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American Idol Review: Abrams and Durbin Fight to Be Themselves

This week, two brave contestants stood their ground on song choice, and, really, identity choice, as they went against the advice offered by the often obnoxious duo of Jimmy Iovine and will.i.am. I already loved James Durbin and Casey Abrams enough, but now, after this week’s fight to simply be who they are, followed by their kick-ass performances, they are pretty much my new heroes on the show. “THISSS ….. is American Idol!”

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your judges: Randy “my outfit looks like something out of a 1957 Catholic school yearbook” Jackson, Jennifer “there seems to be a furry rabbit tail exploding out of my left thigh” Lopez, and Steven “I look less like a rock God and more like your Great Aunt Mildred everyday” Tyler. Two minutes into the show, and he already looked as if he needed a nap.

And, here’s your host, Ryan Seacrest! In case you still don’t know his name, it appears at the bottom of the screen, right below his foundation-caked face. As he descends once again down that giant flight of stairs to the stage, I start thinking to myself that someone, someday, HAS to fall down those stairs. It’s just simple mathematics. So why … WHY … can’t it be him? I shall keep this dream alive.

After all the introductions were over, Seacrest gave J.Lo a bit of teasing about being named People magazine’s “Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” As they all congratulated her on this, she and Tyler got a bit flirty and close. This is how I know Tyler is no longer considered rock-star threat: J.Lo’s tool of a husband Marc Anthony didn’t even look jealous watching them. And that dude is ALWAYS jealous about something. Hell, he looks jealous when J.Lo talks to the contestants, never mind a rock-star like Steven Tyler.

This week, the eight remaining contestants sang songs from the Movies/Cinema. Let’s get right to it:

1. Guy Smiley (Paul McDonald):

“Old Time Rock and Roll” (from Risky Business) has to be one of my most hated songs on earth. I can’t stand that song. So, the only thing I can say about Paul’s version was that it was a bit less annoying than the original. But wow do I hate the original. I guess I have been to too many weddings and lame receptions where this song was played, and as a result, I have heard it about 9,067 times too many. The song also, unfortunately, showed off Paul’s lack of range, since he stayed on about 3 notes the entire time. Fun? Sure. Quirky? Always. Memorable and good enough? Probably not. The judges, of course, loved it, because they love everything this year and never ever say anything negative. It’s all sunshine and lollipops with these guys. It is times like this when I really start to miss Simon again. To vote for Paul, text VOTE to All -Teeth.

2. Lauren Alaina:

I don’t know about you, but when I think classic movie soundtracks, I think Miley Cyrus. Then I think Hannah Montana. Right? No? NO!!! Of course not! Nobody thinks that. Except for maybe Lauren Alaina, since she chose “The Climb” as her song. I will say that she sang it extremely well, but then again, I would pretty much rather listen to water dripping than to Miley Cyrus’s grating voice, so anything would have been an improvement. Lauren has a fantastic voice. I am still undecided on how I feel about her “Aww shucks, who me?” personality. I think I just prefer her when she is singing, rather than talking. To vote for Lauren, text the word VOTE to Golly Gee.

3. Stefano Langone:

Has anyone else noticed that the producers of the show don’t even bother to dress Stefano in anything remotely attractive or unique? Every single week, he comes out in a regular t-shirt and pants. This week, same thing. Striped t-shirt.  Between that and his one arched eyebrow, oddly long eyelashes, and his half moustache that looks like dirt on the face; I just can’t make myself give a crap about this kid. A lot of that has to do with his horrific song choices. This week it was Boyz II Men. Yuck. That being said, his vocals were once again, very good. I just can’t get behind a dude that comes out in jeans and sneakers and sings boyband music. Bo-ring! Also, he is really starting to remind me of Joey Tribbiani from Friends. (Thanks to my friend Cyndi who pointed that out to me and now I can’t stop seeing the comparison.) I think it’s beyond time for this guy to go home. Here’s a shocker: the judges loved it! Randy “Namedropper” Jackson boasted: “I bet my boy Wanya is gonna be texting me in a minute here.” Uh-huh. We get it Randy. You know and have worked with a lot of famous, important people. To vote for Stefano, text VOTE to Joey.

