American Idol Season 10 Episodes 28 and 29 “Songs of the 21st Century”

Part One: The Performance Show

The Eliminated Contestants Return (fr. left to right: Karen Rodriguez, Ashthon Jones, Paul McDonald, Pia Toscano, Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia)

After a brief introduction about the night’s theme (“Songs from the 21st Century”), Wednesday’s night’s “American Idol” performance show began with this season’s eliminated contestants taking the stage for what can only be described as a terribly awkward performance of “So What” by Pink. I love all these people. I really do, but this was just as mess. The most exciting part for me was seeing Pia’s rumored boyfriend and “Dancing with the Stars” dance pro, Mark Ballas in the audience.

The contestants try out Casey's look.

Before each contestant performed, we were given the chance to see what the other contestants think of them. From gentle teasing about how Scotty holds his microphone to Haley’s ‘arm thing’ to James and his scarves, Jacob and his diva-tude, Lauren and her accent and Stefano and his flirting, we got to see the contestants take on the other contestants’ quirks. Casey’s clip package was my favorite. Everyone seems to love the guy with Jacob calling him a genius. We also see that Stefano and Haley have a “love hate relationship” although Haley says it’s more hate. My favorite quote came from Jacob though as he told us Stefano would “flirt with a piece of paper”.

Scotty goes swingin'.

Scotty McCreery: “Swingin'” by John Anderson (from 1982’s “Wild and Blue”)

First things first, this is not a LeAnn Rimes song although she did cover it in 2010 for “Lady and Gentlemen” so it technically counts. I really don’t think Scotty brought it like he needed to; especially for an opening slot. It was a good performance. It was fun to watch and he sounded good but it was very safe. I don’t think it was strong enough, especially for the opening slot in a night full of very strong performances.

Professional Opinion: Usually filled with nothing for praise for Scotty, the judges were critical. Randy went as far as to call it boring. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but it’s nice to see the judges actually criticizing the contestants instead of giving them blind praise.

If Wanda Chose the Songs: I liked seeing Scotty have a little fun, but I think something a little more vocally risky would’ve been interesting. I would’ve suggested “Summertime” by Kenny Chesney (from 2005’s “The Road and the Radio”). It would’ve been fun but would’ve also given him a chance to show vocal range.

James delivers a heck of a performance.

James Durbin: “Uprising” by Muse (from 2009’s “Resistance)

Muse is one of my favorite bands and “Uprising” is one of my favorite songs. James absolutely owns the stage. He’s a rockstar. I don’t know how many more times I can say that about him. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of his vocals, but I think he nailed this one. I loved it. One of my favorite Durbin performances to date.

Professional Opinion: The judges had nothing but (well deserved) praise with both Randy and Jennifer going “out on a limb” and calling it the performance of the night, only two songs in to the evening.

If Wanda Chose the Songs: I would’ve chosen this song. It was absolutely perfect. He wanted to show he could be contemporary and he accomplished his goal.

Haley gets a little more intimate.

Haley Reinhart: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele (from 2011’s “21”)

“Benny and the Jets” from “Elton John Week” was my favorite performance from Haley thus far, but this was a close second. It took guts to tackle a song this current, but I love the song, I love Adele and I love Haley’s take on Adele. I loved the more intimate vibe of the performance. I don’t know if it’ll keep her in the competition, but it definitely, definitely should.

Professional Opinion: Randy talked a little bit about what he’s looking for out of the performers at this stage in the competition and said one of the things he’s looking for is the direction they’re heading in as artists. He said Haley is heading in the right direction. Jennifer thought she brought a little bit of herself to the song. Steven just loved it.

If Wanda Chose the Songs: Once again, I would’ve liked to see Haley tackle “Somethings Got a Hold on Me” which was performed by Christina Aguilera in “Burlesque”. I think it would’ve been a huge moment for her because she could nail the hell outta that song.

Jacob takes on Luther.

Jacob Lusk: “Dance with My Father” by Luther Vandross (from 2003’s “Dance with My Father”)

I love this song and I loved Jacob’s rendition. It was heartfelt and lovely, but I felt at times, his emotions got the best of him. I cut him a lot of slack for that. This was a touching, moving performance. Jacob was having a lot of trouble with his ear piece in the beginning, but I thought he overcame that nicely and recovered quickly.

