Next up was Lauren Alaina with a song from another Idol champ (wild guess: songs by Idol contestants are probably the cheapest to clear). Her cover of “Flat on the Floor” by Carrie Underwood was pretty decent. Lauren’s got a little more fire in her than Carrie, which suited the song, and coming after Jacob, Lauren seemed fabulous. “That is the direction for you... I love you showing the fun side, this energetic side, and still making a connection with the audience,” Randy said. “For a 15-year-old girl and you sing like that and you know where you’re going, the sky’s the limit. I think you’re it,” Steven said. (Lauren’s actually 16, bee tee dubz.)
Ding ding ding! Round Two!
Once again, James Durbin went first, this time performing a very emotional rendition of Badfinger’s “Without You.” The performance was dedicated to his family, and James wept through it, which resulted in some messy vocals. And once again, the low parts were too low for him. The judges forgave his pitch issues, though, because this is a feelings competition! Oh, wait. “For you to give a vocal like you gave — no, it wasn’t perfect, but it was emotionally perfect. This competition right now is yours to lose,” Randy said. “Pitchy a little bit, in a kinda strange James Durbin kind of way, but it was beautiful,” Steven agreed.
It’s Top 5 night, y’all! The good news about tonight was that we got two performances from all of the contestants. The theme was “Now & Then,” which consisted of songs of the past few years and then a “classic” from each singer.
The bad news about tonight was... that we got two performances from all of the contestants. It was a night of hits and misses this evening, both from our Top 5 and from the judges.
Judge fashion check! Randy in a grey blazer, Jennifer in white dress with a big white flower in her hair, Steven in a T-shirt that presumably says “LOVE,” although all we could ever see was the “OV,” so maybe it says “DOVE” or “CLOVER” or “OVEN.” Bonus amusing thing: Someone in the audience holding a sign which read: “I [heart] the Seacrest side-part.” Really? Have people run that much out of ideas?
James Durbin started the night off on a lively note with his performance of “Closer to the Edge” by 30 Seconds to Mars. He gets a bonus point for making us think of Jared Leto — swoon — but the performance was actually not that great. While his hair looked awesome (credit where credit’s due), his studded leather vest was kind of cheesy. Musically, the low parts were too low for him, it seemed like, and most of his singing was pretty tuneless. The judges, predictably, loved it. “James is in it to win it,” Randy said (which he would go on to say about basically everyone). “I think you kicked that song’s ass,” Steven said.
The return of the Lusk! Jacob picked Nazareth’s “Love Hurts,” which Jimmy Iovine suggested. While it wasn’t nearly the hot mess that “No Air” was earlier in the evening, we still could’ve done without it. We’d say Jacob is sure to go home tomorrow after these two performances, but who knows? The judges liked it, though. Maybe things sound different in the studio. “I’m a sucker for passion and I felt it again. You kinda got lost in the song, but what a delivery,” Steven said. “You redeemed yourself on this one. That is the Jacob right there!” Randy said.
Things got awesome next, as Scotty McCreery took on “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry. It was a really fun performance from our country boy — much edgier than we usually get from Scotty, but it still felt like him. He also dialed back the cheese factor that sometimes makes him seem a little goofy. We loved it, and so did the judges. “Up to now, you’ve been like a Puritan, you know but I swear to God I saw you dance with the devil tonight,” Steven said. “I lost it there for a second, I was so excited. You just owned that stage. I heard some growling in there too. I liked it. That is some American Idol stuff right there,” Jen said.
Coketerview for Jacob Lusk! Ryan asked Jacob if he thinks he can win the competition. Jacob assured us he does think so. “I want to make it to the top,” he said, and talked about being a positive representation of where he comes from, which is Compton. (Compton just suddenly got way less intimidating.)
Jacob chose to sing “No Air,” a duet between a previous Idol winner and a violent creepazoid (also known as Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown). Just like James before him, Jacob wasn’t at his best — lots of missed notes and general awkwardness. He also came within, like, two inches of grabbing his crotch. No. Stop that. Eurgh. Jennifer liked his song choice and said he seemed to be showing the sort of artist he is. “I have been struggling with what kind of songs you do and your choices every week are very different,” she said, but Randy disagreed. “I don’t think anybody on this stage should be singing duet songs and try to sing both parts. It really kind of made the whole thing a little corny for me,” he said.
“Unchained Melody” is a song that’s been performed a fair bit on American Idol. (Trivia: It’s Simon Cowell’s favorite song.) Lauren chose to sing it because it’s her mom and dad’s song. Aw. She looked gorgeous and she sounded really nice, although she didn’t really bring anything new to the Righteous Brothers tune. Don’t kill us, but we preferred the version Constantine Maroulis did a few weeks ago! “Nothing to judge there, really! It was a beautiful song, sang beautifully, by you,” Jennifer said. Um, okay. “This girl can sing like a bird, and that’s what you proved tonight,” Randy said.
In Haley Reinhart’s Coketerview, she reveals that she’s the real winner of this whole thing, because she got to speak to Lady Gaga in order to get permission to sing “You and I” off Gaga’s upcoming album. How awesome is that? So awesome. Also awesome: Haley’s performance. And her sparkly Gaga-lite pants. The song suited her very well and she sounded fabulous. Unfortunately, the judges? Not awesome. “It would have been a better choice to choose something that everybody knew that really, really showcased you in a better way,” Jennifer said. “You’re a great singer. You proved it at the end of that, going back and forth with the background singers, but I don’t know if this whole did you any favors,” Randy added.
For his second performance, Scotty went for a tender moment (as Randy always calls them) with Elvis Presley’s “You Were Always on My Mind.” As usual, he sounded wonderful, although we found the performance a tiny bit boring. On the other hand, the teens and tweens who swoon over Scotty were probably melted into tiny little puddles, so: way to know your audience, McCreery! “I wanna say that between that last song you did and this song, you show us what a well-rounded artist you are... so beautiful,” Jennifer said. “Scotty, America loves your voice, man, and you’ve just been taking us up and down the trail,” Steven said.
Then, in the most randomly amusing moment of the night, we learned that when Scotty mentioned earlier in the season about being part Puerto Rican, he was completely serious. His adorable Puerto Rican grandmother was in the audience tonight! We were sure Whitest White Boy Scotty was totally kidding.
Sometimes on Idol there is a perfect marriage of singer and song, which we witnessed in tonight’s last performance. The singer: Haley Reinhart. The song: “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. Haley’s performance was fierce and sexy and smart — by far the best performance of the night, her best performance of the season, and quite possibly the best performance of the season overall. (Our notes from while she was performing just say “AMAZEBALLS.”) All three judges gave her a well-deserved standing ovation. “The award tonight for the best performance of the night goes to Haley,” Randy said. “I don’t know if you came out a little angry at us from before... that song has never been sung like that before, great job,” Jennifer said.
So, 5 singers x 2 songs each / 3 judges + 1 Ryan Seacrest = what, exactly? We say Jacob should go, but we’ve been saying that for weeks and he keeps on keeping on. If he survives again, we’re guessing that Lauren will take the fall. What do you think? Let us know in the comments?