American Idol Recap: Against the Current

There are two key ways to determine the “winners” and “losers” of Wednesday night’s American Idol “Songs From the 21st Century” telecast: Focus entirely on the singing — an antiquated approach that would have Nigel Lythgoe snickering into his post-show tea and crumpets (because you know that’s exactly how he gets his snack on). Or, instead, obsess over the extraneous details of the 90-minute episode, like the hidden subtext of the judges’ critiques, the crafty editing of contestants’ pre-performance interview packages, and other miscellaneous details (i.e. Scotty McCreery’s unfortunate wardrobe choices; or the lack of restraining order commanding Casey Abrams to keep at least 50 yards away from Jennifer Lopez for the remainder of Season 10).

If you’re like me, there’s more than enough drama in the musical performances, and more than enough excitement in backing a horse or two in the race to find the nation’s next viable hitmaker. But that doesn’t mean it’s not infinitely fascinating to examine the evil/manipulative genius of the Idol Machinery. Look at the portraits painted tonight of the remaining seven contestants: Lauren Alaina is just a girl, standing in front of a bedroom mirror (and using her hairbrush as a microphone), asking America to love her. Stefano Langone, meanwhile, is ready to skip the Idol summer tour for a stint on ABC’s Bachelor Pad. Haley is “good, but…”, while Casey is Mark Ballas’ favorite contestant, has lips soft enough to be welcomed into the court of J.Lo’s glistening visage, and has achieved a “cult hero” status that makes Steven Tyler shoot f-bombs from his mouth cannon.

Actually, you know what? I just can’t deal with the Aerosmith frontman and his babbling brand of non-critique anymore. And so for the remainder of this recap — and, who knows, maybe for the remainder of the season — I’m not going to make another mention of him. In fact, let’s fast-forward past all the unseemly ridiculata — Jimmy Iovine in a tiny, red leather jacket; Season 10’s booted finalists dueling to the vocal death on “So What?” (spoiler alert: Only Pia survived); some wardrobe-department prankster dressing up Little Lauren to resemble style-challenged season 8 semifinalist Kristen McNamara (during her Idol mansion sing-off against Jenn Korbee) — and get right to what counts. No, Uncle Nigel, not this week’s Ford Music Video! I’m talking about the actual music.

Scotty McCreery: LeAnn Rimes’ “Swingin'”
Well, whaddaya know, Scotty’s as aware of his roguish eyebrows and his flute-loopy mic technique as J.Lo and Randy are of the season 10 front-runner’s need to push beyond good and go for greatness. Alas, though, the winking trifle of a ditty called “Swingin'” was not the vehicle to take him there. I will say that I appreciated Scotty switching up the tone and tempo of his performance, but the real problem beyond the song’s utter slightness — J.Lo was right, with a full decade of hits to choose from, the kid really could’ve dug deeper — was the fact that the charming teenager’s vocal frequently faded into the background (well, that and his stunningly hein tan collarless leather jacket.) As Idol missteps go, this probably won’t be enough to send Scotty to the Silver Stools of Doom, but here’s hoping that after a couple months’ worth of non-critique, this first hint of negative feedback will spur Lee DeWyze’s likeliest successor to create a true Idol Moment before he hits the Nokia in late May.

James Durbin: Muse’s “Uprising”
Uff da. As if James doesn’t already get enough “he’s trying to be Adam Lambert!” complaints, he goes and covers Muse — a band that a certain glittery season 8 finalist tackled during his stint on the Idol summer tour. But look, it has to be said that sometimes, comparisons can be a kind of lazy shorthand — a way to quickly and easily define a musical newcomer without having to dig beneath the surface. And on its own merits, James’ “Uprising” was one of the night’s most exciting performances. Yeah, the opening verse was a wee bit wispy, and there were moments when the dude’s rocker wail wound up at the intersection of Passionate and Screechy, but there was also a sense of drama that informed the number, and not just because a lineup of enthusiastic drummers stood behind the judges like sentries waiting to escort them all to the guillotine. True, James might not yet have the artistic chops to pull off a “post-apocalyptic protest” concept — or those awful, awful pants (which vaguely resembled one of Andy South‘s worst Project Runway Season 8 misfires) — but I’d be lying if I said that his sheer joy in being up there on the stage, his “look, ma! I’m on Idol!” effervescence, isn’t kind of infectious. How exactly Randy knew that Muse frontman Matt Bellamy had emailed James and challenged him to go up an octave on the final chorus, I’m not sure, but it certainly gave the kid a boost in the street-cred department.

[We interrupt this recap to inform you that Muse is one of Randy Jackson’s “favorite bands.”]

Haley Reinhart: Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”
Look, it’s time to accept that the Idol judges aren’t ever again going to show genuine enthusiasm for a Haley Reinhart performance — even if her minor sins (which this week, included two or three noticeably flat notes) are far less egregious than a number of her over-praised male competitors. So let’s ignore J.Lo and Randy’s tepid applause and give credit to Haley for tackling something truly (and perhaps dangerously) current, and for infusing the melody with several vocal flourishes (the daring run of crazy high notes on “sow,” a couple of forays into jazzy scatting). If I ruled the Idolverse, I’d probably have picked a track a little less ubiquitous in viewers’ minds — really, nobody’s about to infuse an Adele song with more passion than Adele — but note for note, I probably enjoyed “Rolling in the Deep” as much or more than any other performance this evening.

Jacob Lusk: Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father”
Whether you found it cynical or touching that Jacob dedicated his performance to his late father, and to everyone who’s lost their father, or doesn’t know where their father is, or doesn’t feel like they truly have a father, the trouble is — as J.Lo kinda sorta pointed out — Jacob doesn’t have full control of his 18-wheeler of an instrument. And sometimes that leads to carnage on the highway — with innocent notes, and sometimes entire chunks of melody piled up like roadkill on the shoulder of the stage. So while the good news is there was a tenderness and restraint to the opening third of “Dance With My Father,” the bad news is that my index finger experienced a magnet-like pull toward the mute button of my remote the moment the Lusky Stank went into effect on the key change. Unless he’s playing at some twisted, season-long practical joke, I don’t understand why Randy keeps encouraging Jacob to “go through the roof” when he’s just performed the vocal equivalent of using the house as a fiery space-shuttle launching pad. Granted, Jacob had a weird moment with his ear monitor at the start of the performance — I swear I thought I heard a hint of “Rolling in the Deep,” but when I played it back on my DVR a second and third time, I couldn’t detect anything — but I don’t see how a kid with this little sense of what to do with his voice has any hope of surviving more than a week or two longer in the competition.

[We interrupt this recap with Randy Jackson’s Quote of the Night: “Critique really helps everyone.” UM, THEN WHY IN THE BLOODY &$#@*%* HELL HAVE YOU BEEN MIRED IN “GREAT, GREAT, “IN IT TO WIN IT!” NONSENSE FOR THE LAST THREE WEEKS, YOU INSUFFERABLE TOOL?]

Casey Abrams: Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe”
Speaking of insufferable, how come J.Lo warned Casey against his Growly McScrunchyface antics the night of the Judges’ Save, but now suddenly she’s lovingly describing said traits as “Casey-isms”? I swear, every time Jennifer contradicts her prior advice on the Idol stage, Fox should be obligated by law to cut away from the highly paid singer-actress-dancer and play a particularly unflattering clip from Gigli. That’ll keep our gal on the right path.

And if I sound full of vitriol, it’s because “Harder to Breathe” was far and away the evening’s most infuriating performance — on several levels. For starters, it didn’t start off half-bad, until Casey stepped away from the mic stand and, flanked by two guitarists, began a menacing march toward the audience — where aggressive slaps took the place of classic high-fives, and his vocal devolved into a guttural scream. Secondly, compared to last week’s lovely and authentic (albeit imperfect) “Nature Boy,” this week’s “I’m a rocker now!” shtick felt like an unfunny practical joke. I won’t even get started on the from-the-hamper wardrobe or the fact that choosing from the spurned-and-pissed lyrical genre had the unfortunate side effect of transforming Casey’s least pleasing tics from “angry young man” mode to “possibly armed and most decidedly dangerous.” But worst of all was that twee ending — with Casey gingerly approaching J.Lo, planting a kiss on her cheek, and gasping out the final lyrics in a coy whisper. Um, weren’t we just making fun of Stefano for that “touching the judge” closing gesture on “Tiny Dancer”? And yet Casey drew praise from J.Lo for a “really, really great” performance and from Randy for the element of “surprise surprise surprise.” Here’s a fourth surprise: I’m predicting a bottom-three placement for Casey during Thursday’s results show.

[We break for this report from the office of TVLine DVR Playback: While Randy suggested tonight that he had serious issues with Casey’s Songs from Your Birth Year performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the court transcript shows otherwise. Let’s roll tape on Randy’s critique from that not-so-distant evening: “Listen, me being a musician, and me being a producer-writer, all the stuff that I do, right? What I’m most impressed with and what I love about you is that you represent, like great other bands — Radiohead, Muse, Lykke Li, whatever you, whoever — you love taking risks, and I love that you’re putting art first, and then thinking about commerce. It wasn’t your best performance or the best vocal or anything, but I like that you’re fearless! That’s what we need! Fearlessness! Come on break the mold!”]

Stefano Langone: Ne-Yo’s “Closer”
Oh Stefano! When Jimmy said “f*** that!” about your rehearsal, he meant he didn’t like how you were singing, not that he wanted you to make love to all of America using your eyebrows. As your fellow finalists pointed out, you’re a good-looking guy with a sweet, marketable voice — but in picking a song like “Closer,” where the last two-thirds find you passing the hook to the backup singers while you riff right to the outer edge of an aneurysm, you proved you’ve got no clue what to do with your gifts. You had the right idea to throw in some dance moves, but you performed them so tentatively, they came off as almost accidental. When you did that little move where you rubbed your own leg, I wasn’t sure of you had a cramp, or you were trying to add a Y-chromosome to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” routine. By the time you were done singing, I’m sad to say my notebook contained the following eight words: “They should’ve saved Kendra Chantelle at the Wild Card.” No, Stefano, I don’t think you gave the evening’s worst performance, but as a perpetual resident of the Bottom Three, I don’t think you did enough with your 21st Century opportunity to crack the Top 6.

Lauren Alaina: Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly”
I loved Jimmy’s revisionist history that he was really doing Lauren a kindness last week by announcing to America that she was a better singer than the hugely popular Miley Cyrus, before playing back said clip for an audience of 25 million again this week. Hey, here’s an idea, let’s cue up that footage of Lauren falling down the stairs, too! Ugh. The weird thing is, I think Nigel and Jimmy and everyone in the Idol/Fremantle/19 universe is trying to create a story arc here of plucky small-town girl with big dreams and an even bigger voice who overcomes her insecurities and blooms into a powerful Carrie Underwood-Kelly Clarkson hybrid that saves the music industry. Or some similar “triumph of the human spirit” scenario. But Lauren keeps thwarting their sold-out-arena wishes and cash-register dreams with her uninspired song choices and not-fully-committed performances. J.Lo is right that Lauren possesses a “special voice with so much color,” but right now it’s buried under 20 lbs of makeup, a whole host of teenage insecurities, and some deeply confusing advice from the judges’ panel. “Challenge yourself, Lauren!” screamed Randy, acting as if he’d said anything of that nature in the previous seven weeks of competition. J.Lo wants her to stand in a closet or a shower and scream and belt and go for the big notes. Wait, didn’t they tell her she hit a whole bunch of them on “The Climb” and “Candle in the Wind” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”? That’s the problem with this season’s wildly inconsistent judging: young as she is, Lauren has been in desperate need of constructive feedback to help her achieve her potential. But with only five performance episodes left in the season, I’m worried that even if, in fact, she’s “born to fly,” she might not have time to get off the ground.