Professional Opinion: It’s been quite some time since the judges have had anything even close to criticism for Jacob but last night broke the streak. Jennifer felt he lost control of his emotion and therefore the song and Randy misses the old Jacob. Can’t say I disagree

If Wanda Chose the Music: I said it last week and I’ll say it again this week. Jacob should take a stab at an Antony and the Johnson’s song. “Hope There’s Someone” from 2005’s “I Am a Bird Now” would have been beautiful. There’s nothing to say he couldn’t ‘Lusk it up’ a bit, though. It would be magic.

Casey steals a kiss.

Casey Abrams: “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5 (from 2002’s “Songs About Jane”)

Is it my imagination or does it seem like Jimmy Iovine looks at Casey and sees a protégé. It’s not hard to understand why. Jimmy has an ear for talent and Casey (no matter what some message boards would have you believe) has talent in spades. He’s an artist through and through. His rockier, edgier version of “Harder to Breathe” was a risk, but a brilliant one. Incredible. And kissing Jennifer at the end? Icing on the cake.

Professional Opinion: Randy talked about how each of Casey’s performances is a surprise. Steven announced Casey did what Steven has “been trying to do for four months” – referring, of course, to kissing Jennifer. He then told Casey that Casey is a “cult hero” and that people everywhere are “pissed off” because Casey is “so fucking good” – drawing hilariously shocked reactions from Randy, Jennifer and Casey. Casey’s comments at the end of it all? “I kissed Jennifer Lopez and made Steven Tyler swear.”

If Wanda Chose the Songs: I would tell Casey to do whatever the hell he wants. He has killer instincts and enough talent to pull just about anything off.

Stefano brings the heat.

Stefano Langone: “Closer”‘ by Ne-Yo (from 2008’s “Year of the Gentleman”)

I wasn’t crazy about this one, but I will admit, he made huge strides in her performance. He definitely won a lot of female voters with the end of the song, though, but I just wasn’t feeling it. To be fair, that may have a lot to do with the fact that my mind was still blown from Casey.

Professional Opinion: Steven said no one would say Stefano wasn’t “all up in that”. Jennifer spoke for “all the girls in the audience” (aside from me apparently) saying she liked it. Randy said he was proud of Stefano. I must’ve missed something.

If Wanda Chose the Songs: I dunno, honestly. I have a hard time with Stefano. He has an incredible voice, there’s just something about him I don’t personally connect with.

Lauren closes the show.

Lauren Alaina: “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans (from 2000’s “Born to Fly”)

I loved this performance and I love everything about Lauren, but I’m not sure this was a strong enough choice for this stage in the game. I wanted to love it, but in the end, it was only good and not great. Tonight offered a lot of great performances, but I fear Lauren’s song was strong enough to help her stand out. That said, I don’t think she has anything to worry about. She’ll make it though to next week at the very least.

Professional Opinion: The judges liked it but encouraged Lauren to push herself more – to really go for the big moment we all know she’s capable of reaching. I miss the Lauren we knew from the audition stage. Since the show has gone live, Lauren’s been holding back and that makes me sad.

If Wanda Chose the Songs: Something upbeat by Carrie Underwood would’ve been perfect for her. “Before He Cheats”, “Last Name”, “Some Hearts”… there are lots of good choices and I think she would’ve done a brilliant job of any of them.

Highlights

Steven's F-bomb.

Most of last night’s highlights came from the clip packages before the contestants took the stage or the judge’s colorful language – particularly Steven Tyler’s f-bomb following Casey’s performance. Apparently some people were offended. Apparently some people really need to get a life. Kids are watching and blah, blah, blah but chances are, you’ve let an f-bomb slip a time or two. Besides, Steven’s just that kind of guy and it was hilarious to watch Jennifer, Randy and Casey react.

Steven's punishment.

I laughed out loud when the show returned and Steven was sporting black tape over his legendary lips. It’s not like they should’ve have expected this sort of thing, though. He’s Steven Tyler! I love this guy. He’s a great addition to the show. Rumor has is he and Jennifer are thinking about leaving at the end of the season. I sincerely hope not.

The Top Seven.

Summary and Predictions

This is a tough season. Each performance show is packed with great performances. This week held two real highlights for me; Casey’s “Harder to Breathe” and Haley’s “Rolling in the Deep”. As for disappointments… well, there weren’t really any. I generally judge how much I like a performance show based on how fast I rush to iTunes to buy the music. Last week, I took my sweet time and there were only two songs (Casey’s and Haley’s) that I’ve listened to more than once since I bought it. This week, though, I bought the album as soon as I was done watching the show and have been listening to it on and off all day. Many of the songs (Jacob and Lauren, specifically) where much better in the studio. There isn’t a single song that isn’t on my “American Idol Season 10 Playlist”.

Casey Abrams FTW!

