By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes
Sometimes I wonder whether this season’s Top 9 is significantly more talented than say… last season’s Top 9. The test is easy: How difficult – or easy – is it to pinpoint a Bottom 3 and who should ultimately go home.
Based on the performances of Wednesday night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame theme night, the answer is that this is an incredibly talented season. Choosing a Bottom 3 is hard – which is a thought that immediately has inspired me to vote for my favorite.
Now that that’s done, it’s time to assess a night of solid performances.
Paul McDonald closed out the show with my favorite performance of the night. He sang a wild and crazy rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” complete with clapping, foot stomping, and dancing around the stage as he played his acoustic guitar in a suit that somehow reminded me of Johnny Cash (or at least Joaquin Phoenix in “Walk The Line.”) His performance reminded me yet again that Paul McDonald is the best performer of the bunch, and he seemed so emotionally invested in his song choice and the act of performing, that it was an episode ending high point.
James Durbin gave another of my favorite performances of the night, with a rare, subdued performance of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” As entertained as I am by his high-energy performances, seeing James sit down and sing a song that clearly mattered to him emotionally, and think of the words as he emotionally connected with the audience and showed his sensitive side was a beautiful thing. It was also incredibly surprising, because I had imagined that the man who sang Judas Priest on American Idol would love something high-energy tonight.
This was also finally the week for Scotty McCreery to crack my personal Top 3, with his rap swagger (Jennifer Lopez’s thoughts, not entirely mine) infused performance of his childhood hero, Elvis Presley’s, song “That’s All Right Mama.” Again, this song was so special to me because I saw an emotional connection, and the song fit his voice so perfectly.
I was incredibly excited for Pia Toscano to sing something upbeat, with her rendition of Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” which I thought was amazingly performed on “Glee” earlier this season. While I was so distracted by her atrocious outfit and awkward dance movements, I loved her voice doing something fun and upbeat, and hope she doesn’t immediately revert back to her ballad safe-zone.
Casey Abrams sang one of my favorite songs of the night, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” with his stand-up bass. I enjoyed it because it got back to quintessential Casey: interesting musically, great vocally, and filled with his passion for music. Saving him was the best part of the season so far.
Perhaps one of the most perfectly chosen songs of the night was Haley Reinhart’s rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” – the perfect song to show off her growly, raspy voice. She danced around, stomped her feet, and seemed to really get carried away with the song in a good way. To me this proved that Haley isn’t a meek girl with a shockingly big voice, but an artist who can command the stage.
While Lauren Alaina’s performance of Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” was good, it was almost a bit of a let down to me. She sang an incredibly difficult song really well, but it wasn’t the best she’s ever done, and it certainly wasn’t the best of the night. It also wasn’t the best time this song has been performed on ‘Idol’ in the past. I liked it, and I acknowledge that she went on a serious limb to sing one of the toughest songs of the night.
I’m very glad that Jacob Lusk chose not to sing “Let’s Get It On,” since that song is not him at all – personally, I don’t get any sort of sexual vibe from him – and also because it would never top Matt Giraud’s performance of the same song a few years back, which is a favorite ‘Idol’ performance of mine. Instead, Jacob sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” in an all-white outfit. It was good, not great, but certainly better than the alternative.
Again, my least favorite of the night was Stefano Langone. Tonight with Percy Sledge’s eponymous hit “Let’s Get It On” he showed off that he does have a great singing voice, but I found the performance to be too awkward, too rushed, and too high pitched to really convey any romantic undertones the song should have.
My Bottom three: Stefano, Jacob and Lauren. And I do honestly believe that this is finally Stefano’s week to go.