Last week saw the exit of Paul McDonald from the show. I, for one, was glad to see him go. Failing to see the attraction to Paul, I suffered through his performances each week. His “dancing” brought back memories of Taylor Hicks, and much of his singing was off-key and just not very good. I like “raspy” voices like Rod Stewart, but Paul is no Rod Stewart. Talking about Paul reminds me of the website Vote for the Worst, which chose to support Paul. May I digress for a moment and talk about that site?
The people who run Vote for the Worst have issues. They like to think that they are “crushing dreams” by supporting the contestant they believe to be the worst. The funny thing, however, is that they choose people who already have support, so their contention that they are “supporting the worst” is merely a cop-out. Paul had many people who supported him, including friends of mine who I believe have pretty good taste in music. Now, the site is choosing Casey Abrams, who has not been in danger since he was eliminated and saved early on. Nice choice of the “worst.” This choice was made so that they can “claim” they made a difference in the voting. Good luck with that. But, moving along from those very strange, bored people, the final seven performed last night.
First up, Scotty McCreery chose “Swingin’” as made famous to this generation by LeAnn Rimes but originally recorded by John Anderson. Keeping things simple, Scotty was Scotty. I think the judges are getting bored with him, but I still say he’s one of the best of this bunch. He brings a lot of personality to the stage, and he is so very likable. This was a perfect song choice for Scotty. What’s to complain about? Anyone who thinks this isn’t the style of music Scotty will be recording is out of touch. I’d rather hear him do what he does best than to hear him butcher a rock song.
Speaking of rock, James Durbin followed Scotty with Muse’s “Uprising.” Randy tried to impress us by revealing that a member of Muse sent James an email. Again, this is the type of thing I hate about American Idol—trying to set up us to vote for who they want us to vote for. Good try, Randy, but I see right through you. While the judges told Scotty he needs to do something different, James is spared that comment, though he does the same thing every week as well. Personally, I like James a whole lot better when he’s not screaming, but I suppose that’s part of his shtick. At least he has one.
One who does not have a shtick is Haley Reinhart, who sang Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Being one of the likely very few who has no idea who Adele is, the song was new to me. Haley’s practice session with Jimmy supports my belief that she isn’t a real artist but is merely a girl who can carry a tune. Having to coach her to have “feeling” in the song says a lot. I’m sorry, but there is nothing special about Haley. You can probably find her equivalent in school and church choirs across the nation. Big deal.
With his very strong gospel flavor, Jacob Luck followed Haley by bringing his stylings to Luther Vandross’ “Dance with my Father.” Jacob is a very emotional singer and gives me Goosebumps every time he sings; however, is he marketable for this show? I somehow doubt it, but it’s a real joy watching him perform. I almost cried when he performed, as that song makes me think of my own father. I understand why Jacob chose it, though he’ll have to work on controlling his emotions to perform songs like this. Jacob will have a career, though it won’t be in “pop” music, but there’s room for all of these young folks.
Another who doesn’t really seem suited to pop music is Casey Abrams, the new Vote for the Worst pick. They obviously don’t know talent when they see it—or maybe they do and are simply calling him “worst” to justify supporting one of the better talents on the show. Casey knows himself musically. I love the “Casey spin” he puts on each of his performances. Choosing Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe,” we found out last night that Casey plays guitar in addition to bass. Yep, he’s a musician. My sister doesn’t “get” Casey, and I can’t explain it to her other than to say that while musicians can’t always compete vocally with pure vocalists, they bring so much more to the table in terms of their performances, and perform Casey does. It’s nice when these young people perform rather than just sing, and finally, we got a performance from Stefano.
Stefano Langone sang “Closer” by Ne-Yo, and it was his best performance to date. He engaged the audience, he sang well, and he became suddenly interesting. This style of music will best suit Stefano post-Idol, and he really seemed to “come out of his shell” during this performance. It was nice to see instead of his usual standing, eyes closed, belting out power notes. I actually saw an artist last night. It may, however, be too little, too late for Stefano.
Closing out the show was Lauren Alaina, singing “Born to Fly” by Sarah Evans. Like Scotty, Lauren typically chooses a country song, yet she was spared the “you need to do something different” speech that Scotty received from the judges. Lauren is a good singer and a natural talent. She’s quite adorable and likable, which will take her far in this competition. I suspect Lauren will be the “last girl standing” by the time the dust clears.
So, who goes home tonight? As the field narrows, the choice gets harder. All seven have talent, but are any more talented than the others? In my world, Haley is the least talented of this group, mainly because she’s not a real artist. She can sing (when she’s not “growling”), but she really just doesn’t bring anything to the table other than her voice—no stage presence, no identity, no nothing. For that reason, I put Haley in my bottom three this week. Likely, Stefano will join her, and the third is a toss-up for me: It could be either Jacob or Casey. I do believe that Scotty, James, and Lauren will be safe. Dial Idol chose Casey, Stefano, and Haley for the bottom, but Dial Idol hasn’t been reliable since Season 5, so my guess is as good as theirs. The only reason I suspect that Jacob may be in the bottom is that American Idol voters may not “get” Jacob. Being in the bottom certainly takes nothing from Jacob. He is likely one of the most talented vocalists this show has seen to date; however, this show is about much more than vocal talent, and it’s not unusual to see a better vocalist eliminated for a sob story (or some other story). We shall see tonight and move on to the Top 6. We are slowly but surely winding our way to the end of this season toward what I do predict will be one of the best-attended summer tours that Idol has seen in years.