Tonight’s Grades
James Durbin: B+
Haley Reinhart: B+
Scotty McCreery: B-
Stefano Langone: C+
Lauren Alaina: C+
Jacob Lusk: C-
Casey Abrams: D

What did you think of tonight’s performances? How would you rate the judges? What about that insane group performance, with Ashthon’s baby-voiced solo, Karen’s hilarious cry of “check my flow” (oh NO!), Pia’s mic problems (oh HELL NO!), Naima’s wacky leaping, and Paul’s utter disengagment from the whole sordid affair? Oh, and what about Pia’s insanely sexy, back-tying, fringe-tastic tank? As my Twitter follower @Lolailos points out: “If Pia had been wearing what she wore tonight instead of that stupid jumpsuit from Gwen Stefani, she’d still be here!” Sound off in the comments on all these topics and more, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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  1. N says:

    James was the best? seriously? The beginning was fine, but when he started screetching it became to one of his worst performances, if not the worst.

    • The Wheeze says:

      I disagree. Yes, there were a couple of sharp moments, but if you did not hear Randy’s comments(then again maybe you did not cause I do try and block his noisemaker out sometimes too!) the lead singer of Muse challenged James to take the song up an octave. So Everyone saying he decimated the song and spewing hate over the “screeches”. You know who to blame.

      • N says:

        Yeah, I heard it. but I thought that someone could be smart enough to tell him to forget about it because it soudnds terrible
        I wonder why Matt did it – He didn’t like Adam Lambert, as much as I remember.

      • Delirious says:

        Yes, apparently Matt Bellamy “challenged James to take it up an octave in the last chorus”, but he chose the absolutely worst place to do it. Take it up in the last phrase, or in the last two phrases, but definitely not on the 1st and 3rd one! It changes the dynamic of the whole chorus, not to mention, he risked jumping into it out of tone because of attacking during the “cooldown” of his voice instead of having “warmed it up” immediately before it, which is exactly what happened. And well, he improved in the low register (from his “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” tumbling down), but the mid section, ie. the “non-wailing” chorus was quite off, and the screeching… Well, enough has been said about it already. And I have to agree with Slezak: I wish they just told James straight away, instead of praising him as if he paid their salaries.
        Other than that… I’m truly hoping this is Jacob’s last week, he failed enough last night (not talking about the start of the song) to deserve his outing – and I hope the audience doesn’t save him out of pity (“oh, how emotional, he sang for his deceased father”). Stefano wasn’t bad (at least, not as bad as other weeks), but he didn’t offer anything special, either. I agree about Scotty and Haley. And I don’t agree about Casey: if you ask me, his actual musical performance was at least good, it went with the song’s attitude, and even tho he could still do without the growling, I’d DEFINITELY not rate it below Jacob’s. Yes, his “angry nerd strut” around the stage was horrible (he could maybe even learn from Scotty for that), but I don’t think that should kill his entire performance.
        Oh, and even tho she’s still quite inocuous in her delivery, she finally found a song where she didn’t have to deliver any emotion, and that worked well for her, methinks.

      • Sparky says:

        Explanation: Matt only told him to sing that high in order to lol at Durbin’s puny mortal efforts.

        James ruined that song and Bellamy probably laughed through it all.

    • SallyinChicago says:

      I don’t get James….but then again, I didn’t get Adam and the lovefest. I think James is very theatrical and I see him fronting a band like Tyler.
      The one rising to the top should be Haley, because she’s the most improved, but she keeps landing in the bottom 3. I don’t think she’s got much love out in America and I don’t know why.

      Lauren is the “sweetheart and she will be one of the finalists, although I don’t think she’s pushing her performances much. It’s like she’s stalled and cruising.

      I don’t like the others, except Stefano, who I think is the most contemporary of the boyz.

      • MNCyn says:

        Regarding Haley: “I don’t think she’s got much love out in America and I don’t know why.” (SallyinChicago) I’m wondering the same thing. Women vote, they are a strange bunch of creatures and even though I am one, I’ve never quite understood them! Historically they generally have no problem supporting the success of men, but can the same be said for other women?! Is it jealousy?! Envy?! Feeling threatened? “She has enough attention – I’m not giving her any more.” ?? Haley’s gorgeous. She exudes sensuality as well as confidence. She’s straight up and plays no feminine games (“I’m just Lauren…tee hee …) Reviewers (both male and female?) are loving her. She has grown by leaps and bounds since the beginning of the competition! (Good summary of Lauren; “stalled and cruising.” Same can be said for Scotty.) Unlike many who have had zero, she’s had at least TWO Idol moments with Bennie and the Jets and the duet with Casey. So what IS the problem??

        • Yo says:

          Re: the woman thing: I think this contest is an aberration and people do not necessarily vote the same way they buy music. Adele is no looker and has some indiosyncratic hand affectations and she is selling like ice cream. As are other woman performers. I think the judges/producers harm women by pre-selecting them (incorrectly) for marketing purposes and telling them they look “beautiful.” They sometimes guide watchers toward attributes and failings that have nothing to do with music when they edit and comment. Women can be rough (like the felines who call everyone a “slut”) but comments/edits legitimize shallow. Someone should have called out James on his outfit last night; imagine the boards if a woman had worm it. If a woman has personality on this show, she is doomed: I was originally merciless to Lauren and now it makes me feel guilty. She is a kid, too young for this competition: I will bet it is the only thing she has ever done where everyone didn’t love her. Hard.

          • marie says:

            (Just an aside…Adele is a plus-size woman, granted, but does that alone make her “no looker”? She happens to be very pretty.)

          • SallyinChicago says:

            You make some good points about women — they will buy the music, but not support them on TV shows. Another thing — AI’s best sellers are women – Carrie, Jennifer, Fantasia, Kelly, even Diana DeGarmo. The males (and I’ve said this time and again) don’t succeed like the women do.

          • luke2 says:

            You need to add “in my opinion” after “Adele is no looker” since there are plenty of people who think she is pretty – I’ve seen her in person and she is beautiful…

          • whatevs says:

            luke2, most people don’t consider a woman who is overweight to be a looker, even if she does have a pretty face. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it is what it is.

          • Peter says:

            Adele is a beautiful woman and you need to shut your mouth, “Yo.” Smart music listeners & consumers don’t care about someone’s appearance, they care about substance, and that’s why people like Adele, and that’s why people vote for Haley.

            I’d like to see a picture of your ugly behind before you go spouting off about someone’s appearance like that.

          • Li-Li says:

            In my opinion, Haley has the most interesting voice and the most potential to be a unique artist. This might sound silly, but I think one of the reasons why viewers may have been anti-Haley in the past is because she is very sexy. Think of all the past top contenders: Carrie (who granted, is sexy now, but was the innocent farm girl), Jennifer, Fantasia, Kelly, Diana DeGarmo, Katherine McPhee, Alison. I don’t think she is sexy in a threatening way, but probably many women (and girls) are still intimidated, even though her personality appears to be very normal and chill (and funny!), and NOT necessarily sexy, even despite her beauty and great figure. She is so much more musically intriguing than Lauren. The manipulation by the producers is very frustrating.

          • jemk says:

            Way to go Peter! I’m totally with you man. I love Adele’s music and think she’s gorgeous just like I think Ann Wilson is gorgeous whether they’re a little heavy or not. They both have soul, an energy that’s infectious and killer vocals that inspire millions. Adele has turned the pain of two horrible breakups into masterpieces that we all can relate to and she writes her own music which very few do anymore so god bless her.

        • Sally says:

          Right on! Could not have said it better. Haley has real, honest-to-goodness SOUL…in her singing and in her personality. She leaves me wanting to know what she’s REALLY thinking when Ryan, useless Jimmy or one of the judges carries on a conversation with her.

          • @Sally says:

            Haley is, IMO, the best one they have but I disagree that she has soul in her singing. That is exactly my issue with her (and pretty much everyone of the others too actually.) I love her voice, I love her vocal quirks, I generally love her song choices, I love her fashion choices and my ears really liked her Rolling in the Deep. However, my eyes weren’t pleased because RitD is NOT a happy-go-lucky song. Just like Piece of Me isn’t. She toned it down a little from the huge smile she had on for PoM but still. Her performances lack a LOT of soul and heart. She just doesn’t seem to have the emotional depth that these songs she’s picking require to give an honest and believable performance. Having said that, she’s still leaps and bounds ahead of the others competing with her but I doubt she’ll win this because these judges are just high-paid clowns. Ugh.

        • fernando says:

          Why is this year seemingly all about the way women screw up the voting? Is this the first year lots of women have watched Idol? Where do you get the idea women are so lovestruck/petty/jealous? This whole “blame the women voters” crap is really getting on my nerves. It is so unbelievably sexist I can’t stand it.

      • Hooch says:

        I like Haley the best out of everyone left, and I really love her voice, but there is something off with her. She doesn’t seem to love music, or feel the songs she’s singing, and I think that’s why America is not loving her. She just doesn’t seem geniuine when she sings. I’m wondering if all the early hate she got killed her self-esteem and now she is more nervous than anything else.

        • Leila says:

          I don’t think that’s the problem. I think she’s feeling the pressure and trying too hard. Even her voice seems to be a bit shot, hoarse. When she went for a more quiet, subtle performance in “Blue”, she went straight to Bottom 3, so that must have scared her. On the other hand, on Results Night last week, she was able to be herself with no pressure, and she was pure genius.

        • Eternal Clementine says:

          I am a convert to Team Haley, voted for her last night for the first time and over 100 times! My issue with her at first was her enunciation, all her words ran together and you couldn’t tell what she was trying to say but I always loved the tone of her voice. I loved her song choice last night and there were definite notes that surpassed Adele’s original but I love that song so much I wanted to feel that she loved it too, that she understood it and felt it but her emotional connection just isn’t there. With that song she absolutely could have pulled off a Fantasia singing Summertime moment but she didn’t.

          • Truth says:

            I am a perfect example of a Haley convert. I barely even noticed her in ealry shows, and the last month, she has grown on me, and now she is my favorite. At least 25% of it is her personality. If the vote was on personality, and I like them all, Haley would win hands down.

          • Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

            I’ve got to say something here: I really feel that Haley’s “moment” with this song last night was sabotaged by the show itself. I’ve been trying to see if Michael S. is correct and that the show hates Haley, and I’ve decided he is correct.

            Every time Haley went for that big moment, the big note in the song, the camera cut away from her! I swear it was every time. They cut to the backup singers, to a sideshot of Haley’s back, to the judges, to the floor, etc. The show does NOT want Haley to connect with the audience. It’s diabolical.

          • victoria says:

            Dave’s comment below is really interesting about the camera work making it difficult to connect with Haley. I don’t watch TV with that critical an eye, but I will be paying attention from now on.

        • Joseph says:

          I very much agree with you because Haley is her own worst enemy by refusing to grow and take her performance to the next level. Also my suggestion for her next week would be ” EVENTUALLY ” she needs to hit the vintage clothing shop and go all out into flower child garb and embrace the 60’s , take it slow and moving or she is out within the next two weeks.

        • not says:

          I agree with this comment completely – Haley’s voice has amazing qualities, but like the rest of this season’s Idol contestants, she needs a little work on her presentation. The problem is that they pick on her and call her out for it while they completely ignore the same problems from others. Interesting that Jennifer said after criticizing Haley that she was afraid of saying anything b/c more girls would go home, but I realized then that the only people she ever criticized all season long were the girls. To truly bad performers like Stephano (whose “critiques” convinced me he’s the producer’s godson or something), she never had a word of criticism.

