Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top 13 Performances Part 1

We're in and the crowd is doing the wave.  If someone was in this audience you HAVE to tell me how many times / how long you had to practice that to get it right!

Seacrest is once again wearing the same black suit with the same black skinny tie.  Is he like Regis?  Did he start his own trademarked menswear line or something?  Boring!

The judges all look surprisingly normal and like themselves.  They're also very well coordinated in black and white.  Randy has the typical "I never got to be a letterman in high-school so I'm wearing that 50s letter sweater now",   J-Lo has a precious black and white polka dot dress on, and Steven Tyler has a white button down with a black blazer and jeans.  He looks very rockstar.

We hear mention of J.Lo's single for the 1,000th time and it's time to meet the top 13.

The theme is "Pick a song by your own personal idol"  and the mentor is Jimmy Iveen from Interscope and his producers.  I'm pretty sure this is the guy who was pretty rude to most during Beatles / Vegas week.  I don't know why he's famous.

The performances:

Lauren Alaina -  Any Man of Mine, Shania Twain
She started off a little shaky and appeared nervous and the arrangement was very karaoke-- but she pulled it together quickly and impressed as always with her personality, confidence, and control.   A few notes were shaky and on the sharp side, but very very few considering the style she was singing.  Pros:  She has the confidence of a pro and acted as if she was already famous, giving her first concert with winks and waves and smiles and "Thank yous" at the end.  Cons are the same!   The stylist DEFINITELY got to her, because she's not that tacky little girl with a gift card to the Juniors department anymore-- she looked gorgeous and age-appropriate in a pale turquoise chiffon blouse with metallic accents and flutter sleeves and black stretch pants.
My Scores-  Vocals - 8    Outfit - 8.5    Confidence - 10  
Randy Jackson-  You sang it well but your voice is so big we really want something that lets you shine
Jennifer Lopez- You always sound so amazing and you don't have to try-- but now we need high-gear.  You're super comfortable but now it's time,  the competition starts today.
Steven Tyler-  Loves that song but wishes it was just a little more kick-ass

Casey Abrams - Get by with a little help from my friends, Joe Cocker
I don't usually point out things from the reel, but Casey Abrams flat out called Joe Cocker unattractive (just like him)  and I thought that was hilarious.  Bonus points for that.  It's at this point that I realize each contestant has their own separate backup singers?  Lauren Alaina had two twin-blonde looking girls and Casey has a whole choir with him.    He sings it very solidly, even makes it a little different from the original, and I definitely felt something.  There was a whole lot of screaming and howling, but he pulled it off.   He's wearing his typical church casual-shirt pant outfit (all in black with white undershirt)...  and you wouldn't give him a second look if you saw him on the street.  But I guess that's part of his charm?  Overall it was a great performance, but it's not going to be something we'll remember next season or even 4 weeks from now.

My Scores-  Vocals - 9    Outfit - 7    Confidence - 10  
Randy Jackson-  (Idol remix lame quote again) -  Always excited to see what you're going to do.  Unbelievable & exciting, hit all the notes, always.   Listening to you is fun.  Loved it.
Jennifer Lopez-   We go by what we feel and you are somebody important.  Blew me away.
Steven Tyler-  You are a rainbow of talent, man.  You never cease to amaze.  You are a plethora of passion.

Ashthon Jones - When You Tell Me That You Love Me, Diana Ross  (Ashton?  Ashthon?) 
This could have been really good but I was pretty unimpressed.  She made it modern sounding, which was good, but most of that came from the arrangement and backup singers, and not her own voice.  The strong parts were strong, and I didn't notice anything with the high-note that she kept complaining about in the tape,  but what I did notice were that all of the "breathy" notes sounded horrible.  I don't know if she was too close to the mic, or the mic was malfunctioning,  or if she was just flat in them, but it was really really bad.  I'm curious to know if it sounded that way on set.   Oh, and her dress would have been nice, but it was a single piece of silver satin.  NOT GOOD to wear a single piece of satin when you are a full-figured girl!  There goes my Tyra Banks comparison!    A shame, all around.
My Scores-  Vocals - 6.5    Outfit - 6.5  Confidence - 7  

Randy Jackson-  Little bit of a safe move but you paid attention to the notes and pulled yourself in when you got sharp or flat.  I liked it.
Jennifer Lopez-  You're elegant up there and are a professional-  there were moments where it was getting away from you and you kept your composure.  You're awesome.
Steven Tyler-  There's a lot more in there that you're showing us and you're going to. I have confidence.

Were those backhanded compliments?  Or insults?  I'm not sure!   The judges are making little sense.

