Eye On Idol (4/15/11)
Wednesday (4/13) night’s American Idol was themed Songs From the Movies, and kicked off with appropriately dramatic footage of Pia Toscano’s surprise elimination last week. Y’know, like a pivotal scene in a movie. So I figured we were in for a white knuckled, mind-bending results show on Thursday (4/14).
The result, however, proved anti-climactic.
Nashville-via-Huntsville, Ala. native Paul McDonald wound up being the first guy to exit the Top 13 competition, which I hate to say wasn’t a huge surprise. He faced the unenviable task of singing in the first slot on Wednesday night, which past results have shown to be a disadvantage. He then turned in a less-than-inspired version of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll.” Tough odds to overcome.
But I genuinely like Paul, and could see him making a career fronting a Wilco or My Morning Jacket type outfit. He’s probably not destined to compete with Katy Perry for pop radio airplay, and thank goodness for that.
Joining McDonald in the bottom three were Stefano Langone and Haley Reinhart, both of whom have spent some time there already. If this was American Idol 1993, Langone would be killing it. But as he seems to traffic almost exclusively in a brand of R&B that hasn’t been widely popular since the Clinton presidency (like Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road”), his chances don’t seem too great.
Reinhart, on the other hand, has started to pick up a little steam after big performances of “Bennie and the Jets” and “Piece of My Heart,” but still got the judges’ only criticism on Wednesday. After a solid interpretation of Blondie’s “Call Me,” the judges seized on her song choice and said it wasn’t the best showcase for her voice. Which the American public hears as “You don’t deserve to be here” when compared to the soft praise given to everyone else.
Thankfully Reinhart got a chance to redeem herself on the results show, partnering up with Casey Abrams for the jazz standard “Moanin’.” The two played off one another wonderfully, Reinhart’s voice alternating between a silky coo and that trademark throaty growl. In the middle breakdown, both got a chance to show off their improvisational scat-singing skills to the audience’s delight. A memorable performance.
Scott McCreery and Lauren Alaina have both still avoided the bottom three so far by sticking to their instincts. McCreery teased us a little bit this week with a couple bars of Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” which would have been amazing, but opted instead for the safer “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait. Alaina chose to tackle the Miley Cyrus hit “The Climb,” and sang it winningly. I suspect both will be around for some time yet.
Jacob Lusk gave one of his better performances with “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a song that Iovine actually suggested to him during rehearsals. I don’t see him winning the competition, but it was enough for the night. And Abrams took yet another left turn with “Nature Boy” a la Nat King Cole, which was strangely subdued for him but interesting nonetheless.
But for now, it looks like James Durbin is trying to run away with this thing. He tried out Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” from the film of same name, and was joined by guitarist extraordinaire Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society. We’re talking serious metal cred, folks. And what’s more, voters no doubt got a kick out of seeing him tell Jimmy Iovine (respectfully) that he wasn’t going to change his song choice, and proceeding to knock it out of the park.
It’s the story of a one-time underdog, overcoming the odds to emerge victorious. Now that’s a movie I’d watch.
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