4. Scotty “Baby Lock Them Doors” McDreary:

So much to say here. First off, I finally figured out WHY McDreary’s very presence is like nails on a chalkboard to me. It’s not the annoying, predictable low-voice at the start of every single verse of every single song. It’s not that he sings out of the corner of his mouth, or that he holds the microphone like his arm is in a sling, or even that all of his song choices sound like the same song week after week after week. It’s not even that the judges NEVER ever say anything even remotely negative to him; or that he mugs to the camera way too much. Okay – it is a little bit of ALL of those things. But mostly, it is this: McDreary comes across as cocky. He acts as if he has already made it big, and we should all be honored to simply watch him. All the mugging, the winking, the pointing to people in the crowd and then waving at them, the smirking face he has that seems to say: “ya’all know I’m awesome, America!” This fact was actually pointed out to me over the weekend by my dad, a huge country fan who dislikes McDreary for these reasons. I have always seen it. I just couldn’t put it into words. But that is what it is – he seems very cocky and arrogant. If he wins the show, his reaction will be so lame and nondramatic, it will be such a disappointment.

So, Smirky McCocky chose “Everybodys Talkin”, then changed his mind and remembered that he is the guy who never takes ANY risks whatsoever, and of course, went with George Strait’s “Cross My Heart.” He stated that he was “going back to his country roots.” Is this guy for real? Going BACK? When did you EVER leave? Please. We are lucky if you get up off that stool and walk around a little bit. I am sure that country fans enjoyed this performance. I was bored out of my mind and almost fell asleep. I really do like some country. I just don’t like THAT. The judges gave him way too much credit for such a mediocre, SAME performance, with Randy going so far as to say that “a star is born!” tonight. Great. Just what he needs. A bigger head. To vote for Scotty, text VOTE to Smirkin’OnAStool.

5. Casey Abrams:

Whatever Scotty McCreery is not, Casey Abrams is. Abrams is a risk-taker, a musician, an artist who wants to educate and be educated by music. His original choice for a song was Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy”, which is clearly the perfect song for him. Jimmy Iovine disagreed, and wanted him to do a Phil Collins song instead. Let me repeat that. They wanted Casey Abrams to sing Phil Collins instead of Nat King Cole. Phil Collins??? Really??? Seriously? Like we haven’t had to sit through 47 other versions of “In the Air Tonight” or “Against All Odds” during our Idol years already? Could anyone be more lame or boring than Phil Collins? Thankfully, Abrams has a brain and the next day, decided to go back to his original choice of song. What I love about this guy is that he actually stressed about this decision; he wanted so much to do the right thing. In the end, he said “I don’t want to lose myself during this process”, and he knows who he is, and it ain’t Phil Collins. When Iovine said into the camera that Casey needs to take their advice, and he chose not to, and so he “better be right,” I was so angry. Why on earth do you have people like Casey Abrams on the show if you’re just going to make them sing Phil Collins and then get mad when they don’t? It makes no sense to me. Let the man do what he does. Abrams then went out and performed that Nat King Cole song with his upright bass and next to a white piano … and you would swear you were in a black and white Jazz Club in the 1940′s. The only word to describe that performance is “transforming.” Afterwards, the judges gave him a standing ovation, and backstage, he said he was so happy, he “could cry.” Me too, Casey. Me too.  To vote for Casey, text the word … oh hell, I don’t even have a joke here. JUST VOTE FOR CASEY!!!

6. Haley Reinhart:

Here’s the thing with this chick. I always forget she exists until they call her name as being next. Always. Smiley, growly, drunk puppet sang Blondie’s “Call Me” in her usual, all over the place, I-have-to-pee form. It had some moments of almost brilliance, and then other moments of “blah.” For me? The best part was her dress. That was a pretty kick-ass dress. The judges were a bit less enthusiastic with this performance from Haley, but still wouldn’t commit to actually saying something along the lines of constructive, negative criticism. To vote for Haley, text the word VOTE to DrunkPuppetwhoHastoPee.

