Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AI10 Top 6 - On-Scene Observations

I was fortunate enough to go to today's American Idol Top 6 taping (thanks @hazel_eyes11!) and got prime seats in the center. As many people have noted in the past, the sound is quite different in the studio as it is on TV. Many times, you don't hear things that you hear on TV with the sound mixing. For example, I could barely hear Scotty's vocals during his duet with Lauren. And I didn't hear Lauren's voice crack at all on her solo.

The 10 biggest things I noticed from the audience were:

1. The boy Lauren brought up on stage during her song was a plant straight out of Central Casting. He exited the studio after her song and met and shook hands with Lauren's parents on his way out.

2. During the playback at the end of the show, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe gestured to the audience to applaud louder as James' performance came out. He didn't do that for anyone else.

3. As James was singing his final note on his solo, he (James, not Nigel in case anyone was misinterpreting based on item #2) waved his fingers at the audience, gesturing for more applause. UGH. Such a turn-off.

4. James played the Idol theme on the electric guitar during the outro after his performance.

5. Seated in the front row behind the judges were Katey Sagal, Constantine Maroulis, Lorraine Bracco and Penny Marshall. In the second row was Brad Garrett. Semifinalist Julie Zorrilla was in the upper section. Constantine was greeted by Penny Marshall with a hug. Constantine and Julie apparently know each other too - they hugged upon seeing each other.

6. During commercials, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson get up a lot to talk to people. J.Lo does not leave her seat and gets touched up a lot. J.Lo is also really thin in person, and her ass is not even that big.

7. Randy was sporting some orange kicks. Steven had rhinestone-studded sneakers. J.Lo had huge heels and almost flashed the world when the Jacob and James turned her around on her chair in their duet.

8. Winning the applause battle: James, Scotty, and then Casey & Jacob seemed to elicit more screams and applause from the audience. This is not shocking. Just look at the voting patterns this season.

9. The studio audience demographic is a lot older than I expected and than what has been in the past.

10. Ryan Seacrest was all over the place today. He kept missing camera cues and seemed not quite on his game. And, as you could see on TV during Haley's performance, he stayed on stage a bit too long.

As for the performances, here's my take, both based on in-studio and on TV: 

Jacob Lusk - Oh No Not My Baby
I liked this a lot more than I have liked him lately. His outfit was heinous, and his dancing cracked me the hell up, but he seemed to enjoy performing today. His last note went flat, but overall it was entertaining.

Lauren Alaina - Where You Lead
Lauren's confidence seemed to be at an all-time high here, bringing out some plant dude up on stage and singing to him .... until she started tearing up during the judges' comments. Ryan said they were tears of joy, but I didn't get that impression, to be honest.

Haley/Casey - I Feel The Earth Move
So many double entendres during the video intro. "I like growling with her!" "I like growling singing with her. On stage." I would have preferred a Haley solo on this song. This turned into such a cheese-fest when they were at the judges tables. The ending was kind of neat with the jazzy runs, but Casey prowling the stage remains scary.

Scotty McCreery - You've Got A Friend
What a great arrangement. The strings, the staging (which looked better in studio when you could see the full stage), and Scotty's vocals were beautiful. It's absolutely tragic what the producers did to the studio recording. They ruined it with some hillbilly arrangement. But we're judging the performance here, and it was lovely. My favorite of the night, maybe even of the season, and I'm surprised that the judges didn't really show enough appreciation for it. They actually gave him some bits of criticism. But I think Scotty has enough votes in the bag to withstand having some critique.

James Durbin - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
This was shaping up to be a Bo Bice-like moment, and I really, really wish James had kept the entire song a cappella or at least in that tempo. The full band part was a bit of a letdown. But the judges lapped it up like it was the best thing ever (it almost was), and Randy even made the colossal mistake of saying James might win the whole thing. Tsk, Randy. The pimping is going to turn people off.

Lauren/Scotty - Up On The Roof
Cheesy background and kind of a boring arrangement, although it was suited better for them than a more upbeat version would have been. I think their duet was the best of the three, but that's not saying much because the other two were soooo cheesy.

Casey Abrams - Hi-De-Ho
I haven't been his biggest fan lately, but overlooking the grunts, I actually kind of enjoyed this. I think him having all those people on stage helped, and I really loved the staging of the whole thing, especially the beginning with him walking over to the piano and the ending with all of the musicians and singers surrounding him (if not the actual vocals of that last note).

