Haley and the Jets: American Idol Recap

For a while I forgot why I watched Idol, why I loved it in the first place. my affections waned in the recent years, especially with the last two winners – who REALLY should have been that last two runners up. Last night I was reminded why I fell in love with Idol 10 seasons ago. When a kid can take a song I’ve loved forever, put a different take on it and etch it into my memory. David Cook’s Always Be My Baby is one, J Hud’s Circle of Life is another and from this season; Casey’s I Put a Spell on You, and now I add Haley’s Benny and the Jets to the list. Haley has been one of the least consistant performers this season and hugs the bottom three more often than not, and frankly I didn’t think she had it in her. Boy was I wrong. Dead wrong.

Bennie and the Jets is an incredibly hard song to sing, like Jimmy Iovine said about Tiny Dancer, it’s a song that was written for Elton’s voice. It also has a odd rhythm, and a lot of screaming – all in all it’s a more complex song than a lot of others in his songbook – I didn’t really think anyone was going to sing it – it’s an ambitious choice. But from the snippet I heard in the video package before she started, I’d knew why she was selected to close the show. Then the performance started and I put my pen down, I abandoned my notes for the first time this season and just watched. To call it the best performance of the night while correct is a slight understatement, It was simply one of the best performances of the season. From the small variations in the melody, to her husky growl that fit this song like a glove. She also looked like she was having fun for the first time – she lo0ked at home up there. It was an all star performance and as J Lo put it best “A great way to end the show”. I had forgotten what it’s like to get chills, why American Idol is important. Haley is not going to win season 10, but with last night’s performance she put herself in serious contention for a real post-idol career. I know I’m gushing over a contestant I once called ‘completely irrelevant’ – that’s the magic of idol, how fast one person’s fate can change. Better than perfect.  

Haley’s grade: A+ 

The rest of the contestants fared reasonably well considering the difficulty of the theme. Lauren Alaina shined with a subtle and understated cover of Candle in the Wind. She can belt out a song better than most but last night she toned it down, and let the subtleties of her voice do all the work. I prefer her a little more upbeat but it worked well as a change of pace. Le Durbs was as solid as ever with a rousing take on Saturday Night’s Alright. It wasn’t any different or more special than his previous performances but it did reinforce Durbin as a spectacle, a force to be reckoned with and a rockstar.

Pia also killed it, but I echo the judges call for a change-up. My problem is Don’t let the sun go down on me is a pretty straightforward ballad, and if sung right allows for some megapower. Pia killed it, flawless again but It was an easier song. And even though Scotty didn’t really take a risk with Country Comfort, he was great this week – my fave of his ever, and when you think about it, for a singer like Scotty, most of Elton’s songs are risky.

Casey James fresh of being saved last week decided to bring back the style that made him a frontrunner to begin with. He performed a stripped down and soft version of the classic, Your Song. Man were the judges wever right about those last two notes.  It was a safer choice for the singer, who’s tended to stray from safety in the past, but after a week like the last and two up for elimination this week, whereas Haley needed to wow to stay, he needed safety. Also pretty safe was Jacob’s take on Sorry seems to be the hardest word. What was interesting about it though was earlier in the season Robbie Rosen sang the same song and it was completely forgettable, this was the opposite. It was controlled, executed well and asided from a few weird faces and a few pitchy runs, it was very good – even haunting.

Randy used the word ‘corny’, my notes had the word ‘cheesy’ to describe Naima’s reggae take on I’m Still Standing which is definetly not one of my faves from John. But she changed up the rhythm to give the song a complete reggae feel but all she achieved was the feel du fromage. The lighting, the costumes and even the paint-by-numbers arrangement were cheesy, really I could have seen this in any bar on College st. on any saturday night. But I have mad respect for the risks she takes.

After a hot week Tickles McGiver (Thia) went back to boring pitchy ballad girl. Her rendition of Daniel (sung to her brother) was one of the most boring and uninteresting performances of Idol this season. Go home already. Same to Paul, I have had more than enough of his rasp and I don’t think Idol, with their rigid song choosing, is the right place for someone with his uniquities. That being said, Rocket Man, as a song choice was a vast improvement from weeks past. I wouldn’t send him home this week, mainly becuase part of me still wants him to cover some James Blunt, but also becuase there is someone around still much, much worse.

Stefano Lagone proved once again that he sucks the big one hard. Tiny Dancer is one of those songs that’s etched in popculture history as legendary. It’s arguably one of the most famous John songs, and with it’s placement in films like Almost Famous it has risen to a level where if your a contestant on a show like Idol, and you choose to sing this you MUST show it some deference, which Lagone didn’t. In my opinion he shat all over it. What an epic failure of a person.

TVocrats bottom three: Thia Paul and Stefano

Bottom Three Prediction: Naima Adedapo, Stefano Lagone and Thia Megia with Stefano and Thia going home tonight. (Hopefully America gets it right tonight and we never have to hear Stefano and Thia butcher a song – till the finale)

Grades Week 4

  • Haley Reinhart A+ (daaaaaaaaaamn)
  • Le Durbs A (he’s on fire… hehe)
  • Lauren Alaina A-
  • Pia Toscano A- (Switch it UP, girl!)
  • Scotty McCreery A- (He’s shaping into a real contender)
  • Casey Abrams B+ (I still expect better)
  • Jacob Lusk B+
  • Naima Adedapo C+
  • Paul McDonald C
  • Thia Megia C-
  • Stefano Lagone F! F! A million times F!

A few final notes

– Howie Mandel’s plug for his show airing after idol tonight was really gross. Mandel is about as grating a TV personality one can encounter.

-I find it increasingly hard to even listen to what Steven Tyler has to say as a judge. His comments are actually less relevant than Paula’s were – and that’s saying something.

-Ryan’s face when James said he hoped to avoid a “pepsi moment” was priceless. “The show is brought to you by Coke” he countered before James tried to explain that a ‘pepsi moment’ was a bad thing. Really funny.

I hope Haley did enought to save her ass last night. What did you think? Was Haley your tops too? Check her out one more time…


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