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 …
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.
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