Haley Reinhart - Beautiful
They were scrambling until the very last second to fix Haley's earpiece, and as she was singing, I was wondering if she was still having problems with it because it sounded a bit off-key to me. Surprisingly, it didn't sound as bad on TV. I think the problem with this was that the song had too many dynamic changes. It was like she was singing three different songs. Don't get me wrong - I love the song, but I didn't think it was something that would drive people to vote.

Jacob/James - I'm Into Something Good
This song is super cheesy, and those two made it even cheesier with their dancing. It was like a joke performance. I don't even know. And WOW white is soooo not flattering on James. Or those particular tight white clothes aren't flattering.

Likely bottom 2: Jacob and Haley
Going home: Jacob

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Look Out Idol - The Voice Premieres

Watch yo' back, Idol (and X Factor). You've got some serious competition. NBC's The Voice premiered Tuesday night with big buzz and a truly legitimate judging panel (Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine) that has not only the credentials (current credentials, even!) but the entertainment value. And they sang circles around everyone with a group performance of "Crazy" to kick off the show.

This might be my favorite judging panel ever. They have a great chemistry, especially with this inner-competition amongst themselves. They're hilarious in so many different ways. Blake and Cee-Lo were lobbying for one contestant, and Blake told her that she needed stability "and one day he'll come in dressed like Batman!" To which Cee-Lo replied, "No I won't! ... OK I can't promise that." And Simon Cowell-Paula Abdul fake fights from Idols past have nothing on the Adam Levine-Christina Aguilera duels from tonight. And it seems like Adam almost always hits his button when he thinks Cee-Lo is about to. It's hilarious.

I wasn't sure how this show would hold up after the singers were revealed since it seemed to me as though the premise of the show is to find the greatest VOICE, but somehow it works. At least for now. I am quite looking forward to the battle round, where two singers have to sing the same song, and only one will survive. But I do wonder if audiences will be able to vote for voices with no other prejudices.

Oh, and there's also the singers. No train-wrecks, no "loser" auditioners. It's so refreshing. These people are, for the most part, good! Now, that's not to say that I would have picked all of them, but it's nice to see an audition show where you're not cringing and facepalming all day long.

Here's a quick rundown of the first day of the blind auditions, with links to the iTunes studios (ALREADY!):

Tarralyn Ramsey - Breathe by Faith Hill (Buy on iTunes)
This chick can sing (wow was her voice soaring in the chorus), but it would be helpful if she actually sang the correct lyrics. I'm not sure I would have picked her.
Chosen by: Christina, Cee-Lo
Coach: Christina

Patrick Thomas - Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw (Buy on iTunes)
He has a great country voice and is super cute too. I'm not sold on his performance skills yet, but that's not the point of this show right now.
Chosen by: Adam, Cee-Lo, Blake
Coach: Blake

Jared Blake - Good Girls Go Bad by Cobra Starship
He's way too old to sing this song. Even without seeing him, you can tell he's too old to sing it.
Chosen by: No one

Vicci Martinez - Rolling In The Deep by Adele (Buy on iTunes)
She has a Melissa Ethridge-like voice. She seemed to struggle a little bit with getting that full power in there. She's no Adele. She's not even Haley Reinhart.
Chosen by: Cee-Lo, Christina
Coach: Cee-Lo

Sonia Rao - If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys
The verses were unrecognizable, and she completely oversang that.
Chosen by: No one

Elenowen - Falling Slowly by Swell Season (Buy on iTunes)
This is the married couple from Nashville who are living in her parents' basement.
Her voice is way too theatrical and melodramatic. And their voices don't blend well together. Either one or both were off-key.
Chosen by: Blake, Cee-Lo
Coach: Blake

Frenchie Davis - I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry (Buy on iTunes)
I loved Frenchie during the Hollywood round on American Idol Season 2. I didn't quite so much love her here. She sounded a little pitchy to me, and she had this very robotic and scary Grace Jones face during her performance. Also, LOL that her sob story was getting DQ'd from Idol. It's not as if it's been a huge detriment. She was on Rent in Broadway, and people know who she is. Cee-Lo knew her by sight, for crying out loud.
Chosen by: Christina
Coach: Christina

Kelsey Rey - American Boy by Estelle (Buy on iTunes)
She's gorgeous, but I'm not completely sold on the voice. It's not all that distinctive and kind of thin. I could not help but laugh and roll my eyes at her "waaaah I'm so pretty, life is hard" speech backstage.
Chosen by: Adam, Cee-Lo, Christina
Coach: Cee-Lo

