Thursday, April 21, 2011

American Idol Week 7

Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire!

Last night, the Idol contestants were allowed to play up each other’s most distinctive feature. On cue (on script?) they all agreed upon traits we are all familiar with. Scotty holds his mic funny! Stefano is a flirt! Lauren talks to much! James shrieks! Jacob’s a diva! Haley is profoundly annoying! Casey’s a funny genius!

What none of them said was the obvious, and what tonight’s show amply demonstrated: Casey’s real outstanding feature is the size of his cajones. If it’s his beard you’re looking at for evidence of his chutzpah, you’re aiming way too high.

Not only does he go with off-genre songs at big moments and play every instrument known to man, but he isn’t afraid to stand up for doing it his way. (TIP: At the earliest opportunity, or the finale--your choice--sing “My Way.”)

Here is what was great about his performance of Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe”: It was unlike anything we’ve seen him do so far, demonstrating his versatility; but he didn’t just sing a different song; he inhabited a different performance. He strutted about the stage flinging the lyrics into the audience as the song demands. It was a loud, brash song. But then, once he had the entire audience – in the theater and at home – in his hands, he shrunk the whole thing down to the two magical inches between his face and Jennifer Lopez’s cheek. The vocal he delivered to her, and her alone, was a beautiful piece of singing and dramatic tension; being able to balance those two is what real showmanship is made of. Leaning in to kiss her was a daring and completely appropriate thing to do: if he was doing this at a concert, that is what he would do.

He has earned the right to be able to break the wall because he is a wrecking ball of talent.

As for the rest:

James might have sung a Muse song, "Uprising" (brilliant choice!!) but stayed true to his roots by channeling Rob Halford’s wardrobe to do it. Say what you will of him, he knows who to copy.

As far as The Inky Jukebox is concerned, everyone else flubbed( but flubbed well).

Scotty wasted a precious opportunity to sing a song that told us nothing new about what he could do at all. In a week in which any genre was up for grabs, he should have opted for something unexpected. After the spoof section about how he holds his mic, he didn’t take the hint and played it up, which only made him look like a clown. Dude can sing, but he’s rowing a very narrow boat.

Haley took on a song that is in current release on a Number One album. I don’t blame her for singing an Adele song, but she growled and gawped her way through it in a red polka dot dress and threw in a pageanty wail at the end that I’m sure would have made Adele cough with horror on her cigarette if she’d been watching. "Rolling in the Deep", indeed. 

Lauren sang a Sara Evans song badly and looks like a 50 year-old woman who has spent too much time at the salon – in the tanning bed and having her streaks did. Oh, and the denim tutu? WTF?

Jacob has audio problems he should not have admitted to on camera; while it was clear to the theater audience that the band struck up the wrong track, causing his to pause and remove his ear monitor, it looked to the TV audience that he was overcome with emotion, and overcame it. That’s a good thing.

Stefano did whatever it is that Stefano does. I can’t recall.

Bottom Three: Lauren, Jacob, Stefano. Going home: Lauren. She looks all done. 

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