Thursday, March 24, 2011

American Idol: Motoring Over to Motown

Eleven rhymes with heaven! And
although I wouldn't describe Motown
night as positively heavenly, it wasn't
hellacious either.
 The Top 11 take on Motown. So here's what I thought would happen. With the Motown songbook as deep and varied as it is, I though there'd be somthing for James Durbin to rock up, Jacob Lusk to gospelize and a ballad slow enough for Thia Megia to bore us to tears. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

Casey Abrams: I’m not a fan and I’ve said so repeatedly. However,  I give credit where credit is due. He did a good job on Heard It Through The Grapevine. I didn’t think it was stellar and out-of-this world like the judges did, but it was one of his better performances. (He still scares me though).

Thia Megia: She surprised me. She didn’t do a ballad and although the pink frilly skirt left a lot to be desired (and those stilettos were a bit too high for our high school heroine), at least she was trying to be youthful and loosen up a little. Her Heatwave was solid. I think she’ll be safe this week.

Jacob Lusk: You just knew he’d excel in Motown week. His version of You’re All I Need to Get By was very good. He dialed back the histrionics and sang the song. He’s got a beautiful voice when he’s not going over-the-top and he showcased some of that here. A few of his facial expressions were priceless. Every time I see him, I think of that line from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen.’ I think Jacob will make it into the top 10. All the hugs at the end of his performance though … it was a bit much … especially when they stopped the love train before the lone guy in the line could get his hug on.

Lauren Alaina: I loved her hair straight and the long dress she wore made her actually look almost elegant (except for the fact that it was too long and I was afraid she’d trip over it). Her version of You Keep Me Hanging On had her characteristic spunk. I like her.

Stefano Langone: Several seasons ago, Idol winner David Cook did a rock version of Hello and killed it. Any attempt at the song is going to draw comparisons and Stefano’s version just didn’t measure up. I agree with the judges that the boy has the chops but he doesn’t connect with the lyrics. Singing is best when it makes the connection between the singer and the song and subsequently the singer and the audience. Stefano was disconnected. I don’t think he’s in danger of being in the bottom three though.

Haley Reinhart: I don’t know who’s putting all these girls in high heels but Haley was descending that stair case as if every step held the risk of falling flat on her face. She didn’t fall flat but her version of You Really Got a Hold of Me was flat as a pancake. Bottom Three.

Scotty McCreery: He took Motown down to Nashville in his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Once in my Life. With his low register, I was wondering what Motown classic he could find but Once in my Life is one of those songs open to a variety of interpretations and his was a pleasant surprise.

Pia Toscano: She did another Stevie tune “All in Love is Fair.” Yet ANOTHER ballad! Yes, she can sing. Yes, she can look glamorous. But at this point, she needs to do something else. I was bored and so were the judges.

Paul McDonald: Of all of the contestants, I was worried about Paul’s song selection, even more so than Scotty’s. I was talking to my friend T (she and I do an Idol play-by-play during the commercial breaks) and I said the only thing I could imagine him singing was a Smokey Robinson song. Wisely, he chose Tracks of My Tears. It was a good choice and fit his voice. Another wise choice was to sing with his guitar which kept his odd, rambling drunk-looking dance moves to a minimum. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

Naima Adedapo: Her version of Dancing in the Streets included a whole section of actual dancing! Towards the end of her passable but not memorable version of the song, she broke out in a big African dance. She danced well but I don’t know if that will help or hurt her in the votes. Could be bottom three.

Last night’s closer was resident rocker James Durbin. Chose another Stevie Wonder classic, Livin for the City. It opened weak but when he got into his zone, he nailed it. He even threw in a few dance moves (not an all out Naima dance but still, the boy has got some moves). A good way to close the show.

Overall, Motown was good for the Idol wannabes.

Bottom 3

Going home … Hayley

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