American Idol: Then and Now for the Top 5

by Ruth Anne Boulet

Sheryl Crow apparently doesn’t hate American Idol anymore. Jimmy personally asked her to come on in & mentor the kids this week. Kathy thinks Jimmy must have some dirt on Sheryl. Either that or she’s got an album coming out that we don’t know about. This week’s theme is Now & Then. Now is whatever the Idols think it is, I guess. Then is the 1960s.

James DurbinCloser to the Edge by 30 Seconds to Mars
Sheryl thinks she can officially retire because she got to sing with James. Really Sheryl? James is in full-on full of himself mode. Lots of pointing, high-fiving, instructing the audience to scream. What’s not happening is James really controlling his voice & sounding good. The cameraman catches Jennifer Lopez looking bored. Jimmy Iovine had previously told us that there was nothing between James & greatness. Yes, there is. Steven thinks James kicked the song’s ass. Jennifer thinks America is feeling it. Randy, dude, thinks James fits in this genre. He’s in it to win it. Oy. Apparently no one else wants it.

Jacob Lusk No Air by Jordin Sparks
When I think of Jacob Lusk, I think straight outta Compton. Word up. Jacob is going to sing both parts of this duet. Jimmy comments how hard that is. It’s also really silly in most instances. Apparently Jimmy’s never seen Waiting for Guffmann. Jacob is a hot mess tonight — the camera is avoiding the judges like the plague. He’s off-key. He’s doing the weird hip thing again. Jennifer thinks that his voice is one of the best that’s ever been on this stage. Blech. No, he’s not. J Lo doesn’t mention anything about how he actually sang the song. Randy thought it was corny & sharp. Jennifer cuts Randy off. Steven is waiting for that certain something from Jacob. That’s really helpful. Jacob wants to be a singer for everyone.

Lauren AlainaFlat On The Floor by Carrie Underwood
Sheryl wants Lauren to stand still. Jimmy thinks Lauren has been a good little girl & taken all the criticism & built on it. Lauren doesn’t really listen to Sheryl as she does a little walk around the stage with her metal-fringy belt. Is Gwen Stefani backstage somewhere with a glue-gun & chain by the foot? Lauren runs out of breath during the song. Randy loves her direction. Lauren is in it. In it to win it Randy? Steven thinks she’s it. Jennifer thinks she’s listened to them. Listen to what JLo? Listen to the “judges” telling her she’s great? Lauren’s gotten more criticism than the guys, but mostly she’s needed to thicken her skin.

Scotty McCreeryGone by Montgomery Gentry
Jimmy thinks this song has intensity & grit. Just what I want from a seventeen year old. He starts in the audience but does his usual performance ticks. All sorts of raised eyebrows, microphone held to the side, and lessons from the James Durbin school of pointing. I’m not hearing any grit Jimmy. I’m hearing a kid tell off his girlfriend like a douchebag. Steven thinks Scotty danced with the devil tonight and it showed a whole nother side. Jennifer lost it because she was so excited. She loved the growl in his voice. Um, really? Then why does Haley get crap about it? Scotty, surprisingly, is also in it to win it. Sigh.

Haley ReinhartYou And I by Lady Gaga
Haley gets a Ryan Seacrest sit-down! She’s also doing an unreleased Lady Gaga song. That’s so cool. Lady Gaga does it in concert, so I’ve heard it before. She starts on the stairs and I think she needs to do that more often. When she’s seated she doesn’t go into her default performance ticks with her arms & squatting. It’s a great song for her voice. The growl really works for her on it. Jennifer isn’t sure that was the best advice because of what James & Scotty are doing. Randy doesn’t think it was that great of a song. Haley’s pissed. You can see it all over her face. Steven thought it was risky, but loves Haley. Come on, you’re given the opportunity to do a Lady Gaga song and she wasn’t supposed to take it?

James DurbinWithout You by Harry Nilsen
James got all verklempt listening to the song for the first time. He couldn’t, supposedly, get through rehearsal. I’m assuming he got through it at some point otherwise he wouldn’t be singing it on the show. James is looking all sad. Think about how cheesy this song is James. Really. It’s cheesy. The camera zooms in on his face. Man I want Simon Cowell to spring out of the stage & say “overindulgent” “that was a mess.” Randy thinks it’s the mark of a great performer. No, this is emotional manipulation. I know that’s what American Idol is all about.  Steven thought it was pitchy in a James Durbin sort of way. When did this become Emotional Idol? Really, what James just did can be faked. Seriously. It’s called acting. James leaves everything on this stage every single week. I was expecting you to half-ass it James. Come on now.

Jacob LuskLove Hurts by Nazareth
Jacob is getting all sorts of love for doing a song not in his genre. Pfffttt.. Call me not impressed. I am impressed by his silver suit with purple button-down. Apparently this is a group of singers who’ve never listened to a song & thought of how they can re-imagine it. There is no David Cook or Kris Allen among this group & that’s what I’m finding disappointing. There’s a lot of competence on the stage, but I’m not feeling much originality. Hannibal Lecter is in the house. Hey! I’m easily distracted this season. Steven thought everyone got lost in Jacob. I did not get lost in Jacob. Jacob sang the same song he sings every time. There’s no variance to what he does — regardless of genre.

Lauren AlainaUnchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers
Jimmy thinks we all know this song from the movie Ghost. Ghost? Does Jimmy know that song predates Ghost a good 30 years? Lauren sounds pretty, but I’m not hearing anything new or original with this song. She does a lot of pageant arm gesticulating much like her mentor Pia Toscano. Jennifer thinks there’s nothing to judge there. Wow, thanks Jennifer. Randy thinks she can sing like a bird. Steven thinks she’s so ripe & so there. Again, nothing to judge. I don’t get to tell my work there’s nothing to do, I don’t understand why the judges on American Idol get to.

Scotty McCreeryYou Are Always On My Mind by Elvis
Sheryl can’t wait until Scotty moves to Nashville so that she can horn in on his career. Great Sheryl. As Scotty starts the song, Kathy laments that he’s not Anoop. Scotty goes all country twang with it. I won’t judge it though, cause there’s nothing to judge. That’s the new American Idol way, isn’t it? Nope, nothing to judge here folks. Now move along, move along. I’ll twitch my eyebrows at you & get you to move along. Snnnnooooooorrrrrreeeeeeee……. Jennifer uses Scotty’s full name, which I thought maybe meant he was in trouble. He’s not in trouble, though. Jennifer loves him to pieces & stuff. Randy & Steven love him to pieces.

Haley Reinhart House of the Rising Sun by The Animals
Haley goes acapella to begin & it’s pretty darn strong. She’s taking advantage of the nuances in the song, something that Siobhan didn’t do last season. She’s definitely got a look on her face like she wants to kill it. And she does kill it. All three judges are on their feet. Bout damn time fer crying out loud. Best performance of the night from Randy goes to Haley. Steven loved it. Jennifer thought it was a great job.

So who goes home America? It’s your call, cause the judges don’t have anything to judge, apparently. Show them they’re wrong. Please?