American Idol Top 9 Performance Night

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Night. Last year, almost no one rocked. This year – let’s see what they can do.

It starts with a package about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself, by Steven, who is an inductee along with Aerosmith.

First person up is Jacob. Jacob is definitely NOT a rocker and he knows it. At first they want him to sing “Let’s Get It On” but Jacob decides it’s just not right for him, and insists on doing “Man in the Mirror” instead. Now, this was a song Kris sang BUT it was not a Moment for him, so Jacob gets a pass for singing it.

And Jacob does a more than decent job with it. He stays restrained throughout most of it, we get to hear his voice and it’s very enjoyable. Turns out his backup singer is the writer herself, Sayeeda Garrett. The judges love it. In fact, pretty much assume the judges love everything they hear tonight. Because they apparently do.

Haley is doing Janis Joplin “Piece of my Heart”. And I anticipated her doing well, and she does. To my ears, she totally rocks it HARD. Her growl works so well – it’s a rock voice through and through and this is where she belongs. Which means that all of a sudden, I’m a Haley fan. Wow. When did that happen?

Casey also changes his song – he was going to do “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” but it’s dubbed too loungy by Jimmy Iovino and will.i.am, who seems to have moved in. This is his third week there? So he changes it to “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.”

Ah, bass violin, I have missed you so much. It’s very spare arrangement – just the bass and a ukelele (or was it a mandolin?) and it works really well with Casey’s voice. And Casey comes alive with that bass. It’s not the most tuneful,but it works. I don’t LOVE it, but I like it a lot.

Lauren doesn’t pick an easy one at all. Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman.” I think she’s too young for this song and too country for Aretha. And Gwen Stefani, who styled the girls, gave her a pretty fauxhawk, but a very unflattering pair of baggy shorts.

She starts out restrained, which is good. She does a decent job. Not enough for me to sit up and take notice, perhaps, but given the difficult nature of the song and the original singer, she’s doing fine. Randy agrees with me.

James is next – not the pimp spot. And he’s going downtempo (which he should have done last week.) He’s singing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which he later says he’s been working on for five years, and also makes him think of his family.

And – James has been hiding a monotone behind his rock notes, but he can’t hide it here. He does okay on the bridge, but the rest of the time, it’s…dull. He does connect emotionally and even brings a tear, but it’s not grabbing me at all. And I wanted to hear his voice so much. He’s better with the faster, harder rock songs. That’s where he belongs. Still, it wasn’t awful and I didn’t mind how he did.

Scotty is singing “That’s All Right, Mama” and if anyone can do Elvis, Scotty can. And he does. Oh, he most certainly does. Best he’s done all season because it wasn’t the SAME song as he’s been singing. His smirk worked (his microphone hold did not) and while he lacked all sexiness, he got the song really well. And then when he was finished, there were girls hugging him.

Scotty has Idol sewn up in his pocket right now. They might as well stop the competition.

Pia is doing “River Deep, Mountain High” as she promised last week. She does need to go uptempo, but this doesn’t work.

She’s an excellent singer. She has the range and the power for this song, and she also has terrific control with a gorgeous voice. But it was TOO pretty. To sing this song – to sing any song by Tina Turner – you need to have an edge. She needed to dirty it up, make it rough. If she’d done that, it would have been better than Haley. It didn’t help that she looked princessy and pretty there. Tina Turner is one of the world’s most beautiful women, but she is NOT pretty.

And here Jennifer gives her actual, usable advice. I believe Jennifer really, really likes Pia because she’s about the only one who gets the advice. She tells her to research other performers – their movements as well as their voices, because she needs to know how to use the stage instead of just standing there. Randy echos her, of course.

Stefano, who is also just not a rocker, sings “When a Man Loves a Woman” – not an easy song. And he tries. He tries so hard, but his falsetto is not pretty and he still comes across as loungy, and he’s oversinging it, too. The judges did NOT like it.

Finally, we have Paul in the pimp spot. He’s singing “Folsom Prison Blues”, playing his guitar. To sing Johnny Cash, you need power in your voice and Paul doesn’t. It’s better than it has been, and to me it was clear he knew exactly what he was singing. He gets the song. But it doesn’t fit his voice. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Unlike the judges.

My verdict – all boy bottom three. Paul, Stefano and, I believe, JAMES. Stefano is going home.

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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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