American Idol Recap: Things Get Heavy (Metal) When the Top 8 Perform
Hey America, remember when Pia was voted off Idol and it was very dramatic and shocking? Well, if you’d forgotten, tonight’s episode kicked off with a reminder, with bonus weepy Jennifer Lopez consoling our fallen Idol onstage. Oh, the humanity! Of course, since Pia apparently has already been meeting with Interscope, we probably don’t need to be too sad for her.
Judge fashion check! Randy looking very prep school in a cardigan and tie, Jennifer in a sparkly minidress with an odd, frontal half-tutu... thing, and Steven in a flowing black and white chiffon number.
After some silliness making fun of Jennifer for being chosen for the cover of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” issue, it was time to get down to business. Tonight, the theme was Music From the Movies, which allowed for a really odd — but mostly entertaining — group of songs.
Paul McDonald, representing “Nash-Vegas” according to Ryan, was up first, in a new flowered suit — this one black, with red flowers and one million rhinestones. He picked “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger from Risky Business. Smiley Spice ditched his guitar this week in favor of dancing furiously all over the stage, which sort of had the effect of making him seem like a really cute singer in a bar. A fun bar, sure, but a bar, not an arena, you know? A hot blonde girl came out and played a sax solo, and Paul got a tambourine from somewhere, and... well, it wasn’t as good as last week, but it was decent. “I have to say, every time you come out here it’s almost like you go a little bit further in your performance and in your abandon — it’s like watching a diamond in the rough and all of a sudden it’s like, every week a little bit more polished,” Jennifer said. “I love that you are not just a typical singer, you’re definitely an artist,” Randy said.
The second Coketerview of the night went to Casey Abrams, who talked to Ryan about getting a dish named after him at some cafe at home. Uh, cool! Casey (whose beard is getting progressively smaller every week) is singing “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole, against the wishes of Jimmy Iovine, who preferred Casey’s back-up plan of Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight.” We kind of preferred it, too, but Casey’s weird, jazzy performance was still kind of great. There were creepy faces, and it was all what Simon Cowell would’ve called “indulgent,” but we didn’t mind it. Neither did the judges — all three gave him a standing ovation. “We have real true artists on the show... I hope America gets this... what I’m loving this season is it’s about education and embracing who you are... I thought it was brilliant man, I thought it was absolutely genius — it makes me, as an artist, it makes me proud to sit here and judge artists as well as popstars,” Randy said. “You believed what was in your heart and you did it... that’s the truest sense of the word artist,” Steven said to an obviously emotional Casey.
Our new favorite rocker girl Haley Reinhart picked “Call Me” by Blondie from American Gigolo. She performed in a fabulous sequined minidress and giant hooker boots, and we thought she nailed it. While it might not have been the most awe-inspiring performance ever, it was solid and sexy and she sounded terrific. Oddly, the judges decided to be vaguely negative for the first time in weeks. “It felt when it started very kind of karaoke for me... it wasn’t a singer’s song at this point to show what you really have,” said Randy. “I’m gonna agree more with Randy, except I’m so afraid to say anything about the girls because I don’t want any other girls to go home! All the girls are getting voted off and I don’t like that,” Jennifer said. Well, Jen, then maybe don’t criticize Haley when she’s awesome! Hmph.
Next up, sixteen-year-old Lauren Alaina sang —what else? — “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus, from Hannah Montana. For some reason, she did so in a really unfortunate outfit which we don’t believe can be blamed on Gwen Stefani: a black and silver short dress with a puffy skirt and black cowgirl boots. Oof. On the other hand, her singing was pretty good! It wasn’t Lauren’s greatest performance, but it was certainly — as Jimmy Iovine said it had to be — better than Miley. “I always feel like I want you to go further because I know you can go further. You sang it so beautifully. You don’t need to steal anybody’s votes; you’re getting plenty of your own,” Jennifer said, referencing Jimmy and will.i.am’s comments in Lauren’s intro package about “stealing” Pia’s votes. “I love what you bring to a song, but I love more what a song brings to you, in your spirit, and your voice more importantly. Every time you sing I hear it in the first verse,” Steven added.
The Coketerviews are back, y’all! Whew! Stefano Langone was the first lucky recipient of a sit-down with Ryan tonight, and he talked about trying to really work to improve his performance skills. His song choice was “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men from Boomerang. It started off super-shaky, but then it got good...ish. We thought it was just OK, but the judges loved it. Randy took the opportunity to namedrop Wanya from Boyz II Men, adding, “I think that’s your best vocal on this stage to date.” “This is so not the end of the road for you, it’s just the beginning,” Steven said. “You now know the key, you now understand that... that was the s***!” Jennifer said.
Next up was Jacob Lusk, who got teased by Jimmy and will.i.am for his comments last week about America not being able to look at themselves in the mirror. After groaning at Jacob’s initial choices of “The Impossible Dream” or “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Jimmy suggested Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from The Pursuit of Happyness. It was a much better choice, and Jacob’s performance showed some nice restraint, until he took it to church at the end. He’s no Clay Aiken, who killed “Bridge” in the Season 2 Idol finale, but Jacob definitely got the job done. “Those last three notes... it’s incredible, and I know America hears that. So God bless you, man, and your voice,” Steven said. “You’re such a gifted vocalist... it comes from another place. I didn’t want to let you give me the chills but you did,” Jennifer said.
Scotty McCreery almost sang Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking at Me,” but instead decided to stick to his usual fare, chosing “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait from Pure Country. Boo! We would’ve liked to hear “Everybody’s Talking at Me.” Oh well. Perched on a Stool of Seriousness (not to be confused with a Stool of Shame!), Scotty crooned the country ballad. It was very pretty, and frankly, kind of boring. We guess Lauren isn’t the only one trying to steal Pia’s votes. Hey-o! “Everybody wants us to be tough with you guys, but the truth is you all are so damn good!... All I really want to say is ‘wow,’” Jennifer said. “My motto in life: if it ain’t broke don’t even consider fixing it... I’m a huge, ginormous fan,” Randy said.
What better way could there be to end a show than with some “Heavy Metal,” courtesy of The Durbz?! After arguing with Jimmy about whether the Sammy Hagar track was a viable choice, James went for it, and brought legendary rock guitarist Zakk Wylde out on stage with him. We kind of wanted to vote for Zakk — those guitar solos were face melting! That being said, while James was definitely entertaining, it wasn’t so much of a singer’s song. He screamed really well, though, and the judges loved it. “That felt really, really real! I really loved that,” said Jennifer. “Tonight you did you... hopefully America will bring metal back. Durbin rocks!” said Randy.
With only eight contestants left, it seems like some favorites will absolutely have to be in the bottom three. Our guess is that Paul, Haley and... Stefano? Casey? Jacob? Well, it definitely won’t be Scotty or The Durbz.