    • allie says:

      I love Muse and was happy to hear “Uprising” on AI BUT James did not do the song justice. The guy obviously has fans but I find him no more interesting than a decent karaoke singer or the lead singer of an 80’s cover band. And he did NOT hit the notes with his screaming. It was painful and yet again the judges were useless.

      • Ghost of Kelly Clarkson says:

        Allie, I agree on all points. I have to believe that if James had resisted the urge to go up an octave, and had left off the gimmicky marching band stuff, it might have been a good performance. I just have an issue with the fact that he has no pitch control unless he is singing at full voice, and NO ONE seems to call him on it.

      • Lyn says:

        Loved the song choice and think it’s remarkable that James exerts as much control as he does over his screechy/screamy delivery. But why don’t the judges nitpick his off-notes they way they do Haley’s? And then JLo comes out with that idiotic advice to Lauren about how she should practice screaming herself — as if that’s a requirement this season! Arghhhh.

      • @allie says:

        I had been somewhat enjoying James until last night. Okay, I had been not-hating his performances in this “he doesn’t suck as much as others” way because I’m usually biased toward the rockers. But that performance of Uprising was painful. Muse is one of my favorite bands and James just does NOT have the control over his vocal range that is mandatory to sing a Muse song. His lower register is crappy as hell. His voice was nearly impossible to listen at the beginning and I was wearing headphones! Also, he just doesn’t have the emotional depth to pull off an anarchy anthem like Uprising so his whole performance was weak.

    • Owen says:

      I love Haley, I do. But for Slezak to give that performance a B+, he seems to be hypocritically suffering from the same “she/he’s great-itis” he’s constantly accusing the judges of falling victim to. To continually seal-applaud a contestant he WANTS to think is performing better than she is (or, god forbid is delusionally BELIEVING she’s performing better than she is) he is (more and more) dousing his own cred with mucus.

      • hooch says:

        I agree with you Owen. I think Slezak WANTS to Haley to be doing better than she is. The thing that gets me is that in the beginning of the season, I was one of the very few who weren’t slamming Haley about how she “stole Kendra’s spot” and generally sucked. I always liked her voice. Now everyone seems to have turned around and has decided Haley is the greatest thing since sliced bread and how can the judges say anything against her ??
        I disagree though if you were saying you think Haley believes she’s performing better than she is. I honestly think Haley’s problem is that her self-esteem has been crushed by so many bottom 3’s and that’s why she isn’t connecting emotionally to her songs.

        • Kai says:

          It’s ridiculous that Slezac keeps criticizing judges for not criticizing, but then when they criticize his love -Haley- he doesn’t appreciate their comments. I do think the judges are showing too much favoritism and not enough critique for some of the frontrunners, but Slezac seems to be showing a lot of favoritism too. No matter what Haley does – she can do no wrong. And no matter what stefano does, he can do no right. But I do agree with him about Casey! Come on, really. A kiss??! His ego is way inflated and totally overrated.

          • Doug says:

            It’s not because they criticize Haley, it’s because they ONLY CRITICIZE HALEY. And the women in general. Women have gotten the brunt of what little criticism there has been this season, especially Haley. It just seems unfair that the men can do whatever they want and get away with it, but Haley never gets the same relentless praise.

          • Delon says:

            On the contrary. Slezak is not showing enough favoritism. I was actually disappointed reading what he had to say about Haley’s performance. I was expecting him to give her a more glowing review. He gave Haley a B+, whereas i gave her A+ .

          • @Kai says:

            Selective-reading MS’s review to fit your rant against him isn’t cute. He STARTED his review of Hailey’s performance by saying she committed “minor sins” and had flat notes. What he’s saying in his review is that the JUDGES have an obvious bias against Hailey and she’s the only one who ever gets ANY criticism while all the others only get praise, even when they suck.

        • Aaron says:

          I’m a huge Haley fan, but I will agree that I wasn’t ecstatically crazy about her performance last night. She didn’t bring her A game and she seemed really self-conscious and the most nervous she’s ever been on the stage. I think her confidence has been broken a bit since last week, and now especially since there’s not many left and she may be feeling like her time to leave could come at any moment.

          HOWEVER, I totally agree with Slezak’s B+ grade…regardless, it wasn’t her best performance but it was a hell of a lot better than everything else last night. I think it goes to show that even if Haley only brings 50% to the table, it’s still more magical and appealing than anything else. She has so much potential…and btw, I honest-to-god think that Casey’s performance last night was the worst of the season…BY ANY CONTESTANT. Just embarrassing. The unanimous and unfiltered praise from the judges was unforgivable.

        • Owen says:

          Exactly. My problem is (as always) with Slezak, not Haley. And she “halfway” connected last night…well 1/3 connected. The rest was all her bad habits.

          • Alice says:

            I wonder if she watched Adele’s live version from Ellen or something like that. Some of her hand/arm motions just sort of looked like she was trying to mimic that, and I don’t think it worked for her (it barely works for Adele). I’m glad Slezak noted Adele’s unbeatableness on passion. This song was really meant for Adele’s vocal style and not for a singing competition; it didn’t do a whole lot for Haley. She probably would have been better blues/jazz-ifying another song.

      • Dan says:

        I have to kind of agree with you Owen. I LOVE Slezak. Think he’s hilarious. Some of my friends get tired of me telling them what “my Idol blogger” said. I love his snark. But I don’t think he’s giving the show credit for some of this years improvements.

        He’s been on the judges for the lack of critiques all year and should have been. This week, the judges (ignoring ST) DID actually critique some of the contestants and he STILL rips them.

        Also, “Get current” has been his cry for some time (again, I agree). They have sung more current songs this year than ever before. Where’s the props?

        No more Swaybots– barely a mention. The transition from the bad glee club group songs to the small group numbers where someone like Haley can have a big moment has been HUGE in my opinion– Michael hasn’t pimped that much either. And whatever we think of Jimmy, he’s way better than celeberty-of-the-week-that-doesn’t-care-but-has-something-to-sell.

        I love ya Slezak… but you’re getting a little negative. I know your job is to pick Idol apart, but Idol has improved this year, and a lot of the improvements are things you basically suggested in the past. (He steps off soap box)

        • Joel says:

          No, Slezak is still dead-on, and never more so than with this post. He already mentioned the sway-bot disappearance, and there’s nt way to criticize the judges enough. If you think last night even comes close to criticism — even if you include the reluctant wrist-slapping of Scotty — then you need to watch it again. Jimmy is awful, offensive, and now completely irrelevant. Bring back the dumb “mentors” — at least watching them was fun. Watching Jimmy is like watching the paint expert at Home Depot explain the difference between gloiss and matte.

          • Dan says:

            I disagree Joel, but that was a funny post.

          • RTW says:

            By paint expert, are you referring to Lee Dewyze? :)

          • Erin says:

            I can’t believe that criticisms are so rare that they start off with a practical apology like “critique helps everyone so…” It’s like he has to cushion the blow of a suggestion. It might be understandable from the newbies but he was there all of the Simon years. Jimmy I. is killing me. He was eye rolling Haley when she nervously laughed when he asked what the emotion of the song is. And of course AI aired it. He is making all of these songs sound karaoke but none of the judges ever even mention not liking an arrangement. What happened to this show?

      • Ben says:

        Have to agree with that. Haley is clearly and by a large margin the worst singer left on the show. ‘Two or three noticeably flat notes’… and a lot of noticabely sharp ones too. Even her Slezak-lauded Benny and the Jets had more out of tune notes in it than James, Casey and Scotty have managed all season combined, and her voice is also the flimsiest of all of them, unless she screams. The only conclusion I can come to for someone who ranks Haley among the highest is that they like her style so much (and she is certainly interesting and I can’t deny I liked the Adele vibe on her) that they are willing to forgive the fact that she is clearly the weakest singer left. Thats ok, but don’t expect the judges to jump out of their chairs when she can’t sing in tune.

        • Jason McD says:

          I don’t understand this at all. All season I get a huge smile every time she has performed. She makes me giddy inside and I don’t even like girls! I don’t see how anybody can say she is by far the worst singer this year.

        • JPad says:

          Would you seriously rely on the judges to give a reasonable and fair critique? After all, these are the same judges who singled her out last week while giving kid-gloved treatment to everybody else.

          This week, they tempered down their critiques when in actuality, her performance was golden out of the other performances that ranged from flawed to boring.

          I’m sure the judges will be to blame for having a hand at letting someone as interesting, as colorful and as awesome as Haley get booted. I’m sure she’s skating on thin ice hereon but she’s got nothing to lose now.

    • karen says:

      Well, all my crystal shattered, so I think YOU are right. At least Adam’s scream was palatable. James is a legend in his own head only. His non-screaming voice is half-way decent – but half-way doesn’t cut it.

      What’s sad is that the cheering audience and the non-existent judging and unfounded over-praise, has this naive guy thinking he walks on water. He now has grandiose visions of a Mick Jagger future.

      What a injustice AI has perpetrated! Shame on them.

      • Jason McD says:

        James has an awesome scream for the type of music he does. To me, he sounded like Rob Halford from Judas Priest. I personally love James and it has NOTHING to do with what the judges say. This kid could have a huge following in the hard rock metal scene.

      • amadeline says:

        The judges, even when they do break down and semi-critique a performance, still pump up all the contestants with words to make them believe they are fabulous and radio ready when the reality is they are not. James is no Adam Lambert. He’s not even close. When I hear Adam on the radio I know his voice, ditto Daughtry, Carrie, Kelly and David.

        Last year I couldn’t wait to see and hear what Crystal was going to do each week, and the same with Adam the year before, and David Cook when he was on. But this year no one has had a really outstanding, can’t wait to see what they do next, absolutely amazing Idol moment performance. They’re more like ‘that was almost amazing, hope they can do it again, then they don’t’. Although Haley’s come close, and so has Lauren. Scotty has a distinctive voice, but no ‘wow’ and the judges finally told him that. They need to keep telling that to all of them, and to stop James, Jacob and Casey from believing they are already legends. They are far from it.

        A lot of this season has been a cross between a high school concert and really bad karaoke. I keep waiting for it to get exciting and my hopes are diminishing each week. In fact, it’s been a real disappointment.

      • @galaga6846 says:

        I think this kind of boils down to personal preference. I for one like James’ tone much better than Adam’s. I found Adam’s tone to be grating. I find James’ much more palatable. It doesn’t make you wrong or me right, it’s just a matter of opinion.

      • @galaga6846 says:

        Karen, I think this kind of boils down to personal preference. I for one like James’ tone much better than Adam’s. I found Adam’s tone to be grating. I find James’ much more palatable. It doesn’t make you wrong or me right, it’s just a matter of opinion.

        • zaza says:

          galaga–you hit the nail on the head! As much as they like to say it’s a singing competition, it’s NOT. It is a popularity contest. We vote for who we like. We may like them for their voice or their look or their song selection. But…as you said…it boils down to personal opinion and who we connect with. Nothing wrong with that!

    • Ablo says:

      I don’t say he was the worst, but it wasn’t very good. His non-cream voice is weak (generally) — and his scream voice seems thrown in for no particular reason.

      • Yo says:

        I have heard his non scream voice when it was very good, but not in the last two weeks; maybe he is wrecking it? I think I would have liked the performance better without the OTT costuming and drums. The Pug left the room when the high note came, but, as surprising as it was, I think he hit it. Certainly wakes a person up :-).

