Rock He’s Not: American Idol Recap

It was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame night in the idoldome so naturally the task of mentoring the idols went to… Will I Am?

In the long list of Idol mentors having Will I Am mentor on Rock and Roll week is like having Selena Gomez mentor Frank Sinatra Night. Now if the theme had been create obnoxious hooks to yell glorified catch phrases at that any idiot can dance to, Will I Am is a perfect choice. But hearing him talk about artistry made me gag, several times. Despite him and a ridiculous intro from Steven Tyler chronicling fashion of the times it was actually a good night performance wise. People for the most part were on their game. I even didn’t totally hate Stefano Lagone. 

Jacob Lusk and Paul McDonald were terrible choices to open and close the show respectively. Neither are capable of showstopping or revving up. After Jacob’s performance of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, I was more impressed with the woman he dueted with. And it was really coo to learn from Steven later that the woman was infact Siedah Garrett, the co-writer of the tune. After 2 seconds of off-key and uncomfortable singing, Jacob whipped the earpiece out and soldiered on (where’s Mark Anthony and his obviously uber-helpful earpiece tip when you need him?). The song never quite fully recovered, it had some solid moments throughout but as a whole it lacked connection, which is why Jacob dropped original choice the sexually motivational “Lets Get It On”. Like I said earlier Siedah Garrett was the best part, she brought the right energy to the stage, energy that Paul could have used. Going from the opening to the end, Paul sang Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Now for me, there’s something not right with a slender pretty faced kid with a sweet-but-grating voice singing about prison. It wasn’t actually bad vocally, it was just weird for me – It was a weird song choice, one that really didn’t fit the artist.   

All season the Judges had been comparing the growl in Haley Reinhart’s voice to that of the legendary Janice Joplin. The decision wasn’t as safe as people may assume – if you mess up a song by an artist you’ve been compared to all season you risk looking like a complete fool. I agreed with the judges and thought it was great – a perfect follow-up to bringing down the house last week with her brilliant Bennie and the Jets. She’s found her groove, I just hope she doens’t become complacent.

 Next Casey Abrams sang and strummed along to CCR’s Have You Ever Seen the Rain, rocking an upright bass (playing to Randy’s affections) and a dude on a guitar. It was a stripped down version, softer and filled with little runs and moments that made it special and unique to Casey. That being said, this was still a wasted oppurtunity – he didn’t capture the “rock” aspect of the challenge, it sounded a little to adult contemporary. He would have been better off covering The Band.

Lauren Alaina sang Aretha. It was fine – just about as fine as we’ve come to expect from the pint-sized diva but she didn’t feel it. Not one iota. At 17 she has no idea what the song is talking about. She’s a child, she couldn’t be farther away from being a natural woman unless she had a penis. The vocals were strong, but she had no real connection to the material, and it lacked for me.

Even though I prefer my Durbs leaping and hollering around the stage, I was able to appreciate the desire to take a chance and slow it down – especially on rock night. And the Durbs once again proved himself a formidable competitor, slowing it down and covering the Beatles (but specifically George Harrison) While My Guitar Gently Weeps, using the softer side of his voice and doing the classic justice. I would have done it more in the style from the Across The Universe film (it’s one of the films better covers) than the traditional, but that’s just me – actually I would have had him do The Rolling Stones’ Angie if he wanted to do a ballad. Oh man he’d kill Angie.

Scotty is getting more confident with every performance. I don’t know whether it was a ploy of the producers or just his mad swagger but watching the teen get rushed by a swarm of tweens was pretty funny. Scotty is getting better each week, and while he’s not my cup of tea, he’s a serious contender.

It was nice to see Christian Slater in the audience, by that I mean it was nice of FOX to give Slater’s third attempt at a TV series a pimp post idol spot and a solid on air pimping. I watched Breaking In after Idol. Not bad. Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum is really funny.  

The most shocking moment of the night was during Pia’s segment of the show. After Pia’s River Deep Mountain High by Tina Turner, J Lo said by far her most poingnant and spot on critique of the season. Pia’s vocals were great – she did as promised and switched up the tempo and she nailed and upbeat song, but she nailed it in the style of a ballad singer. River Deep Mountain High is a frenzy, a bit of a wild one, it needed her to be mobile and in her gigantic heels she barely was. It was a good performance but not great. And Jen called her out on it, telling her she needs to study artists for their performance, their stage presence, citing Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire as influences and objects of study for Michael Jackson. Pia of all people could really benefit from this – the lack stage presence the most or rather, he presence is not on par with her tremendous talent. It was a good performance but it was nicer to see Lopez say something constructive and relevant.  

Which finally bring us to Stefano Lagone. Lagone sang When A Man Loves A Woman which is a rock song under the loosest terms. What a surprise that the contestant who least knows what kind of artist he is chose an adult contemporary ballad and not a rock song. Vocally it was ok. A little vacant of anything resembling artistry but that’s what we’ve come to expect from Lagone. Also for a bigger impact, he shoud have switched keys during that long not he hit and not after. It would have been more dramatic but who knows if he can even do it. I really hope he goes home tonight.  

TVocrats Bottom Three: Paul McDonald, Stefano Lagone and Jacob Lusk.

Bottom Three Prediction: Paul, Stefano and Haley Reinhart with Paul going home.

Grades Week 4

  • James Durbin A-
  • Pia Toscano A-
  • Scotty McCreery A- (this kid is kinda growing on me)
  • Haley Reinhart B+
  • Lauren Alaina B+
  • Casey Abrams B
  • Jacob Lusk C+
  • Paul McDonald C
  • Stefano Lagone C (Go home.)
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