7. Jacob Lusk:

Another beautiful performance by the man with the best vocals in the competition. Although it did look as if  Lusk was wearing lip gloss. This isn’t the worst thing on earth, except that it just looked extremely odd watching a large black man in a beige suit singing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” while wearing lipgloss. Other than that though, an intensely, tender, and gorgeous song. He is an amazing singer. Period.

8. James Durbin:

The passion that this guy radiates everytime he performs a song is simply astounding. You can feel his love for music in every note, in every choice. This week, he showed this passion once again by echoing Casey Abrams and standing up for who he IS verses who they want him to be onstage. Durbin’s choice of Sammy Hagar’s classic cult hit “Heavy Metal” didn’t go over big with douche.i.am and Iovine. Why? Because they simply don’t understand that music. If they did, they wouldn’t ask questions like: “Where’s the hook?” Really? Are you familiar with heavy metal music, sir? Apparently not. In any case, I almost cheered in my seat when Durbin said simply but emphatically: “This is the song I’m doing.” He refused to let them talk him into doing something else, and I love that. And guess what? He kicked ASS! With the legendary Zack Wilde on guitar to accompany him, Durbin literally rocked the house down with this gritty, passionate performance.

There are a lot of talented people left in this Top 8, and although I believe that Jacob Lusk and Lauren Alaina are both equally as talented as Casey and James, I really think that both Casey Abrams and James Durbin are true artists and musicians who constantly take chances, risks, and always FIGHT to be who they are as artists, even when it’s not popular. The fact that someone like Abrams has gotten this far with that jazzy, old school music and an upright bass – is simply amazing. To see someone like that, who is so outside the box, actually win the show, would be inspirational. It won’t happen of course. I still stand by my prediction that America goes with the predictable, country, low-voiced guy on the stool. But it’s fun to dream about …

Results:

I will get right to the point. After another horrific Ford Music Video, a terrific jazz duet between Casey and Haley, and some other great performances including Season One Winner Kelly Clarkson along with Jason Aldean (whose face literally disappeared under a cowboy hat and he looked like he had no eyes), Seacrest finally got to the bottom three …

Haley, Stefano, and Paul were in the bottom three this week. Haley was quickly told she was safe; which left Stefano and Paul. In the end, it was Paul McDonald who went home. I think this week, America made the right choice for the bottom three. I like Paul a lot. He is quirky and different and fun. However; with only 7 left now; his talents just aren’t on the same level as some of the other contestants. I would have liked to have seen Joey Tribiani go home first over Paul; but that’s just semantics. In the end, I am praying for a Casey / James showdown. I won’t get it. But it’s nice to dream.

Need more Idol? Read “Smoke and Mirrors” by Erin Biglow.

 Season 10, Episodes 26-27: Top 8 Perform and One voted off (originally aired April 13-April 14, 2011)

Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8/7c on FOX
Images courtesy of imdbpro and Fox.

 Read more American Idol opinions here

24 Comments

  1. I was laughing SO hard during this review that I was crying. O.M.G. Thanks for that. You are absolutely brilliantly hilarious.

    LuLu

  2. I was laughing SO hard during this review that I was crying. O.M.G. Thanks for that. You are absolutely brilliantly hilarious.

    LuLu

  3. Yea …. while I understand that Paul should eventually go home, I am constantly stunned that Joey Tribiani keeps just barely making it! This is like the third time he should have gone home but didnt. Anyway – Jimmy Iovine is so annoying. Because Jacob took his advice, he ended up in the bottom three a few weeks ago – he criticized Jacob in the stupidest way and told him to restrain himself – what? other than his voice, the way Jacob gets so into the song and does those little dance movements is what is fun about watching him … and guess what? he ended up in the bottom 3 b/c of it … Thank god he didn’t go home but still! Im glad that last week Jacob went with his own song choice! I haven’t watched the performances yet (just the results show) but I am glad that Casey and James did too! Maybe Iovine is some sort of mole trying to sabotage them alL! LOL Anyway – right on about mcdreary and i love the vote-in names you came up with!

