American Idol Top 11 Redux Performance

Tonight is Elton John Night. Because this year on Idol we’re doing broad themes.

There’s an extensive recap of last week’s result show, with Stevie Wonder and Hulk Hogan and Casey getting saved. It was sort of epic – but the shot of Casey being helped off the stage? Not so epic. Apparently, he’d gotten a blood transfusion that very morning. Maybe that’s why they cut his song off so quickly.

This is followed by a package on Elton John, which is then followed by what would be the introductory matter for the contestants – a glamorous photoshoot for EW. We see each Idol on a turntable, changing from their own clothes to the shoot clothes.

First up is Scotty, who is singing “Country Comfort” for the simple reason that “Country” is in the title. And it has a verse about a grandmother, and his own is there, so it’s all perfect. They don’t arrange it to be country, so the twang doesn’t work. He finishes with a low, low note. He also says “Hi” to his grandma. Steven loves him. Jennifer tells him to stay grounded. Randy says it could be on his record. And Grandma gave him the guitar he played that night – named “Charlotte.”

Next is Naima with a reggae version of “I’m Still Standing”. I liked it a lot – good energy, her accent was a bit over the top, but it was fun to listen to. Lots of energy. Jennifer loves her, but didn’t think the song was one that could be flipped (360, 180, something.) Randy thought it was corny and Steven loved her. I think she was just thrown under the bus.

And Coke is sponsoring a song-writing contest with Taio Cruz – finish his song.

Paul is wearing that suit again, but it’s sort of appropriate. He’s singing “Rocket Man”, and he’s supposed to sing it as if it were an encore. And, to my surprise, I liked this performance. The whispery rasp had some power and fit the song. I liked it. Not perfect, but the best he’s done on that stage, The judges love it, and Steven wants to know if he were watering that suit. Jennifer wants to hear him push to the upper registers, at which point Steven pretends to be in labor.

Pia, who was told specifically to not sing a ballad this week, is singing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” – and she has a choir. Okay, I’m not bored this week. I will give her not bored this week, and gorgeous voice. And when she finishes, the judges backpedal like crazy. “Us? Tell you to not sing ballads? US? You were great today. Not us! But, next week, don’t.” In fact, she’s going to sing “Mountain High, River Deep” and I’m not even sure what genre that is.

Stefano is singing “Tiny Dancer”. Jimmy doesn’t like him, and is pushing in a way that doesn’t seem to encourage him. And, unfortunately, Stefano, who has a very musical voice, sounds like a lounge singer to me. Be perfect at a wedding, in fact. BUT he does keep his eyes open, and the judges all like that. It was a good enough judging that I think he’ll stay on the show.

Skipping the plug for a Fox show.

Lauren is singing “Candle in the Wind”. I really wanted her to sing this one, so she can show some range and it’s appropriate to her. Except they don’t control her twang properly and it just doesn’t help the song at all. Doesn’t matter, the judges love all over her and call it one of her greatest performances. Steven says, “I loved you from the moment you laid eyes on me.”

James says, about the photoshoot, that he loves wearing make-up. He’s singing “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” – I am disappointed. I very much wanted James to do a ballad so we could hear his voice properly and he could show versatility. But only Pia has to do that, I guess. And it’s a production – starts in the balcony, runs down the stairs and all over the stage, to big lighting. There’s piano jumping and flames, and he even does a backbend. Lots and lots of production, so much that it distracts from perfectly decent singing. The judges love him. Jennifer even says she felt like she was at a concert, not American Idol…

Thia is singing “Daniel” and this will be a mistake. “Daniel” is a very emotional song, and Thia is too young to really get that – or the meaning behind the lyrics. Since all she notices si that it’s about a brother and she loves her brother, I think that’s proven. We get a very pretty but cold performance. Jennifer called it a moment, but it wasn’t. The judges love her.

Casey is singing “Your Song” and he gets a haircut and beard trim for it. I love a neatly trimmed beard and he looks good. He also sounds good as he sits on his stool and just sings, mostly. It’s a straightforward interpretation, but he sounds like the Casey I loved earlier and I am very happy. The judges are pleased they saved him.

Jacob is singing “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” (wow, Elton. You like looooong titles.) Only he’s singing it by way of Mary J. Blige who just happens to drop in. For Jacob, the song seems almost restrained (we are on the Jacob scale here – for Stefano, it would be impossibly over the top) and we can hear him sing and it’s nice. But he does go for those notes too much – which Randy tells him. The judges all praise the arrangement, which he did NOT do. I do not like this at all – both that he didn’t do it, or choose it, and that they’re making it seem like he’s responsible even when they say who actually did it.

Haley gets the pimp spot and is singing “Bennie and the Jets”, and unlike my twitter feed, I LIKED this. A lot. Her growly voice worked with the song beautifully and maybe sitting on the piano is cliché, but it worked for this. Good for her. And the judges heap praises on her head.

So. First, I had an epiphany tonight. They really wanted to cast another Adam, so they cast three different versions of him – James, the straight one; Pia, the female one; and Jacob, the black one. And even so, Scotty or Lauren will win.

Whose going home? Double elimination. Thia, Naima and Stefano in bottom three. Thia and Naima are going home. Remember, I was completely wrong last week.

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About mamadeb

I'm a devoted fan of Adam Lambert, but also of cooking, knitting, science fiction and pretty anything pop culture. I'm @_mamadeb on Twitter.
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