I Shot The Sheriff!
(But I didn't shoot my integrity)
It’s a revolution, people! Someone blinked tonight on American Idol, and it wasn’t any of the contestants: it was the professionals, Jimmy Iovine and Will.i.am. OK, sure, James made us suck in our breath in a giant, slow-motion “Oooohhhh fuuuuccckkkkk” when he got all up in their faces, and sure, he was dead wrong when he remarked that you can’t know a hit song when it’s heard for the first time at a piano (????), but now we have something truly interesting: the stars of the show (James, Casey, Scotty) ALL rejected the advice and went with their guts: and ALL of them knocked it out of the park by doing so.
Let’s back up a bit and evaluate the “help” they are getting and compare it with The Inky Jukebox’s primo suggestions. Why is our favorite Vulcan up here? Read on to find out why.
Paul gives the same crazy-ass nitrous oxide tornado of a performance he always has. “Old Time Rock and Roll” is the most repetitive lyric there has ever been. It is not a showcase for your amazing vocal skills. The only thing he’s changing up is the color of his Nudie suit. The man is an enigma.
- The Inky Jukebox says: Paul is not a mammal; he’s a mollusk; all gooey inside a sparkly shell. It doesn’t matter what he “sings” since his duds do all his talking for him. Ride the wave, dude. New suit every week.
This is NOT Lauren Alaina. It's Miley Cyrus showing how it's done.
Lauren opts to sing Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb,” a massive anthem that she is warned HAS to be sung better than the original. Jimmy and Will are confident she’s got it wrapped up. But then Lauren totters out and delivers the most underwhelming version of this song I have ever heard. She stood rooted to the spot (again) and took big breaths when she should have simply risked puking in order to get the note. The actual Miley Cyrus is sitting in a bar somewhere laughing her ass off.
- The Inky Jukebox says: you’re a blonde country girl on Idol. Watch what Carrie Underwood did and copy her. Specifically, rip off the way she strutted her stuff as if she’d already won all over the stage as if she was a sexybitch matador and the crowd were an arena full of bulls. Stop singing to the camera as if it’s a mirror.
Stefano dresses down and gives his best performance yet: Randy was right on this one. He’s singing like he’s got nothing to lose, which is a good thing. He delivered the passion and physical expression that has been sorely lacking.
- The Inky Jukebox says: Jeans? Fine. White sneakers with oversize tongues, not so much.
Here is why Scotty should NOT have sung Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’”: 1) it’s slow as molasses; 2) it’s the theme song from an X-rated movie (has anyone voting for him actually seen Midnight Cowboy?); and 3) this is a song that, great as it is, was covered by Spock. (Look up Leonard Nimoy’s version, y’all.) So even though the song Scotty went with was a bit dull, he made a good, wise choice. I would hazard that 100% of his voting audience know and love the movie Pure Country because it’s a required text in Country 101. Aligning himself with the young (hot) George Strait ain’t never gonna hurt him, either.
- The Inky Jukebox says: we like the chutzpah Scotty has showed in standing up to the judges the last few weeks; it gives him some credibility. BUT Scotty MUST STOP holding the microphone like a cock. The double-handed splayed finger off-to-one-side grip reeks of the kind of olde-time variety-shows of the 1970s that are as dated as wide-collar polyester jumpsuits and bouffant hair. Grip it like a man, Scotty! Would George Strait hold a mic like that? HELL NO.
This was a big week for Casey; with the furor over Pia’s exit and everyone saying the save should not have been used on him, he needed to prove more than ever why it was the RIGHT thing to do. And Oh Boy, he did. His slapdown of the profoundly inane, short-sighted (and possibly malicious) suggestion from Iovine et al. that he sing Phil Collins's “In The Air Tonight” in favor of his original and clearly passionate choice, Nat King Cole’s classic “Nature Boy” was, as Randy rightly pointed out in his effusive praise, “Pure genius.” Here’s why: Could Casey sing the Phil Collins tune? Sure; he can sing anything. But that would have been capitulating to THE MAN, and Casey’s whole niche is that he won’t compromise his art for THE MAN, even if he finds himself on this ridiculous TV show. By sticking to “Nature Boy,” and doing it his way, all scatty double-bass, he accomplished something truly unique and memorable on this show, brought some untarnished artistic merit to a stage filled with dross (Haley), and created the much-lauded MOMENT. He’s right: Esperanza just won a Grammy. That mention was also genius. In his post-performance comment, he was again shaking, only this time it was in recognition that he has just made himself a big fat career. The whole thing threw gobs of egg on Iovine’s face, so it will be interesting to see how that goes down.
- The Inky Jukebox says: Keep on keeping on. He gets our vote.
Haley: do not, under any circumstances, “Call Me.” Words are inadequate to describe how abysmal this performance was, but we’ll try. Haley dresses like she’s trying out for the talent show at her high school, thinking that if she wears a mini-dress and thigh-high boots she will give the judges stiffies and they will ignore her amateur-hour hand sweeping (do the regal wave!), hair shaking (even Taylor Swift bangs her head on stage like Angus), and incessant growling (not sexy!). The judges were rightly cool, but none had the guts to point out her bum notes (listen to that first one!) or her appalling "foreign" lyrics. Also, the red lipstick has to go.
- The Inky Jukebox says: Much as we loathe the idea of Haley “entertaining” us another week, we suggest that instead of pulling out a made-for-karaoke copycat version of whatever song you pick, change it up completely: if you’d only slowed “Call Me” down to a torch song, say, you too could have had a Moment.
Jacob looked completely miserable, didn’t he? We think he will suffer form not having joined his peers and stood up to the Interscope Brass, even if his “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was delivered well. In this week’s scheme of things, mere competence was not enough. He was properly dragged over the coals for his lunatic remarks made last week, which will still come back to haunt him.
- The Inky Jukebox says: Jenny Craig it, Jacob.
Oh James, you big-eared teddy bear, you. Thank you for making us shout “Give metal a chance” on a night when we also thanked the TV gods for jazz. WTF. James, like Casey and Scotty, is a front-runner because he is true to himself and has the balls to throw all caution to the wind in order to preserve his individuality and dignity in the face of Jimmy Iovine’s disapproving scowl. He tore up the theater with a very smart and timely return to the kind of rock we know he can deliver, and the producers were smart too in looking like they backed his renegade decision by providing him with the awesome Zakk Wylde on guitar. Shredding ensued.
- The Inky Jukebox says: yes! Bring the metal! But James, do not bring the Sammy Hagar schmaltz. Bring the AC/DC, the Maiden, the Rainbow, the DIO, the Sabbath, the Motorhead.
All in all, a refreshing week. Who’ll go home? In keeping with The Inky Jukebox’s incredibly prescient predictions so far (not) we’ll say:
Bottom Three: Haley, Jacob, Lauren. Going Home? Jacob.