This week the final four were charged with performing one song that inspired them and one song written by songwriting team Lieber and Stoller. The night was “okay” but not awe-inspiring. This season started out great and has slowly been losing steam for me. I suspect I’m not the only one who has grown weary of James and his screaming and who is beyond ready for Haley to go. Randy said Haley is giving us no hint as to what type of artist she wants to be. And I thought Randy was reading my articles. Haley doesn’t know what type of artist she wants to be, so it’s little surprise that the judges are baffled. I’ve said that a few times too many and wouldn’t repeat it again, but they keep bringing it up. I wonder when they will figure that out. Likely, not until after the finale.
The night started out with James choosing what pretty much was guaranteed to give him some of the cheese he seems to love, “Don’t Stop Believing.” Instead, James decided to save the cheese for his second performance. In the first, his opening vocals on the song were actually quite nice. I did like the way he engaged the audience from the stage for a change, but he returned to his over-the-top, cheese-laced performances with “Love Potion No. 9.” James is going to have to do some work to win me back over. I didn’t like this song choice at all. The song did not give much room to show his vocals, which I suppose is okay if you only want to scream, and that’s what James appears to like best. More power to him, honey.
Haley chose Michael Jackson’s “The Earth Song,” likely one of his most unknown songs. Do I sense a pattern here with Haley? Either way, it doesn’t much matter. She tries too hard and is not that good. On top of that, she must have the worst personality of any Idol contestant in history. She has openly displayed that personality by laughing at Pia’s elimination, smirking while Jacob performed his “swan song,” looking at Jennifer with pure hatred, and having her (frequent) curse words “bleeped” out. Such a lady. Haley obviously doesn’t realize that the judges are trying to help when they criticize. That is the purpose of a “critique.” But, when you (mistakenly) think you’re “all that,” I guess their critiques are useless. Haley’s second choice of “I Who Have Nothing” found her declaring, “I’ve always been into theatre.” Haley is likely into anything that runs past her and temporarily piques her interest. She’s not an artist. Her voice is quite limited (and I still hate the growling).
In stark contrast to Haley is Scotty, who must be the most “happy-go-lucky” contestant the show has ever seen. No matter what critiques are thrown his way, Scotty just smiles through it all. For his inspirational song, Scotty chose “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.” Though Scotty plays it tender a lot, he has not become tiresome to me. He’s quite the stellar vocalist, and his performance revealed a beautiful song, sung beautifully. What I like most about Scotty is that he is exposing a lot of us to music we never listened to before. He’s a wonderful singer, and he comes across as very honest and sincere. To me, he’s far and away the most talented of the remaining group. He’s so natural, and his voice is amazing. To “mix it up,” Scotty’s second choice was “Youngblood.” I love how Scotty shows multiple sides of his personality. He’s ready to move on from this show into a very successful country career.
Another natural vocalist of this group is Lauren, who chose “Anyway.” I have to agree with Steven that Lauren’s vocals are so very pure. This is an emotional song that Lauren delivered like a pro. As with Scotty, Lauren definitely has a future in country music, no matter how this thing pans out. She is so likable, so genuine, and so talented. She balked at the second choice of “Trouble” because she had to call herself “evil.” That was Lauren’s immaturity and sincerity talking. As she moves along, Lauren will learn that singing is sometimes role playing (at least until she can write her own songs). Though she didn’t agree with calling herself evil, she did a fine job of the playing the role of the song. Lauren’s youth belies her stage presence, and she also has a very bright future ahead of herself.
It’s somewhat interesting to me that two of the best contestants this season are the youngest: 16-year-old Lauren and 17-year-old Scotty. I believe that both are just natural singers and performers, and that is really showing at this stage of the game. As Jennifer said, some people are just born artists; both Scotty and Lauren prove that to be true. How much experience can they actually have at this? I would be willing to bet not a whole lot—especially on a professional level. This is what American Idol is supposed to be all about: Finding a raw, untapped talent and molding that talent into a star. I think they’ve got two good ones to work with in Lauren and Scotty.
When the dust clears this evening, who will be sent packing? Using a process of elimination, I suspect it will be Haley. I believe that Scotty has a fairly insurmountable fan base, with James not far behind him. Lauren will receive a huge surge of sympathy votes from last week and will also likely be safe. For that reason, I won’t be surprised to see James in the bottom with Haley, which would actually benefit James. He could use a good dose of humility, and he needs to remind us why we liked him in the beginning. Haley is this week’s Vote for the Worst pick, which has been the death knell of earlier contestants—Paul, Casey, and Jacob. Hopefully, it will work similarly for her. Notice that I purposely failed to mention this week’s mentor. That’s because I think she’s a joke, and her outfits and make-up don’t help. Talent doesn’t need weirdness to showcase itself.