4/20 AI 10 Recap: Over-cooked Ribs and Soft Lips
After the usual effusive introductions, those who are not in the Top 7, but will go on tour, have been invited back to show some in your face attitude with a group sing to Pink’s “So What.” The last two not continuing to compete are featured with a gratuitous audience shot of one’s new boyfriend to finish off the “Nah, Nah – I want to start a fight!” While the six did try, not successfully, to show attitude along with singing skills, this was a lame attempt at filler for the 90 minute show. (I refuse to name names because I don’t want to add to the pimping of a certain singer in this recap. For the low down, read the show thread.)
Ryan: Our theme is music of the 21st century, so any song from any genre is game as long as it was recorded post-millennium.
Scotty McCreary: “Swingin" John Anderson (Jerry Salley) (the LeAnn Rimes version)
It’s time to make fun of Scotty and his microphone. The gang teases him about holding the microphone like a flute and singing out the side of his mouth, but he thinks it adds character. Scotty – take note.
He also needs to take notes from Jimmy who warns that the audience may get complacent unless he brings in more showmanship. Though the Pussy Cat Dolls on swings was jokingly mentioned, fortunately they didn’t go there.
He did go with a small band onstage along with a couple of back up singers, but he wears his usual tan jacket, t-shirt and jeans. On the second verse he uses his low range and maybe that will help with the votes from the Grandmas. Scotty- - you don’t want to bore the Grandmas.
His guys from home are there to support him, but are the judges?
Steven: Scotty, I love you, I love your voice, and I love LeAnn Rimes. I guess that was your equivalent of a Rolling Stones tune. (ouch!) I would love it if you would have boot scooted just a little bit more and sashayed around a little bit like you did from your last girlfriend. But, I liked it, Scotty, it is good.
JLo: I love the storytelling quality you have, but I’m just not sure that, at this point in the competition…it’s time to pull out the big guns. I agree with Jimmy that you need to push past your comfort zone. We were expecting more from Scotty.
Randy: Jennifer is absolutely correct. At this point in the competition, it is who is really in it to win it. With the time left, you’ve got to bring it really hard. For me that was so safe; it was actually kind of boring for me from you. I mean I love you, but she’s right, there could have been a better song for you to sing.
Scotty says he understands what they’re saying. (We’ll see.)
James Durbin: “Uprising” Muse
Time to face the music of your peers, James; well, it’s not music so much as the James scream that they all try out. Casey, “What’s up with the scarf, James Durbin? Stop It!” A montage follows of everyone playing with feather boas and scarves recreating the scarf tail.
With this song, James gets to show that he can be contemporary. His vision for the staging is a post-apocalyptic protest, but Jimmy worries about how it will record.
And, whoa Nelly, what a vision. Toy soldier drummers march him in from an audience tunnel and continue the beat playing behind the judging platform before moving to the stage. James wears the harsh black outfit a general might wear in his new world, and he carries a cane as a big stick. He uses an octave climb and switch for the last verse to bring this forceful protest song home. No screams, no screech and no tail, he had me marching to the beat of his drum.
JLo: Wow. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that that, theatrically, is going to be the best performance of the night; and you’re only number two. That was really amazing. I think that is the highest we have ever heard you sing. That was amazing.
Randy: Yo, listen man, Muse is one of my favorite bands and that song, “Uprising” is amazing. I hope you follow this direction when you make a record. It throws you off you metal thing into there, but it makes you a whole different kind of an artist. Dude, you were unbelievable up there…I heard tell Matt Bellamy, the lead singer from Muse, sent you an email that said, “If you sing the last chorus up an octave, I’m going to challenge you.” And Matt, he did it. He slayed it!
Steven: You stay out of my closet, now. Mad Max meets Storm Troopers on Melrose, right? You would be surprised how expensive it is to look this cheap. That was crazy good, man. You took it up again. You know it sounds like you’re going in a T-Rex direction and I love that about you. I just love that you are out of your mind…beautifully so.
Ryan loves to play with the soldier drummers and Steven shows off the very noticeable red smackaroo on his cheek planted by his daughter, Mia.