Jeff Jenkins - Bless The Broken Road by Rascal Flatts (Buy on iTunes)
I'm surprised the guys picked him so quickly. He has a bit of mush-mouth. I'm even more surprised that Adam Levine doesn't know this song. Is he serious?! And I've heard several different versions of this song that sounded better than that (i.e. Carrie Underwood).
Chosen by: Cee-Lo, Adam, Christina, Blake
Coach: Adam

Rebecca Loebe - Come As You Are by Nirvana (Buy on iTunes)
Wow this is a really interesting take on Nirvana. I'd pick her for originality. I died at her reasoning for choosing Adam. It was kind of like a "Eh, sorry, Christina, but I'd rather have an Adam-like career than yours lately."
Chosen by: Christina, Adam
Coach: Adam

Joann Rizzo - I Say A Little Prayer by Dionne Warwick
She's in her 50s and dresses and acts like she's in her 20's. It's awfully disconcerting. Her voice sounds old too. Of course, it doesn't help that she picks this musty old Dionne Warwick song.
Chosen by: No one

Xenia Martinez - Breakeven by The Script (Buy on iTunes)
Xenia is a shy, quiet high schooler. Can she become a pop star? She has a long ways to go performance-wise, but her voice is very distinct and cool. If she can loosen up more, she'll be great.
Chosen by: Cee-Lo, Blake 
Coach: Blake

Tje Austin - Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars (Buy on iTunes)
Tje Austin from Austin, TX sounded terrible on the verses and only slightly better on the chorus. He just brought nothing new to the song.
Chosen by: Adam, Cee-Lo
Coach: Cee-Lo

Javier Colon - Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper (Buy on iTunes)
I LOVE HIM. His voice is amaaaaazing, and he's got soul. I agree with everything Christina said - the song is gorgeous stripped down, and he made it his own.
Chosen by: Adam, Cee-Lo, Christina, Blake
Coach: Adam

Beverly McClellan - Piece Of My Heart by Janis Joplin (Buy on iTunes)
She sounds too much like a trucker, and her voice is a bit old-sounding. Not coincidentally, she is old. Good luck with that, Christina.
Chosen by: Christina, Adam
Coach: Christina

Sunday, April 24, 2011

AI10 Top 7 - Delayed Reaction

I missed Idol this week due to a quick trip to the Bay Area to see Janet Jackson in concert (she was awesome, btw!), and I was going to use this space to share some video from the concert, but somewhere between the encore and leaving the theater, I lost my camera, so so much for that!

A couple of days later, I finally got to watch this week's Top 7 episodes, where the contestants sang current songs - except for Jacob Lusk, who sang an old, musty Luther Vandross song to further cement the fact that he is not a current artist, and Scotty McCreery, who pulled a Taylor Hicks and used a newer cover of an older song to get it to fit into the theme of the night (songs from the 21st Century). Haley Reinhart got my vote for performance of the night with her cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". She didn't stick to a straight cover and she kept her growls mostly in check. As each week goes by, I find myself rooting more and more for Haley. Whether it's a stick-it-to-TPTB underdog sentiment or not remains to be seen, but I like how she remains one of the more entertaining and vocally consistent singers on the show.

Also vocally consistent is Lauren Alaina, but while she hit all the right notes on Sara Evans' "Born To Fly", the performance was quite dull and not quite pimp-spot worthy.

James Durbin is easily the most entertaining performer left as far as staging and theatrics go. The staging of his "Uprising" performance was outstanding, walking in behind a small group of marching band drummers. His vocals, on the other hand, weren't as entertaining. Just because you can sing that high doesn't mean you should. I felt it was out of place and unnecessary. And his lower register is inconsistent.

Casey Abrams got all kinds of raves from the judges about his "Harder to Breathe", and his post-song kiss of Jennifer Lopez was all the talk, but I couldn't get past his singing of the guitar solo (LOL WAT?!) and the beyond creepy looks he continues to make, especially when he grabbed his microphone and prowled over to JLo. SCARY. Plus, he really isn't that good of a singer, but no one likes to acknowledge that.

Jacob Lusk is a technically good singer, but he's stuck in a time-warp, and his song choices are horrendous. This was his chance to do something more current, and he chose a slow R&B ballad from 2003, Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father". This is the latest in a LONG line of boring songs used several times on Idol. Pia Toscano has nothing on Jacob in terms of boring song choices/performances. Jacob was able to save himself from elimination by getting some sympathy votes from people who felt for him after talking about his father who died when he was younger and from people who thought he might have been sabotaged by the musicians/TPTB with that technical glitch at the beginning of his song.

