By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes
It seems as if the Top 8 have finally started to imagine who they want to be as an artist when this competition is all over, because tonight, they seemed to defend their personal song choices and go against the advice of Jimmy Iovine all too often. In some cases, it might’ve been a good thing, in others, it might mean the end of their ‘Idol’ run. And as much as I liked the artists standing up for themselves, I really appreciated how critical Jimmy Iovine was about pretty much all of them. I’ve had very little to complain about the judges this season, but one thing that I do wish the panel had was someone not afraid to tell them they made an idiotic choice or didn’t sing as well as they could have or should have. The judges find something optimistic about every contestant, which doesn’t help them out in the long run, and could be the root of last week’s surprise elimination.
James Durbin closed out the show with the most energetic, engaging, and fun performance of the night with Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” joined by Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde on stage. It didn’t seem like he was competing – it seemed like he was some veteran musician brought back to entertain the crowd and show the competitors how it’s done. He’s not my favorite competitor, but I think he could not only win, but have an incredible lucrative and successful career, and week after week I enjoy seeing his performances. That said, associating the soft James Durbin – an “American Idol” contestant, no less – with hard rock just seems inappropriate and wrong to me.
I thought Lauren Alaina had one of the best-chosen songs of the night with Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.” For starters, there was no way she wouldn’t be anything but vastly superior to the original. The song also seemed to have a real personal connection to her, as even discussing it brought her to tears. Here is a song from a teenage idol making her dreams a reality beautifully performed by a teenage Idol making her dreams a reality. It was a great moment for her.
Before Stefano Langone stepped on stage, I was already commenting that this would be his swan song – and then he started singing Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” and gave his best performance to date. I am neither a Boyz II Men fan nor a Stefano fan, yet somehow this worked. He keeps clawing his way back to (likely) safety, despite a song choice that initially made me roll my eyes.
My only question about Paul McDonald is where he found that bedazzled rose covered suit of his. He also had a great song choice with Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” and gave an energetic performance. I like when Paul sings songs like this since I think they suit his voice and his on-stage personality. Of course, I always wish he could sing “Maggie May,” but this was a good selection and another solid performance.
Jacob Lusk’s soulful performance of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was the night’s most poignant and beautiful moment. I really enjoyed his soulful take on such a classic song, and again, thought that he too chose a song really well. Jimmy Iovine was right – the song certainly seemed made for him, even if I wouldn’t have imagined a gentle song with Jacob’s powerful voice and a backing choir.
Casey Abrams went against the song direction guidance of Jimmy Iovine and sang Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” with his stand-up bass, which I think means that should Casey remain in the competition, he can no longer perform with an instrument. His performance was so out of the Idol wheelhouse, which is perhaps what made it so interesting and endearing and why I personally enjoyed it so much. It was nice seeing him stand up for himself, recognizing the type of musician he is and the artist he wants to be, and remaining true to himself. I wonder if that will cost him, though.
Haley Reinhart performed Blondie’s “Call Me,” and while it wasn’t her best performance, and was far from being the best performance of the night, I liked it – only because I like the original song so much. Randy was right when he said that it didn’t show off her strong voice, which was totally true; it’s a shame because this song is in the right vibe for Haley, but just not the best fit.
Scotty McCreery was another candidate who went against the guidance of Jimmy Iovine and sang George Strait’s “Cross My Heart,” or another boring country song performed by boring Scotty McCreery. He should’ve sang “Talkin’” – I think the song would’ve been exponentially more recognizable, more fun, and more relevant. I’ve grown bored of Scotty being a one-trick pony with a song ending facial look he’s perfected through mirror practices. He sings really well, and probably has a long career ahead of him, but I think his time on ‘Idol’ will just get more redundant moving forward.
My predictions for Bottom 3: Scotty, Haley and either Casey or Jacob.