      • zaza says:

        I thought James’ “non-screaming” tones sounded better this week than when he did the guitar-weeps song.

    • GaryfromCinci says:

      I think James would have been better off going with something from My Chemical Romance like ‘Welcome to the Black Parade” or “Helena” or “The Ghost of You”

    • S. Lee Stack says:

      James’ performance last night was much more Siobhan at her worst (tuneless screeching) than it was Lambert at his best (who was always musical with his freakish high notes)

      I’ll give James credit for the look + style of the performance, but that’s all it really was…not much in terms of musicality, which is a shame given the high quality of the song he attempted

    • Musica1 says:

      I also thought James was the best if the night followed closely by haley. James delivered a solid rock performance. I wish the muse singer hadn’t challenged him to go up an octave because the song is dramatic enough without it and james is better in his lower register. But it was still great.

      • Genie says:

        I disagree, he has no control in his lower register, his higher register is his comfort zone. I think the higher octave was just confusing, I didn’t know what to think of it. I liked his performance because it was just that, a performance and an entertaining one, the vocal was okay. I have only loved one vocal of his, Live and Let Die. He was in control it had nuance, we did not see/hear that from him before that and we haven’t seen it since.

    • scream on says:

      james did his best danny gokey “scream on” immitation last night.

    • Joseph says:

      I fully agree with you. James and Casey were neck and neck for the worst sung songs last night. The only thing that gives James any edge is that he has been able to give a much better performance then Casey ever has since the live shows started.

    • jsmith says:

      I believe James has a modest amount of genuine talent. That said, I can barely suffer through his performances anymore (ditto for Casey). My problem, I suppose, is that his antics require sex appeal in order to not be ridiculous. James is overweight and unfortunate looking. My opinion, obviously, and a superficial one at that. Furthermore, James will never have a hit record, his music style is anachronistic in the worst possible way. WHY, OH WHY DO THE JUDGES ABSOLUTELY SLOBBER OVER JAMES AND CASEY?!?!? (NOT a rhetorical question, I would love some answers)

      • Lee says:

        Because of their prodigious talent. They are outside the box, breaking the mold, against the current…whatever you want to say to convey different. But they are also unreal good. They are artists, not just singers. Any singer can step up and karaoke their way through a performance…these two own the stage, own their performance, own the arrangements…they are artists.

        All of the “I hate James/Casey” folks here are simply saying that they want their Muse or their Maroon 5 to sound EXACTLY like Muse and Maroon 5. I want these kids to step on stage and be themselves performing someone else’s music…and I get that with James and Casey…not so with Scott, Hayley, Stefano and Jacob…

        If the readers (and writer) of this blog are any indication, then the vanilla-fication of musical entertainment is complete. Long live bland and roll!

        • Lina says:

          Butchering Uprising by revoking Scream On v2.0 doesn’t sound unreal good to me. Unreal good means the singer has to deliver week after week flawless and original performances, which is not the case with Durbin. After my 5th listening this morning I stay positive that his singing last night was a nightmare.

        • Jason McD says:

          I agree with 90% of what you said Lee, however I love Haley too.

        • allie says:

          not true. I don’t want ANYONE to sing uninspired covers. I’m not a “Casey & James hater” but I do not think either is as good as the judges make them out to be. If they are so crazy talented then they should be having incredible moments all over the place like Heartless, Ring of Fire, Mad World & Hello. Instead we get drummers, guitars on fire, “sexy face” and kisses. No. They are simply covering up for lack of talent just like Lee Dewyze did last year with the bag pipes.

      • Leila says:

        James is overweight???? As a woman, I think he has a gorgeous body. He may be far from a perfect face, but then again, many great singers were ugly and it didn’t stop them from being good performers or having lots of fans. Anyway, this is so shallow I shouldn’t even waste my time replying to you.

        • jsmith says:

          Sorry, but James has a sizable beer gut – I guess if you want you could call it the product of a ‘rock ‘n roll’ lifestyle. But it’s not hot, and his Jagger/Tyler/Lambert/etc ‘rock star’ theatrics look ridiculous because of it. Rock stars are not ‘curvy’. The skinny jeans wouldn’t look right (and DON’T, on him). I believe I stated from the start that I was being shallow. Obviously. lol.

          • Owen says:

            When he was talking to Jimmy last week, wearing the the white tank top…dude was pushin’ maximum density..

    • jsmith says:

      WHY, OH WHY DO THE JUDGES ABSOLUTELY SLOBBER OVER JAMES AND CASEY?!?!? (NOT a rhetorical question, I would love some answers) I understand the blind praise for people like Scotty and Lauren who could possibly make Idol a million bazillion dollars one day, but James and Casey will never do that. So WHY???

      • agrimesy says:

        I am just as baffled as you are! James and Casey WILL NOT be successful Idols in the music industry. The majority of metal fans would not allow themselves to buy anything a TV show contestant produced. Real jazz artists know true genius vs. schtick. Idol hasn’t got a prayer of making any money off them. So, here’s my theory, such as it is. American Idol is not a singing competition anymore. American Idol is a reality TV serial drama. James and Casey are characters who make for good TV. So, praise away, judges! Let’s keep those ratings up until it makes more sense to the sponsors for them to go home. Can’t you see the headlines? “SHOCKING IDOL UPSET!” Yeah, the Pia oust was not a mistake.

        • jsmith says:

          Yup, I appreciate having Casey (less so James) on the show because at least he’s interesting and (somewhat) unpredictable. But I am shocked that the judges don’t give either of these guys useful advice. Both boys have raw talent, as ‘Lee’ so pretentiously points out to me, but they are unpleasant to watch. They could benefit so much from good judging and not having their egos pumped up to such a ridiculous extent.

    • Delon says:

      Yeah, i don’t think so.
      SCOTTY: So boring i wanna cry. 2/10
      JAMES: This is sad. 2/10
      HALEY: F**k off J.Lo! 10/10
      JACOB: Please make it stop. 2/10
      CASEY: ?
      STEFANO: Mess. 4/10
      LAUREN: Missed opportunity 4/10

  2. evs says:

    did you notice that muse uprising has the same prominent note as call me from last week??

    the only tolerable performances were Rolling in the deep (too current though) and Uprising (weird start). Stefano should’ve went acoustic.

  3. derby says:

    Agree with your assessments, except for Durbin. The beginning of the song was horribly flat, and the falsetto was just not good–it reminded me of Gokey’s “Scream On.”

    The judging continues to be criminally horrendous. I’m sure you can imagine how different the Haley’s would have been if she had a penis instead.

  4. Judity says:

    Casey is the best musician of the bunch. Hope he wins it all!

    • evs says:

      I agree that Casey is very talented. But this last performance is another story. During the performance I was feeling like Simon is about to bust into the room just to say how karaoke like it was. (Not that the rest of the competitors were much of an improvement, or any really)

      • evs says:

        rewatch observation: how in the hell did they let him sing lyrics “Hoping somebody someday will do you like I did”

        • hooch says:

          I said the same thing !! Or the previous line “Clutching your pollow and writhing in a naked sweat”. I was like “wow, I can’t believe they left those 2 lines in!”

          • Family Viewing? says:

            Disgusting. The tweens and younger kids in our extended family can’t watch Idol anymore. Thanks, Uncle Nigel. Thanks, F-bomb Tyler.

          • djm says:

            And “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love” was OK when Adam sang it? Pulease. Guess what – that Maroon 5 song was all over the radio and nobody complained at the time. If you want family entertainment why not turn off the TV and play cards or something? Or better yet, I am sure there is a Jesus channel out there just waiting for you to tune in.

          • hooch says:

            Didn’t say I had a problem with it, just that I was surprised. I do think there’s a difference between “give you every inch of my love” is different than “clutching your pillow and writhing in a naked sweat” — even if they were both MEANT in the same vein. You could at least intepret the LZ lyrics in a non-sexual way.

          • Shannon says:

            I’ve never been able to interpret Led Zep in a nonsexual way (well, except when the lyrics delve into Tolkien territory), especially “Whole Lotta Love”. The entire song is a double entendre that’s just about singular. And when it culminates with Robert Plant’s semi-acapella yell, “Way down inside, woman, you need love”, there’s pretty much no masking the running euphemism.

      • Leila says:

        Karaoke? He completely changed the arrangement, and for the best. I didn’t like the antics at the end, but 95% of the performance was great.

    • LB says:

      agreed, i really liked casey. what is with all the vitriol this week michael? get a juice box and a cookie and relax a little. this is supposed to be fun.

      • Musica1 says:

        Casey was off key throughout his song this week. It was a bad performance right up there with his Nirvana cover.

        • maryann says:

          I agree Musica1. Casey was off key and the performance was meh! But I’m really a Casey fan. Although his performances aren’t the best, I do look forward to see what he’ll do each week. He does entertain me. I think Haley and Scotty are much better singers, but I don’t really look forward to them the same way.

      • Yo says:

        Poor dude didn’t sleep last night; he writes from the east coast and did his review late. It’s hard to be witty at 3 AM.

    • stevenjaba says:

      He might be the best musician, but he needs to quit the shtick every week and show us that.

    • allie says:

      Casey disappointed me this week. I really enjoyed “Nature Boy” and his duet with Haley last week but the kid is not a “rocker” and I thought this performance was just as bad as Nirvana. The kiss was bizarre and his facial expressions aren’t sexy – they are scary in the way mentally ill violent people are scary.

      • Owen says:

        Okay, let’s just get over the Casey’s facial expressions are “scary” bit. Its a performance tic, its what he does. It might not be attractive, it might not be aesthetically pleasing. But its hardly “scary”. Yes, Casey is SO obviously a serial killer. A serial killer you must hide your children and the Most Beautiful Woman in the World from. It was not a great vocal, but allow the kid his identity. At least he has one, like it or not.

        • Sam2 says:

          Owen, I agree with you…if James can have his squints,and annoying stage antics, Scotty can have his t-rex arms and weird eyebrows, and Stefano can have his eyes wide closed schmoozing the camera schtick…then why can’t Casey have his serial-killer look? Not everyone has a great vocal every time…even the most talented entertainers…Casey is Casey, talented beyond words. I hope he doesn’t go home anytime soon.

          • allie says:

            I disagree and think the judges are doing Casey, Scotty and Stefano a huge disservice by not helping them with their performance issues. They are distracting. I don’t need or want a generic bland performance but none of these “quirks” are helping any of these guys. Performers DO develop bad habits that need to be corrected and these guys are not being taught.

          • caroline says:

            Well, at least James has the excuse, he has Tourettes syndrome and is not in control of those tics of his. Casey, he is just one skeeeerrry dude, remember Constantine Maroulis? He’s probably a harmless pup, but he does make all those “I could go nuts and kill you” faces, and it’s distracting from what would otherwise be some interesting vocals.
            And that creepy sneak up and peck JLo moment was just plain uncomfortable. Did you see the look on her face? I was almost semi enjoying it until then. Ewwwwww

        • allie says:

          I am entitled to my opinion. I like Casey just fine when he is doing what he seems to do best – jazz. He isn’t a rocker at all and isn’t going to make it in pop music so he needs to show off what he does best. I’d love to see him take something current and remake it into something with a cool jazz vibe. And as long as the judges and the producers keep trying to make us think he is sexy with the crazy faces I will continue to think that they are annoying, creepy looking (perhaps a better word than scary) and it turns me off.

      • Erin says:

        Agree w/ allie, the judges miss the opportunity to actually be useful and helpful. Simon *sigh* would have pointed out the off putting pulling of faces weeks ago to Jacob, Scotty and Casey. And the strange way Casey marched around the stage almost like a nerdy child pretending to be a rock robot. Yikes!