Casey is the only remaining contestant I actually get excited to see perform. Haley, my second favorite remaining contestant, is kind of a different story. I always know I’m going to enjoy what she does, but I never know whether it’s going to go to that next level. Haley is my new Paul. I’m rooting for her even though I don’t think she’ll be around much longer.

Could this be the bottom three? Probably not.

As for predictions this week… well, I don’t really know. I think Stefano and Haley are definitely going to be in the bottom 3 and Haley will (completely unjustifiably) be sent packing, but the third? That’s anyone’s guess. I’m going to throw a random guess out there and say Scotty. Everyone else was so strong. Had Scotty gone on later in the show I wouldn’t even consider him as part of the bottom 3, but at the end of the night, Scotty’s performance was the weakest and was entirely forgettable. He won’t go home, though. He has far too many fans out there for that.

 

Part Two: The Results Show

The Top Seven Becomes the Top Six

A performance from American Idol’s own David Cook? A performance from (one of my very favorite popstars) Katy Perry? Tonight’s results show is looking like it’s going to be a good one. To be honest, I only recently started getting into David Cook but he’s really grown on me. None of you care about that, though. You want to know who went home.

"Let's talk about last night..."

The evening started out with Ryan telling us that there were 52 million votes cast before talking a bit with the judges about what they expect to happen. Randy says exactly what I’m thinking. I really don’t think anyone’s safe at this point. Casey has already been eliminated once and both Haley and Stefano have made multiple trips to the bottom three. Even Jacob has been in the bottom three. While Scotty, Lauren and James have avoided that position, so too did Pia until she was ousted. It really is anyone’s game.

"I hope it's not a girl." - Jennifer

Jennifer agrees with Randy, saying she only hopes a girl doesn’t head home. From there, talk turns to the highlights of performance night – Steven’s f-bomb and Jennifer’s kiss from Casey.Jennifer says husband Marc Anthony thought Casey’s kiss was a cute moment. I agree. It was a relatively lighthearted start to a show that was going to end with one talented contestant heading home.

Are the group performances getting worse?

Performance One: Jacob, Lauren, Haley and Stefano perform “Hey Soul Sister” by Train

No. Just no. This was bad, folks and I’m not kidding. For the first group performance of the night, Jacob, Lauren, Haley and Stefano tackle a song covered much, much better by The Warblers on “Glee”. I think whoever makes the song selections should avoid giving these kids anything The Warblers have done. Haley and Lauren sounded good but Jacob and Stefano just didn’t work together.

The Ford Commercial.

Ford Music Video: “World” by The American Idols

I found this Ford Commercial a little cheesy. Last week’s was much, much better. I love the original version by Five for Fighting and I like how they covered it, but the actual video – a little too much for me. Also, from here on out, I will be referring to this segment as the Ford Commercial, because that’s all it is.

A bit better, but not much.

Performance Two: Casey. James and Scotty perform “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay

Okay, producers either need to stop with these group performances or give the groups more time to practice them. The duets work much, much better. This was better than “Hey Soul Sister” but not by a whole lot. Once again, the individual vocals were good, but the harmonies were all over the place. Disappointing – especially since I think each one of these guys would’ve done better singing it on their own.

Jacob tries to defend himself.

Contestant Interview and Fan Mail

After the group performance from Casey, James and Scotty, it was interview time with the contestants and time for the show’s first clip package. Ryan began by asking Jacob how he felt about his fellow contestants calling him a diva. I really like Jacob would’ve kept talking had Ryan not moved on to  Scotty, who apparently has had a cupcake named after him in his hometown of Garner, Texas.

Casey's shows off his fan mail.

I love when to contestants show off the fan mail they receive. I especially liked this one. Michiru Kusaka painted this for Casey depicting Casey, his upright bass and his dog and Casey clearly loved it. Michiru is one talented individual, even if Casey wasn’t sure how to pronounce the name.

Casey and Jacob are asked to stand.

Results: Round One

What was with the weird way of delivering results last night? Instead of having Casey and Jacob stand center stage to await their results, they were told to stand by the couches while the results were announced. Casey was told “America wants more of the soft lips” and is able to sit back down on the ‘safe’ couch. Jacob, however, had to cross the room to the stools to await his fate as the first contestant in the bottom three.

David Cook returns to the "American Idol" stage.

Performance Three: David Cook performs “Last Goodbye”

David Cook’s performance (from “This Loud Morning” due on June 28, 2011) was enjoyable, but I skipped over it the first time I watched the show. In order for me to actually watch a performance the first time around on results night, it has to be exceptional. This… wasn’t. Loved it the second time around, though.

