My Idol friends, the hour is growing late, so I will recap my general thoughts on tonight's Idol telecast in twitter speak:
Paul McDonald: “Folsom Prison Blues.” And finally, it all comes together. For the first time, I understand the power that is Paul McDonald. Channeling a serious Mumford & Sons vibe, Paul pulled his act together: every single little detail of this performance fell perfectly into place. How exciting is this season, where every week someone new steps up to give everyone else a run for their money? Casey's Hollywood bass beauty. Pia rising out of cannon fodder Top 24. Stefano nailing the Wildcard. James unexpectedly wowing in the Top 13. Scotty stretching in the Top 12. Jacob showing restraint in the Top 11. Lauren and Haley stunning in the Top 11 Redux. And now with Paul pulling top honors in the Top 9, EVERYONE left has had some kind of special Idol moment-- which means cuts are going to get tough, my peoples.
Pia Toscano: “River Deep Mountain High.” Murderer!! Pia SLAYS me, every time. Every. Single. Time. I'm hard-pressed to think of another Idol contestant who has performed this flawlessly week-to-week, without a single vocal misstep. And while Pia could certainly benefit from a splash of personality and a dash of dance (and maybe even just a smidge of imperfection), who gives a flying f**k if she sounds that magnificent!! I mean, the way Pia ripped into the verses and soared on the high notes has me COVINCED she's destined for pop divadom. Stick that girl in a sparkly dress, throw her in a (gay) club and slap her vocals against a dance track and Pia is going to make BANK. Trust. #90sDivaPopComeback
Scotty McCreery: “That’s All Right Mama.” Get it, girl. Dare I say, I was mercilessly charmed by Scotty's somewhat silly/somewhat sexy stylings on this song. He laid some Paul McDonald-style affectations down on his country crooning, and to my complete surprise, I wasn't mad at it (even the side-microphone singing is growing on me). In fact, let me just get on with it: I downright enjoyed Scotty's performance. And that's all right now, mama.
James Durbin: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Well played, good sir-- and just because Will.i.Shutthehellup can't deliver anything but hyped-up nonsense, doesn't mean you shouldn't show your softer side. And while I'm not quite sure this song was the way to go (twas a bit too obscure/unrelatable for my taste), I am quite sure that last note made me stop caring. Contedor, anyone?
Haley Reinhart: “Piece of My Heart.” Haley is slowly but surely becoming one of my favorite contestants this season-- her powerhouse, growly vocals and stompy, awkward gestures make her the definition of a hot mess (in all the best ways). To me, Haley still hasn't quite yet hit a home run (only triples, at best. Holy gay sports metaphor, Batman!), but I think Haley is one Idol "moment" away from some kind of meteoric rise to stardom. And while this little ditty wasn't quite perfectly calibrated, I'm already dreaming of the recorded version-- because at the end of the day, I'd rather hear Haley's magnificent voice unimpaired by her jokey demeanor. #TimeForABalladGurl.
Lauren Alaina: “A Natural Woman.” Lauren came so close to glory on this performance, but I feel like she was holding back and overthinking things. If she had just let loose and wailed to holy hell (like she did on that spectacular FEEEEEEEEEL note), it would have been magical. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I wish Lauren would add a touch of the the Lusky Stank to her style, because she's still not quite losing herself in her performances the way she needs to. I'm frustrated that Lauren hasn't teared into a song vocally yet-- I want to hear her swing for the fences, leave no man behind and every other terrible cliche about giving it all she's got (because that's what America will need to see in order to give her the win).
Stefano Langone: "When a Man Loves a Woman.” Something tells me if Stefano had performed this right on the heels of "If You Don't Know Me By Now," I'd be singing a very different tune. But in the post "Hello" debacle era, and with my confidence in Stefano shaken, I'm not sure another retro ballad was what Stefano needed. I love Stefano's voice (and look), but I'm still not convinced he's a musician/artist at heart. I think he'd make a fine mid-level, heavily-produced pop player, and as such, he should probably start displaying some more contemporary chops (because his commercial sensibility is his biggest/only advantage, currently).
Casey Abrams: “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” I have indeed seen the rain, Casey, and watching this performance was about equally as exciting (minus some killer upright bass love). Casey best pray he's got some rollover Judges Save votes stored up, because he just committed the cardinal Idol sin: Dude. Was. Dull.
Jacob Lusk: “Man in the Mirror.” Lusky stank, indeed-- stank 'tude! "Let me say this: if I end up in the Bottom 3, it won't be because I sang the song bad(ly), it'll be because everyone in America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror." Oh, please. If America puts you in the Bottom 3 of this singing competition, Jacob, it'll be because you failed to prove (once again) that you're a viable recording artist-- not because we're all too shallow to "believe we can fly" and change the world. But moving on: anyone else think at first that Naima magically reappeared to backup sing for Jacob, George Huff style? But that poor woman not only had to suffer through Jacob's wildly ridiculous air-humping, she also had to hear her song steamrolled with all the subtlety and emotional sincerity of a raging bull. Anyone else tiring of the antics?
Predictions: Methinks our ladies will be safe a bit longer, due to their dwindling numbers-- so my money is on a Casey-Jacob-Stefano Bottom 3, with (hopefully) Jacob going home in a "vicious" surprise elimination (though Stefano might sadly catch the axe this week instead...)