Also doing a not-quite-so-current song was Scotty McCreery, who did LeAnn Rimes' "Swingin'", which was covered in 2010. The original song was released in 1983 by Jon Anderson. After being made fun of by his fellow contestants for his flute-holding microphone technique, I kind of felt like Scotty was doing it even more so in this performance. If that was the case, I kind of like him more for doing that. But still, the performance wasn't much to write home about, especially in a week where they were supposed to be showing a contemporary side.

Stefano Langone, who was (finally) eliminated this week, sang Ne-Yo's "Closer" with a bit of a half-assed dance break. During his post-elimination conference call, he bragged about having Stevie Wonder's range and did that whole defensive thing about not wanting to win Idol. I HATE when people do that (hello, Lilly Scott!). He also, when asked how long until he wins a Grammy, actually answered it and said "A year. Two years." I assume he was joking since it said he laughed, but seriously ... WHO DOES THAT?!

Anyway, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the performances in the results show. Jacob, Lauren, Haley and Stefano sang "Hey Soul Sister", and it was horrible. James, Scotty and Casey sang "Viva La Vida", and Matt Giraud thanked the lord for someone doing a worse performance of that song than him. Season 7 winner David Cook sang his new single "The Last Goodbye". While it wasn't his best vocal ever, it was a good performance, and it certainly didn't warrant Constantine Maroulis continuing to be his ~charming self and tweeting right after "See how hard it is to hear there? Mmm hmm." Pffft. That still doesn't explain your shitty arrangement of "Unchained Melody", Constantine. Ugh.

Next week, the Idols sing songs by Carole King. Lauren already did "Natural Woman". Womp womp.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

AI10 Top 8: Oh, That Was In A Movie? Night

This week's Idol theme was Movie Night, and the judging panel acted like everything they saw was Oscar-worthy (except for one performance - by a female. Naturally. Because the only people they can criticize these days are the female contestants. And then they wonder why they systematically keep leaving week after week.)

For you for me, a good chunk of these performances were more Razzies-worthy than Oscar-worthy. Watching the judges fawn all over the contestants for okay to mediocre performances was ridiculous. Jennifer Lopez might have gotten an Oscar for Gigli based on the judging climate in the room tonight.

But enough movie talk because it wasn't so much movie night as it was oh, that was in a movie? night. We got songs from the soundtracks of Risky Business, Hannah Montana, Boomerang, Pure Country, Moulin Rouge, American Gigolo, The Pursuit of Happyness (there was music in that movie?!) and Heavy Metal. On a positive note, I guess that's better than getting more Bryan Adams songs?

In addition to it being oh, that was in a movie? night, it was also "Things That Make Me Shield My Eyes" night, starring Paul McDonald's flowery suit; Stefano Langone, Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk's singing faces; and James Durbin's upper torso in a tank top. With a cameo appearance from the loofah hanging off Jennifer Lopez's dress (tm @kt_cle).

And with that said, let's get to a quick (since it's only about 4 hours till the result show and nobody cares anymore) recap of the performances.

Paul McDonald - "Old Time Rock & Roll" from Risky Business
This was probably the one song that best represents the (real) theme of this week. Unfortunately, it was also probably the worst performance of the week. It was vocally deficient, distracting in so many ways (the suit, the tambourine, the sax player) and totally did not hold up in the recap.
Score: 4.0

Lauren Alaina - "The Climb" from Hannah Montana the Movie
For the second week in a row for me, Lauren had one of the best performances of the night. The song is treacly as can be, and her key changes made it even more "coronation song!" than it is, but Lauren sounded amazing. Although, as Jimmy Iovine so tactlessly pointed out, anyone can sound better singing this song than Miley Cyrus.
Score: 8.0

Stefano Langone - "End of the Road" from Boomerang
Oh lord. This song is my favorite Boyz II Men song, and when Randy started to say that Wanya will probably call him up and tell him that Stefano slayed it, I put on my best "Bitch, Please" face and rolled my eyes because Stefano didn't slay it. He slayed one note at the end, but otherwise gave an okay performance. His still. bugs. the. heck. out. of. me., as do his facial expressions when he sings. And it was all so overwrought. Granted, Wanya is very overwrought when he sings this, but it's believable from him. Not so much from Stefano.
Score: 6.0