Haley Reinhart: “Rolling in the Deep” Adele
For her poke in the ribs, her peers take on her arm flailing and whip out some growls; then a personality contrast with Jacob calling her a sweetie-pie and Stefano calling her a brat. It turns out that Stefano and Haley have a love/hate relationship tilting toward hate, so maybe he is biased.
Haley has initial problems relating to the song until Jimmy makes her read the words, and she comes up with rejection. Now if she can bring that emotional attitude rather than her smiling face to the stage, she might have a performance moment.
She sits on a stool on the judges’ platform facing the audience and doesn’t move onstage until her critique. Her smile stays in the dressing room and with the judges squished to the sides to give her space, she gives it her all including growls and a run at the finish.
Randy: What I’m looking for now is not only who is going to win…what direction are you going to go in as an artist…what kind of record are you going to make, because all of these fans will, hopefully, continue with you afterward. I think that you chose a perfect direction for you. I think you have that amazing thing in you as a singer that Adele has…so I’m really happy that you chose it. It went a little sharp in the falsetto and chorus, but I thought it was a great performance.
Steven: You know what I’m gonna say…I thought it was a great performance as well. A little slow at start, you brought it up in the middle and do what you do the best.
JLo: It takes a lot of guts to take on a record that everyone knows so well, and you have to sing it just as good, if not better; and there were moments where you did – where you actually brought Haley to it and we forgot about Adele. I thought you really shined in those Haley moments.
Jacob Lusk: “Dance with My Father” Luther Vandross and Richard Marx
“Don’t go there, do not do it.” Too late…as Scotty is first to say the word, Diva; though a cool diva. They also make fun of the way he does the ya-yas in a song, but, that doesn’t keep Jacob from thinking he is funny and silly.
Happy Birthday, Luther Vandross. Jacob picked this emotional song because his father passed away and it speaks to him. Jimmy thinks this is a good choice for him as it will allow him to really express himself onstage.
Wearing a very shiny gray suit and surrounded by strings, he sits on a white stool and appears to lose his way before he completes the first line. It turns out that his earpiece only allowed the drums to come through and he couldn’t hear the track. Once he ditched the hearing aide, he was able to tell this very emotional story with restrained power (almost a sad quality) that he lets loose in the middle and brings down at the end.
Steven: Luther Lusk. Baby, you are so good. You remind me all the time of why I love music, man. You came out and I heard you lose the track; you had a little stumble, but you pulled it through and your daddy was up there listening to you. It was a beautiful thing.
JLo: It’s hard to perform when a song means that much to you. That’s one of the tricks of being a performer – you have to learn the control. Emotionally, it was a beautiful performance.
Randy: I gotta agree with Steven and Jennifer. Emotionally, it was a great performance; but, just to help you, because critique helps every, one, right…vocally it was good, but it didn’t make me jump up and down and I keep waiting every week now. I need the return of the old Jacob. I need to see you go through the roof, from off the top like James did. Don’t hold back anymore because it’s like someone’s taken a racehorse and put on the restraints. Dude, if you’re here next week, go for it, man – don’t hold back. I need the Church Kid back!
Ah, so…maybe you thought James stole the show with his production, but watch out for Casey…you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Casey Abrams: “Harder to Breathe” Maroon 5
It’s all about the beard. Scotty: Casey Abrams is unusual. Jacob: He’s a little weird. Lauren: He’s so talented he doesn’t even realize it. The harmonium is passed around between the bearded contestants then Scotty takes on Casey’s intense mannerisms and gets chased around the park by an un-amused Casey.
Jimmy thinks the song is a good choice for Casey because he sings it like crazy.
Sporting a guitar, he goes with his intensity against a red background. He rocks it out and moves along the edge of the stage grazing audience fingertips. (He is the first contestant to do so this season, but not the last.) He scats his way back into a verse then slings his guitar behind his back and confidently approaches the judging table to sing right in Jennifer’s face. She turns her face either to avoid his breath or because production warned her about what was to come. For a finishing flourish, Casey leans forward and kisses Jennifer’s cheek.
