'American Idol' Recap: Personal Idols
The Top 13 singers get personal with their song choices
The real performance rounds are here! We've finally narrowed it down to 13 finalists, and now we can really get to know them -- except I already feel like I know them pretty well, especially after following them on Twitter, which I'm starting to regret. Anyway, tonight's theme is "Your Personal Idol," leaving it wide open for any and all genres. No country singers will have to struggle through Motown's greatest hits tonight.
The judges come out, drunk with power and high on life (uppers and downers!), followed by Ryan who asks the audience to shout out their favorite. It was a muddled response, but wouldn't it be funny if the entire audience just went, "Scotty!" in unison?
More: "American Idol" on BuddyTV | Bing: More about "American Idol" Season 10
Lauren Alaina needs styling help. She's as cute as a button, but lord, that look. She's singing "Any Man of Mine" by Shania Twain, and we'll see if she can reverse the curse. I was worried for her, just based on that tunic/dress and jeggings combo. But her voice is effortless, and she's sailing through the song. Who are those backup singers? Are they also 16 years old?
Steven wished it was more "kickass," and Lauren looked like it was the first negative comment she'd ever heard in her life. She was like, "What are these words I'm hearing? I was ... not amazing?" Basically the judges thought it was just OK, and I agree.
Well, it's "all up to America" now!
Can Casey Abrams turn things around? His personal idol is Joe Cocker, who looks delightfully crazy when he sings. Casey looks funny in those plaid shorts. He starts out sitting on the stairs alone, but there was a host of backup singers hiding back there! I like Casey, but this performance seems like he's pushing a little bit too hard to sound and look like Joe Cocker. The audience and judges loved it, though. I would love it if Casey trimmed his beard a little. Jennifer said it felt like she was watching somebody important (another backhanded compliment?). And Randy said, "Season 10 Remix!" Nice feedback, Randy.
Can Ashthon Jones also be "a rainbow of talent"? "No," said everyone. Not surprisingly, Ashthon chose Diana Ross, whom she has heard of. Jimmy Iovine is a little nervous about Ashthon's range, and so am I, as she whispers out her lower register at the top of her song. It also sounded like Ashthon sang, "Shining like a Ken doll in the dark," which made me laugh. Do Spanx inhibit one's singing ability? Just wondering. That dress needs Spanx.
It was truly "just OK," and Randy thought Ashthon did herself some good. This is the season of letting down gently. I agree with Jennifer that Ashthon should start choosing songs that people know better, but does Ashthon know which songs those might be?
Paul McDonald's idol is Ryan Adams, and he might just be saying that so he can sing this song. But I don't know; it's hard to read Paul. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't care about "American Idol" very much, which makes him the Crystal Bowersox of Season 10. They both just seem sort of ambivalent and cool. But Paul does look like some bandy-legged majorette tonight.
Were there any notes in that song? Is it possible for Paul to finish a performance without kowtowing to the audience? Does it even matter? I'm still not a Paul fan after this performance, but everyone else seems to like him. The judges said less about his performance and more about how they like him in general. I liked when Ryan Seacrest asked Paul how one "does the Paul McDonald." Ryan's earning his keep. After his performance, Paul tells the camera that he hopes America "gets it." Wow.
Pia Toscano looks stunning in that outfit. Does it matter what she sings? Someone earlier mentioned hitting the mute button for any Celine Dion, and that may make this experience more enjoyable. She's singing, "All by Myself," which may as well be "I'll Stand by You," which she sang last week. Oh, well. I like her dress. I got a picture, but it didn't do the dress justice. Pia hit the high note and the key change, as we are accustomed to her doing by now. She was great and sparkly. Jennifer had a moment, and Randy yelped, "Yo!" It was hot, dope and cool, according to Randy. Steven wished her a happy International Women's Day. Same to you, Steven!
"American Idol" executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, is starting to show, as the cutaways before the breaks are starting to look more like those from "So You Think You Can Dance." But Ryan Seacrest is no Cat Deeley!
James Durbin's idol is Paul McCartney, and Ashthon was like, "Who?" Sorry, Ashthon, but you'll never live down never having heard a Beatles song. James is singing "Maybe I'm Amazed" in a patriotic vest with the scarf around his neck and not hanging from the back of his pants! Great strides tonight. James sounds great on the song, but the way he's looking at the camera gives me the sense he isn't really thinking about what the song lyrics are about.
Randy tells James he's one of his favorites and that he can sing anything. I would like him to sing Countess LuAnn de Lesseps' "Money Can't Buy You Class," then. I eagerly anticipate when James has a bad performance, and we get to see how he reacts to negative feedback. I don't really like how he's playing the crowd -- obnoxious. I'm pickier about personality than I am about pitch.