  4. Yea …. while I understand that Paul should eventually go home, I am constantly stunned that Joey Tribiani keeps just barely making it! This is like the third time he should have gone home but didnt. Anyway – Jimmy Iovine is so annoying. Because Jacob took his advice, he ended up in the bottom three a few weeks ago – he criticized Jacob in the stupidest way and told him to restrain himself – what? other than his voice, the way Jacob gets so into the song and does those little dance movements is what is fun about watching him … and guess what? he ended up in the bottom 3 b/c of it … Thank god he didn’t go home but still! Im glad that last week Jacob went with his own song choice! I haven’t watched the performances yet (just the results show) but I am glad that Casey and James did too! Maybe Iovine is some sort of mole trying to sabotage them alL! LOL Anyway – right on about mcdreary and i love the vote-in names you came up with!

  5. Thanks so much Lulu! So glad it made you laugh.

  6. Thanks so much Lulu! So glad it made you laugh.

  7. This was an awesome review!! They all are, but this one was even MORE hilarious, if that is possible, and dead on! I would LOVE a Casey/James final, but, sadly I think you are right. McDreary isn’t even close to bottom 3 ever. I can’t stand the idiot ‘mentors’ is that what they are?

    Have to say, Judas Priest, Sammy Hagar’s Heavy Metal, and jazz, has GOT to be driving them nuts! And, America has voted and they are WRONG!! We do like individuality, at least, so far. I would love to see that talent compete for the title…

    And haha, Joey T, and me on the review!! :) Consider Madd magazine, and McDreary. That visual, brought to you from my husband.

    Steven sure liked Haley’s dress too, or maybe it wasn’t her ‘dress’ he was talking about.

    WTH was with J Lo’s outfit for the results? Looked like some sort of roman warrior/drapery kind of thing, that totally flattened her chest and widened her hips, and was gold. Weird. DId she not want the title of most beautiful woman in the world?? (apologies to anyone who may have a similar dress)

  8. This was an awesome review!! They all are, but this one was even MORE hilarious, if that is possible, and dead on! I would LOVE a Casey/James final, but, sadly I think you are right. McDreary isn’t even close to bottom 3 ever. I can’t stand the idiot ‘mentors’ is that what they are?

    Have to say, Judas Priest, Sammy Hagar’s Heavy Metal, and jazz, has GOT to be driving them nuts! And, America has voted and they are WRONG!! We do like individuality, at least, so far. I would love to see that talent compete for the title…

    And haha, Joey T, and me on the review!! :) Consider Madd magazine, and McDreary. That visual, brought to you from my husband.

    Steven sure liked Haley’s dress too, or maybe it wasn’t her ‘dress’ he was talking about.

    WTH was with J Lo’s outfit for the results? Looked like some sort of roman warrior/drapery kind of thing, that totally flattened her chest and widened her hips, and was gold. Weird. DId she not want the title of most beautiful woman in the world?? (apologies to anyone who may have a similar dress)

  9. you crack me up…”VOTE for all teeth”. can’t take issue w/anything you wrote. i think james and mcdreary will be in the final. great review but i’d stress how fantastic the duet between casey and haley was…rumor has it they’re an item.

  10. you crack me up…”VOTE for all teeth”. can’t take issue w/anything you wrote. i think james and mcdreary will be in the final. great review but i’d stress how fantastic the duet between casey and haley was…rumor has it they’re an item.

  11. Good visual from your hubby!!! Still like Scotty but was kida getting annoyed by the way he holds the mike…agree with you there, Kelley!!!

    Sorry to see Paul go, but I’m sure someone will pick him up .. look what happened to Pia!!!

    Great review as always!!!

  12. Good visual from your hubby!!! Still like Scotty but was kida getting annoyed by the way he holds the mike…agree with you there, Kelley!!!

    Sorry to see Paul go, but I’m sure someone will pick him up .. look what happened to Pia!!!

    Great review as always!!!

  13. Fantastic review! This season has been my favorite, except for missing Simon of course. From your fingertips to Gods ears on the Casey and James Finale. The only other thing I ask is that Stefano goes home next…..tho it is fun reading what you have to say about him, and he isn’t the threat that McDreary is. Wouldn’t it be dreamy if he went home?

