In another week of better-than-average performances — except in a couple of instances — the “American Idol” Top 7 performed “Music from the 21st Century” and talked out of turn about each other. Usually this type of theme is a vocal trainwreck on “Idol” (time proximity calls for comparisons to the original artists), but the finalists actually pulled it off. Well, after the return of the eliminated finalists for a rendition of Pink’s “So What?,” that is. But after that, they got down to business.
Well, sort of. After everyone made fun of Scotty McCreery’s facial permutations and his manner of holding his microphone (“flute player in another life”), which actually looks as if he’s about to start chomping on an ear of corn, he sang perhaps one of the countriest of country songs ever, “Swingin’,” by John Anderson. Oh, he said it was LeAnne Rimes’ song, but that was a cover. John Anderson co-wrote and performed the song in 1983. But Scotty’s only 17. His ridiculous facial calisthenics and that microphone thing distracted just enough for most to notice that he over-reached on the vocals. Although judge Steven Tyler gave him a pass, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson weren’t thrilled.
The other not-so-great performance came from Jacob Lusk. Jacob, we found out from his peers, was the diva (although he denied this) of the group. He performed “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross, a song that nearly saw him break down before he even got started (and he did break down during rehearsals). Jacob is a great singer, but the song was a bit throaty due to his emotion. However, the judges and host Ryan Seacrest gave him kudos for battling through.
The best performance of the night came from James Durbin. His housemates made fun of his scarf tail (that is an Aerosmith-esque affectation, in case people have been wondering) and his reaching for the scream when he sings. James performed Muse’s “Uprising.” It was an amazing display of vocal control, especially in the last chorus, where James alternated between scream and power vocals on the last four lines. And the drumline was a cool touch as well. Tyler told him to stay out of his closet (James was dressed in post-apocalyptic chic). J-Lo told him his was probably the act of the night (he was the second performer). Randy said he heard there was a challenged sing-off between James and Matt Bellamy of Muse (really? Maybe we’ll see them on the finale or something?).
Haley Rinehart went third, went out on a long musical limb, and sang a song that’s currently popular, Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” (Adele also has the current No. 1 album in the U.S.) It was a dangerous move but it paid off. Her unique vocal stylings made the song hers. Judge Lopez told her that she loved the parts where Haley brought Haley to the song.
The craziest moment of the night came when Casey Abrams (everybody made fun of his beard, including Ryan Seacrest) sang Maroon 5’s “Harder To Breathe.” He rocks out with a guitar and does a passable job (far better than the Nirvana disaster from his Top 11 performance), but ends the tune by leaning across the judges table toward Jennifer Lopez. J–Lo turned her head and when Casey finished the song, he quickly kissed the judge on the cheek. She’s obviously flustered and Marc Anthony, her husband, is not there (he’s usually in the audience), so there’s no faux jealous act. Still, what does she expect after telling the guy he’s “sexy” several shows in a row?
Stefano Langone did great on Ne-Yo’s “Closer,” except that he tried to do a few dance moves — and looked… well… he probably should rethink the dance thing for the future.
Lauren Alaina does Sara Evans’ “Born To Fly.” She’s restrained and the judges, especially J-Lo, let her know that she should let herself go.
Of the group, the poorest performances were done by Scotty, Jacob, and Casey. However, it is a safe bet that Haley, Stefano, and Jacob will make the results show Bottom 3. Stefano will most likely be going home but one never knows.
The “American Idol” results show for the Top 7 will feature music from “American Idol” Season 7 winner David Cook and multi-platinum-selling artist Katy Perry.
“American Idol,” Fox Television
“Top 7: Music of the 21st Century,” AmericanIdol.com