S10E28: The ridiculously ambiguous categories continue this week on Idol with "songs from the new millenium." They do know that no one has called it the "new millenium" since we though Y2K was going to bring the world to its knees, right? Anyway, the contestants had to sing songs from 2000 and on, which meant some of them chose songs that are all too recent and familiar -- for once. Seriously, sometimes it seems like they're perpetually confined to the 80s, which only bolsters the arguments from those who call it a glorified karaoke contest. Anyway, on to the performances. No one completely flopped this week. We are so completely past that point. While I think a few of these folks don't belong here, their game remained consistent throughout the last few weeks and really at this point, it's mostly about who we'd pay 50 bucks to see perform in an amphitheater and not necessarily who's technically the best singer of the bunch.
For those who complain that Idol has become a popularity contest, I don't disagree with you. But that's the one way it significantly mirrors the rest of the music industry. Often times singers with the best pipes aren't able to engage with fans and they don't last and artists who have amazing stage presence and forge that connection stay around even if they're not talented. Of course, there are plenty of folks who are both talented and popular, but my point is that the industry these folks want to break into is a popularity contest -- just instead of voting on Facebook, their popularity is determined by sales. It's not all that different when you boil it down. With that in mind, here are the top 7 in order of who I'd most be willing to spend my hard-earned paycheck to see live to those who'd be alright as an opening act for someone really great.
"Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5
What more can I say about Casey? The slow arrangement at the start was a little slow, but once he got into the song he really made it its own. This is especially great because he chose a song that was so incredibly popular when it came out. We all loved the original, yet he took it and turned it from a pop rock song into a jazzy song with a hell of a lot more emphasis on the rock half of the pop rock equation. I will say that he should stop trying to be like James onstage, running around playing rockstar. He looks like his mother made him do it, so reluctant and running through the motions as quickly as he can. He needs to stick with his normal stage style; after all, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Seriously, don't. Also, he's got the balls to steal a kiss from Jennifer Lopez. How can you not like him?
"Swingin" by John Anderson
Alright, so you can probably tell from my other Idol recaps that I'm not a country music fan. I rarely place Scotty on top and I complain that he's a one-trick pony. Well, he is a one-trick pony, but it's a damn good trick. It's not my style, but I see no reason why fans of Scotty's genre wouldn't line up to get tickets to his show. He's charming, a little cocky for his young age, and he can sing. I am by no means a country girl, but I'd understand if he's the last one standing in this competition.
"Rolling in the Deep" by Adele
I love that she rocked this song, but I almost wish she wouldn't have done it. This album just came out and it is on everyone's minds. We all know the words by heart, we know where Adele adds her own color and flourishes. We know the song too damn well. Even with all of that weight stacked against her, Haley managed to make the song have a semblance of her own style. My fear is that like the judges admitted, the newness of the song will make voters question how much of Haley was actually in the performance. I think if she'd attempted a song from Adele's last album, that would not be an issue. Every performance on this show is derivative at best. That's the nature of Idol. In this case, the song is simply too fresh in everyone's minds, but she was fantastic.
"Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross
Finally, Jacob is taking the judges' compliments to heart. They called him the new Luther and here is, singing Luther. Unfortunately, his voice isn't nearly as smooth as Mr. Vandross' was, but what I can take away is an appreciation for his talent. There is a reason the judges said that about him, and while the compliment wasn't on the nose, I understand why they dealt such heavy praise.
"Born to Fly" by Sarah Evans
I love this girl, I really do. But this is the time when everyone needs to step it up and blow us away. They need to strive to be the one performance we automatically remember the next day, and this was not that performance. She's got a great voice, but all this proved was that Lauren is the pleasant contestant just hoping and praying we love her. She's not fighting to stay in the competition, she's not bringing out the big guns and if she's going to stay around, she really needs to turn this around.
"Closer" by Ne-yo
Well, he couldn't have picked a more over-played or boring song. Like Lauren, he needs to fight to stay here (and in truth, he needs to fight way harder than she does) and he steps out with this mediocre performance. Maybe it's proof that he's run his course and that he hasn't got much more fire in him. He's got a very nice voice, it just doesn't hold a candle to his competitors.
"Uprising" by Muse
This is one the person who defies all my generalizations. I've been tired of him since Hollywood week, yet he keeps on hanging on. I get it; he's a showman. So was Steven Tyler but I wouldn't pay to see him sing songs solo. Showmen of this vein belong in rock bands, the problem is that James doesn't really fit in any rock bands because he's too much of a diva solo singer. That accusation is completely backed up by his performance of "Uprising." Muse is not famous for having amazing vocals; their vocals simply support all the other elements of their music. It's obvious that James doesn't get that. He's like the guy who karaokes "Bad Reputation," and sings it like he's trying to get notes singing on Rockband and forgets that Joan Jett element (or what-it-is-ness as Steven would say) that makes it more than just some average radio tune.
Who's going home? For the fourth time, I will predict that Stefano will go home. Maybe this time I'll actually be right.