Scotty McCreery - "I Cross My Heart" from Pure Country
This is how much of an impact Scotty had on me this week. I started to write out the order of performances and remembered everyone's but his. Uh, I did like it well enough at the time, although it is the same song all over again from him.
Score: 7.25

Casey Abrams - "Nature Boy" from Moulin Rouge
Mommy, the scary man is back, and he's growling at me again and looking like he's going to eat the microphone AND the upright bass. I hated this. I thought it was too loungey, and Casey's voice just really isn't all that. I get that he's a great musician and all that, but he's not entertaining me anymore. Actually, he hasn't entertained me since Hollywood week. And for the judges to give him a standing ovation and compare him to Grammy winners, and for Casey to say he wants to educate everyone made me want to vomit.
Score: 4.5

Haley Reinhart - "Call Me" from American Gigolo
I liked parts of this, but this really wasn't the best showcase for what Haley can do. It's unfortunate that she was the ONLY person called out for anything tonight, because she most certainly wasn't the worst of the night. But I would say middle of the pack
Score: 6.0

Jacob Lusk - "Bridge Over Troubled Water" from The Pursuit of Happyness
I really hate how the producers handed him this song. They need to let the contestants live or die with their own song choices! Outside of that really lengthy note at the end, this performance was nothing special at all. Clay Aiken did it so much better in the Season 2 finale. SO much better. And I am no Claymate!
Score: 5.5

James Durbin - "Heavy Metal" from Heavy Metal
Where was Simon Cowell to pull the indulgent card? Because that was the most indulgent performance I've ever seen on this show. Heavy metal? Extended guitar solo that wasn't even his solo?! Ugh. And just because it's loud doesn't mean it was good. That song was just terrible and had no discernible melody to speak of. There's a reason why heavy metal isn't popular. Just saying.
Score: 5.0

Bottom 3 predictions: Paul, Stefano, Haley
Going home: Paul

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Video Of The Day: David Cook Covers Rolling In The Deep

David Cook stole the show at Mix 94.1's Pet-A-Palooza last Saturday with his cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". His widely-talked about performance has been shared all over the internet, so most of you have probably already seen this, but it's well worth watching again. This video below is the official video from Mix 94.1 (with impeccable audio!).

CANNOT WAIT until David starts touring again!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

AI10 Top 9 Results Show - Another Girl Bites The Dust

For the fourth consecutive elimination week, a female singer has been voted off American Idol, leaving just two girls remaining in the Top 8. Not one guy has been eliminated, although America almost got rid of Casey Abrams at Top 11 week before the judges mucked it up and wasted their save on him so early in the season. And as a result, Pia Toscano, arguably the best singer in the competition, was left floating in the wind, eliminated two weeks later.

I had no delusions that Pia was going to win this thing - she was too pretty and too polished, not to mention very lacking in performance skills. But she deserved a fate much better than what she got. There are others in the competition with more deficiencies than she has. But, hey, this is Idol, and nothing should surprise me anymore. Especially when it comes to voting patterns. In general, most of the people who vote on this show are female. And females generally don't get passionate in regards to voting for other women. Especially ones as stunning as Pia. The only type of women that girls will actively vote for are those who they relate to and aren't threatened by. See Clarkson, Kelly and Sparks, Jordin.

Outside of the "shocking" elimination, we were also treated to a Top 9 mashup of "I Love Rock & Roll", "The Letter" and "Sweet Home Alabama", and I could barely get past Jacob Lusk in his turquoise Cosby sweater pointing and posing his way through the number.

This week's Idol alum performance was from Constantine Maroulis, who inexplicably ~sang "Unchained Melody" instead of something from Rock of Ages. Although I suppose it's appropriate that the faux rocker sang UNCHAINED MELODY during Rock & Roll week. Constantine's performance was one big WTF. The arrangement was just SO bizarre. And seriously - what is this show's obsession with this song? I know it was Simon Cowell's favorite, but there's no good reason for one Idol alum, much less two, to come on a results show to sing this song (Justin Guarini also did this during season 2 to promote his album, which inexplicably was dangerously close to having this song as its lead single).

Rounding out the performances was 63 year-old Iggy Pop, who sang "Wild One" shirtless and danced around the stage in a manner that made Paul McDonald's dancing look graceful and sophisticated. Um, yeah.

So with Pia gone and Jacob hitting the Bottom 3 for the first time (along with Stefano Langone), it seems like anything goes, especially as the numbers start to dwindle. I think next week might finally be the week a guy goes home, but Haley Reinhart and Lauren Alaina have to be seeing this trend of five consecutive women going home and shaking in their boots.