    • Elle says:

      He may well be the best musician of the bunch, but it’s a SINGING contest!

      • Joel says:

        I’m so tired of all this Casey adoration. Yes, he’s different. Yes, he can play the bass, but he can’t sing. And that doesn’t make him a jazz singer — it makes him simply mediocre. Casey IS Casey, but my cousin Eric is also my cousin Eric. The problem is not the scary faces so much as the fact that even he knows those things are a substitute for strong singing. He can’t sing melodically, so he grunts, snarls, runs, elongates words to add “ah” or “uh” annoyingly, kisses, and tries to scat, but does it with a sad mediocrity. The kiss is not the problem, it’s a cover up for a larger one. I’d like him fine enough humming while he serves me a Slushie at seven-eleven, but he doesn’t deserve all this “genius” talk. There are 50 people in your zip code who can sing better than he can, and way fewer than that would even consider buying an album of Casey’s. I’d sooner buy an album from Rebecca Black. It’s time he gets knocked back down to size. Any YEAH, those weren’t high-fives, he was literally beating his audience.

        • CKK says:

          You said it all, Joel.

        • Mike M says:

          Thank you for saving me the trouble of having to say all that. There is an odd phenomenon going on with Casey. Over the past few weeks, the drum beat has been that if you don’t like Casey, you just don’t “get it.” You are just a musical ignoramus. Well, guilty as charged, I guess. I probably don’t know a lot about music. But, I know what sounds good. Casey doesn’t.

        • SallyinChicago says:

          Thank you my thoughts too. And why did he kiss Jlo last night? Icky.

          • zaza says:

            Why did he kiss J-Lo? Because he’s only nineteen and he has a crush on the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. I think people forget that he’s actually a youngster. He is bound to make dumb choices now and again. He’ll learn from his mistake when Marc Anthony punches him!

            P.S. I’m am NOT defending him, but I can forgive his mistakes, since he is (at least to me) still a kid.

        • allie says:

          well said – I hadn’t thought of it that way and I agree.

  5. Teena says:

    I swear the judges were hearing something different than was coming through the TV. I cringed through everyone except Lauren and Haley. I thought that James and Casey’s performances were especially jarring, but the judges raved so that I questioned my sanity!

    • Georgia says:

      Actually, they do indeed hear something different. It doesn’t sound the same as what we hear at home. Remember Simon’s criticism of David Cook’s haunting performance of “The World I Know”? Perhaps Simon’s apology the next night was staged, but perhaps it was genuine, based on his listening to the performance again at home.

  6. SpyKi says:

    Hated James this week. Haley was fantastic as usual even if the song was a bit too current.

  7. JoJo says:

    Yeah James was the best, it wasn’t HIS best performance ever but it was very entertaining and that is what I love, he brings so much to the stage and gives so much of himself (he has a great imagination). Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt if he left out the ‘scream’ once in a while although I am a fan of it.

    • N says:

      but we’re not looking for the guy with the best imagination! we’re looking for a new american idol… we need a guy who can sing, perform, record and with a likeable personality (because this is how it works).

      • Alex says:

        All of which requires imagination to go from good to outstanding. Without imagination an american idol will drown in the sea of today’s music market, and most of them have. James CAN sing, perform, record (have you heard his iTunes recordings?), and HAS a likeable personality. BTW the image of a pop singer and the image of a rock singer is different, while I don’t believe James is arrogant (Jacob absolutely is), rockers are supposed to have a “badass” vibe about them. Each contestant needs to be judged according to the musical standard & image of their respective genres. James is a rocker, his vocal isn’t always perfect but the fact is he has the pipes to compete with the best rockers – the execution doesn’t always go smoothly but the ability is always there. As for “showmanship”, anyone will tell you that rock concerts are supposed to be OTT specticles with flaming pianos & smashing guitars.

        • Jannie4567 says:

          Thanks, Alex – well said. I feel the same way about James- he seems to be the only one trying to win this season. The others just show up and do their best Karaoke number with mostly boring results. I appreciate James and his imagination, creativity and joy for just being on the show.
          Considering that other “real” artists get weeks and months to put together their shows and performances singing their own material, I think he does a really good job in the few days he gets to make his performance stand out.
          James entertains and I believe him when he is performing.

      • allie says:

        Ditto! Except the only remaining contestant that meets all of these criteria isn’t a guy.

      • Owen says:

        Please, Chris Daughtry acted like a douche throughout his season of Idol (I love how history and short memories smooth everything out). James comes off egocentric, yes. But lovably egocentric. Like a kid. There’s joy there, a joy of performing and a joy of discovery. Plus tons of talent.

        • allie says:

          James does have joy and he seems very sweet but he isn’t nearly as talented as Daughtry.

          • @allie says:

            I’m not defending James, because I really hated his Uprising and I think he has a lot more vocal potential than actual artistic talent, but sounding like a Nickelback rip off isn’t talent. All this Daughtry adoration has always mistified me. His band sounds like a mediocre rip off of an already mediocre band.

        • zaza says:

          I agree that, despite being 21, married and a dad, James seems like just a big ol’ hammy kid and I like him for that.

  8. Steph says:

    It’s amusing to me how much you disliked Casey this week, but then I see the results of the “Who gave your favorite performance tonight?” poll and see that Casey is in third LOL I think we were watching two different shows. I usually agree with your opinions, but I thought Casey was great last night and I’ve seen a lot of people say that on comment sections on several different blogs. I actually don’t think he’ll be in the bottom 3 this week. I’m predicting Stefano, Jacob and Haley with Stefano finally going home.

    • The Wheeze says:

      ITA. Casey was by far not the worst of the night! Sometimes I think the Haley love blinds Slezak. I for once agreed with the judges (I do not include Steven in this,but does anyone?) The song is so fresh in everyone’s mind that she had HAD to give 110% to even come close to what we would expect. Haley, definitely tried, but I give her a C+ at best. I agree with your bottom 3, but I wish Scotty would take Haley’s place, and I think it will be Jacob(though his touching back story might save him.)who goes home.

    • djm says:

      I too feel like something must have happened between the time the show aired on the East coast and it arrived on the West coast because I couldn’t be further from Michael in my opinions.

      Fist of all, I hope to God they are setting Scotty up for a “shocking” elimination, because I am SO OVER him opening the show every week. Sorry, but he is a Toddlers & Tiara’s performer but only a guy and 17. The wink, wink, nod, nod sh!t has got to go and I couldn’t be any more over it and him if I tried.

      I liked the idea of James doing Muse, but I just found myself sitting there thinking “if Adam were doing this it would be about 1,000,000 times better and he’d actually be in control of his vocals and his performance”. Sorry James, you are no Adam.

      Haley seems like a nice girl and I LOVED her performance of Moanin last week – it was BRILLIANT, however last night was just a big old MESS. Sorry, but Adele has another CD she released a few years back and I’d have been fine with Haley taking on Chasing Pavement or Hometown Glory or even better yet Cold Shoulder (which could have been AMAZING), but she blew it tonight and I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if she went home tonight. Don’t get me wrong – I do despise that the judges are only giving her any kind of constructive feedback and praising everyone else, but she did not peerform well this week AT ALL.

      As soon as I heard that Jacob was doing Luther I was hoping to god it wasn’t that lame Dance With My Father song, but there it was. Look, I get what everyone says about him, but I hardly think his was the worst of the night. Sure, he’s a diva and gets shouty, but at least he seems passionate about what he’s doing which is WAY WAY WAY WAY more than I can say about Scotty or the Todlers & Tiara’s contestant AKA Lauren.

      Casey – OK Michael, take a pill and chill the F out. Goodness me, it wasn’t 1/4 as bad as you seem to think it was. And sorry, if you gave any of Paul’s performances a higher grade than what Casey did last night then I seriously doubt your A) taste and B) hearing. Yeah, the marching is weird and the facial tics annoying, but what I heard last night was him taking a fairly well known song and putting his own spin on it – something you practically creamed your jeans over any time Kris Allen did it and something you have been complaining about non-stop about the lack of all season long. We get it – you don’t like Casey. But why do I find myself wondering if Casey looked like Paul what your reaction would have been?

      Stefano did what everyone said they wanted – he went up tempo and yet again, complaints is all anyone has to serve. I don’t think he is very well liked and at this point I don’t think it matters what he does – no way he will win and it is passed being about the vocals. For whatever reason everyone thinks he’s the reason Pia is gone (which is LAME) and he’ll be punished.

      Lauren. Good god they must be so frustrated with her. Sorry, but she has less than zero charisma on that stage and the fact that she is being handled the way she is totally makes me believe that the producers are trying so desperately to build her story arc and like Michael said she keeps dropping the ball. She’s a pageant girl who is so affected and clueless about who she is and I swear to god every time they show her mother on the screen I want to punch her in the face. Maybe it’s a “southern” thing and I just don’t get it, but I just feel pissed off after she performs and they show her mom. But then a weird thing happens – I totally forget about Lauren. If backed into a corner with a loaded gun held to my head I could not tell you what songs she has done on the show. I couldn’t tell you what she was wearing, if it was slow or upbeat, or anything about it. But I can promise you they showed her mom and that obnoxious weave.

      And one more thing. Is anyone else completely annoyed by this Pia/Mark Balas thing the media is trying to create? Sorry, but I don’t buy it for even half a second.

      • RT says:

        I agree that Casey should be given credit for his creativity and arrangements. The difference, however, between him and what Kris Allen did, is execution. Kris always sounded good and was entertaining at the same time. Casey has been up and down with his vocals since the live shows. I still like him, and want him to succeed. I just wish he was more consistently good at the singing part.

        • djm says:

          But do you think that may have something to do with age? I mean let’s face it, Casey is only 19 years old which I think get’s over-looked all the time. He’s only 2 years older than Scotty and 3 years older than Lauren, yet his age is never brought up or taken into consideration. He has a lot of learning and growing to do and while he’s far from perfect, I am more excited to see where he ends up 5 years from now than Scotty and Lauren combined. One thing for certain he’ll probably be taking more risks than either of them.

      • Helena says:

        DJM: You are hilarious! You are so spot on. I totally agree with you about Lauren and her mother- LOL! Slezak is so full of hate toward Casey. Casey did a good job with the arrangement and he most definitely did not deserve an F.

  9. algalhi says:

    Loved Haley tonight! I agree with you, she was the best of the night. She even changed up the song to show her stuff. Remember changing up songs that was so encouraged in past seasons?

    But Michael, James also the best of the night??? Wut? He started off badly, but improved in the middle section. I was actually kinda getting into it. And then came the screams. OMG! My husband and I looked at each other, horrified. Then even more horrified when the judges went on and on about how great the performance was. My theory: those band members behind the judges kept the judges from actually hearing James sing. James’ screams weren’t as bad as Danny Gokey’s awful ending scream on Rock Night AI8, but they were close! James is an enthusiastic and fun performer, but I think all the bells and whistles that accompany him each week serve to distract you from noticing his singing (in)ability. He brought in a marching band this week and it served his purpose. What’s next? 3 ring circus? 4 strippers playing violins? Oh, I know, singing a duet with Steven f**king Tyler, that’s it!

  10. marie says:

    SOOOO over the “judges” (I think they’ve earned those quotation marks, don’t you? I propose we use them going forward.)

    The tears in my eyes are becoming skimpier by the week as I let go of my early hopes for Casey.

    James’s hideously off-key shrieking on his (not quite) octave jumps made me mutter and curse. This guy is NOT the rock God they’re hyping him to be.