Steven gives David's Mom a hug.

Honestly, as much as I love David’s music, the real highlight of the whole performance for me was when he said his mother mainly went to the show because she wanted to meet Steven Tyler. Seacrest told her she could go up on the judge’s platform to meet him and he greeted her with a nice hug. Pretty cute.

Time for a little relaxation!

Clip Package: Rest and Relaxation – Time for Some Fun!

I loved this entire clip package from start to finish. We began by taking a look at the contestants taking in a Dodgers game where everyone was clearly having a blast. Of course it was a big deal to Scotty who plays baseball back home in Garner. He was even more excited when he got to meet baseball legend, Tommy Lasorda; even if he did have to tell the other contestants what a big deal meeting Tommy Lasorda was.

Time for some bowling.

From the Dodgers game, it was time for a little bowling. Clearly some of the Idol contestants are better at this particular passtime than others. We saw Lauren beat Scotty and Stefano lose to Haley and Casey. James had a pretty good attitude about the whole thing, saying, “”I’ve gone three times, I haven’t hit a single pin but I think it’s my form.” He could be right, although Scotty’s looks like it could use some work too.

Jacob gets his wish.

Was it my imagination or did Jacob sort of sit out the whole bowling thing. That portion of the package ended with Jacob saying they needed to head to the spa which was exactly what they did. Watching Scotty get a mask and a manicure made me smile and him too, apparently as he said, “At the end of the day, I’m gonna be the guy with the best lookin’ nails.” My favorite moment of the entire package, though, was James sneaking in while Stefano got a massage and taking over for the masseuse. I won’t deny I laughed out loud a little bit. Sadly, though, it was a results show which meant the fun had to end and more results had to be read.

More results.

Results: Round Two

Lauren, James and Stefano were called to center stage and as sure as I was that Stefano would be taking a seat beside Jacob, I couldn’t help being a bit nervous. Lauren and James have both avoided the bottom three, but this season, it’s hard to predict what will happen. I was right though. Stefano is sent to the bottom three while James and Lauren are sent back to safety.

Haley and Scotty find out who fills out the bottom three.

Results: Round Three

Haley and Scotty take center stage for another round of results. Seacrest does his trademark misleading comment thing by saying “wow” after Scotty’s name as he’s reading the results and sending Scotty to safety. From there… things for a little bizarre. I had to watch a second time to really see what happened.

Um... so Haley's safe? The bottom two?

Results: Round Four? Does this Count?

So Haley is sent to fill out the bottom three. As she’s sitting down, Seacrest strolls over and says, “I hate this part. I really do” and asks Haley to go with him. She seems just as confused as I feel but follows all the same. He whispers “you’re safe” and then points to the couch, shouting “safe” which leaves Stefano and Jacob awaiting their fate. I’m already picturing Stefano’s exit clip package because there is no way Jacob is going to go home over Stefano. I hope.

Katy Perry hits the "American Idol" stage... sort of.

Performance Four: Katy Perry and Kanye West perform “E.T.”

Here’s something interesting about Katy Perry’s performance. Not only was she lip synching – she wasn’t even there from what I understand. According to what I’ve read about the performance, Katy actually recorded it after last week’s show which could explain why the audience was so dark. Sources from the show say the set was so elaborate it took forty minutes to set up and would’ve been impossible to do for the live show. Kind of sad, really. It would’ve been nice if the audience actually got to see her perform live. All the same, I liked it – even if it did feel a bit Gaga-ish.

It's the end of the road for Stefano.

Results: Round Five

I want to say finally, but in all honesty, I’d sad to see Stefano go. He’s a talented kid, but as he said, he started his career on the show and I think he has a lot of fans that will stay interested in what he does from here. He handled his elimination like a champ. He almost seemed happy to be sent packing and really, who could blame him? Week after week, watching the people you’ve become friends with go home instead of you can’t be easy. I think he’s been ready to make his exit since he stayed and Pia left.

James took the news hard, crying over the loss of not only his friend, but his roommate since Hollywood Week. Stefano’s exit clip package was sad, but he nailed his exit song, “Lately” by Stevie Wonder. I liked it a lot more the second time around, honestly.  From here on out, each time a contestant is eliminated, I’m going to post my favorite performance of their time on Idol. For Stefano, there was no competition. My favorite, hands down, came a few weeks back when he performed “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red. Do you have another favorite Stefano performance? Do you think the right person went home? Let me know in the comments section below and come back again next week to see who made it into the top five!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wZUMmiWUA0

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