Haley Reinhart is working with Rock Mafia, who has also worked with Miley Cyrus (Miley!). It's a good match. I hope Haley sings LeAnn Rimes' "Blue" to our liking and doesn't growl a bunch. We saw a little bit of that growl-itude coming out, but she kept it down to a minimum, I think. It was more about the yodel. I was nervous for her, but in the end I think I enjoyed it.
I think she borrowed those earrings from Steven Tyler. Jennifer likes the "unique" things that Haley does with her voice, and Randy complimented her range, but found it a little boring. I don't think Randy is a Haley fan. I also think Jennifer is playing to the crowd, arguing anything Randy says that gets booed.
Jacob Lusk looks like a used-car salesman. Can a man ever wear a checked suit and a patterned tie without looking like a used-car salesman?
Anyway, Jacob is singing, "I Believe I Can Fly," and he loves the movie "Space Jam." I'll try not to let that taint how I hear the performance. Jacob went full-on diva almost suddenly in the song, and then he was joined by Casey's backup singers in cheap, graduation, I mean, gospel robes. Was that a last minute addition? "Quick, throw these on! I don't want to hear anything about the smell!"
Steven and Jennifer aren't really giving feedback, are they? I guess that's how it's always been, though. We only need one judge who provides legitimate, critical commentary.
Thia Megia is taking on Michael Jackson's "Smile" in the fourth long gown of the evening. We don't get out of the bargain basement until the Top 6 or so, so let's treasure these Forever 21 moments. Thia just found out that "Smile" was originally by "Charlie Chapman," and it will clearly influence the way she sees the world from now on. I liked the way she was singing the song from the top. It was very understated again. But then the drum machine kicked in, and it got weird and, yes, pitchy.
Randy felt the same way as me. What an "interesting" arrangement! J.Lo negated her own feedback (that could be misconstrued as negative) by saying, "But it doesn't matter: You sing like an angel!" It seemed like it did matter to Thia, though, in her post-performance interview.
Don't forget about Stefano Langone! He's singing a Stevie Wonder ballad, and I may just fall asleep. So if I type a bunch of nonsense, that's just my head hitting the keyboard (followed by my dog eating three of my toes. It's a thing! Look it up!). Stefano's outfit: Is it a vest or a jacket? Is it leather? Leather-ish with chambray sleeves? Over a shirt and tie? They gave Stefano a drum machine and some snazzy '90s geometric lighting effects, but I'm not sure it won me over.
I know Stefano likes to sing high, but his voice seems a little thin in his upper register. The judges were like, "Wow!" But I was like, "Eh." I was probably just too confused by Stefano's jacket to think properly. It doesn't matter: You sing like an angel!
Karen Rodriguez is picking Selena, with a knowing wink to Jennifer Lopez. Karen started out a little shaky, but maybe her jewelry was affecting her pitch. It's a lot of jewelry … and a lot of sparkly halter-top pantsuit. I'm not sure I "get" Karen Rodriguez, but I also didn't make it all the way through "Selena." Does something important happen at the end?
Jennifer said Karen shines like a star, but something was off about the performance. It was "a little sleepy" for Randy, and Randy wants excitement, darn it.
Scotty McCreery. Do you think he might have Benjamin Buttonism? He's got an old man voice but a young guy face. I don't know. I'm just trying to figure him out and his camouflage visor.
Scotty at 85, when his voice was even lower.
And now the moment we've all been waiting for (or is that dreading?). Either way, Naima Adedapo is singing Rihanna's "Umbrella" with a reggae twist. What? Is this who Naima is, then? She is dancing, but can that cover for the fact that "Umbrella" just isn't a good song for showing off one's vocal abilities? It's not enough. She sounded tired in the beginning, then she broke into this weird reggae/rap thing and danced some more to some lightning. Huh?!
Scotty is singing "The River" by Garth Brooks and will not let a camouflage visor prevent his eyebrows from penetrating our TV screens and diving straight into our souls. It seemed like there was a sound mixing problem in the middle. But other than that technical glitch, it was classic Scotty. Randy loved it and wouldn't change a thing. Steven said something about the carpet being paid for and shooting the moon.
I don't know what I think of it. At least it was exciting. Jennifer's comment ("You did it!") didn't help me form an opinion. Randy said it was a little rough and breathy, but he loved the reggae thing. Yo to that. Naima gets props from me, though, for saying she "overstands" what the judges were talking about. Yeah, why just understand? I'm so using that.
With the remaining six minutes left in the show, the judges blabbed about how the contestants didn't have enough time per song. I'm sure they each could have gotten an extra ten seconds or so if we had just cut that whole conversation out.
Who was your favorite tonight? Did anyone surprise you? Who was the worst?