    • allie says:

      perfectly stated.

    • The judges are BRUTAL says:

      I’ve logged in a good 1,000 hours of my life watching ALL previous seasons of Idol, reading recaps, etc. However, this season is just awful to the point where I rarely watch. And it’s primarily because of the “judges” (as you said). The old rocker who-shall-not-be-named is completely useless, and the other two contradict themselves constantly, and provide absolutely no good constructive criticism. I swear, after this season ends, I am never watching this show ever again!!!

  11. sixona says:

    Top 7 concerts are going to be great. James will lose his “voice” by the second screamfest. Jacob will have dislocated his tonsils by then. Stefano could benefit from stealing some of James’s extras to make him a bit more interesting ? Casey I’d be afraid to watch for fear of making eye contact. And my current medication won’t keep me awake for Scotty. Go Haley, your time will come.

  12. happy says:

    Did you catch what she said to Jimmy when he said it was about anger? “And rejection”. (and heartache).

    So was singing to the judges? or to the audience who rejects her?

  13. RTW says:

    Sharp, flat, whatever (I can’t even talk in tune), I loved seeing the mature side of Haley. Just as how she’s been growing throughout this competition, so has her understanding of what it takes to be a viable artist post-Idol. She is by far the most interesting person in this competition. Good for her.

  14. Slezak,

    You are pretty much dead on. I actually loved Stefano and Lauren tonight. I liked how Stefano was one of the very few idols to do a club song justice, and Lauren was far, far superior to Scotty McCreery. Say what you will about the girl’s confidence, but her song choice was mature and finely sung, even a bit unpredictable at times. To me, James and Haley were far and away the best performers of the night. You all should check out James’ studio version of “Uprising”! One of the best itunes of the season! Thank god, someone heard Casey’s horrific vocal besides me. I am reading WAYYY to much praise. I actually found his beginning just as bad as the rest. People must have forgotten the original song, which had musicality all through out. Casey was barely talking his way through the entire song with some annoying growls, and a consistency for being out of tune. It was a disgusting vocal. Jacob had emotion but he was off the melody the entire time. A shame, considering he came across the most likable we have seen him. Scotty, get off my tv screen. Your cheesiness is making my lactose intolerance flair up!

    • seattlejohn says:

      thank you…Scotty, Jacob and Casey tied for worst tonight…Scotty was boring, the midsection flat, the mannerisms cartoonish and annoying…really liked Stephano getting a chance to do something contemporary and saw that as a viable dance club hit (especially with a dj remix) plus he was really looking hot and trying out the stage and some dance moves…Lauren has probably the most potential for a commercial career though I personally enjoy her more going acoustic like Mindy Smith and Allison Krause (Lauren really shines slow and nuanced) and not following the overproduced countryfied power-pop of Carrie Underwood

  15. Charlotte says:

    I find my self liking James more and more. I think he’s this years winner.I am not a rocker or a heavy metal freak, which goes to show that anybody can be won over.

  16. ginaM says:

    I think they all sucked last night. Scotty was unoriginal, but at least he sang in tune unlike most everyone else. Just once I would like him to take a non-country song and put his country spin on it. James was either screaming or flat and he ruined a good Muse song. Jacob sang a Luther song that was really boring and Luther’s style is not really current. Stefano was singing with his eyebrows. Only he thinks he is the next coming of Neo/Usher. Never heard of Alaina’s song. Another boring song and I forgot her performance as soon as she was done. And Casey started out good put pandering to JLo? Really?

    • The Wheeze says:

      And I guess you think Haley was so bad you forgot to even mention her? LOL! Come on, the show and the performances were not all bad, and most had some moments of being good, and even great.

    • Christina says:

      My thoughts exactly. Last night sucked. Scotty’s got cocky and complacent, James is a pretender not a rock god, Jacob, Haley chose a song by a singer who can absolutely throw down a vocal so if you don’t match it you’ve failed, Jacob I just have no words for, Stefano eye f*%^@d the camera more than he sang, and Lauren chose a song that was forgettable. Do any of them really want to win this?

    • karen says:

      ROFLMAO…Stefano singing with his eyebrows !!

    • funkycoldmedina says:

      I agree with @ginaM that they ALL sucked last night. The ENTIRE show was a complete crapfest. It’s gotten so boring I didn’t even watch. Caught the videos afterwards on various Idol sites and then wished I hadn’t even bothered. At this point, the only entertainment value the show has to it’s credit is it’s ability to make me laugh and point at what voting America calls talent.

  17. Ellen says:

    The show is turning out to be pathetic. I swear I watch just so I can read your recap and get it. I fast forward over all the judges comments now, not just Kara and Randy like last year. Casey is creepy. Lauren song and clothing choice. My favorite part tonight was the clips about what they thought of each other. The group song with Ashton, Pia and company was truly horrible. Niama (I know I have know Idea how to spell her name) was so over the top. I do miss Pia.
    Oh, and if Jacob sings Luther one more time he will officially ruin one of my favorite singers for me.

  18. Coco says:

    “really, nobody’s about to infuse an Adele song with more passion than Adele ”

    I take it you haven’t heard David Cook’s cover? Maybe not more passion, but pretty damn close. Haley did a respectable job, though, and was one of the top performers.

    I pretty much disagree with most of your assessment, though. Stefano was HORRIBLE. Just awful, cheesy, drunk guy at a bar who thinks he’s cool enough to get up and sing Neo and makes you cringe. Casey on the other hand was entertainingly original. Harder to Breathe has always been “the creepy werewolf panting song” to me, so I think Casey’s take on it was cheeky brilliance, not infuriating schtick. Oh Slezak, I can’t take your critique seriously when you rate Casey lower than Stefano. No.

    I do agree that they are attempting to give Lauren a growth arc, likely to counteract any early frontrunner backlash she might have gotten from Nigel’s twitter gushing. I bet in a week or two she’ll have a breakout performance where she suddenly gets her confidence back.

    Bottom three: Stefano, Stefano, and Jacob. And Stefano. Go home Stefano.

  19. The Wheeze says:

    The WORST performance of the night(& I think since we had to watch it, it should of been included as an option!) was the decimation of “So What”! They only reinforced that they ALL do not deserve to still on. Well, maybe Pia. I did feel sorry for her when she had to try to harmonize with the 4th Amigo (formerly known as Paul)
    Slezak if you ever get Paul on Idoloonies can you have an auction to burn his fugly suit! I for one would pay to watch it burn! It was so out of place on stage with all the ladies dressed up (Well except Karen. That outfit did NOT do her any favors!)

    • Christina says:

      What an abomination that group performance was. You think they would want to highlight them better than that. Even a vocalist like Pia couldn’t shine with what they gave her.

    • Georgia says:

      In past seasons we’ve complained about pre-recorded group numbers, and now we understand! All of the group numbers of four or more have been chaotic horrors, far worse than any middle school concert I’ve seen. It was difficult to believe that they were all singing the same song. I don’t blame the contestants, but it was awful!

    • hooch says:

      The whole thing was so obnoxious and awful. Like “F-You America! So what you voted us off! We’re still rock stars!! We don’t need you!!”. Ugh, I was embarrassed for all of them !

    • SallyinChicago says:

      I’m in the minority, I loved the teaser song So What and the girls really rocked. Paul did look a little sleep deprived and his voice was just barely there, and Thia just disappeared amongst all the high kicks from Naima and the divaish singing from the others.

      I thought it was cute.

  20. Yo says:

    Rough night for me: It’s that point in the season when I know when every gesture and high note is going to come in every performance. And it is boring. James looked silly, like a cartoon of a rock star, but he is an endearing character. I no longer pay attentiontion to Scotty. I feared for Haley, from the word “Adele.” Wow. Too close, but A+ for courage; I couldn’t judge as I had been listening to Adele pre-Idol. Casey is called a genius, but I don’t get it; I will never get it. Rough vocals. I forget the rest of them, but anyone who tells Jacob TO LET HIMSELF GO TO CHURCH just hates Americans.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I think that “Bottom 6” performance set the tone last night: I was so underwhelmed by the whole show!

    I didn’t think Haley did a good job with “Rolling In The Deep” – yes, she can sing, but can she perform? I don’t think she had a grasp on the meaning or the place where that song stems from. Its heartbreak and anger and bitterness, and she’s out there in her cute dress singing like everything’s hunky-dory? Say hhhwhat?!

  22. tag says:

    Could Scotty have picked a song worse than “Swingin’?” Bottom three material, if you ask me. Casey is very musical, but either he doesn’t have enough of a voice or he doesn’t trust it enough to use it and substitutes weird affectations. Bottom three, but I hope he doesn’t go home. Randy’s advice is ridiculous for Jacob, since Jacob restrained is barely tolerable. Bottom three and I hope he does go home. Haley did not do justice to Adelle, but when they announced the song I couldn’t imagine how anyone could improve on the original. It might have been interesting if Lauren had tried a county version. Her song was good, but I keep waiting for her to have her “moment.” Stephano did as well as he ever has. James Durbin always seems to enjoy himself, maybe it’s infectious, so I’m giving him the top spot of the week.

    • funkycoldmedina says:

      For me…Casey is more of a caricature rather than a singer or musician. So what? He can strum a guitar or slap on a bass. He is NOT genius. Actually, NONE of this current crop of contestants are genius nor do they have a single clue about entertainment. This season of American Idol is proof that it has lost it’s sparkle…for me at least. Where is the showmanship? James? hahahaha…only if you are in to ego trips. Im more disgusted than entertained by ANY OF THEM. I feel sorry most for Stefano. He’s tried SO HARD to adapt to the hints and criticisms and it still doesn’t work because he doesn’t have the vocals to carry him. The only one who truly has real vocal ability, but needs serious coaching on vocal control is Haley. The rest are so snooze-worthy I think I may need caffeine to jolt me out of my stupor. If this is the best American Idol can come up with then they have truly run their course. They have also made the show entirely about the production and the producers and the judges egos and have left these kids hanging out to dry…with no winds blowing.

      • tag says:

        Casey knows he has limits. The “genius” thing is something those crazy, over-the-top judges stuck him with. Sure he’s a bit pretentious, calling himself an artist, but it’s not uncommon for a sincere young guy. He loves music and wants to express that passion with whatever meager tools he has, and I’m sure whatever the true potential of his voice, it’s not enough to emulate his musical heroes.

        James is such a fan of spectacle, he tries to bring it each week. Gotta love him, even if he does come out as a horseman of the apocalypse.

        I agree with you about Stephano. He sure does try, but I’m not sure he really gets the meaning behind the music since his singing is still so much the same every week. He needs a song that he really connects to, then we’ll see if he has more to offer.

        I also agree with you that Haley has potential. She shows of some mad vocals every now and then. Maybe she needs a younger, lighter song that reflects her own personality more. I’d like Haley and Lauren to stay, because, while I have a good sense of what the guys are capable of, there is still untapped potential in the girls.

        Your last line rings most true (and poetic, too): it’s all about the show, not the contestants. Some real critiques might lead to some real improvement.

  23. Brian says: is predicting that Jacob is the #2 vote getter behind Scotty (who leads by a LARGE margin). They have Haley, Stefano, and Casey in the bottom 3. I hope they are wrong about Jacob. He needs to go. I just don’t want Haley gone yet. She is far better than Casey, Stefano, and Jacob.

    • Christina says:

      You have to remember though dialidol had Pia safe the night she went home. I think the only thing dialidol is good for this year is showing how far out in front Scotty is.

