The judges weren’t too proud to beg and the contestants were more than happy to give them what they wanted on last night’s American Idol as the singers took on the music of Motown. This classic genre provided just the boost that our contenders needed as nearly all of them delivered very strong performances and several front-runners proved their mettle. We also saw what will likely be the end of my least fave contestant, plus lots of cooky Ryan moments (um, Gordon Ramsey from Hell’s Kitchen dissing Stefano’s mom’s cooking~ awkward), Steven Tyler making up new English phrases again and J Lo taking center stage as the best, most coherent judge with the smartest criticism. With all that said, it’s time to rank tonight’s tributes to the golden age of Motown…
American Idol Performance Rankings 3/23/11
1. Jacob: reining in his gigantic voice for an incredibly beautiful (Steven Tyler’s favorite word) and passionate performance, Jacob nailed Marvin Gaye’s 1968 # 7 hit ”You’re All I Need to Get By” and grabbed the top of my leader board for the first time. His performance was fantastic and his vocals were perfection. He even got a standing “O” from the audience and Mr. Tyler, his mom and the whole front row ran up to condragulate, er um, congratulate him. Jenny from the block said it right that “you make us beg” as we just couldn’t get enough of that song.
2. Pia: a close second to Jacob because of her pure and perfect vocals, the best singer in the competition delivered the 1973 classic “All in Love is Fair” (later made famous by Barbra Streisand) with confidence and commitment. She also looked damn sexy and like the judges said, she can be the next Celine. However, unlike them, I could care less if she keeps singing ballads. Me likey some Pia ballads!!!
3. James: with his 3rd strong performance in a row, our resident rocker slayed Stevie Wonder’s # 8 from 1973 ”Living for the City” and made it contemporary and electric. It’s pretty shocking to me how much he has become a contender for the title when just a few weeks ago he was seen as Adam Lambert lite with a bit of an unlikable personality. Well done James!
4. Lauren: our country cutie came roaring onto the stage last night with a gorgeous, sexy and fun version of the Supreme’s # 1 from 1968 “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. Her vocals were effortless and flawless and she finally was rocking some great style. Looks like Lauren is seriously back in the race.
5. Scotty: who knew this country kid would survive Motown night, let alone give us a shockingly good version of Stevie Wonder’s 1968 # 2 “For Once in My Life”. This is a song that has been done to death on the Idol stage, but Scotty gave us a country version that transcended the others and played right into his strengths… One note for Scotty~ I see a little cockiness and arrogance attempting to break through. Squash that now and you’ll sail into the top 5.
6. Stefano: after a couple of weeks of fantastic performances, Stefano came down to Earth with a nice if not amazing interpretation of Lionel Richie’s 1984 #1 smash “Hello”. His vocals were lovely (after a shaky start) and he remains a consummate performer. However, the judges were right that he needs to work on his connection to the audience and a stronger interpretation of the lyrics. He also might’ve done better had he not chosen a song David Cook literally slayed a few seasons back. That said, Stefano remains one of my faves in the competition.
7. Naima: arguably the most interesting singer in the competition, Naima took us to Africa with her fascinating and fun version of Martha and the Vandellas’ # 2 hit from 1964 “Dancing in the Streets”. Her vocals were a vast improvement over the previous weeks and she continues to make me excited about what she might do next. She is definitely someone who should make the tour. I just wonder if America is as intrigued by her as I am.
8. Thia: holy heck, out little teen princess broke out of her shell and gave her best performance to date on Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave”. Her voice never sounded better and she showed some personality for once. However, is it too little too late?
9. Paul: well, I’ll say this~ Paul was a million times better last night on Smokey Robinson’s “The Tracks of My Tears” than the previous three weeks…. But, I’m still not drinking his Kool Aid. Yes, he’s a cool guy and has a cool voice, but this performance was just ok. I really think he just needs a band and a forum outside of Idol that would suit him better. And one more thing, as my roommate mentioned last night: “Is it me or does Paul sound like Cartman from South Park when he sings?” hehe.
10. Casey: speaking of not drinking his Kool Aid, I’m almost cancelling my tickets for the Casey caravan after his boring, forced and lackluster performance of Marvin Gaye’s # 1 from 1968 “I Heard it from the Grapevine”. Now, it wasn’t especially bad, but he can do so much better. I’m also afraid he’s veering into Taylor Hicks territory (for me) and that’s not a good thing. I look forward to him making me eat those words.
11. Haley: hooray, I think Miley Cyrus finally signed her divorce papers from Idol with this annoying affected and irritating performance of “You Really Got a Hold on Me”. She did nothing of the sort with me. It was kinda awful and who the heck told her she could wear that terrible outfit? She looked and sounded like Britney Spears auditioning on Star Search at age 8. That was cute for Brit Brit at that age, but terrrrrrrrible for Ms. Haley.
And now the predictions….
Bottom 3: Haley, Thia, and Naima (however, Stefano could be there due to middling judge comments, and we could also see Paul or Casey who deserve to be there)
Bottom 2: Haley and Thia
Buh Bye: Haley
As the Motown classic goes, “Oh what a night” we had last night with a great show full of strong performances. Only three singers, in my humble opinion, faltered. However, only one of them is likely to go home and if America gets it right we will finally see Miley, er Haley, go home and “that’s pretty cool”… So, place your bets before tonight and let me know who you think will get the boot. Then, tune in for the results show which will feature Oscar and Grammy winning Idol alumni Jennifer Hudson performing her new hit “Where You At?” from her just released (and wonderful) sophomore album, I Remember Me…. Oh, and one last thing~ I have a new drinking game for you. Every time Steven Tyler says “beautiful” you have to drink. If you were playing along last night, I’m pretty sure you have one massive hangover today. lol
And here’s Jacob’s incredible performance of “You’re All I Need to Get By”. Enjoy