle in the Wind when there was ZERO believability or connection to the song. You said it was like hearing it for the first time….I have to completely disagree with you on that point.
    The ugly: You and Jason have made my case about how karaoke Hayley was with all the clips of her. She was a mess, from the cellulite sticking to the piano to the i’m squeezing something out of my butt crouches (carly smithson did that a lot too) to the constant growl that everyone hammered Casey for (and rightfully so) to the arm possessed by an alien. It was all a big mess. OHHHH and does anyone else think of Skeletor when pia puts her head back while she’s singing? All she needs is a blue cloak and hood :)

  22. CMJ says:

    Sorry Slezak, the Idoloonie nation is NOT 100% behind Haley. This implies 1005. This Idoloonie is squarely NOT behind Haley! She’s a one trick wonder…she’ll not be in here long. And I am certainly NOT on that band wagon.

    Though, I think you have hit it on the head. Johnny hates Stefano, as does Nigel. I think its the wild card stigma.

    …and is it just me, but is this season dissolving into a flop like so much Alka Seltzer?

  23. Liva says:

    Love the Aussies! They know their Idol. Nice ‘foreign’ perspective!

  24. Marta says:

    Thanks for using my Twitter question, Slezak! It put a smile on my face just like being a talking head on your first episode did…

    To answer my own question— I agree that the group performances definitely helped Pia show her “Grenade” side. Now if she can just continue in that direction and show us more of that in the weeks to come…
    I know a lot of people liked Scotty and Lauren’s duet. I think it helped Scotty (though he doesn’t need helped)– but I couldn’t quite get into Lauren’s vibe. Always a hard time connecting for me– she could have flirted with Scotty a bit and charmed throughout, but yet she looked as though she didn’t want to catch his cooties. Ohhhhh Bubbles. She could have really High School Musical/Glee’d it up.

  25. Bill says:

    Katelyn – Great to hear her! Why doesn’t she have a record deal? In the meantime, she should get a few of her songs mastered and throw them on iTunes. Hope she doesn’t go too negative/sad with all her songs.
    Pia – Good take on Pia being to Pop as Carrie is to Country. I also felt Carrie was rigid/narrow, sort of like Pia. But looking back to her Grenade performance, Pia has more shake than she has let on. I think by calculation she has held that back, but will unleash it soon.
    Thia – I was happy that you replaced your normal critique of “lack of emotion” with “lack of experience” which is more to the heart of what the issue may be for you and her critics. Though for me, she showed plenty enough to go further in the competition.
    Casey – I don’t think you mentioned him. Maybe because he’s on neutral ground now? Likewise, I need to see one more performance to solidify my opinion, but if he can catch up to his center again, he’s one that I’d like to see go to the top two with Pia, particularly if she can do convincing tangents to the ballads.

  26. Alina says:

    That montage with Paul and the horror twins creeped me out, really… I won’t sleep well tonight.

  27. Christy says:

    Not to do with anything……your guest…..Max Laughton ……Rawr! Can he be a regular? *haleygrowlofapproval*

  28. Dan says:

    Slezak. Is that a vase that’s supposed to look like a fried egg?

    I love it!

  29. wendeeloo says:

    Michael, I’ve gotten the impression you are not a big Casey fan but that was bizarre how you just pretended he does not exist on Idoloonies! Wouldn’t your brilliant editor have pointed out that you specified not talking about Stefano or Jacob then said you were hitting on Scotty, James and Paul? Hmm…
    I listened to the studio versions of the Elton songs – the only ones I would buy are Casey’s and Haley’s.

  30. Vetle says:

    KATELYN EPPERLY!!! <3333

  31. dona says:

    Slezak and averett– wonderful idoloonies!the ending with twin peaks and paul was simply brilliant!
    a few remarks- not an american but my family and i LOOOOVE scotty’s voice. i love him for the same reason i loved adam– a great, old fashioned type of voice (of course, adam is also very intelligent and a great performer.)
    pia is amazing but for me the tone of her voice is not special. granted, she has a huge voice and most current artists don’t have a unique tone anyways (will never understand carrie’s appeal, for example).
    steven tyler- it’s really bizzare that a genuinely crazy guy like him cannot get himself to be critical. remember on holloywood week how jlo and randy turned to hima fter jacob’s performance and told him: “just in case u had any doubts”– i am sure he is critical. perhaps because he has kids himself he is afraid of castrating the singers. i still don’t get it though- parents and teacher also learn how to be critical. and the man is not a comedia, he is a |ROCK LEGEND! a wild beast, a huge star, a former drug addict…wtf?! nigel is a great judge on so you think you can dance. i do not understand why he doesnt step in and ask him to be more critical.
    or perhaps simon was right, perhaps they do want ai to be more homey…

  32. Ziamp says:

    Michael… I love your analogy to an unhatched egg, especially with the squished ‘egg,’ white and yolk yellow, vase-jug thing behind you. Cute.
    Steven is boring me with his repetitive comments, and there is not a sufficient amount of constructive criticism being given, by the judges or the producer-coaches. Also, the producer-coaches are over-producing to the point of stripping away any creativity from most of the contestants. The funny thing is, I am still watching the show every night, just on the chance that there may be a surprise Easter egg amongst the overworked, overcooked AI omelette.

    • AD says:

      Well said – Steven’s got to go. He had some clever comments during the try outs, but he’s repeating them now, like an old man who can’t remember what he just said. (I’m his age, so this isn’t an ageist comment, just reality). He can’t give any constructive criticism; he makes me long for Ellen DeGeneres

  33. AD says:

    I love Idoloonies, EXCEPT for the lengthy interviews with past AI losers who I can’t even remember. Katlyn Epperly? Huh? In her clips I recognized her, but I couldn’t remember one thing she sang and with the brown hair she’s even more forgettable. She sounds awful, too!

  34. Philip, Tallahassee says:

    Hi, it’s me. Still hate the stuttering video feed. ): <3

  35. a says:

    Dang, Slezak, your movie choices are awesome. Godzilla, The Big Lebowski, now Scott Pilgrim and Kick Ass. Kudos, man. Also loved the subtle reference to Adam Lambert’s recent antics at Lady Gaga’s birthday during the Scotty piece.

  36. stacy says:

    Idoolonies where are you?