American Idol: is anyone really safe?

One thing we’ve learned this season on “American Idol” is that regardless of public opinion, the talent pool is so deep that anyone can have a bad night and get kicked off. It happened a few weeks ago with Casey Abrams, but the judges used their one save of the season on him. Casey, of course, deserved it. But last week when Pia Toscano was voted off instead of Stefano Langone, the judges looked like they were in shock, as was much of America. But hey, she had a lukewarm night, something Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez even admitted after Pia performed, and she paid for it. Me? I had Pia in the Bottom 3 last week, but I still didn’t expect her to go home. Then again, she is a stand-there-and-belt-it, Celine Dion-type crooner; and we’re talking about a voting base that is largely young and more interested in their own–like Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina; and even a few weeks back when Thia Meghia hung on a few weeks too long. But hey, this isn’t an editorial, it’s a recap of last night…so here we go:

THE INCREDIBLE
I haven’t exactly tooted Jacob Lusk’s horn to the degree that some have, but man, was he awesome last night. Jacob took on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and as Mrs. Mike pointed out, Jacob was humbled by his Bottom 3 appearance last week. But last night, he put aside the quivering Gospel style, and just sang. And I’m not sure anyone left in this has the pipes Jacob has. There aren’t many who have ever been on this show that do. Steven said Jacob puts so much into his songs; J-Lo said he’s so gifted; and Randy said it was perfect and controlled. Yes, but it was even better than all that.

THE ALMOST INCREDIBLE
Stefano Langone may have been a handful of votes from being eliminated last week, but he probably heard all week how it should have been him and not Pia going home, and he set out to prove he belonged. And so Stefano sang Boyz To Men’s “End of the Road,” and it was maybe his best effort yet. Randy said Stefano just slayed it and that he’s in it to win it; Steven said Stefano proved he belonged; and J-Lo said Stefano has been soaking up all of the advice these last few weeks and that he now “gets it.”

Casey Abrams originally was going to do Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy,” then let mentors Will.I.Am and Jimmy Iovine talk him out of it, and he was then going to do Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” But he changed his mind back to “Nature Boy,” and if Jacob hit a grand slam, Casey his a 3-run homer. Dude played stand-up bass, and did a stellar version of the song. He then got a standing ovation. J-Lo said she hoped America “got it,” because that was special; Randy said he was so happy to see the true artistry of Casey shine through and that there was no one like him; and Steven said Casey was a true artist. Hells yeah.

James Durbin also stood up to Jimmy Iovine when he insisted on doing Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal.” Iovine, acting like a typical record exec, asked, “Where’s the hook?” Um, dude, he’s not the songwriter, just the singer. Thankfully James was right. He closed the night with a scorching performance that even featured Ozzie guitarist Zakk Wylde, who absolutely shredded. J-Lo said it felt “real;” Randy said it was like being at a James Durbin concert; and Steven said he’s glad James led with his feelings on the song choice.

THE VERY GOOD
Lauren Alaina did Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” and Jimmy correctly pointed out that he thought Lauren could sing it better. Bazinga! It was really good, but for some reason, I keep feeling (as does Mrs. Mike) that Lauren is holding back, and that she is capable of more. J-Lo said she just loved Lauren’s vocal but that she thought she could take it further; Randy said Lauren was starting to resemble the singer they all met in Nashville during the initial auditions; and Steven, who has been a fan since Day One, reminded everyone again that he thought Lauren was the first “Idol” they had found. Hopefully she’ll continue to show that and then some.

THE PRETTY GOOD
Paul McDonald kicked things off with Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll,” (oh yeah, forgot to mention it’s songs from movies night!). It was okay, and Paul has plenty of charisma to carry him a bit. But not only did he go first, but it was kind of schmaltzy. Maybe that’s because I can’t stand this song, but I don’t think so. Anyway, Steven loves Paul’s wild abandon and crazy flower suits; J-Lo said Paul just killed it (really?); and Randy said he felt like Paul was giving a concert and that he loves Paul’s artistry.

THE MEDIOCRE
Scotty McCreery initially planned on Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” and I was excited about that, but then he went and changed his mind (common theme?) to George Strait’s “It Crossed My Heart.” Blah. Jimmy wanted Scotty do to his first choice, too, and I think Scotty blew it. Of course, everyone loves the kid so he’s probably safe, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Bottom 3. And that song, well, it didn’t do Scotty any favors.

Haley Reinhart did Blondie’s “Call Me” and while she had a great week last Wednesday, last night Haley exposed herself as a fraud and cover band singer (just like her mom). The performance had its moments, but was mostly karaoke. Randy even said it had a karaoke start, and that the song didn’t showcase what Haley can do; Steven agreed but loves how Haley belts out the choruses; and J-Lo said she agreed with Randy, but that she was afraid of saying anything bad for fear it would send Haley home. Clearly, she was referring to last week, when lukewarm comments from her and Randy had a hand in sending Pia packing.

So for my Bottom 3, I’m going with Paul, Scotty and Haley, and I think Haley goes home. Or Paul. But not Scotty or any of the other five. What do you think? Either way we’ll see you back here tomorrow with the results….

  

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