It was a stressful, infuriating, occasionally exciting show tonight, because Top 4 week is total crunch time in Idol-land. Rememer, the Top 3 get those special trips home in total rockstar style... while the fourth-place finisher just gets a regular trip home back to obscurity. Needless to say, tonight all the contestants were IN IT TO WIN IT! (Shut up, Randy.) Also, it turned out that tonight was not merely Leiber and Stoller night; it was also a night of songs that inspire our Top 4.
Judge fashion check! Randy in a light blue jacket and royal blue glasses, Jennifer in a one-shoulder denim mini-dress, and Steven in pattern salad — some snakeskin, some zig-zags, whatever — he’s Steven Tyler, he can do that.
James Durbin went first (and also last, hmm). And what does James find inspiring? “Don’t Stop Believin’” by the cast of Glee. Wait, what? No, just kidding. We know it’s by Journey. While he didn’t really add anything new to the song, vocally he was about a thousand percent better than last week. He was wearing a Journey T-shirt, incidentally, which we can’t decide if we found charming or lame. The judges were thrilled to see James back on track. “An indication of what’s to come. You did it right. You couldn’t have picked a more popular song. Nice going,” Steven said. “That was the highest degree of difficulty, and you did it!” Randy said.
Haley Reinhart went next, and sang “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson. Just like last week, Randy and Jennifer panned her first performance. However, while last week her first performance was actually terrific, this one kind of wasn’t. It wasn’t terrible, and it was silly that once again she was given a really hard time for not picking a big hit song, but even as Haley fans, we were unimpressed. “We talked about this last week, about choosing the hit records, choosing a song everybody’s gonna respond to,” Jennifer said. “To me, it confused me with who you are as an artist... it felt like to me you were screaming, like you were at the top of your range,” Randy said. Haley, clearly so over it, argued with Randy a bit. We tried to high-five her through the TV screen. Neither us nor Haley were particularly successful. Oh well. The good news? “They’re wrong!” Steven said. At least Steven’s Team Haley.
Next up, Scotty the Body. (Seriously, why won’t Ryan stop calling him that?) It turns out that Scotty finds terrorism inspiring. Just kidding! Sort of. He chose to perform “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson. He sounded beautiful, and he played his guitar, and the song, well, it was a lot of stuff about loving Jesus and America. It was wonderful if you like that sort of thing, kind of barf-inducing if you don’t. Luckily for Scotty, the judges (and lots of America, no doubt) definitely like that sort of thing. “I think it’s the perfect song choice for where we are now as a country... I think you set your mark on the stage this season, you’re ready for superstardom,” Randy said. “I’m in love with you, I can’t help it,” Jennifer said.
Lauren Alaina closed out the first half of the show with “Anyway” by Martina McBride, which is also about loving Jesus, as well as persevering through adversity. She sounded utterly fantastic, and her frothy scarlet dress, which looked like Maria Von Trapp went bonkers in a bordello, was ah-mazing. “You did it again, you broke my heart, man. That was the most beautiful thing. You deliver a song like a blue plate special,” Steven said. “I’m so proud of you, I really do feel like you’re listening to everything we’re telling you. That was exactly what we’re talking about,” Jennifer said.
Before moving on to the songs of Leiber and Stoller (and the mentoring by Lady Gaga!), Ryan asked the judges who won the first round. Jennifer hemmed and hawed and refused to pick, while Randy said it was a tie between everyone but Haley. Yeah, yeah, we got it, Dawg. Yeesh.
For some reason (to mess with Haley, probably), the order was switched around for the second set of performances, so Haley was up first. Lady Gaga (who looked like a monochromatic Raggedy Ann on crack; we loved it) encouraged her to really bring the crazy to her performance of “I (Who Have Nothing).” Just like last week, Haley proceeded to rock the ever-loving hell out of her second performance. Maybe next week — if she makes it through — Randy can just whisper insults to her before she goes on stage? She also looked absolutely incredible in a tiny sparkly pewter dress. “This is why we can’t take it easy on you, look what you’re capable of! That was amazing, one of the best performances of the year,” Jennifer said. “You just Reinharted yourself into the middle of next week,” Steven said.
Scotty McCreery and Lady Gaga. Let that marinate for a moment. Okay. Scotty picked “Young Blood” by The Coasters, and Gaga gave him tips for his microphone technique that included the term “making love,” which was apparently too much for Scotty’s delicate sensibilities. WWJD? He proceeded to run around the stage like a crazy person, and the eyebrow gymnastics were off the charts. The performance was kind of cringe-inducing, but he sounded good and it was hilarious, which we think was the intent, so... well done? “It was funny, it was good, I liked it!” Steven said. “It seems like you really hit your stride right now, now it’s about the sprint to the finish line,” Jennifer said.
Lauren didn’t want to say that she was evil, so she picked “Trouble” by Elvis Presley, which contains the lyric “I’m evil” approximately one billion times. Gaga convinced Lauren that it was all right to say that, and also must have convinced Lauren to wear the crazy jacket she sported for her performance, all sequins and shoulder pads. Our country girl’s take on the song was sassy and spunky, and the judges loved it. “That was well done, there’s the character that came out again,” Steven said. “I saw a performance quality in you... that I had not seen in you before. It was really, really good,” Jennifer added.
For the record, Mike Stoller — as in Leiber and Stoller — is the most adorable grandpa type. We wonder what he thought of Lady Gaga.
The Durbz learned to shake his hips from Gaga, and put his hips to use during his performance of The Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9.” The arrangement of the song was pretty hot, and once again he sounded great. Lots of energy and a big, showy ending. Also: pyro! Yay. The judges were enthused. “You know what that showed me, James? that you can sing anything,” Jennifer said. “You’re having a moment every single week and I love it!” Randy said.
Do you love it? Do you think Haley got a raw deal? Were you scared or thrilled by Scotty’s hyperactive eyebrows? Let us know in the comments!
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