    • SybilT says:

      Scotty in front by a lot, even with that lazy song choice and lazy vocal? Geez. That is depressing. Scotty’s performance all run together in my mind. I can never actually remember what he sang, or sounded like, on any particular night. It’s all one, two month version of Baby Lock Them Doors.

      • Mike M says:

        Everyone is on Scotty’s case about last night’s song and his performance of it, and I agree with them. But, it’s possible Scotty is smarter than we give him credit for being. I’m not sure he has to move one inch outside his comfort zone to win this thing in spite of the judges and all of us wanting him to do so. I thought last night’s song was an enormous stretch for the theme. “Swingin” is actually a 1983 hit by John Anderson. Apparently LeAnne Rimes did a remake of it, so it technically fit the bill. I like Scotty, but I do think he’s a bit overrated. In the end, I think Lauren has a chance to be a country music superstar because, when all is said and done, she does have a beautiful voice for the genre.

      • funkycoldmedina says:

        @SybilT Whenever I Scotty sings, I get this haunting and at the same time irritating reminder of Mmmmmbabylock, babylock, babylock…thedoorandturnthelightdownlowwwww mocking me in my brain!
        H E L P! ;-p

    • S. Lee Stack says:

      dialidol doesn’t take into account texting or online voting, which means its a largely useless measuring tool…only thing you might could possibly infer is that more of Jacob’s fans call than text (but that’s a stretch as well)

      • Sandi says:

        By my accounts, dialidol has only been wrong once this season and that was the Pia mistake. If they’re correct again this time, the bottom 3 will be Casey, Haley, and Stephano. If that’s the real bottom 3, it better be Stephano getting the boot or I forsee some screaming at the TV on my part tonight.

    • StatsMan says:

      You should really take a statistics class before relying on anything that dialidol says. You’ll clearly see how they misinterpret the data they use, and how they OVERSTATE their accuracy.

    • SallyinChicago says:


  24. Eurydice says:

    About halfway through the show a little light switch went on in my head and I realized that I don’t care what happens to any of these performers – and not just the top 7, but Pia and all the other “losers” and the judges and Ryan and the producers and the audience and all the people out there voting 55 bazillion times. So I changed the channel and watched a Criminal Minds marathon, instead. Lots of growling and screaming there, too – but at least it matters who wins and loses.

    • Heidi says:

      Ha,ha, I never watch the last half hour of idol cuz I can’t miss criminal minds. Love that show. I don’t even record the last part cuz I am so loosing interest. No one does it for me.

    • Erin says:

      LOL Oh yeah. I have come to the realization that I no longer care who wins, or goes home, or sings what because I am no longer addicted to the show. I AM however, addicted to Idoloonies and M. Slezak and all of you nutjobs and what you think. So basically I’m screwed.

  25. Kim R says:

    Jacob was abysmal. He was so off key it hurt my ears! I wish the judges would have told it to him straight instead of skirting the issue by telling him he gave a great “emotional” performance. (ie. the singing sucked).
    Why oh why did Scotty pick to sing the most annoying country song ever written??? He is so much better than that!
    I was unfamiliar with the Casey’s & James’ songs tonight so really don’t know if they were good or bad.
    I hope Lauren & Hayley stay in..they both have great voices.
    Stephano was Stephano. :)

    • Leila says:

      I felt sorry for Jacob because there was major technical error where they were playing the wrong track in his ear piece. It threw him off big time. But I give him props for going back into the song and doing a somewhat good job.

  26. Marlex says:

    Usually I agree with your analysis, but not about Casey this week. He was my second favorite performance of the week behind Haley.

    This was the first week I voted this season, dropping most of them to Haley and a few to Casey.

    1. Haley
    – Between last Thursday and tonight, she’s securely place herself in the position of the contestants whose CDs I will seriously consider buying. (The other is Paul, but I already bought The Grand Magnolias CD off iTunes.)
    2. Casey
    – He’s still rather over the map as far as genre goes, but unlike his earlier forays, I thought he killed it last night. The faces thing is still an issue (although much toned down from before), but I’ll be listening to him on CD or iTunes, not sitting the front row of a concert. Getting right in the face of J.Lo was a bit uncomfortable, but the way it worked out was, dare I say it, kind of cute.
    3. James
    – James had the most entertaining performance of the night, but maybe because I really like the song, I was not a huge fan of what he did with it. If Randy’s comment about the e-mail was true, I can see why he tried to go so high with his voice, but the song as a whole just didn’t feel very cohesive.
    4. Scotty
    – Not a great song selection, but I thought it was an improvement over last week.
    5. Lauren
    – Maybe it’s the lack of judging, but Lauren more than anybody I feel hasn’t taken a risk all season. She has a good voice, but I feel she’s just coasting at this point.
    6. Jacob
    – More restrained than some of his, but I would love to hear a vote that doesn’t waver…. just once.
    7. Stefano
    – I’ll give him credit that he looked more confident that he has before, but sadly, his version of confident didn’t work.

    • Yo says:

      Jacob’s visuals are a mite disturbing, esp. on high notes, and the tremulousness. He can do “normal” but doesn’t; he has a nice face when talking. I think Casey’s teeth grits are more a consequence of orthodonture than trying to look tough. Truly, he has a funky bite.

  27. Lily says:

    My favorite moments from the performances –
    1) ominous lineup of drummers behind the judges, hammering away (James)
    2) the fiddle player during Lauren Alaina’s song
    Best performance – Haley
    Worst performance – Scotty (I was so eager for his performance to be over, I switched off before the last note)
    Jacob Lusk goes to 11, and he had it dialed back to 9 – I think that’s as far back as he can dial it. He’s trying, I didn’t like the song choice though.
    Casey – I think he can now leave the show having achieved as much as he could (Haley’s his girlfriend, he kissed JLo, seeya on the tour)
    Stefano – might survive due to the cute boyzzz OMG brb thing, and it helped to hear him singing something more contemporary
    Bottom three prediction: Casey, Stefano, Jacob
    Going home: Casey
    Who I’d prefer to see go home: Jacob or Stefano

  28. Jamie says:

    So, all about James. I think the appeal of hearing a song as fresh and dramatic as ‘Uprising’ led a lot of people – including Michael – to overlook James’ deeply flawed performance. Not only were his vocals wildly off base frequently (as usual) but the visual presentation was bizarre – and James doesn’t have the chops to pull off that level of drama (or bad ideas – school drummers and that outfit?)
    But here’s my big concern, when I watch James’ blinking into the camera with that simple-minded grin after being told yet again he’s the best thing ever, I truly worry about what the personal ramifications of all this are going to be for him. Given who’s in the top 40 these days, I don’t count anyone out in terms of being successful. But, post-Idol, I cannot imagine James having the basic maturity or people skills for dealing with the challenges of recording, collaborating, touring, or handling the press with any maturity. I think the others (even Jacob) are capable of self-awareness and growth once out of the ‘you’re the best ever’ Idol bubble, but I think James has no idea how weak his performances have truly been and no amount of tape review will reveal it to him. He is already leaning towards deflecting any constructive criticism as just not getting his ‘vision.’ As we know, many Idols, while not going on to huge success, do carve out careers as working musicians but it’s hard work and takes a lot of resilience. Maybe the worse that will happen is he will end up fronting a local metal band, but I fear he’s being set up for a big fall for which he’s not emotionally equipped.

    • sixona says:

      Didn’t they used to have a team of aftercare professionals working for the show ? I hope they still do, this year more than ever. The lowering of the age limit is working so well that we’ll see meltdowns down the road, but hey ! that’s entertainment !

    • Marta says:

      YES! I agree with this, Jamie.
      “He is already leaning towards deflecting any constructive criticism as just not getting his ‘vision.’ ” This bothers me, too. Among a host of other things– his very forced, strategic “rock hands”, his “give metal a chance” (the metal community won’t give HIM a chance, plain and simple), and his flat vocals oftentimes on verses of songs.

    • Liz says:

      I think this is a legitimate concern. You and SallyinChicago absolutely read my mind–the best thing that could happen to him is he joins up with a good band where the brains of the operation (not saying James doesn’t have brains, but he lacks a certain necessary shrewdness) is the bass player/drummer/other non-frontman who understands his issues and can guide his talent and theatricality in the right (and slightly more subtle) direction. A whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts situation. He’ll have a problem doing it on his own but he has a lot to offer and I hope it works out for him.

      • janie says:

        I loved James and thought his rendition was awesome.. but i was thinking.. wouldnt it be great if he got with Velvet revolver? I dnt know if they have a new lead singer yet and he would be playing with Slash who is the brains of that outfit.. and they do play some GNR stuff and i think james sounds like the second coming of Axl Rose!

  29. SallyinChicago says:

    “Look, it’s time to accept that the Idol judges aren’t ever again going to show genuine enthusiasm for a Haley Reinhart performance”

    To me, Haley is becoming the most marketable. I think she can sing across genres.

    • GaryfromCinci says:

      Haley is the ONLY Idol who has got consistently better each week. I actully start to look forward to her performances.

    • zaza says:

      I was not a Hayley fan to begin with, because the way she slurred her words really bugged me. But I started to like her when I saw how she kept a positive attitude even when sent to the stools of doom (unlike some people…Ashton Jones, I’m looking at you). I still wouldn’t say I’m a fan, but I did actually vote for her last night, because I felt like she finally had a worthwhile performance. I think her voice and style really lend itself to that jazzy Adele-vibe.

  30. Scarlett says:

    What the heck was Iovine doing with Michael’s “Beat It” jacket? No, just no.

  31. Karen says:

    Oh Slezak, I hate that you think James gave the best performance and Casey gave the worst (flip those around, my brother), but I love that you used a PR reference to describe James’ pants!

  32. Pam says:

    I despise “Closer” and I’m ready for Stefano to go home. The wild card was wasted on both him and Ashthon. Jacob could go too, and I’d be happy. Both of them have lasted longer in this competition than they should have, in my opinion. And as far as the opening number from the previously-dismissed Idols go, I suspect Paul was suffering from all the interviews and coast-to-coast travel he had to do since elimination last week. Not to mention, could there have been a song less suited to him? Even the attitude of the song doesn’t match him. Oh, and Pia still managed to bore me.

  33. Libbie says:

    Hi Michael, I am so glad I found your recaps again! I find myself watching Idol this year (after seeing the first nine years)and wondering how did JACOB get in the TOP 7? Or Casey? They’re horrible!Why do these kids have to have big ole ugly earpieces when Carrie never needed one. Or Melinda. Or Kelly. Is the band that overpowering? Also, I loved Haley’s outfit. That cute little orange polka-dot dress was amazing. I remember when Paula would open her critique with “You look AMAZING tonight” and I would think “uh oh…the kiss of death”. But I don’t think JLo ever comments on the outfits, does she? Anyway, keep up the great work!

  34. Tuzo says:

    A week after announcing Jack Black as an inspiration Casey pulls out a full blown Jack Black imitation on the “scatted” guitar solo.

  35. dj says:

    It wasn’t a good night, and it was surreal at the end to hear Ryan use up the extra time by going on about how great everyone did and asking the judges how was America going to choose. I was wondering how American was going to choose, too, but it was more because I felt like everyone should go home at this point and they should start the season over. It was another moment where the emperor has no clothes, but Nigel and Co. think if they all pretend hard enough, America will see something we don’t.

    I’m hoping Jacob goes home this week, because he hasn’t had one good performance since the live shows started.

  36. Lucy says:

    Scotty is annoying plus he is not that good of a country singer. He is not a hunk and his post idol run will be forgotten in no time. I can’t see him ever pulling an idol moment. Yawn.

