Though Stefano Langone has been perhaps one of the weaker members of the “American Idol” Top 7 in past weeks, it’s a shame that the resident “AI” cutie had to leave after one of his best performances of the Top 13 competition. He sang well, he danced, he kept his eyes open–and even managed some sultry camera glances that were a lot more convincing than Scotty’s waggling eyebrows or Casey’s psycho faces. The Wild Card apparently never built the same fan base as the other contestants, however, and Thursday night proved to be as far as his diehard voters could take him.
“Hey Soul Sister”: The singers all seemed in good spirits at the top of the hour. Lauren, Haley, Stefano and Jacob formed a foursome and belted out Train’s hit with some pretty sweet harmonies. It always seems to me that Stefano is most conscious of whomever he’s dueting with, altering his tone to blend with theirs. He and Jacob did well together, and surprisingly, Haley’s and Lauren’s voices turned out to be complementary as well. The number was bright and sunshiney, and the grinning contestants did some cute synchronized sway-dancing. Light, fluffy and enjoyable.
Ford video: I don’t know what it is about these commercials, but the music is always so tinny and homogenized and syrupy. The video showed the “American Idol” Top 7 roping in clouds, pushing in mountains and dragging in grass to create a natural paradise. The effects were cool, the kids seemed relaxed and it had a nice green message. Not too painful for the usual product placement.
“Viva la Vida”: James, Casey and Scotty teamed up for this Coldplay tune, and the harmonies were pretty rough once again. Scotty finally proved he could actually sound good on something besides a country tune, and he had the strongest vocals here. My guess would be that Casey’s nasally tone was what was throwing off the blended chorus. Once the backup singers came in, the performance smoothed out somewhat, and over all it was an okay number.
Filler Banter: So far this season we’ve been spared a lot of the “American Idol” contestant banter that made previous results nights so painful. Tonight we got to hear about Scotty’s hometown “butterscotch Scotty cupcake” and Jacob’s reactions to being called a diva. We also got to see a painting of Casey and his dog and his bass, sent in by a fan. Ryan amusingly quipped that it was a painting of Casey and Randy–the dawg. Bazinga, as Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory” would say.
First of the Three: As Casey and Jacob faced the chopping block, we got to hear more about Casey kissing Jennifer during Wednesday night’s show. “He kissed a girl and I think she liked it,” Ryan joked. Asked if it was a spontaneous moment, Casey replied: “I was just gonna breathe in her face…but then she gave me an opening.” Jennifer tried to control her horrified look and answered, “I liked the kiss better.” Yes. Definitely. Please don’t breathe in people’s faces, Casey. Yikes.
David Cook: I love David Cook and think he’s immensely talented. This is why it pains me to say that his pitch was a little off tonight. Performing “The Last Goodbye” off of his new album “This Loud Morning,” David seemed to be having trouble getting his voice to go where he wanted it to. My guess would be a little vocal strain, which tends to make your notes warble even if you hit them at first. It could also have been nerves, as David let out a relieved “Whoo!” at the end of his performance and seemed to be glad he got through it. He did pick up the thread of the song at the midway point and let his more growly/raspy tones work for him, and the song has a decent rocker speed to it.
As an added note, David looked fantastic, dressed all in black with perfectly spiky hair. His mom was also in the audience, and David confessed to Ryan that his mom only wanted to come to the “American Idol” set to see Steven Tyler. Ryan urged her to hop on over to the judges table, where Steven gave her a hug and a couple of cheek kisses, which thrilled her. David then gave Steven the stink eye and told him they might have to have a “conversation” at the commercial break–Steven grinned mischievously in response.
Filler Part 2: At least we didn’t have to sit through some musically irrelevant guest star pushing their latest film this week. Instead we got to see the “American Idol” contestants hanging out, going to a Dodgers game and bowling. Stefano was upset that he was getting beat by Casey and Haley, but dude, you can not mess with Midwestern bowlers. It’s what we do. We have our own shoes.
Next Jacob insisted they all go to the spa, which put all the other guys in that uncomfortable “but I’m a dude!” position. The most hilarious moment came courtesy of James, who switched places with Stefano’s masseur and earned a litany of curses once Stefano realized who was actually rubbing his back. These two have an adorable bromance that I’m really going to miss.
Second of Three: Ryan brought down Lauren, James and Stefano. While it seemed inevitable once Jacob was in the bottom three and Casey was safe, now we knew for sure that Haley was going to be in the bottom three. Again. Lauren and James were safe, as usual, and Stefano headed over to the silver Stools of Doom.
Third of Three: The unfair whims of the voting public were evident as Ryan read out the judges’ critiques for Scotty and Haley. Scotty was “boring” and had chosen a bad song. Haley rocked out Adele. Yet here it was again, Scotty was safe and Haley was going home. The kid could pretty much dress up in a kangaroo costume and do a Black Eyed Peas number with a country twang and he’d still go on to win the whole thing. Which is making the rest of this competition feel a little pointless.
One for the Couches: Ryan went over to talk to the final three, sounding sincere as he told them that he always “hate this part, I just want you to know.” He then pulled on Haley’s arm and conspiratorially told her to come to the center of the stage, then he whispered “You’re safe” in her ear. And the mic. Haley looked stunned. “Really?” Haley fans everywhere cheered as she made her way back to the safe couches. Added note: Absolutely loved Haley’s bright pink shirt, green skirt and yellow platform shoes. She looked stunning.
Katy Perry: We were promised Katy’s “E.T.,” and were somewhat startled by what seemed a never-ending intro rap video by a floating Kanye West. When the song finally kicked in, we got Katy decked out in a sexy white space suit adorned with flashing LED straps. She was joined by a bunch of dancing alien creatures, and she got spun around on a cage-like platform. Kanye later joined her, with a fur pelt draped over his black leather jacket, which was apparently his version of alien attire. Katy’s vocals were strong, especially on a track that requires a lot of power notes. Could have done without Kanye, but over all it was a great “American Idol” moment.
Final Results: Maybe it was just nerves, but it sure looked like Jacob gave a big eye roll when Steven said that no one deserved to go home tonight. I would have been fine with him going home, but poor Stefano had hit the end of his “Idol” road. The moment I said “James is going to be so upset,” the camera panned to the distraught Durbs, holding his head in his hands. Stefano was all good-natured “let it be” positive attitude, though. He watched the final video, which included an adorable moment with Stefano getting pumped before a performance with a “Badaboom, badabing, badabang!”
After his final video moment, Stefano told Ryan that “American Idol” started his career, and he felt “so blessed.” He also said he was excited to sing, and he put on a stellar performance of “Lately.” It may be that Stefano is a little relieved to go home, and not get beat up on by Jimmy Iovine any more. As Stefano wound up his passionate delivery of the song, James appeared behind him and wrapped him up in a bear hug, spinning him right off of his feet. Kudos to Stefano for not letting out a girly yelp at being surprised. The two shared an ages long hug, and all the other contestants crowded around to give Stefano love.
Stefano has a lot of talent, a lot of personality and TV-ready cuteness. This kid could get himself on a sitcom–as many have noted, he could be the next Joey from “Friends.”
What do you think, “Idol” fans? Did the right person go home?
Check out: ‘American Idol’ Top 7: Modern Songs, Fake Beards and Actual Judging