Three months ago, if you had told me that "American Idol X: F--- F---" was going to have a theme week about recent music, I would have said, "Yeah, and Katherine Heigl will make a good movie one day." But holy crap. That's exactly what "Idol" did Wednesday night. Sorry, Stevie Wonder. Your revenue stream off "Idol" royalties is going on a one-week hiatus. You'll live.
The show kicked off with a montage of auditions. Oh, the good old days, back when we thought Steven Tyler was a passionate judge and Casey Abrams was a goofy guy who'd never step to Jimmy Iovine. Our egomaniacs used to be so adorable when they were young.
Before I get interrupted by a random, pointless drum line, let me quickly remind you to catch our weekly post-performance interactive chat show, "Idol Party Live," at noon right here in this very blog. My co-host for the week will be Rolling Stone writer/superstar and all around hilarious dude Rob Sheffield.
Now on to the performances!
Paul McD and the Idol X Losers
Song: Pink's "So What"
Verdict: So What The Frick!
Hey, America! Remember the five girls you didn't care about enough to keep on "Idol"? They're back! Dare you to remember their names! (Psssst, the one inexplicably singing in a baby voice is Ashthon. The one dressed like sexy Olivia Newton-John at the end of "Grease" is Karen.) You all know that Naima Adedapo holds a special place in my heart, what with her high kicks and "boom fiyahs." But my love grew even deeper as she shed layers of clothing throughout the song, like a toddler overheating at a family function. I'd kill to watch a Naima reality show, although we probably wouldn't see much, given her propensity for tossing jackets over camera lenses.
Then, just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier, Paul McDonald stumbled out in a cloud of 4/20 celebration, wearing the same flower suit he wore last week. He "harmonized" with a cardboard cutout of Pia, while they invisibly high-fived each other over landing C-list lovers. (I'm being told that it was a real life Pia, and not a cardboard cutout. Honest mistake.)
A hot mess? Yes. Random? You betcha. Pointless? Not so fast. Producers are confident that after the audience experiences six people sing in different keys simultaneously, James Durbin's high notes won't be the most unpleasant thing they'll hear Wednesday night.
Song: John Anderson's "Swingin' " (as performed by LeAnn Rimes this century)
Scotty picked a song that was originally released in 1983, proving that he's as good at numbers as he is with microphone holding (which was lovingly mocked by his castmates in his pre-performance package). For those of my readers who are not from the South and only hear "twang twang twang twang" when Scotty sings, let me translate. "Swingin' " is about sitting on a porch with a girl you like and then eventually she gives in and you bump uglies. The end. "Eleanor Rigby," watch your back!
Scotty told Jimmy Iovine that he wanted a swing for his performance. Instead, he got a horn section straight out of an '80s bar band. If Scotty's not going to try anymore, why should producers? Perhaps the tongue lashing he received from the
cheerleaders judges will be the swift steel-toe kick to the butt that finally makes Scotty take chances. (Although, it's just as likely that he'll be confused by the criticism since last week, Randy Jackson's words were — and I quote — "If it ain't broke, don't even think about fixing it." That man makes millions of dollars a season, folks!)
Song: Muse's "Uprising"
Verdict: Apocalypse Howl
Rumor has it, two years ago the "Idol" wardrobe people pressured Adam Lambert to wear a jacket that he didn't like. He was so angry, he did everything he could to destroy it before they went live. He crumpled it up into a ball, he lined Scott McIntyre's toilet with it, he even shoved the epaulettes down the "Idol" mansion garbage disposal. Well, James Durbin recovered said jacket and proudly wore it on "Idol" Wednesday night.
From the drum corps entrance to the Freddie Mercury half-a-mic stand to the glorious Steadi-cam work, Durbin's performance was high energy rock-tainment. But vocally, it was like listening to an owl, a baby raccoon and a hyena losing a fight to Danny Gokey's "Scream On." The judges didn't point out that Durbin struggled to stay on pitch or that his high-pitched fail wail was so torturous it violated the Geneva Conventions, but how could the judges hear him with four giant drums banging behind them? Smart staging, Durbin!
My Girl Haley Reinhart
Song: Adele's "Rolling in the Deep"
I was sweating bullets when My Girl Haley Reinhart announced she'd be rocking Adele's flawless single "Rolling in the Deep." Her aloof rehearsal time with Jimmy Iovine intensified my anxiety. ("What do the lyrics mean, Haley?" "Durrrrrrrrr.") But my girl evidently did her homework because the emotions she rocked on live TV were epic and honest. By the time she unleashed her signature growl in the second verse, even one of the blond robot background singers smiled with approval. Causing inanimate objects to emote? Now that's a true test of an artist.
Don't get me wrong, even a slobbering fanboy like myself can't ignore that sharp honker-of-a-note in the chorus. But in a night surrounded by karaoke, Haley stepped up and proved that she can sound contemporary and (gasp!) commercial.
Tyler Perry Presents Jacob Lusk
Song: Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father"
Tyler Perry Presents Jacob Lusk is not having a good week. First, his brief prison stint was leaked to the press. Then, he picked a song that brought up a lot of pent emotions around his dead father and was forced to "bro bond" with Jimmy Iovine. Then, the "Idol" stylists told him they had exhausted their budget, so he'd have to wear the same shiny gray suit for the sixth time this season.
But a malfunctioning inner-ear monitor takes the cake when it comes to Things That Suck for Lusk. Two lines into the song, Jacob claims that he heard a random drum track in his ear, which caused him to mess up on live television. Scandal! But who are you going to trust? Jacob? Or that shifty-looking sound mixer wearing the "James Durbin Rocks" T-shirt?
Song: Maroon 5's "Harder to Breathe"
Verdict: Sealed With a Kiss
In a week tailor-made for the Idols to show off the kind of artist they'll actually be once the show's over, Casey told America that he no longer wants to educate America about jazz. Instead he educated us about sexual harassment in the workplace, ending his performance uncomfortably close to The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, eventually sneaking in a tiny kiss. Inappropriate!
Like James Durbin, Casey brought entertainment to living rooms, but it wasn't from his hot mess vocals. (You know you're in trouble when the highlight of your rock song is the scat solo.) But between the kiss and the awkward way he taunted the crowd with high fives that never came, Casey's expletive-inspiring gonzo appearance was almost, just almost, performance art. Should we call it ... performance fart?
Song: Ne-Yo's "Closer"
Verdict: Did Somebody Order a Pizza?
We interrupt "American Idol" to bring you video footage from J. Lo's bachelorette party!
Oh wait, that horny dude with falling suspenders grinding his hips is Stefano?! Yikes. If his cheesy "Closer" was any indication, a night of passion with Stefano Langone includes a lot of hooting and hollering, an uncomfortable amount of intense eye contact and a pair of creepy blond teenagers who will refuse to leave the room. (Seriously, I thought we were done with the Children of the Corn background singers!)
Reportedly, Lee Ann Womack tuned into "Idol" Wednesday, and Stefano inspired her to release a new version of her signature tune. Keep a lookout for "I Hope You DON'T Dance," hitting radio later this month.
Song: Sara Evans' "Born to Fly"
What did you think of Wednesday night's show? Did anyone get you excited for their post-"Idol" musical output? (Be honest, fans!) Will Lauren Alaina ever shake her fear of failure and live up to her insanely high potential? (With a voice like hers, she should be the front-runner, damnit!)
Did Haley's retro polka-dot dress and Veronica Lake hairdo represent the first time a female "Idol" contestant got the stylists to work with them, not against them? Do you think Casey would have kissed Kara DioGuardi?
Leave a comment below! And for more "Idol" insanity, follow me on Twitter @jambajim.