    Casey – is tumbling quickly. I didn’t think he could get more annoying, but he has. It’s over. Just a matter of time.

    Steffano – But Jacob was just as bad.

    Jacob. I can hardly believe the guy made it to the top 24.

    Lauren – The girl doesn’t get it. She’s overwhelmed. She’s not capable of a breakthru performance. She’s been told what to do and she’s not capable of deliverying. Because she does not know how. She’s too young. That song was pathetic. And no one critiqued the song or the performance at all. It was so painfully obvious they would piss off Nigel if they did. What started out as a season of great hope is spiraling out of control.. and will crash burn very soon. It’s overly manufactured and controlled. It’s only hope lies on the shoulders of James.

    Yes — James. He is entertaining and if it wasn’t for him the season would already be over. I find myself rooting for him each time I see one of his tics from his disability. I’m not the only one I’m sure.. and you can bet the Idol machinery does too.

    The only possibly hope for this season is a Haley and James finale. The idol machinery has misplaced their support. She has the best vocals, but tends to slur the lyrics. Lauren’s immaturity and lack of social awareness will take years to overcome.. and might not ever occur. But Haley..this gal gets it. She has not caved even though it was obvious the machine was not behind her. She’s a survivor and has the talent to boot. If she can keep it up.. she could make it to the finale. America likes an underdog.

  37. Lilah says:

    Well, for me Idol is in a death spiral of boredom UNLESS Scotty is taken out of the competition in a mysterious gardening accident. Evil Nigel and his talent-hating flying monkeys can plot all they like, but their antics only mean I looking forward to The Voice more each day.

    • Nicole says:

      You’re so right. I’ve barely made it through this season, and as a former avid AI watcher, that is disheartening. However, I’m sucked in by The Voice promos and after X Factor, I have a feeling that, unless they made drastic changes to Idol next year, I won’t even be recording and fast-forwarding through most of it in Jan 2012.

  38. Shay says:

    The group number was hilarious!! Katen’s Gerry curl! Naima’s high kicks and leaps! Paul’s obvious desire to not be there! The way the Idol Rejects sang over each other made me think a backstage PA with a wild sense of humor told them all whoever performed with the most energy would get put back on the show. How else could you explain the mania on that stage?!

  39. MFW says:

    The bottom line for this season is that the “judges” have not done their job. Period. They haven’t ‘judged’, they’ve ‘cheered’. I have to wonder if their contracts said ‘cheerleader’ or ‘judge’?

  40. MNCyn says:

    Here’s my question. Can Haley’s reviews override the judges obvious slant? In other words, is Jimmy wrong and the voters REALLY are a bunch of sheep? Here’s another good review – from American Idol Blog: “THE STANDOUTS: You have to be brave to cover Adele – John Legend and Gwyneth Paltrow both had the guts to do so quite recently, and so does Haley Reinhart, performing the singer’s #1 hit “Rolling In The Deep”. Haley looks adorable, sexy, and classy all at the same time in a polka dot dress, and her throaty, unique vocals make us hear this song in a whole new way. Girl’s on a roll!”

    • Leila says:

      Too bad most of America has bad taste and may send her to Bottom 3 tonight.

      I’m also loving Haley’s dresses on the show.

  41. Marta says:

    I admit, I’ve watched Durbin’s Idol run with a certain critical eye ever since his AWFUL, unlikeable edit in the audition/Hollywood rounds. I agree that he truly is excited to be there and has more talent than I originally thought– BUT…Post Idol, I truly believe the Idol viewing public won’t buy his music, nor will the metal/rock community take him seriously. Hence, if he wins, there is yet another winner who made for great reality TV, but isn’t a viable recording artist. I’ve said it all season- but Idol does not need James Durbin as it’s winner- nor does James Durbin need to win Idol. (Oye- the media scrutiny on that kid!)

    • Jack says:

      I think James will do fine as the lead singer of a band. I can’t see him headlining as a solo act like Glambert or Cook, but I think with the right band and some development he could be quite successful.

      • Liz says:

        Oops, Jack, I just said practically the same thing above. Kudos. Maybe for James’s sake we should all keep an eye out for a good band needing a standout singer.

  42. lisak says:

    Scotty is soooooooo boring! I’m not a country fan but there are country singers who can keep my attention with good voice quality, interesting lyrics or at least a fun arrangements. He’s sleepwalking thru Idol.

    We need a do-over this season. I like James but Haley and Casey are the performers whose records I’d buy.

  43. lisak says:

    besides, Scott is NOT a heart throb type (who is Nigel kidding?) he looks like Howdy Doody (but i guess i’m the only one here old enough to remember him.)

    • GaryfromCinci says:

      LMAO… YES!! He so does look like Howdy Doody.

      I told my wife i thought he looked like Alfred E. Newman from Mad Magazine.

    • Yo says:

      Sadly, you are not. But I got through a whole presidential election thinking George Bush looks like Howdy Doody (who bears a remarkable similarity to Alfred E. Neuman).

      • Leila says:

        LOL… The resemblance that bugs me the most is to George Bush. I can’t understand Scotty’s appeal either, he’s not that cute and he keeps singing those old fashioned tunes with ridiculous mannerisms. But I admit he has a great voice and is perfect for the country market. I just wished he went straight to a country talent show, not American Idol. Now we have to suffer through all the way to the finale…

  44. GaryfromCinci says:

    Wow.. this season would be so different if Simon Cowell were still on the panel. The lack of true critique has ruined this season.

    Haley is becoming quite the fan underdog and thats what everyone has been waiting for. She has consistently got better each week.

  45. GinaBallerina says:

    I couldn’t help but notice that both Haley and Casey sang breakup songs tonight (with Casey seeming especially angry) and avoided each other at the end. Something happen after last week’s awesome Results Show performance?

    • karen says:

      I think for some reason the AI PTB decided that don’t want to play up their romance. Hence, the Casey flirting with the girl in the audience and the kissing JLo. They probably want to make it look like Casey is available to all the teen girls out there.

      I did also notice that they didn’t have Casey make any comments about Haley when they did those little interviews about each other. odd

    • GaryfromCinci says:

      She realized he was a dirty hippee

  46. confused says:

    so, does LeAnn Rimes really sing the Swingin version that states that Charlotte is her lover?

    • hooch says:

      I was wondering this as well, does anyone know ? I had never heard this song before.

      • confused says:

        it was apparently sung before by a male (john anderson) which made more sense. i was thinking while scotty was singing that he must have changed the lyrics, but i googled leann rimes swingin lyrics and sure enough- charlotte was her lover. hahah

      • Mike M says:

        “Swingin” is a 1983 hit by country music performer John Anderson. Apparently LeAnn Rimes did a re-make but I have never heard it.

        • S. Lee Stack says:

          apparently using the same rule loophole that allowed Danny Gokey to sing “Stand By Me” in season 8 simply because Mickey Gilley did a little-known cover version the year Gokey was born…

          ie, certain contestants will be allowed to sing whatever they want…

  47. Karen says:

    Don’t be so hard on the “judges”

    They have an impossible task — trying to find a true American Idol out of this bunch.

    Either a miracle happened and out of the hundreds of thousands who auditioned no one was great….OR…they didn’t know what the hell they were doing when they picked the top group….either way, along the line they found themselves in deep doo-doo.

    I can hear the private AI production meetings now. Holy crap – what are we going to do – not a single one deserves the title. One week the PTB probably say, “Tell them they are all great and maybe we can fool the masses.” Then, the next week, they probably say, “Hell, no one’s buying that, you had better start criticizing, with hopes they improve”

    It’s the only thing that explains the schizophrenia.

    • karen says:

      One more thought….EVERYTHING is orchestrated. Count the number of times someone on the shows talks about how great they all are. this is no accident. It means they know it’s not true…so they tell them all to keep on repeating it.

    • j. says:

      Don’t forget, the judges put this bunch there in the first place.

    • marie says:

      (I see others evidently agree with me that the correct written form is indeed “judges,” in quotation marks. Amen.)

    • SallyinChicago says:

      I’ve written it before, this is the BEST PRODUCED AI in years. The production is fantastic.

    • not says:

      Totally disagree. Around the top 24 stage, they had an amazing group with so much potential. Last year at the same time, I could only pick 8 or so that I thought should make up the top 12 and a bunch of obvious losers came along for the ride. This time, it was hard to pick the top 12 b/c there was so much talent – though I disagreed with 2/3 of their “wild card” choices, several really good singers went home (e.g., the other Lauren).

      But there is so little constructive (or any) criticism this year that no one has grown at all. At this stage, they should have all gotten much better and instead they’ve got Casey (who was awesome back in Hollywood week) all confused about who he’s supposed to be. The others are right where they were weeks ago and either (1) being so hyped that they don’t realize they need to improve, read James, or (2) being told they have to step it up (but with no concreate suggestions about how to do so).

  48. Can't Sleep says:

    On a night where the performances were mediocre to blaize, James and Casey stood out. Haley was imperfect, as she usually is, but tamed her most irritating stage habits. The other 4 were forgettable, forgettable, forgettable, forgettable. Forgettable doesn’t win, but it lands you in the B3. We haven’t had a week yet where a girl doesn’t end up in the B3, and it’s Lauren Alaina’s turn. But Stefano’s run is over.

  49. jaime says:

    so, the whole night pretty much left me wanting more.
    I actually kinda liked Scotty’s vocal, but he’s getting boring and predictable. liked it better than last week for sure though.
    I can’t help but pull for James- I have liked him from the start and I thought it was a good performance. I like that song a lot and thought he did it justice while changing it up a bit…
    I love Haley too and thought she picked the right song, but not sure she was as good as last week (Thursday’s Moanin’) but still a solid performance.
    I don’t know the song that Jacob sang, but I actually thought he sounded good. He must not have though because JLO made an excuse for him being emotional throughout and therefore not hitting the notes… And, Randy’s critique couldn’t be more wrong- please don’t have him go all out.
    I absolutely Hated Casey’s song- it’s not the kind of music I see him singing and I thought it was awful, especially the second half. Then again, I didn’t get last week’s Nature Boy either, so maybe I just need to admit that I’m not a Casey fan, so maybe I’m harder on him? and Steven’s f-bombs- dumb. just a publicity stunt to get Casey some votes, IMO
    I think I physically sighed after Stefano’s song. I want to pull for the guy, but he just never quite gets to where I want him to. I love that song (good running song for my ipod) and it was pretty sub par. and like michael said, he didn’t even sing the hook- just a bunch of runs.
    I pull for Lauren, I do, but I thought last night paled in comparison to the original. Lauren has a good voice, I just wish she was getting sound advice before last night so she could already be at where we all expected her to be.

  50. says:

    If James gave the best performance of the night then AI is in real trouble. Does anyone want to download that performance on iTunes? Now that I think of it, I have not downloaded a single song this season.

    • BluePill says:

      Guess what – I did 1 hour after the show! Loved the live version and when he went into high registers I got chills running through my body! Awsome, simply awsome performance. iTunes version has no high screaming chorus verses, and is very good as well.

      I am not surprised rock is dying off when listening to your guys criticism of this kid’s performances. He pretty much produces his own performances, somes up with ideas to keep as ENTERNTAINED! Rock is about showmanship people!!! Does anyone even goes to concerts anymore, other than pop?!
      There is no way I would waste not money, but time to spend 2 hours at a show with Stefano, Jacob or Scotty! I want to be enterntained – if I just want to listen to the music, I’ll turn on the radio for that.
      All you can people do is compare him to Lambert or say he cannot sing! Geezzz! Get a life! ;)