American Idol - Top 4 - Inspirational Songs / Leiber & Stoller Songbook - May 11, 2011
If this wasn't one of the most convoluted theme nights in American Idol history, I am not sure what is.
1. James Durbin - "Don't Stop Believin'" A-/B+
I absolutely loved the blue starry staging of this. This performance proved that James could have a great future starring in Rock Of Ages on Broadway - and trust me, that is a complete compliment coming from me! I loved that he actually wore a Journey shirt on stage. Heavy metal jewelry! Fire! Starry eyes! This had it all.
2. Haley Reinhart - "Earth Song" B-
Probably my least favorite performance of hers in a long long time. I felt the song was a difficult one to translate to the Idol stage. I do commend Haley for sticking to her guns and standing by her song choice - after all it wasn't songs that inspired Randy Jackson, it was supposed to be about songs that have inspired the contestants to become singers. However, it is almost certain that if Jacob or Lauren had given the same performance the judges would have fallen all over themselves praising their artistry and that they were "IN IT TO WIN IT". UGH.
3. Scotty McCreery - "Where Were You When The World Stop Turning" B
It is 100% certain that Scotty will be in the finale after his performance of this song. Scotty knows how to cater to his audience in a way that seems authentic and natural. Yet, there was nothing about this performance that really stood out to me besides the lyrical content of the song (which really has nothing to do with Scotty, as he didn't write it). A solid if not particularly memorable performance.
4. Lauren Alaina - "Anyway" B+
Lauren hit one note that reminded me of Carrie Underwood, which impressed me. I am trying to figure out whether it was her tone or phrasing, because it is clear Lauren doesn't have the kind of range Carrie does. I love how she ended the song on a soft note instead of trying to belt it out, but I am so sick of her ending every performance with a giggle and a "Thank you". I think it was cute the first time, back when she sang "Turn On The Radio" (one of her best performances), but after 6 or 8 or 10 weeks, it's grown old.
5. Haley Reinhart - "I Who Have Nothing" A
Haley came back on the stage with a fire in her eyes and a tear in her voice. This was a true Idol Moment in a season very sadly lacking in Idol Moments...come on, we had to put up with Season 9 having hardly any moments, and now we have the judges clearly gunning to get Haley voted off? She is consistently the contestant who gives "Moments" on this stage, except for maybe James. Lauren has never delivered a true Idol Moment and Scotty had his moment (I think) with "You've Got A Friend" but that was more his moment than a true overall moment.
6. Scotty McCreery - "Young Blood" D+
This was so hokey and over the top, I really did not like anything about it. From the strange cadence to the song to the cheesy facial expressions. An awful song choice. I did like the dramatic ending to the song, but honestly when the ending is the best part, that's not saying much. It came off very dated, and I honestly have no clue what the song is supposed to be about.
7. Lauren Alaina - "Trouble" B
My favorite thing about this performance was Lauren's sparkly shoulder pad enhanced jacket from the Rhythm Nation Janet Jackson collection. The first half of the performance was much better than when she started into the fast chorus part of the song, which got boring and I kept thinking how Little Lauren was so afraid to sing the line "I'm evil" in the song. Towards the end of the song, her voice seemed to give out a bit and she didn't go for any sort of "big note".
8. James Durbin - "Love Potion #9" A+
Amazing. This reminded me of everything I love about hard rock and metal music, in the great tradition of rock bands that cover unexpected songs. (See: Twisted Sister - "The Leader Of The Pack, Ugly Kid Joe - "Cats In The Cradle", Faster Pussycat - "You're So Vain", etc.) After watching this performance, I realized just how much James has been MY contestant all season and how he does things that are consistently different and exciting. (Does that even make sense? "Consistently different"?) I LOVED LOVED LOVED how he drew out the ending, in the way that only a real rock 'n roll singer can do. I could listen to this OVER and OVER and OVER again.
Best of the night: James
Worst of the night: Scotty