Are healed and open their eyes to put on a hellava show; but first…
There is no declared theme this week so the subtext ‘sing for your life’ comes into play. The contestants must also survive the judges, add voters to their base and hope the nation’s electrical supply and cell towers remain operational. Each of them will enter the arena armed with three songs; one chosen for them by the judging panel, another by mentor, Jimmy Iovine, and a personal choice for the third. Best of luck to all three as their challenging night begins.
After a montage of cheering crowds welcoming them back to their hometowns last Saturday, the camera sweeps the audience to focus on a man dressed in a dawg costume. That is weird and never explained, but later they also pick out Priscilla Presley and Neil Sedaka, which makes more sense.
The theme music plays as everyone makes their grand entrance; the Final Three are introduced and Ryan sets the presentation parameters. He also brings up last week’s eliminated contestant, who got his own form of a cheering crowd homecoming.
Ryan: Everyone is still buzzing about the shocking elimination last week of James Durbin – right? (Crickets could be heard in the audience non response to his question. It seems like the lingering hype and the expense paid by the producing company to film this return home were for nothing.)
For this round, the many career slash/marked Beyonce will advise each on their style and how to produce a performance. Later in the show she will show off a portion of the post-apocalyptic video for her new single, “Run the World, Girls”.
She loves Scotty and thinks he’s cute, so sends him into the arena armed with nothing but his song, “Amazed” by Lonestar. Oh, she does tell him she likes Lonestar. Dressed in his usual country casual, he leans against the piano before pushing away to build the song to a strong climax. For more country flavor, the steel guitar makes its first appearance of the night so that not only is there country modulation in his voice, but also a country twang in the instrumentation.
Beyonce enjoys Lauren when she sings something fun because it loosens her up. Her advice regarding shedding shyness and nerves when facing huge crowds is to create a performance character. Lauren brings a sassy character to the stage to perform, “Wild One” by Faith Hill. She also uses previous advice about standing in place to sing, to bring the audience to her, and she lets the flirty sass come through her voice, not movement.
Beyonce thinks Haley’s song choice of “What is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zepplin shows her guts, her ‘bleep’, her strength and her fearlessness. Haley has conviction and makes one believe, which is a huge part of being a superstar. Haley takes that conviction to the stage where she is joined by her dad, who wails on the electric guitar. She proves she can go beyond bluesy café singer to rock goddess if she so chooses.
Judging Comments – Steven thinks Scotty was angry when heading for the high notes, but Scotty says he was channeling a Casey growl. Randy found a couple of pitchy spots and JLo says he found his vibrato. For Lauren, her cheerleader Steven says that she sang the song like she owned it. Randy thinks it was a nice choice. No bus tires for Haley. Steven and Randy give her a standing ovation. Steven says it was superb and JLo comments that it was a good round for her.
Side-Bar – Scotty almost started crying during his song, but wanted to stay away from the waterworks. Lauren wore Frangipani flower oversized earrings. As of her consultation with Beyonce, Haley still waited for permission for her father to join her onstage. She wore stiletto heels rather than the platforms she had planned to wear and catching a heel was the reason she tripped up the stairs from the platform to the stage. As they head to commercial Scotty is spotted seated next to Priscilla Presley in the audience. How I would have loved to hear his reaction when introduced to the widow of his childhood idol.
Jimmy Iovine thrills Scotty when he tells him he will be singing “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” by Thompson Square. Scotty runs off to rehearse. Guitar firmly in place, he stands at the mic and delivers some sass of his own. Once again the steel guitar player shares the stage as Scotty shows up with some growls and a subtle performance with a rousing chorus guaranteed to bring smiles.
Jimmy says that “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry fits exactly where Lauren was meant to be. She comments that the words are sad, but the way it is sung is kind of uplifting. In a black and white dress, her legs all a-shimmer, she looks to the band to start then brings an optimistic tone to the song about dying young. For some odd reason, she decides to sit on the platform steps for the last few words and that affects her pitch.
Jimmy tells Haley that from the moment he met her, he felt she should sing a Stevie Nicks' song and chooses “Rhianna” by Fleetwood Mac. The tricky part of what she calls an abstract song is the fast pace. The wind machine blows her dress and hair around as the fog machine spews the white stuff across the stage. She stands, backlit, in front of the judging panel and holds position to take the song to a beautiful, haunting place with her vocal.
Judging Comments – A laughing Steven tells Scotty that he delivered, while JLo wants him to shave his head, and Randy makes Ryan say the ad-nauseum line. JLo loves Lauren’s beautiful tone while Ryan found a few pitch problems, but applauded her recovery. Her cheerleader, Steven, thinks she nailed it, again. Randy thinks Haley did a good job. Steven says that she reminded him of why he fell in love with Stevie Nicks, but JLo, while saying it was a beautiful, ethereal moment thought she would take the ending more into a Haley wail.
Side-Bar – Before the mentor session, they play each contestant’s audition package. In Scotty’s, Steven’s now famous bleeped line (see forum quote) is highlighted and Scotty says that is all he heard for about a month after it aired. Jimmy Iovine is spotted seated in the audience next to Neil Sedaka for this portion of the show. After her comments, Randy thinks JLo wants to kiss Scotty, but she rants about being married. Lauren’s package shows her bringing in her family into the audition room and singing one of Steven’s songs encouraging him to chime in with a word here and there. Waiting to go onstage, Lauren rips a stocking and the makeup artist smoothed down her bare legs with a glimmer cream. In her audition package, Haley admits to auditioning the previous season, but didn’t make it through because she needed to learn more control of her runs.
They choose “She Believes in Me” by Kenny Rogers for Scotty. It starts off as a soft ballad that he begins on a stool next to the piano; but then opens it up into a power ballad as he moves to the front stage. The second chorus shows more ‘power’ than the first, but his connection to the words remains strong throughout.
With the steel guitar and the floppy-haired hunk of a violinist backing her, Lauren takes the stage to sing “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Floating in the fog wearing a long blue gown, she sings it with lovely styling in a lovely voice.
Haley digs that the judges choose “You Ought to Know” by Alanis Morrisette for her to sing. She catches the fast rhythms almost rap style to get through the phrasing; but there is a sweet spot where she uses modulation to take the loud chorus back to a soft verse; just lovely.
Judging Comments – Steven says that the first time hearing Scotty sing a big chorus put it over the top for him. JLo admits they chose the song to see if he could stretch into power mode, and Randy appreciates the way it was sweet in the front then nicely done when he hit the chorus. JLo got goosebumps when Lauren sang. Randy tells her she is in the zone and Steven thinks she walked out on stage like she owned the Grand Old Opry. Randy loved watching Haley rock the chorus in a soulful way. Steven thought it was amazing and JLo declares that nobody can match her on the choruses.
Side-Bar – As in previous seasons, the Idol hopefuls receive the judges’ choice in a text message delivered on their new AT&T phones while on their hometown visit. This time, however, the full panel selected the songs for each contestant. Scotty’s dad, Mike, is chided by Ryan into singing the first phrase of “Lock them Doors.” Both Scotty and I wonder if he is in it to win it.
Randy has slung that phrase around all night, even enlisting Ryan to be his stooge, but the question remains…who do the voters want to win American Idol season 10? MsFroggy will recap all the breath holding action of the Results Show as this extravaganza finally becomes a finale next week.