Pandemonium erupts with a blushing, laughing Jennifer and taunting co-judges.
JLo: See now, Casey’s not playing fair. Casey’s got soft lips.
Steven: You did what I’ve been trying to do for four months.
JLo: Oh my god, I loved it…the performance, the performance. You brought all your Casey-isms to it. You took a pop rock song all the way to rock. It was really great. Good job.
Randy: What I love about Casey is always it’s about surprise, surprise, surprise. I was worried when I heard you were going to do a Maroon5 song, but, dude, I enjoyed it. Continue to take chances. It’s almost like you’re an Indie/Jazz/Rock guy. You fit all of those genres; amazing job, dude.
Steven: You already are a cult hero. I mean there’s millions of people in America who are really angry because you pissed them off f****** good. You changed so many people’s minds because you’re so good and you’re that kind of an artist.
Randy: (standing to face Steven) Steven, it’s because he’s just so f******* good.
Ryan enters the fray wearing the fake Casey beard: Whoa! The wheels have fallen off this program.
Upon returning from commercial, we discover that Steven has had his mouth taped shut; loosely, of course.
Stefano Langone: “Closer” Ne-Yo
It’s Stefano’s turn for the group ribbing. It is revealed that he is a huge flirt. According to Jacob, he will flirt with a piece of paper if it has estrogen on it.
Jimmy tells Stefano that this song is not about whining and begging (Stefano’s usual closed stance) it is about sex, which comes with a certain confidence.
Jimmy: He can do this thing, but he is always stalking the stage, pleading.
Eyes wide open, Stefano stands center stage for the first verse, moving a leg in rhythm. The chorus takes him to the edge of the stage, grazing audience fingers. After a stop on the platform, he moves onstage for judgment. I must admit he was more open and not in a begging way.
Randy: Wow, Stefano – what’s going down, man? I thought it was going to be a little kind of jerky, bad karaoke, but you know what, dude, you turned me around. You smoothed it out. You took your time singing the verses. I was really proud of you.
Steven: No one can say you weren’t all up in it with the dancing you did. Good job.
JLo: Speaking for the girls in the audience, I thought it was very, very good. You really had your swag going on. I really liked it. You owned the song, it was like a performance. Good job.
Lauren Alaina: “Born to Fly” Sara Evans, Marcus Hummon, and Darrell Scott
Yakkety-Yak…apparently, Lauren talks a lot; a lot about nothing. They make fun of her accent, but mostly about her incessant talking, talking, talking.
Because Lauren had trouble last week believing she was as good as Miley Cyrus, Jimmy brings in Miley Cyrus’ producers, Rock Mafia to give her a boost of confidence. He tells her to forget everything…all we need is these three minutes.
Jimmy: If she gets over that crazy (lack of confidence) hurdle and risks it, she could win this whole thing; she’s that magical a singer.
A deliciously flop-haired fiddler opens her set and she uses her boots to stomp the stage. Her voice is strong throughout except for one weak falsetto run toward the end, but the camera was mostly focused on the hunky fiddler, so maybe she was diminished…not by her lack of confidence, but by production.
Steven: I heard you say in the trailer that you don’t know what you are doing, sometimes; but, anyone who doesn’t know they can fail is bound to win. You are that person. You are so good naturally and you have such a great swagger. I would love to hear you sing some Alison Kraus, a little Faith Hill and a little Shania Twain…something like that next time for me. (Lauren: Okay.)
JLo: You do have such a special voice. It’s not everybody who has so much color in their voice. These beautiful little things come out in the middle of notes; just so much character, it really, really is beautiful. You can sing the big notes – you can do that. Try it at home – let it out.
Randy: Yo! My friend, Ms. Lopez, is right on. When we first saw you, you were singing back and forth with Steven. You can sing anything. We said that you don’t know how good you are. You can do anything; you can grow by leaps and bounds.
Whew! Quite an entertaining night and not only for the singing performances, but for everything that happened around the edges. For the hoopla that is Results Night, read MsFroggy’s Recap and find out which of these crazy kids had to leave.