Paul McDonald-  Ryan Adams (with an R, love it) - Come Pick Me Up
I liked the Rod Stewart does Ryan Adams thing,  he was very personable and talked to the crowd as always.   Quirky as usual wearing a red and black "Michael Jackson" jacket but looking like a bad cowboy otherwise, and doing his usual "I dance in circles"  moves.  I like this guy (I don't dislike him), but I don't think he deserves the credit he gets.  He has a great quality to his voice.  That's all.   He has little else.  I don't think he'll make the top 3-4 but he'll be around for awhile.  There were a couple of moments where the song literally felt like it was getting away from him.  I think he focuses more on mood/stage presence than on singing.  He rides on his tonal quality and there's so much more he could do- like different arrangements that could rival Blake Lewis'.    He always leaves me thinking he's a slacker.  But very likeable!
My Scores-  Vocals - 7    Outfit - 8    Confidence - 9
Randy Jackson-  (More music plugs),  I get it, I hope America gets it, I'm a huge fan.
Jennifer Lopez-  You're so unique and you moved the crowd, but I hope America gets it. You're great.
Steven Tyler-  I love it so much it doesn't matter who's song you do your voice is so unique.  Pitchy, and nail it next time, but I love your voice.

On Seacrest impersonating Paul's dancing:   It needed to be done, but you were NOT very good at it.  You look even more ridiculous than he does, if that's possible!

Pia Toscano - Celine Dion, All By Myself
Personality very lacking in interview, and picks Celine Dion which is an instant confirmation that she has no personality.  Her voice is beautiful though-- very very recordable.   Her runs are super impressive in her quieter voice.  She has a lot of power but is obviously super nervous and shaky.  It's also exactly the same version as Celine's.  She's the kind of girl if you saw in a karaoke bar you'd stop dead in your tracks but it'd also be a karaoke bar.  A few missed notes but a good performance. The crowd loves it, but it's just a Miss America performance for me.  She is extremely beautiful, and looks stunning in a gold sequined one-shoulder mini-dress (with some sort of chiffon veil/tail coming out of the back that I could have done without), but she looks amazing.   Between the lacking personality and the exactly the way we're used to hearing them performances though, I don't think that will carry her to the winner's circle this year.
My Scores-  Vocals - 8    Outfit - 9   Confidence - 8
Randy Jackson-  Big 3 are Mariah, Whitney, Celine-- we always say don't tackle those if you can't do them, but you can hit these notes dead on.  Very hot, dope, cool performance.  (Hot & cool?  Come on, Randy!)
Jennifer Lopez-  We love you, you topped last week. There it is.  Really really beautiful.
Steven Tyler-  You polished that apple.  Happy International Woman's Day, you just slammed it.  (what the hell did he just say?)

James Durbin - Paul McCartney, Maybe I'm Amazed
People who pick Beatles/McCartney songs on Idol annoy me, I don't know-- they just do.  It's like they ride on the popularity of the song.   Not that I don't love the songs, I'm just saying.  But the producers seem genuinely impressed with him and try to make it different (not fair!  Isn't that CHEATING?  He would be crying if it were someone else doing that...  yes, I'm being sarcastic in a throwback to Hollywood week).    His "FREAK" sweatshirt also annoys me, and yes, I'm talking about the tape again.  Back to the performance:  He's wearing a white shirt, red vest, jeans, and lots and lots of jewelry. His hair is slicked back and it suddenly occurs to me that he reminds me of the villain dad in Kindergarten Cop.  Maybe that's part of the reason I don't like him.   He does kind of a screaming version of the song, but I have to say-- the tone of his voice is amazing.  The fact that he can get so high in pure tone, is amazing.  Maybe I'm amazed, finally, by James Durbin.  The performance was incredible and people will talk about it for sure.  I still don't like him very much as a person, and I think he's way too cocky, but it was a great song choice, well done,  done differently than the original, made modern/rock, and there wasn't a missed note in the entire song.    Don't ever say I don't give credit where credit is due!
My Scores-  Vocals - 9.5   Outfit - 8.5    Confidence - 10 
Randy Jackson-  You're one of my favorites, you can do anything, James Durbin is dangerous, America!
Jennifer Lopez-  (I LOVE her laugh!!!!!)  You have such a quality, a melodic quality that is rare to rockers where you can actually sing.
Steven Tyler-  You have taken everything you've ever felt and kicked it into the middle of next week! (is he on drugs?)  so good!  
* He asked for more applause a few times after he was done so negative .5 points for that!

Haley Reinhart - Blue, LeAnn Rimes
Her hair and dress (dark navy, very revealing in the bust) were amazing.  That's sadly all that was amazing.  Her performance was EXACTLY like LeAnn's, and even her hand motions reminded me of an 8 year old singing it at a country fair.  It was great, but nothing different.  At all.   Her tone made it slightly cool but again, karaoke. She better work harder if she wants to stay around.  
My Scores-  Vocals - 7   Outfit - 9    Confidence - 8
Randy Jackson-  Good parts: you can do a lot of different types of music  Bad:  It was boring and sleepy.
Jennifer Lopez- You do things with your voice that are so diverse. Good job.
Steven Tyler-  If you listen closely you can hear America roaring (???) such a great job, so so fine
* She kept talking over Randy so -1 for that.  Over and over and over again.  Annoying!

Stay Tuned for part 2!


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