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American Idol Now & Then episode

Carpenters 
American Idol
borrows the title of an old Carpenters LP for tonight's theme: Now and Then. Apparently, the remaining Fabulous Five have to sing a song from the '60s (then) and today (now). Why go all the way back to the 60s for kids who were mostly born in the 90s? Wouldn't 80s, or even 90s, be "then" enough?

Idol5 Photo: Fox
Now that it's done we find that Jacob Lusk did everything he could to get eliminated Thursday, James Durbin tumbled from front runner status to just above Jacob and Haley Reinhart becomes a contender. Idol also revealed that it is no advertisement for contemporary songwriting, because, one and all, the new songs performed during the first 45 minutes were all tuneless, forgettable nonentities, including an unreleased Lady Gaga song Haley introduced. So far, Gaga is three for three in crummy new stillborn songs from her forthcoming Born This Way album. Time for a backlash?

Scotty McCreery, however, proves the most consistent of the night. Scotty performed the newer Montgomery Gentry tune, Gone, well. It's a formulaic country banality but he, more than anyone, knows exactly who he is and what he's selling as an artist and he was on his game in terms of vocal and performance. His oldie, Always on My Mind, is tired from overexposure but, similarly, he sang it quite well. His rendition will never approach Willie Nelson's definitive 1982 Top 5 pop hit version but it'll do.

Lauren Alaina was also consistent with her overproduced, plastic new tune (Carrie Underwood) and oldie (Righteous Bros.) but that Idol Moment still eludes her. Unchained Melody had some nice moments here and there, she looked great, if retro Mandrell sisters (to quote my pal Lesley), but it wasn't worth a download.

James proved he has the rock star moves and worked the stage quite well for his cover of the generic, hookless and dull 30 Seconds to Mars rocker but his vocal lacked finesse. The only thing that wasn't flat about that performance was his hair which looked like a cabana post hurricane. James overplayed his hand on a weepy cover of the similarly overexposed Without You by crying during rehearsals and barely getting through the live rendition. This overreaction display of vulnerability and tears could net him some votes from the sympathetic but, for the first time during the live shows, I didn't buy him. None of it felt genuine and little of it was listenable.

Jacob was worse. The key was set so high on his No Air rendition there was no air for his vocals to land in tune. Hysterical and painful. The judges made too much of the point that singing both parts of a duet is foolhardy. No Air is not that complex a song and there wasn't much of a difference between Jordin Sparks' and Chris Brown's parts of the original song. Singing both parts was hardly a feat. Diana DeGarmo sang the Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer parts of No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) in the third season and did so masterfully. The Streisand/Summer tune is far more complicated than the bland No Air. Jacob wasn't any better on Nazareth's mid 70s rock ballad Love Hurts. When he sings in his lower register there is some warmth and resonance in his voice. But, once again, he flew into the stratosphere and when Jacob goes high he gets so far offkey not even a locksmith could help him.

Haley was the wild card winner of the night. She earned knocks from the judges for introducing an unreleased Gaga tune, You and I, but I don't think it was a bad artistic move to introduce, to the TV masses, a new song from a currently red hot pop star. Daring move and fresh. The problem is the Gaga song is mediocre, a point that didn't go unnoticed by judge Randy Jackson, and Haley oversold it vocally. But she handily won the oldies portion of the night by tackling the Animals' classic song about a New Orleans whorehouse, House of the Rising Sun, and did some wonderful things once inside it. The best part was her a capella opening, a dramatic and perfect hook. She might have pushed the verses a bit too far into the red but she still comes off with a win for the night's most passionate, committed performance. Haley's known the bottom three but she should avoid the danger zone tomorrow night.

Best of night: Scotty, Haley.

Worst of night: Jacob, James.

Eliminated prediction: Jacob. His time came weeks ago and all the screaming in the world shouldn't save him now.

Look for Twitter commentary and a review here later.

 

Comments

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MrEvans

Hey now!!!

Lesley

Anthony Hopkins and Kelly Preston in the audience...random

MrEvans

I can't believe Jacob Husk is left and Casey is gone.

MrEvans

My girl Sheryl! Love her...

Lesley

Sloth Vader singing Jared Leto. Interesting

MrEvans

What's the best word to describe Sloth's haircut that won't get censored?

Lesley

It sounds off on my tv, but do I hear a little Bon Jovi here?

MrEvans

Douchie?

MrsEvans

Still think he's a wannabe poser DB....howdy ya'all!

MrEvans

"And if I don't win, it's because America is not READY for me to be their idol!"

MrsEvans

Because nothing says "vote for me America" like singing a song by a guy who is infamous for beating a well loved pop star.

Lesley

I can't believe this Sister Act is here in lieu of Casey

MrsEvans

Oops! Somebody forgot to tell him he is supposed to sing the song in tune.

MrEvans

Don't beat your girlfriend...

Lesley

Let's revisit Sloth's haircut, shall we?

MrEvans

It looked like a palm frond after a hurricane...

MrsEvans

We all can't have MrE hair!

MrEvans

She was great!

MrsEvans

Me likey Lauren.

MrEvans

Off on a tangent here... who the 'f' decided Kate Hudson should keep getting roles? Since "Almost Famous" I haven't liked anything she's done. Blecch!

Lesley

I like Lauren too. And can neither stand Kate Hudson nor comprehend her appeal.

MrsEvans

I am growing very tired of Scotty. He has become so arrogant.

MrEvans

I think Scotty has an inner ear disorder - that's why he's always tilting his head.

Lesley

I like Scotty

Lesley

He is like a little Howdy Doody doll

MrsEvans

tee hee...Lesley said "doody".

Lesley

She dresses way too tarty for her age, this one. And I can't stand Lady Gaga but that song was v. good if not a little screamy

Lesley

Doody will be my childrens' first word, I can almost guarantee it.

MrsEvans

I liked it. It sounded so different from lady gaga which is a good thing!

MrsEvans

Ha! gross

MrEvans

That scene in Caddyshack still gets me...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th_aBzrV37M

Lesley

One of my all time favorite doody references ever.

MrsEvans

wahhhhhhh...crybaby...still hate him.

Lesley

OMG, I forgot Sloth was a daddy!

MrEvans

Time to call the wahhhhmbulance.

MrsEvans

this actually sounds nice...let's see if he ruins it with a scream.

MrsEvans

Man up dude!

Lesley

ahhaahahah waahhhmbulance! i prefer mariah's version...speaking of..did you hear what she named her twins? Monroe for the girl, Moroccan for the boy after the room in which Nick Cannon proposed to her in her apartment...and he said they weren't using weird names like Carburetor, which may have been a better choice.

MrsEvans

We were JUST talking about those baby names. Suddenly, your suggestion for us Lesley doesn't seem so bad to MrE!

MrEvans

Nazareth? Really?

Lesley

Constantina!!!!!!!!

Lesley

Nazareth, Jesus.

MrsEvans

Love it Lesley! :)

MrEvans

OMG! He just did the Randy Watson foot stomp!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHRERLEM2eE

MrsEvans

I thought the Aerosmith song was her parents song.

MrEvans

Nice!

Lesley

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lesley

i like Lauren but that bored me. She is channeling, stylewise, the Mandrell sisters..

MrsEvans

I loved it!!!

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