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"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays this week at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
Oh, Carla, Carla, Carla. I'm sorry, but you make fun of Ashthon for not knowing a Beatles song, yet you obviously don't know Elton John songs. The statement you made about Steven saying something about the 'carpet being paid for and shooting the moon' proves it. "The carpet's all paid for, god bless the TV, let's go shoot a hole in the moon". Check out the song "Roy Rogers" on the classic Elton John album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". They are lyrics from that song. The fact that no one else commented on this I guess means they are all very young and must not know classic rock. But I do have to admit that I also thought it was strange that she never heard a Beatles song. I would think that everyone no matter how old they are had to have heard one somewhere.
As for the competition, I'm one person who is not on Lauren's bandwagon. I don't think she is as good as everyone is making her out to be. I see Casey, James or Jacob winning. I don't think it is going to be a girl's year this season either. I do like Scotty, but don't see him winning Idol. I am positive though that someone in country music is going to snatch him up.
I thought your review was pretty good, Carla. You did a better job judging than some of the judges on AI! I thought that they were really hard on some of the better singers and loved Ashthon, Paul and Jacob who were pretty weak. You're right-- we didn't get Paul! We don't get that someone that sings that badly made it to the top 15.
Pia was amazing, Lauren needs to pick a better song to show off her voice, and Haley was actually very impressive. That is a HARD song to sing. I thought she sang it better than Leann Rimes, in my opinion. I can't understand why Randy thought that was boring. What would be entertaining is trying to watch anyone on the panel sing that-- they wouldn't be able to do it. I thought that the other singers picked for the wild card round were robbed last week when they gave a spot to Ashthon. She may look the part of the diva but she is no Beyonce.
Another funny review, Carla!
One point though, I must agree with debi961 about James's facial expressions. Anyone with Asperger's who has done what he has, is amazing! Wouldn't it be a shame to not hear that fabulous talent because of is social disability? It would be like dismissing Ray Charles for his visual disability.
Did anyone else notice Scotty had a gun in his baby picture? I had to pause the show to laugh! What a good ol' boy, uh huh...very polite.
Since when is the Marine Corps Dress Blue uniform a fashion accessory??? So completely wrong that Paul wore the uniform last night. Unbuttoned, wrong size and completely unearned!
Personal faves: Jacob and Casey.
Ashton was chosen over Lauren T and Clint. Did the 3 judges get paid to keep her in? She is tone deaf and needs to seek another career. It is more and more difficult to vote on the best as they all bring something. James is great, Scotty is so mature for his age, what a darling. Stefano is coming along, Jacob has a big voice but I'm not sure he's well rounded. Pia is the leader with the ladies. Thia has a sweet voice but can she rock? Lauren and Haley can have a mediocre career.
Still out on the rest.
Lauren can sing. Her song choices have not been great. I hope they get better. If all the girls had to sing the same song Laruen would be the very best. She just has it!
OMG....That Benjamin Button reference was hysterical !
The stupider people have already annointed McChurchy. What a one-note bore. But the entertainment value of when he has to sing Sinatra will be worth suffering through the season for.
The fact that the "judges" (now a bizzaro-world term synonomous with 100% B.S.ers) keep having to repeat that this is the best talent yet - just proves how B.S.y it is. Why put on the pretense that these people have any talent? Just let them "sing" and flash the phone numbers. Amazing that this is the best out of hundreds of thousands who auditioned?
Had to watch the tape on Stefano's outfit. You, Carla are Hysterical ! Talk about loungy Karoke.. this guy is one of the worst. Hey, they should have kept that real karoke guy with the coke-bottle glasses
Keep up your GREAT recaps !!
Did anyone have trouble voting last night? Kept getting messages for a dating service interrupting the 1-866-Idols number.
First lets get this out of the way, Ashton and Naima ......They were the two biggest among the big losers last night and have no business being on that stage......
Scotty, at 17, can forget the pro baseball career, he has a superstar country music career ahead of him......Casey is just a pure entertainer with personality and the talent to make anything he does standout and be his own......
Lauren and Haley both have the potential to go far and have the talent to take on almost any type song and will be around for awhile.....
ajmes showed another side of his talent last night and insured himself of being here for a long time......Jacob, fantastic voice, but he needs to change it up as everything is beginning to sound the same.....
Pia has a tremendous voice but didn't do herself any favors last night.....Selena, oops I mean Karen, needs to be Karen if she wants toi stay around......
Thia, so young, so talented and she has plenty in front of her with a beautiful voice, but at 15 she won't stay around, deserved or not, too much longer......Not being able to handle criticism will help do her in......
After last night my thoughts on the Final 4 stay........Scotty, Casey, James and Lauren!
If I was still a talent and booking agent and not retired, I'd sign those four right now!