Review: American Idol Top 8

Well there are still two women left in the competition to find the male performer with the most appeal to young women and teen girls. The question on everyone’s mind is which one will go home tonight.

The theme last night was songs from movies. That’s a pretty weak theme given the number of movies out there. I’m pretty sure anyone with a few minutes and an internet connection could pick any vaguely popular song and identify a movie in which it appeared.

Last night’s performances turned up the contrast between singers and artists. Singers will find careers in Hotel Bars and Cruise Ship Lounges. Artists will record successful albums. In an odd twist from my usual methods, I will be reviewing last night’s performances from best to worst.

Casey Abrams performed “Nature Boy”, a classic from Nat King Cole. Most people will know the lyrics from Moulin Rouge, though the source movie was identified as “The Boy With Green Hair.” This was the gutsiest performance of the night in that there was nothing pop about it. It was a whole hearted honest rendition performed with a white stand up Bass at his side. My only worry is that there was nothing pop about it and there might be too many people out there that don’t’ get it. My fears are slightly alleviated in knowing that this was the only performance of the night to get the judges up into a standing ovation. I should note that Jimmy Iovine pleaded with Casey to perform Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” instead, but Casey chose to go with something more true to himself.

James Durbin also went against Mr. Iovine’s advice and chose a heavy Metal song, Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” from the soundtrack of “Heavy Metal.” Coincidentally, just a few days ago I finally managed to put my old (late 1990’s DVD re-release) poster from the movie into a frame. Zakk Wylde, a renowned guitarist, played lead guitar for James and took over the stage for at least a third of the song. Still James did well with a song in the style he wants to pursue as an artist.

Scotty McCreery can do no wrong. With George Strait’s “I Cross My Heart”, he was back to his country roots and standing solidly on the ground where he is most comfortable. His niche is secure and his future a certain success, even if I will never buy anything he sells.

And that ends our reviews of the Artists. Now to talk about the singers.

Lauren can’t pull off believable with Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” She can hit the notes, and have that cute little country twang to her voice, but her eyes belay a complete lack of cerebral activity. I’ve seen more cognizance in the eyes of deer staring at my headlights.

Haley tried to sing “Call Me”, the classic by Blondie. Gravelly growls cannot replace Debbie Harry’s hauntingly floating voice for this song. At times Haley seemed drowned out by the backing musicians. She got the only constructive criticism for the night.

Stefano, oddly enough is not at the bottom of my list. I didn’t even slow down the fast forward between commercials to actually have firsthand knowledge of his performance. Still it had to be better than the last two.

Paul attempted to rekindle the fun of Bob Segar’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” but came out looking like a contestant from “So You Think You Can Dance” who is about to flub a Tango. I honestly didn’t even realize the competition had started and thought they were still going through his rehearsals until I realized the voice overs had stopped. Paul is past his prime on the show. What I once thought of as an artistic twist is really just the only way he can sing. I was really tempted to put the last word of the last sentence in air quotes.

Jacob wore out his welcome with his “Man in the Mirror” Speech last week, and at least Jimmy Iovine called him on it. His attempt at the Simon and Garfunkle mainstay “Bridge Over Troubled Water” almost was more than a sad little whisper. I hear he nailed the last three notes. By then I was already fast forwarding to hear what the judges thought.

Well according to the cheerleaders judges, Stefano is now in it to win it and Jacob sings in Perfect Harmony. Unless you’re Haley, you’re beyond criticism in your perfection. We could just stop the show now and hand out seven more recording contracts and fully expect each to go platinum. Sorry Haley, back to the Karaoke Bars with you.

Jlo at least acknowledged the ongoing criticism of the cheerleaders judges and admitted they should be more critical, but then excused herself because all the singers are absolutely perfect in every possible way. She also admitted to be hesitant to actually critique Haley because she didn’t want to put another girl in danger.

Earlier in the season when I was optimistic due to the more positive talk from behind the cheerleader’s judge’s table, I was fully expecting helpful criticism when it was needed.

I am going to attempt the impossible and make a prediction again.

Bottom 3: Haley, Paul, Jacob, though I am hesitant to omit Stefano.

Going Home: Haley.

My Revised order of going home, based partially on the apparent insanity of whoever is actually voting:

8: Haley

7: Jacob

6: Paul

5: Casey

4: Stefano

3: Lauren – by producer’s override of the votes.

2: James

1: Scotty

I’m still of the opinion that Pia should be the season winner. I expect James to be pulled out soon, since he’s not pop and will sell records, they’ll give him a contract and a band and get him on tour by mid-fall.

Forewarning: The day that Casey and James and no girls are left on the show is the last day I’ll be watching or talking about this season. Optimistically, with the above prediction facing James against Scotty in the finale, that will be the end of the season. Optimistically.

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