The kids were singing songs from the 21st century tonight, which at first, again, seemed irritatingly broad, until I thought back to how this show used to be and how Beatles songs at one time seemed rather cutting-edge, so I won’t complain.
The episode must have been an odd length because the show didn’t actually open with the contestants but the show’s rejects singing Pink’s “So What.” I don’t think that Steven was correct when, afterward, he shouted,” You just made everyone rethink their decision!” The performance was messy: Pia seemed like she was trying to outsing everyone else, and Paul appeared embarrassed to be a part of it (when he wasn’t speak-singing). At least Naima, doing high-kicks, seemed to be having a good time.
It was the episode of the show where all the contestants talk shit about each other, so it was nice to hear that Scotty’s colleagues also think he looks stupid when he holds a microphone. Whenever Scotty talks about singing in a rock n’ roll style, what he’s saying is, he is going to do exactly what he always does, and tonight he did that with Leann Rimes’ “Swingin’.” I think Scotty got a deep condition treatment on his hair, which put a little extra pep in his step, but the performance didn’t work for me. The song is all sass and flirtation, neither of which works with Scotty’s personality. The singing was what we usually get from him, but somehow, the song just seemed off. Believe it or not, the judges weren’t in love with it either. Steven requested more stage presence, Jennifer wanted him to go past his comfort zone, and Randy accused Scotty of being boring, which got him lots of boos, even though he was right.
Unfortunately, the judges and I parted ways with the next performance. James sang “Uprising” by Muse to prove that he’s contemporary, although I don’t understand what was so contemporary about his performance, which was led in by marching drummers and accented by a getup that looked like something Adam Lambert gave away, along with what I think was a riding crop (although it times it looked like a golf club). The styling of the performance, along with James’ over-the-top vocals, just stunk of what Simon Cowell would call overindulgence (this is when I miss him on the show, because I don’t think any of the other judges would say that.) I found the whole thing unpleasant, basically, but Randy deemed it, without hearing the other five contestants, the best performance of the night. Steven accurately stated though that James’ outfit looked like “Mad Max meets Storm Troopers on Melrose” and that he’s going in a bit of T Rex direction, so Steven at this point was having a distinctly lucid evening. Also, it turns out that the other contestants think James’ scarves are as ridiculous as I do, so that was gratifying to hear.
So do Haley and Stefano actually hate each other or are they boning? I couldn’t tell from her video package. Haley took on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” I thought it was a good song for her voice, but I thought something about the performance lacked depth. During rehearsals, Jimmy advised Haley to find the anger in the song, but I just really couldn’t connect the song to Haley in her happy polka dot red dress. But she got to yodel and growl a lot, two of her favorite vocal activities. Jennifer thought the performance made us forget about Adele for a little bit, when I actually felt the opposite: that I wanted the Haley version to be over so I could hear the Adele version (for the first time) to hear how I imagined it’s supposed to be sung.
I am not made of stone, OK? I got a little bit emotional when Jacob sang “Dance With My Father.” Songs about children observing their parents’ love always get me (see: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”). And I liked that Jacob scaled the performance back and didn’t go full-diva. I was pulled out of my appreciative mode, though, by Jennifer congratulating Jacob on not crying during his performance, Ryan praising him for figuring out how to sing the song without his earpiece, and Randy begging him to sing the way I hate most, i.e. “go off the top.” Jacob must feel tugged in two directions when it comes to Jimmy and Randy’s advice, but I hope he always goes with Jimmy’s because I find Jacob insufferable when he goes all-out the way Randy wants him to.
Let’s address the next song strictly on its own merits before we get to the fun and games of it. Casey sang Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe,” which I thought was an interesting choice for him, going to straight rock after his various musical twists and turns. It was a good choice for him, since it’s got the kind of vocals that I think sound straightforward but are actually secretly hard to sing. Plus, all his stage anger actually made sense in the context of the song. I found myself getting a little bored, though, at the end, until Casey finished the song right up next to Jennifer’s head and kissed her on the temple at the last second. The audience erupted at this, although, not to be a poop, I doubt this was entirely spontaneous. I don’t think Jennifer Lopez is the kind of person who would be cool with someone else’s saliva on her face unless she gave it the OK. The judges all liked it, but Steven made the atmosphere even more circuslike by dropping a few f-bombs. Then Ryan greeted Casey wearing the fake beard the other contestants had worn in their “Make fun of Casey” package (which was pretty funny, James and Scotty’s bits especially), and for some reason, I found this incredibly endearing, especially when it sounded like Ryan was speaking in an old Amish man’s voice. Then Ryan alluded to the other version of the word “beard” and took it off, and the moment was over. Anyway, I think it was a fun performance from Casey, although not necessarily worthy of a “fuck.”
Stefano was one of those contestants whose package didn’t really help him. All the other singers just talked about what a try-hard flirt he is, and that was all I saw in his performance of “Closer” by Ne-Yo. The singing, as usual, was functional if high and thin, but all I saw were red suspenders and dogtag jewelry and white boy dancing. I just think he’s kind of a cheeseball: to be specific, one of those miniature balls of fresh mozzarella that comes in a container of milky water. No, not the chickpea-sized ones, the ones that are one size up from those. Yum.
I wish Jimmy Iovine was actually a judge on the panel because he actually knows what he’s talking about when he advises the contestants (not that I doubted Jimmy personally; it’s just that a lot of hot air tends to come out of the mouths of all the advisers on the show). He challenged Lauren to get out of her own head, which has been her problem throughout the show. I think if she had Pia’s confidence, she would be at the forefront of the competition, but she holds back. I have a theory that Lauren sings better when she’s wearing cowboy boots because she’s not focused on not-falling-down. Tonight in her boots, she sang “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans in her boots and seemed a little bit more herself than last week, although I’m a little worried in her ability to reach her potential in time.
So who goes home tomorrow night? It's honestly hard to predict at this point. I'll say… Haley?
- Aside from the swearing, Steven actually had some critique for a lot of the contestants tonight. He also once again referenced James’ mental health. Does he do this on purpose or not?
- Someone please inform Jacob of the non-Alanis Morrissette definition of the word “ironic.”
- I thought it was funny that Ryan wouldn’t say what show Mark Ballas was from. In other news, I think it’s so badass that Mary Murphy actually dances in the commercials for So You Think You Can Dance, even though I hate her screaming.