Wednesday, April 6, 2011

AI Season 10, Top 9 Performance, 04-06-11

Ryan, with his hair parted on the wrong side again, enters through the kids as they faux-dance. Note to Casey: Don't do that any more.

Randy is wearing a shiny, black vinyl jacket over a red tee. JLo is in a white slinky dress with gold zipper-like rib adornments. Steven Tyler is in a floaty shirt that looks like it's made form white, black, and teal snakeskin, if snakeskin was floaty.

Ryan warns us that Gwen Stefani has styled the girls tonight, using clothes from her Lamb design line.
Note to Ryan: That was not adequate preparation for the horrors that follow.

Steven Tyler takes us on a tour of James Brown's jacket, Michelle Phillips' caftan, Paul McCartney's Fab Four jacket, Elton John's whatever, Jimi Hendrix's tie-dye suit, and some wacko outfit from that Aerosmith group. Then he poses next to a bust of himself, sculpted in mid-scream. All of this leads to the fact that the kids are singing from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.

#1. Jacob is worried about singing R&R. He rehearses Marvin Gaye's Let's Get it On, but then changes his mind, because, you know, that song is about... sex.... yeah, whoda thunk? Anyway, Jacob just can't bring himself to sing about... well... you know... so he changes to Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror, because singing a song made popular by a man who was accused of child molestation, multiple times, is better than singing about doing The Dirty. I wonder when in the process of choosing and rehearsing the first song, that he realized what those lyrics were describing. And then Jacob does a head-shot interview where he says, absolutely seriously, that if he ends up in the Bottom 3, it won't be because he made a mistake, or because he didn't sing the song well, it'll be because America can't look itself in the mirror. Yup, that's what he actually said- I rewound it just to make sure. And with that, I am done with Jacob.

#2. Haley has chosen Piece of My Heart. Many have tried Janis on this show, and in my opinion, only Crystal Bowersox has proven worthy. I suspect this is going to be a trainwreck. Haley struts out in what turns out to be the least awful Gwen Stefani ensemble of the evening: black leather skinny pants, stiletto heels, and a belted tunic with an irregular hem, which looks to be made from plaid flannel chiffon. Haley's performance style consists of a lot of emphatic marching and stomping, but she's doing  better with this song than I expected her to, though she's missing a lot of the notes, and that last one was painful. The judges love it, and while JLo appears to be handing out compliments, she says that Haley will be around "for a minute". No matter how I parse that, it's not a happy prediction.

#3. Casey starts out wanting to sing Sting's Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, but Jimmy Iovine and talk him out of it, saying that his rendition was too lounge-act. So Casey switches to a little CCR. He's wearing a gray shirt with a white collar, and a black vest. And he has the standing bass, while he sings Have You Ever Seen the Rain. I grin like an idiot throughout the performance, and I give Casey a Standing O right here in my living room. Seriously.

#4. Lauren is singing Natural Woman. Shouldn't there be a rule preventing high school girls from singing this song? I doubt Lauren even feels like a Natural Girl yet. Okay, let me take a stab at describing her personally-assembled Stefani outfit: Lauren is wearing black leggings and boots and a black tux-like jacket. Those parts are okay. But she's wearing the jacket over... oh my... is that a black and white strapless gingham jumper shorts set? I'm afraid so. The shorts are not only loose around the hips and rear, and gathered right across the thighs into tight cuffs (not a good look on anyone, but especially not a good look on Lauren), but the crotch is weirdly saggy, as though she's wearing a diaper underneath. And if that wasn't bad enough, Gwen evidently also took her own stab at Lauren's hair, which is weirdly complicated, with poorly executed French braids snaking from her temples to the back of her head. The top of her hair is swept back from her forehead into a high, curly pompadour that cascades down the back in more curls. The individual components are bad, but together, the hair and clothes are a disaster. Oh, the performance? Actually, Lauren is doing just fine with this song, which surprises me mightily. Not that she's doing well, but that I can hear her voice over the shorts.

#5. James, given the perfect opportunity to choose a mega-rocker song, decides to go with George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Jimmy Iovine and do everything they can to talk James out of it, but he holds steady. The Ghost of Adam Lambert starts out on The Stool of Seriousness, with a foggy spotlight. Wow, I didn't know that James had such a sweet voice. This performance showcases his tourette's more than the big rock numbers, but I doubt that matters. James had to fight to sing this song, but he was absolutely right. It's a lovely performance.

Let me take a moment here to say that is wearing some seriously confusing pants. The inseam appears to be fastened by large snaps. The entire inseam, snaps up and down the insides of both legs, like baby jammies. And the crotch, as with Lauren's poofy shorts, is weirdly baggy. Maybe Gwen Stefani designed these pants too.

#6. Scotty is a life-long Elvis fan, so of course, he's going to sing That's All Right Mama. There are very few Elvis songs that I can tolerate, and TARM is not one of them. I wish Scotty had chosen something by The Eagles instead. Oh well, our little Scotty is so much more comfortable on stage than he used to be, though he still sports that starboard list  Note to Scotty: Stand up straight, wontcha? Just once? Anyway, he's doing just fine with this song, and the girls who rush the stage to give him a mass hug, agree.

#7. The Hub describes Pia thusly: like listening to attractive paint dry. Pia has promised to liven things up with Tina Turner's River Deep, Mountain High. Oh my lordy, won't someone please make Gwen step away from the fabric table? Pia is wearing a strapless, blousy, capri jumpsuit made of a filmy leopard print fabric. She has wrapped her neck with multiple metal coils, and her hair is topped by a hair tumor, and then pulled back in a ponytail. Pia is singing notes, and stomping, and she has certainly sped things up, but fast or slow, she has absolutely no personality, and no connection to this, or any song.

#8. Stefano (who luckily, is a boy, and therefore isn't subjected to the Stefani House of Fashion, though he is wearing a sparkly silver neck tie). He's singing When a Man Loves a Woman. He begins in the very highest of his high range, but he eventually settles back down . Like Pia, he sings notes that might be technically correct, but he has no connection to the lyrics, and his struggle to keep his eyes open is obvious. Afterwards, he keeps licking his lips- I think he may be wearing lipstick.

#9. Only Paul is left, which is weird, since the last performance is generally expected to be the strongest of the evening. Paul chooses Folsom Prison Blues, which mystifies me even more than Paul existence on this show does. Iovine and tell Paul to go batshit crazy with the song, and Paul takes their advice. He is surely the peppiest murderer ever to watch a man in Reno die. He grins and jumps and dances throughout, and he lets someone else take a long guitar solo in the middle of the song.

We must have a lot of extra time tonight because Ryan literally jumps around with Paul for an uncomfortably long time before calling the rest of the kids out to the stage, where they dance around for a really long time too.

It was a pretty strong show tonight. My Top 3 are Casey, Lauren and James. My Bottom 3 are Pia, Paul, and Stefano. But I'd really like He Who Will No Longer Be Named to go home.

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