American Idol recap 5/4/11~ All Hail Haley

Ok, I seriously have to surgically remove the foot from my mouth after all the smack I talked about Haley early this season on American Idol. I didn’t care for her awkward forced performances despite her good voice and I certainly gave her some harsh critiques… Well, all I have to say is the girl sure does know how to make me eat my words. For the last few weeks, she has been coming on incredibly strong with authentic performances and great vocals, and tonight, she was simply flawless stealing the show on two incredible numbers. And something even more shocking happened, I picked up the phone and voted for her. Had you asked me if I would’ve done that a month ago, I would’ve said you’re crazy. Well, apparently I was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs because last night I was dialing for Haley like a crazy person. So, to recap. Haley: 1, Jason: 0. Well played Ms. Reinhart.
Now, the story wasn’t all about Haley last night on Idol as the singers tackled songs from “Then and Now” (ie: one song from this decade and a track from the 60’s or 70’s). The other stories were the implosion of James and the stank bomb Jacob left on what is likely his final night in the competition. So, take a look at my official rankings and predictions for this week as we dissect the final five…

American Idol Recap Rankings 5/4/11:
~ The Fast Five
1. Haley– “House of the Rising Sun”: dare I say, Haley had an Idol “moment” last night on this 1964 # 1 hit from the Animals? Um, yes, I think she did. She opened the song a cappella (at the great mentor Sheryl Crow’s suggestion) and it was stunningly beautiful. Then, she let us have it with an aggressive, mysterious, emotional vocal that was perfection. I’d say the underdog made an incredible case to make it to the top 4 with this one. Simply fantastic.
2. Lauren– “Flat on the Floor”: tackling Carrie Underwood’s 2007 song from her smash Carnival Ride album was a gamble, but it paid off in spades for Lauren as she soared on the perfect song for her country twang. She sold it from beginning to end, had fun and was pitch perfect. This could be a hit for her and she made Carrie proud.
3. Haley– “You and I”: I don’t know what the judges were smoking complaining about this song choice of an unreleased Lady Gaga track. They thought it was a gamble and a mistake, and I think they’re nuts. Haley nailed it, made it her own and probably gave herself a big iTunes hit. It fit her like a glove and Haley’s vocals were fantastic throughout. Again, I have to applaud Haley tonight.
4. Scotty– “Gone”: speaking of applause, the crowd (and, um, I) went nuts with Scotty’s tremendous version of Montgomery Gentry’s #3 country hit from 2004 “Gone”. It was a wonderful choice that showed what a great performer and singer he is as Scotty gave his best performance in several weeks.
5. Lauren- “Unchained Melody”: with a lush and beautiful vocal on the Righteous Brothers classic from 1965 (made even more popular in the 1990 film Ghost), Lauren sealed her place in the top four. She had so much more confidence on both her songs tonight and it showed. I loved this!

And the rest of the performances…
6. Scotty– “Always on My Mind”: with another good vocal, Scotty delivered a good if not great take on the Elvis Presley/Willie Nelson hit from 1972/1982. His voice showed some nice color and he was sincere tonight with none of his cocky affectations. However, if ya’ll remember Fantasia doing this in season 3, you know he paled in comparison.
7. Jacob- “Love Hurts”: with a lovely restrained opening on Nazareth’s 1975 # 8 hit, Jacob started off very strong. However, he went a little nuts as the song moved forward taking us to church and hitting a few wonky notes on the way. It wasn’t bad, but he needed to hit it out of the park and it was just a double. (Yes, I made a sports reference, hehe)
8. James– “Closer to the Edge”: I don’t know if it was the weird vocal v. music ratio coming through on my tv or it was just a bad performance, but James was a huge disappointment on this track from 30 Seconds to Mars. It should’ve been a perfect fit for him, but he was flat and off throughout the song.
9. Jacob– “No Air”: Um, Jacob you don’t do a duet. And you don’t do former Idol songs unless you slay them (ie: Lauren’s “Flat on the Floor”). So, that’s two strikes. The third strike was the fact that you missed practically every note on Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown’s # 3 hit from 2008. Um, you’re out. (OMG, the sports references keep coming!)
10. James “Without You”: I didn’t think anything could be worse thank Jacob’s “No Air”, but James overly emotional and utterly dreadful version of the Harry Nillson 1971 # 1 hit was muuuuuuuuuuch worse. Sure, it was nice to see him honestly connect to the sentiment of the song. However, he could’ve hit maybe one note along the way. Instead, he was flat, pitchy and screechy throughout on his worst performance in the competition to date. And um, hello, don’t do a song that Kelly Clarkson and Carly Smithson both took to glorious heights in their seasons. Big mistake James.

Predictions…
Bottom 2: James, Jacob
Going Home: Jacob (no question)

So, it looks like our Gospel wailing boy from Compton is on his way home. However, will there be a shocking elimination? Does Haley still not have a fan base like her peers? Will Scotty, James or Lauren land in the bottom 2 for the first time? Can you believe I voted for Haley?… What on Earth was J Lo wearing last night (her Grandma’s wedding dress?) Did you want to punch Randy every time he said “in it to win it”? Or did you want to punch Steven every time he said “that’s a beautiful thing?” And are you enjoying Seacrest’s “side part”? Sound off below.

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