I wasn’t looking forward to Motown week. It’s not that I don’t like Motown music, but generally it leaves Idol contestants with two choices, sound dated or gamble on a new arrangement. I mean how many times do we have to listen to Stevie Wonder’s songs.
The majority of the contestants last night opted for the new arrangement, and some with wondrous results. Let’s review from suckiest to bestest.
Stefano singing Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ was, hopefully ironic as it may lead to his ‘goodbye’. Boring—absolutely nothing special about this performance. It was on key, mostly and just original enough to almost hide the dated sound to it. All I could think about until I hit the fast-forward button was the Billy and the Boinger’s classic lyric “Middle of the road, Man this stanks, Lets run over Lionel Richie with a tank.” Okay, maybe that was DeathTongue. It’s hard to keep track when they changed their name.
Lauren tried to add a country twang to the Supreme’s classic “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Well, the twang was there. It’s a bit disturbing to see her rub up against Randy, sensually. Sixteen years old. It’s one thing to act mature, but teens trying to be seductive with people over forty is, um, as I said: Disturbing. Also I was distracted by wondering when she’d trip over her dress.
Haley: I really wanted to like her. I helped vote her into the top 13. She is remarkably unremarkable in a sea of OMG talent. Her cover of “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” by the Miracles was adept, and she performed it with such energy that her legs were all I really noticed. Oh, right, it’s about the singing. It was, you know dawg, just okay for me.
Paul sang “The Tracks of My Tears” by The Miracles. When we first met Paul, we were drawn to his unique voice. I still have the problem with the voice that its uniqueness is distracting. We don’t notice if he’s on key or off. But we also don’t notice the song anymore. I won’t miss him when he’s gone.
Thia’s rendition of “Heat Wave”, originally by Martha and the Vandellas, was tonally perfect and she didn’t just stand there. She is getting better at not being a Disney pull-the-string singing doll. But she still has a lot of work to do in expressing herself in her music.
Jacob managed to have his second good performance this year. He was certainly due. His solo performance of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re all I Need to Get By” was unusually subdued for the singer I had begun to believe was part alley cat.
Casey has an incredible voice and an unworldly talent for drawing us into the music. However his stage presence last night was sometimes a bit creepy. This is a guy who should never stare at the camera. It’s almost stalkerish. He performed a very up-to-date version of the overly covered Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” He might be at risk because he was in the death-slot—first to sing.
Naima. I was worried when she started talking about making Richie’s “Dancing in the Street” more African. I think she is in too precarious a position to risk alienating her audience. I liked her performance and thought she added just enough African inspired dancing at the end. I don’t, however, have any faith in the Idol audience to believe they will not feel alienated.
As much as I think Stevie Wonder songs are too dated for Idol, I am proven wrong in that last night’s top three Performances were all Stevie Wonder hits.
I’m not a Scotty fan. My wife is, but I am not. I usually find his deep voice too predictable. I must, however, admit that he totally owned “For Once in My Life” . That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Pia is still perfect in her balladeer ways. JLo said she could be Celene Dion with her voice. That’s probably true. Pia sang “All in Love is Fair.” Lacking any other way to criticize her, the judges opted to tell her she should mix it up and do something other than stand at the microphone and sing a ballad.
James Durbin, singing “Living in the City” proved that he is the one to beat. He has a stage presence never before seen on Idol. While he is often compared to Adam Lambert, the difference is that James is not shocking the audience, just taking the entertainment to a whole other level. James is, without a doubt, now set up as the one to beat.
So, my predictions
Bottom Three: Naima, Haley and our first male bottom three: Stefano.
It’s probably Haley’s time to go, but I am hopeful for Stefano.
I have low confidence in these predictions and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Thia, Casey, Paul or Jacob in the bottom three. Well maybe a little surprised for Jacob.