Abrams initially came into the competition one of the favorites to win it all, though a series of health problems and a couple of bum performances — including last week’s train-wreck take on Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” — stalled his momentum to the point where America sent him packing. But the judges threw their weight behind the shaggy-haired soul man, and this week it was up to him to prove they made the right decision.
But first, he had to deal with the fallout from last week’s performance. When mentor Jimmy Iovine rolled tape of Abrams’ Motown week effort, the singer found it difficult to even watch. “You know what was wrong with that performance?” Iovine asked. Abrams sheepishly replied “some … things?” while Iovine corrected him: “Everything!” Iovine went on to say Abrams “killed himself” with the Gaye cover, saying he’d lost his way in the competition and needed to refocus.
Producer Rodney Jerkins was just as critical, but had a far more concrete solution to Abrams’ problems: “Get rid of the beard.” Abrams took Jerkins’ advice to heart and took his mug to Baxter Finley, a Los Angeles barber shop, where a team of skilled professionals trimmed his bushy facial fuzz and hacked away at his unkempt hair. The results weren’t unveiled until Abrams hit the “Idol” stage, though it wasn’t as dramatic as the segment led viewers to believe. Instead, Abrams’ look was simply a fresher, cleaner version of the wild man he’d come to be known as — Abrams 2.0, if you will.
His performance was where he really showed his rededication to the competition. Taking on Elton John’s “Your Song,” Abrams stayed seated and didn’t do laps around the studio as he did during Motown week or thrash in place as he did during his risky take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” two weeks prior. He dialed himself way back, delivering the song in a comfortable, heartfelt manner and letting the lyrics take over. (Some tabloid reports have tied Abrams to fellow contestant Haley Reinhart, though there was no word whether he was singing the song to his alleged new squeeze.) Eventually, he let out his inner Casey, grunting a few notes near the song’s close, but overall it was the most reserved he’d been onstage yet. He delivered a high closing note that noted music scholar Randy Jackson would later identify as a Major 9.
Jackson called the performance “brilliant,” “nice” and “tender,” while Steven Tyler praised Abrams’ range of styles, saying that makes him a “true artist.” Jennifer Lopez called the performance “very Casey” and reiterated that the judges made the correct decision by keeping him around. “Along the way, we’ve had to make some hard decisions and send some really, really great people home, and I’ve lost sleep over that. But one decision I didn’t lose one ounce of sleep over was saving you,” she said. “I slept like a baby!”
What did you think of Casey Abrams’ performance? Let us know in the comments!
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