  14. Fantastic review! This season has been my favorite, except for missing Simon of course. From your fingertips to Gods ears on the Casey and James Finale. The only other thing I ask is that Stefano goes home next…..tho it is fun reading what you have to say about him, and he isn’t the threat that McDreary is. Wouldn’t it be dreamy if he went home?

  15. Casey’s performance took my breath away! I had tears in my eyes. And I wanted to reach through the TV and strangle that a-hole Lovine. Cocky little dude. Rejoiced when Casey’s stance was rewarded by a standing O.
    And James was sooo comfortable in his heavy metal world. He was wonderful.
    Can we have some new mentors please? Those two have worn out their welcome.
    And Kelley-you hit the nail on the head with Scotty “Oooohhh do me now”. He IS cocky. Needs to bring some emotion into his songs besides “I’m going to make these girls swoon for me with my low notes”
    Great review! Thanks!

  16. Casey’s performance took my breath away! I had tears in my eyes. And I wanted to reach through the TV and strangle that a-hole Lovine. Cocky little dude. Rejoiced when Casey’s stance was rewarded by a standing O.
    And James was sooo comfortable in his heavy metal world. He was wonderful.
    Can we have some new mentors please? Those two have worn out their welcome.
    And Kelley-you hit the nail on the head with Scotty “Oooohhh do me now”. He IS cocky. Needs to bring some emotion into his songs besides “I’m going to make these girls swoon for me with my low notes”
    Great review! Thanks!

  17. Kinda sad to see Paul go but at least it wasn’t Casey. I thought it was GREAT that James did heavy metal. Rock on! Still voting for Casey! I hope Scotty gets sent home in the top 3 and gets a kick in the ass as Ryan falls down the stairs. :) Great review Kelley. Love you!

  18. Kinda sad to see Paul go but at least it wasn’t Casey. I thought it was GREAT that James did heavy metal. Rock on! Still voting for Casey! I hope Scotty gets sent home in the top 3 and gets a kick in the ass as Ryan falls down the stairs. :) Great review Kelley. Love you!

  19. Completely agree with everything. Great review, Kelley. I hadn’t really put it together either about McDreary. He is arrogant and cocky, and it continues to get worse each week. I loved Casey’s jazz song (Cyndi didn’t like it much), and who doesn’t love a little Sammy Hagar? I hope you are wrong about the finalists, but I’m not so sure anymore. We shall see.

  20. Completely agree with everything. Great review, Kelley. I hadn’t really put it together either about McDreary. He is arrogant and cocky, and it continues to get worse each week. I loved Casey’s jazz song (Cyndi didn’t like it much), and who doesn’t love a little Sammy Hagar? I hope you are wrong about the finalists, but I’m not so sure anymore. We shall see.

  21. It NEVER occurred to me before that Scotty could win this. Stop saying it. You. Are. Freaking. Me. OUT. (But then again look who won last year. What the heck was his name?)

    LuLu

  22. It NEVER occurred to me before that Scotty could win this. Stop saying it. You. Are. Freaking. Me. OUT. (But then again look who won last year. What the heck was his name?)

    LuLu

  23. Another laugh out loud analysis, Kelley! Like other readers, I loved your voting suggestions at the end of each paragraph, especially Paul’s: “Text VOTE to All-Teeth.” LOL! I’m also glad you and I share a similar disdain for talentless.i.am. BARF. I like James Durbin more and more each week, and am certain the finale will be between he and Scotty or Scotty and Lauren. At this point, I’m all for a Durbin victory since neither of the remaining girls seem Idol-worthy to me, but if Lee DeWyze can win this thing, ANYBODY CAN. Six weeks to go!

  24. Another laugh out loud analysis, Kelley! Like other readers, I loved your voting suggestions at the end of each paragraph, especially Paul’s: “Text VOTE to All-Teeth.” LOL! I’m also glad you and I share a similar disdain for talentless.i.am. BARF. I like James Durbin more and more each week, and am certain the finale will be between he and Scotty or Scotty and Lauren. At this point, I’m all for a Durbin victory since neither of the remaining girls seem Idol-worthy to me, but if Lee DeWyze can win this thing, ANYBODY CAN. Six weeks to go!

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