Wednesday, May 11, 2011
AI Season 10, Top 4 Performance, 05-11-11
Clips: Clay! Carrie! Gokey! Elliott! Kris! Cook! Bo! Gokey again! Carrie again! Jordin! Taylor!!! Archuletta! Lauren! James! Haley! Scotty! Contrary to the voice-over, these kids are popular, but they are not Heroes. Next week, the remaining 3 get the Hometown Visits, though when it comes down to it, all 4 of them will be going home next week. One of them will be staying there, for one week anyway.
Randy is wearing a wrinkly gray jacket. And when I say wrinkly, I mean that it looks like someone took the jacket out of the washer, rolled it up in a ball, let it dry, shook it out, and then put it on Randy.
JLo is wearing a one-shouldered, tight, denim dress with a chest ruffle that goes over one shoulder and under the other arm. Her hair is pulled up into a topknot-ponytail, and her eyelashes look like she glued tarantulas to them.
Steven is in a tan jacket and brown pants. He almost looks like a real human being, if you ignore the face, and hair, and earrings, and jewelry, and feathers.
Ryan reminds us that in two more weeks, we'll all be released from our bondage. The kids come out, and I usually wait until the individual performances to talk about clothes, but I will briefly mention that Miss Kitty is in the house.
We're doing two rounds tonight: Inspirational songs, and the music of Lieber and Stoller. This will be interesting.
#1 James: James is doing Journey's Don't Stop Believin', and just in case we didn't remember that the song was done originally by Journey (and as though Randy won't remind us a dozen times in about 3 minutes), James is wearing a Journey tee under his tux jacket with the 3/4 sleeves. James starts on the stairs, and from the first moment, he takes command of the stage and the performance. He sounds absolutely fantastic. Wow! He nailed that song. Randy finally has a legitimate reason to name-drop. The judges are blown away, and James works the fish-lips while Ryan gives his numbers.
#2 Haley: Haley is doing some sort of Michael Jackson inspirational song, which I assume is not about overnighters with small boys. She's wearing a sparkly lizzard-skinish top with a jaggedy hem, leggings and heels, with her hair in a curly up-do. Somehow, she manages to look like Aunt Cleo on her way to the casino for a night with the slots. Haley is center stage, and a gospel choir takes the stairs. I don't know about this. There is lots of shouting and stomping and growling, and pretty much everything that I do not love about Haley. Oh, there's Casey in the audience! Hi Casey! I think Haley might be suffering more from coming right after James, than anything else, but I definitely did not enjoy the song. Randy and JLo are not impressed, and Haley is not impressed with them. Oh Haley, sweetie, no. Hush. Back talk only hurts you. Also: try not to have that look on your face while The Judges are tearing apart your performance.
#3. Scotty: Scotty is in a black leather jacket and he's singing Alan Jackson. He takes the stool with his guitar, accompanied by a fiddle player. Man, that's a big guitar. I don't know this song, but there is God and Jesus and Iraq and Iran, and the sort of Lee Greenwood flag-saluting that makes me squirmy. It's a usual Scotty performance, very well sung, and pretty much indistinguishable from anything else he has ever sung on the show. I can't help wishing he'd stretch. Just a bit.
#4 Lauren: Oh my. Lauren is wearing a burgundy satin abomination- it's short in the front, long and bustled in the back, ruched and draped all over. She'd fit right in at the Long Branch Saloon. Before she starts singing, Ryan has Casey and Paul shill for the tour. Lauren is singing something by Martina McBride. I've been worried about Lauren. Her age and lack of confidence have steadily affected her performance skills, which have eroded. She's obviously fragile, and though I like her personally more than I like Haley, she's absolutely not ready for this. I'm not certain that staying won't damage her more than being eliminated. I wish she could just go home and be a small town cheerleader again, without feeling like a failure. The judges loved her performance unanimously, but I thought she was off key throughout.
Round 1- James was the winner. Randy threw Haley under the bus by saying flat-out that the others were all better (which is arguable- I'd say that Lauren was equally bad).
So, who better to mentor the kids on Leiber and Stoller songs than Lady Gaga. Am I right? I'll try to describe her outfit, but I doubt I can do it justice. She is wearing a white and black page-boy wig, with black bangs, and a black spray-painted horizontal stripe right at about ear level. She has very dark and spiky eye liner drawn over her eyes. And then the same motif, flipped and drawn about a half inch under her eyes as well. She has bright red lips and a black beauty mark the size of a quarter on her cheek, which looks like it was drawn with a Sharpie. She's wearing a black leather-look onesie, with long sleeves and built-in gloves dangling from the ends. The high neckline is studded with metallic spangles. And her shoes are those weird heels that have 12" platforms. It goes without saying that she is not wearing pants. The woman is a Space Alien. Either that, or she's suffering from a deep and desperate need for attention at any price. An Attention Deprived Space Alien.
#5 Haley. Haley is singing I Who Have Nothing. Somehow, Gaga gets Haley to understand exactly what she needs to do on this song. Haley has changed into a charcoal sparkly dress that is a shorter, bustle-free sister to Lauren's Saloon garb. She has a small string orchestra backing her up... and... okay, this is a thousand percent better than her earlier performance. It's subtle and controlled, and really, really good. Haley is the polar opposite of Lauren- there is a core of steel in her, and I think this performance was a big 'ol FU to the judges. Haley could, however use a math lesson. She probably meant to say that she had 540 degree turnaround...
#6 Scotty: Gaga tells Scotty to treat the microphone like it's a girl who wants his tongue down her throat. Scotty is, understandably given that he's only 17, a little uncomfortable with this advice. But once again, Gaga gets him to do what he needs to do in his performance. I don't know this song, but Scotty is loose and goofy, and singing in his upper range. This was still nothing outside of Scotty's box, and if this was a level playing field, I would wonder if it was a good enough performance (and song selection) for this stage of the competition. But word is that Scotty is the vote leader, and I doubt that his fan base will abandon him now.
#7 Lauren has changed into bronze sparkles and 80's shoulder pads. Her hair is studded with rhinestones. Gaga gets to the heart of things by telling Lauren that she (Gaga) was a weird teenager, and would never have gotten on Idol. She convinces Lauren that pretending convincingly to be *evil* is not the same as actually being evil. Lauren struts out on stage, and it's like she's an entirely different person. Her range is limited, and she still hits a couple of wonky notes, but this performance is also a thousand percent better than her first one. I do not, for one minute, believe that Lauren is Evil. I doubt she can even manage naughty, but I do believe that she can grow as a performer, which is better for her in the long run.
#8 James is singing Love Potion #9. Both Gaga and I have our doubts about this choice. And James's first arrangement is well beyond cheesy. Gaga tells him to put some swivel into the song, demoing the hip moves from behind, which makes James a bit jumpy. James enters from the stairs, and proves that he is the only one of this bunch who can walk down stairs and sing at the same time. This song is wild- he changed his original arrangement, thank goodness, and maybe added just a tinch too much Lambert, but the crowd is on its feet. James has them exactly where he wants them.
Winner Round 2: Haley
I groaned when I heard that Lady Gaga was going to mentor, but she gave every one of the kids excellent advice. And even more amazing- all four listened to her, and incorporated her suggestions into their performance. Go figure.
My Rankings for the songs:
1. James #1
2. Haley #2
3. James #2
4. Lauren #2
5. Scotty #1
6. Scotty #2
7. Lauren #1
8. Haley #1
Based on my entire ranking, Scotty is actually at the bottom. But I don't want him to go home, and I doubt that he will. My guess is that it's going to be bye-bye Haley tomorrow night.