Next week's show is movie night, or, in other words, ballad night again! I guess we got robbed of a "My Heart Will Go On" performance by Pia. Ahh, the silver lining!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

AI10: Top 9 Rock On

This week, the American Idol Top 9 sang songs from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Or as Chris Daughtry put it, "Watching Idol...Um....I thought it was Rock N Roll week".

It wasn't the most rock & roll show we've ever seen, but at least they left the rock & roll trainwrecks off the stage, making this week's show one of the strongest of the season from top-to-bottom. Everyone was pretty solid, but at the same time, no one was spectacular either, further complicating a season in which no one has truly broken free of the pack. On the surface, it still remains anyone's game (although I've been convinced for weeks that Scotty is going to win this one running away).

Jacob Lusk - "Man In The Mirror" by Michael Jackson
Jacob changed from "Let's Get It On" to "Man In The Mirror" because he couldn't get on stage and sing about "doing the nasty." Yet, he was perfectly okay with the hip thrusts he did that looked like he was doing the nasty. Uh, ok! And if he is in the bottom 3, "it won't be because I sang the song bad, it won't be because I sang the song wrong ... it'll be because everybody in America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror." Oh REALLY now? It couldn't possibly be because you just made yourself really unlikeable right there? Or because they're not a fan of your hammy moves or Charlie Brown faces? Nah.
Score: 6.75

Haley Reinhart - "Piece Of My Heart" by Janis Joplin
Haley singing Janis Joplin was inevitable. She has been spending too much time with Casey and Paul, I think. Her growls are becoming more and more guttural, and her movements are becoming more and more Drunk Uncle Paul. There was one part when she started stomping around with one arm swinging back and forth like Quasimodo. And of course that was the part they showed on the playback. Oy. But there were parts of that song where she sounded awesome, like the come on, come on, come on part right before her Quasimodo moment.
Score: 7.0

Casey Abrams - "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Casey Abrams changed his song from "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" because Jimmy Iovine and said it was too loungey. He changed it to "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" ... and it sounded loungier. But still - probably one of his best performances of the season for me (when he wasn't growling and baring his teeth). I like him better when he brings out the upright bass, but I wouldn't call it "revolutionary" like Randy did (it was also funny when Steven said "nobody" plays the upright bass when 20 minutes later someone was playing it on stage during Scotty's song).
Score: 8.25

Lauren Alaina - "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin
Lauren Alaina is borrowing from the Kelly Clarkson playbook, singing "Natural Woman". It's not at a Kelly Clarkson level (and thank you, Randy, for going there), but Lauren sounds really good. I do felt, though, like she was holding back a little. 
Score: 8.0

James Durbin - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by George Harrison
I actually liked this with the strings and dramatic lighting .... until he screamed that last note. Ugh, James. It's so unnecessary. Even Jacob controlled his over-singing tonight.
Score: 7.75

Scotty McCreery - "That's Alright" by Elvis Presley
There's a natural charm to Scotty, and I enjoyed this performance; it was a nice departure from the same song he always sings week after week. He's comfortable performing, although his hip-hop arm totally make me laugh.
Score: 7.75

Pia Toscano - "River Deep Mountain High" by Ike & Tina Turner
When Melinda Doolittle does an Ike & Tina Turner song with 200x more energy and sass than you do ("Nutbush City Limits"), you're doing it wrong, Pia. She needed to go nuts on this song, and it was like watching it at half-speed. It's an improvement, though.
Score: 7.25

Stefano Langone - "When A Man Loves A Woman" by Percy Sledge
I hate this song. Sorry. And the way Stefano first started singing it made me hate it even more. It got better as the song went on, but he did absolutely nothing to make me like this performance. And he messed up the words again.
Score: 6.0

Paul McDonald - "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash
I think the key to this whole performance was Paul starting it off with "What's up, yo?" He didn't do it last week, and BOOM right to the bottom 3. He threw in a bunch of "yo"'s during the song just to make sure. I don't even know what to make of this performance. He was frenetically moving around and grinning his way through this song like he was at a hoe-down. Only thing missing was a banjo player. And every time Paul moved towards the other guitar player, it was hilarious to watch him take a step or two back in slight fear. I don't even know anymore.
Score: 6.5

Bottom 3 Prediction: Jacob, Haley, Stefano
Going home: Stefano