AMERICAN IDOL “Top 9 Perform” Review

AMERICAN IDOL Top 9 Perform Review

AMERICAN IDOL “Top 9 Perform” Season 10 Episode 24 – So it’s close to the point where I just want to throw rocks at the judges every time they speak. Because … why are they here? They’re not helping anyone. “Everything’s great, everything’s wonderful …”

Except it isn’t. There were still more than a few performances that wouldn’t hold a candle to Bucky Freaking Covington. Worse, they overhype the first performance—a DREADFUL Jacob Lusk (more about that diva later)—so when the last performance comes up (Paul, putting on the best performance of his life) they have no energy left to say anything at all other than “Loved it!”

It’s what turns the whole show into one gigantic popularity contest, and one where even the slightest slip-up or gaffe (Jacob again) (yes I’ll get to it) could send you out the door. Public opinion is damned fickle.

Luckily if Jacob goes home, he deserved it for the song too. And if I were him I would be worried. Put it this way, if you’re in the American Idol top nine and are still scoring in the teens (by my scorecard, which, I have to brag, has generally been pretty spot-on other than the Casey near-boot) … you should worry.

So here we go:

Paul McDonald: 27
Song: Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
Performance: 5 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 5 
Appearance: 4 Marketability: 5 Intangibles: 4
Notes: The only fault I find here is in the fact that the judges grouped it in with all the other songs, thus the “4” for Intangibles, else Paul McDonald would have had the high score of the season. Folsom Prison Blues was exactly what he needed, and he worked it brilliantly. This is a guy who flourishes amidst other musicians, feeds off them, and even makes them better by virtue of that. He tore into Johnny Cash and—dare I say it—eclipsed even Adam Lambert’s psychedelic performance of “Ring of Fire.” If not, it’s damned close. Maybe more Idols need to do more Cash tunes. McDonald smoked every other performer tonight by a mile.

James Durbin: 23
Song: As My Guitar Gently Weeps (George Harrison)
Performance: 4 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 4 
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 4
Notes: This was an excellent vocal that could have been marred by a poor arrangement. Parts of it sounded off. Luckily for James, none of that was his fault, and in fact I think he did show more of his gentle side. The last note especially was choice. I think this actually helped him for the long run. He’s in no danger of going home.

Haley Reinhart: 21
Song: Take Another Piece of My Heart (Janis Joplin)
Performance: 4 Originality: 3 Stage Presence: 3 
Appearance: 4 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 3
Notes: Probably the only thing going against Haley tonight is the fact that, at times, she just seems unlikable. Besides a few excess growls, this was probably one of her best performances, though I wonder if part of her voice is starting to go. Parts were slightly screamy, but hey. It was a Janis Joplin song. Best female performance… but that doesn’t mean she’s not at risk. I predict bottom 3 for her despite the high score, simply because I don’t think fans see her in the top 6.

Scotty McCreery: 20
Song: That’s Alright Mama (Elvis Presley)
Performance: 3 Originality: 3 Stage Presence: 4 
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 3
Notes: I’m not really sure I agree that this was McCreery coming out “not country.” You couldn’t hear that song on the radio, with that music, and that twang, and say “Oh, hey, rock ‘n roll!” For me it was the same-old same-old, with McCreery just getting better at playing the stage (learning from Durbin, no doubt). Substandard as far as McCreery songs go, but still better than most of the others.

Pia Toscano: 20
Song: River Deep Mountain High (Tina Turner)
Performance: 4 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 
2 Appearance: 2 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 4
Notes: Best female vocal, sure, but her stage presence is just terrible. It’s not wonder she only does ballads. Someone needs to clue her in to the fact that ten-inch heels do not help you onstage. Neither do snow-leopard pattern jumpsuits. She’s lucky Lauren Alaina’s wardrobe was such a mess, or she really would have stood out in all the wrong ways. The only thing rescuing Pia from a score in the mid-teens was her always-superb vocals.

Stefano Langone: 19
Song: When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge)
Performance: 4 Originality: 3 Stage Presence: 
3 Appearance: 4 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 2
Notes: An overall passionate performance, even if it went a little wild at the end. And I think that’s what he needs—to show passion. Anything to make. Up. For. The. Fact. That. His. In. Flect. Ion. Is. Al. Ways. Pre. Cise. I think he’s still in danger because I don’t think his fan following is as big as other contestants.

Casey Abrams: 18
Song: Have You Ever Seen The Rain (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Performance: 3 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 3 
Appearance: 2 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3
Notes: Possibly Abrams worst performance of the year. I get that he’s rockin’ the bass (rather than slappin’ da bass), and I guess that’s cool, but the little tics and chirps her puts into his voice sometimes bug me. Especially on quieter songs. All in all, for me, yo, it was kinda corny. Kinda beatnik. Maybe bottom 3? I doubt it. I don’t think any of his fans will abandon him ever again, and he still has nearly the most. But we’ll see.

Lauren Alaina: 18
Song: Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin)
Performance: 4 Originality: 3 Stage Presence:
 3 Appearance: 1 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 3
Notes: When Randy mentions other Idol performers from past years did a song better than you did … well, it doesn’t matter what J-Lo coos on about. The American Idol audience will probably pick up on it and vote for other people. The fact that she’s “growing back” her confidence “week by week” … Confidence from what? Did anyone ever tear this girl down? Simon would have had her for lunch. And … I hate to do this to a 16-year old, but this is the first time I ever awarded a “1” for appearance. What was that outfit? Janet Jackson called and she wants her clothes and hair back from 1988. Ouch.

Jacob Lusk: 14
Song: Man In The Mirror (Michael Jackson)
Performance: 2 Originality: 3 Stage Presence: 3 
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 2 Intangibles: 1
Notes: Wow. Wow. You cannot, cannot possibly say, “If I end up in the bottom three, it won’t be because I sang the song bad, it won’t be because I sang the song wrong, it will be because everybody in America wasn’t ready to look at themselves in the mirror,” and then go out on stage, tear out your earpiece, and basically stink up the joint. Worst vocal performance for Jacob ever. And absolute worst time to tell America why it’s sending you to the bottom 3. And then even after that, to suggest we all need to change. Seriously? Because I’m kind of happy with who I am. I—and I’m guessing the rest of America—don’t all need automatic change just because you think you do, Lusk. Guaranteed bottom 3. And maybe gone. Let’s see what he has to say about that tomorrow.

One thing I did like in this episode was the banter between Jimmy Iovine and Will.i.am. I mean, personally, I can’t stand the Black Eyed Peas. Just a personal preference. But Will.i.am is pretty freaking hilarious.

Tomorrow: Someone goes home. Jacob? If I could vote someone off the island it would be him.

Follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, America! You need to change because Jacob said so!