By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes
It took me a long time to figure out how exactly to start this recap--do I start from the very beginning of the episode, or do I come out and mention one of Idol’s more shocking cuts that came at the very end of the episode? In the spirit of the show, which teases shocking outcomes and will draw something out for two hours, I’ll start at the beginning and work my way to the epic conclusion. If it were any other show, I’d report the serious news first, but that seems to go against everything "American Idol" has ingrained in me in 10 seasons.
On Tuesday’s episode of ‘American Idol,’ 61 contestants boarded coach buses and headed to Las Vegas, where they would sing songs of the Beatles in duos and trios on the stage of the Beatles LOVE show. I have a love-hate relationship with American Idol electing to do Beatles theme nights. I love the Beatles, and when someone does a great arrangement of a Beatles song, I genuinely think they’ve shown talent.
I liked this idea in theory, but not in practice. It was cool to bring the group to such a big stage and allow them to perform theatrically, but when you’re introducing the Beatles music to some contestants who have never even heard of the Beatles, you’re asking for trouble. "American Idol," I beg of you, save the Beatles for when there’s only the top contestants.
As predicted last week, Ashley Sullivan would go and do something crazy in Las Vegas. She eloped at the wedding chapel where her idol, Britney Spears, got married (that time to Jason Alexander that her marriage lasted only 55 hours before annulment). She proceeded to threaten to kill her soon-to-be-husband if he got cold feet only before asking the cameraman to sign off as the witness. Suffice it to say, singing was not on her mind, and when she took the stage she struggled and got sent home. She seemed pleased to have made it this far, and has something far more exciting than American Idol to look forward to: marriage.
Now that that’s out of the way, on to some real performers who were memorable for all the right reasons in Las Vegas--James Durbin was expectedly spot-on with his high-pitched rendition of “Get Back,” a song I felt was appropriately chosen. His partner Steffano Langone was good, but not great. To his credit, it’s hard to shine when you’re with James Durbin and he’s singing a rock song.
Karen Rodriguez and Pia Toscano were up next, and ‘Idol’ revealed that the girls were high school classmates at a rigorous performing arts high school in New York City. The girls sang an upbeat, polished, and incredibly well harmonized version of “Can’t Buy Me Love.” For the second week in a row, I’ve been incredibly impressed by Pia Toscano. She has an incredible voice and an even better stage presence, and I think she’s become one to watch this season.
My two stars of the night go to two guys who have been given very little attention this season on "American Idol"--Tim Halperin, and Paul McDonald. I remember liking Tim Halperin at his initial audition, but never hearing from him again, and I don’t remember ever hearing Paul McDonald sing. These two were the high point of the evening for me. While Tim’s voice is more traditional, I thought he sounded near flawless behind the piano, and paired with the always-excellent Julie Zorilla, I knew he would do well. Paul’s voice on the other hand is unique and raspy, and I just love him. He’s what the Idol judges would call a singer-songwriter (read: he’s somewhat quirky and plays the guitar), and every time he sang, you could hear a judge say “I just love his voice” beneath their breath.
The semi-shocking bits of Beatles nights were that consistently strong performers Lauren Alaina, Casey Abrams, Thia Megia, and Chris Medina weren’t at their best. As I mentioned, I think it’s tough to expect contestants to sound pitch perfect when singing the Beatles this early in the game.
As for my favorite young contestants, Robbie Rosen sounded brilliantly amazing as always, and is reminding me more and more of Justin from ‘Ugly Betty.’ Neither Brett Lowenstern nor Jacee Badeaux were featured in the Beatles segment of the episode.
The shocking departure of the night, depending on how you look at things, is that Chris Medina has been sent home. I, for one, wasn’t too surprised by this. From all the teasers of Jennifer Lopez breaking into hysterics and saying she can’t continue voting people off, I knew a fan favorite would be sent home, and I was betting it was either Chris Medina or Jacee Badeaux (who is not safe yet).
Chris Medina hasn’t been consistently as great as he was in his initial audition, and when a clip was shown of his final solo—an off key, off pitch and otherwise terrible rendition of Coldplay’s beautiful song “Fix You” – I knew he was done. The judges gave him words of encouragement and praise for being a talented musician and a real stand-up guy, but right now, this wasn’t the right competition for him. I think they did the right thing. It saved him from going down Andrew Garcia’s path of never living up to an early audition and being strung along too long because of it.
Tonight, the rest of the Top 24 will be named in an especially drawn out two-hour-long episode, and we will see if Jennifer will be able to continue giving people bad news (it doesn’t seem promising).