I was going to write up my "Idol" performance comments and post them at the end of a results post later tonight. Then the performance notes went longer than I expected. So, after the jump, you can find them, and I will make a separate post on the results later.
On to the jump.
The judges once again declined -- with one brief exception -- to be critical of the contestants, perpetuating the situation in which a Pia gets sent home before a Paul or Haley -- because the show is drawing no distinctions between vocalists. Stefano was due at least one "pitchy" on his performance and did not get it. So there will probably be another voter surprise along the way, and the judges will look shocked, but it will all be just part of making a dramatic show, which is helped by the judges not being honest. But, in the long term, this is damaging to the performers. Scotty is becoming this year's Kris Allen -- bland, unthreatening, pleasant but less and less interesting as a singer. And while he at least will have a future because country is a welcoming genre, someone like Stefano being told he's great is a disastrous decision; audiences could not have missed his big notes being hidden/protected by backup singers.
The individual performances:
Paul, leading off, does "Old Time Rock and Roll," a song he is not remotely suited for. I hate this guy and wish Simon was around to explain to the audience and the other judges everything that is wrong with him.
Lauren, "Climb." Well chosen, and she does have a more interesting voice than Miley. But a very safe performance all in all. I'd keep her around, but only because there are much worse singers still on the show. (See above.)
Stefano. "End of the Road." Love a lot of Boyz II Men, and like this song, but Stefano did nothing with it. Nothing nothing nothing. He's a bore. Move him on.
Scotty. Jimmy, who has less and less influence on the show, wanted him to do "Everybody's Talkin'," which would have been an interesting choice and a little different for him. Instead, he goes with George Strait's "I Cross My Heart," very much more comfortable for him -- and boring as a result, because he's so comfortable that he doesn't try very hard. I know there's all this talk that the final will be Scotty & Lauren but, based on their performances tonight, that will also be a giant snoozefest. Not that the judges are saying anything about it.
Casey. Another song-choice debate. Jimmy wants "In the Air Tonight." Scotty goes with "Nature Boy." I like that that's a little different choice, but I don't like what he does with it -- snarly, weird faces, odd note at the end, and awkward in toto. In the context of "Idol," this looks daring and inventive. I dare you to listen to it with your eyes closed and still believe it's good.
Casey's appearance also allows the judges to offer up two huge lies: from Jennifer, that this show is not about being a pop star (since she must have forgotten that its British predecessor is called "Pop Idol") and Randy claiming the show is educational, music-wise. Considering how often it drags out the same tired songs, not even close. And Casey wasn't all that good. I strongly recommend you seek Nat King Cole.
Haley. Jimmy talking about how she's coming on strong. Agh. And she's one of only two women left. Her song: "Call Me." Oh, help. Not her worst vocal but I so hate her stage mannerisms; is there any song she doesn't try to make look cute? And the performance falters badly in the middle. Not that I expect any of the judges to admit it. Not this season. Wait -- Randy risks being critical and gets booed, and Steven seems to say he agrees but then gets complimentary, and Jennifer starts to be critical but backs off because she does not want to get rid of any of the girls and brings up Haley's two previous "killer performances," and dear God, is it so hard for anyone to be honest?
Jacob. Jimmy rips him for preaching to the audience a week ago. Jacob wants to do "The Impossible Dream" or "You'll Never Walk Alone." Jimmy and Will worry that he's going "corny." Jimmy pushes "Bridge Over Troubled Water." And a zillion teens go, "That's not corny?" And so associated with Clay Aiken on this show. Jacob comes in a smidge early on the piano. Then settles into competence. But this is not a song you do for competence. This is one where you'd better tear it up, or you've wasted your time and ours. Also, he's got tonsillectomy face, and doesn't nail the last note. Didn't feel it. If he pulls this off, the audience is on its feet, screaming his name, throwing things, begging to be healed. But when Randy says this is "very controlled," he's not really paying Jacob a compliment, however much he thinks it is one.
James to close. Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal." Jimmy hates it, wants James to be careful and this isn't careful. James stays with his choice, and tells Jimmy and Will that you can't determine a hit song with just a piano; Jimmy and Will basically tell James he's an idiot. But he stays with his song. "Give metal a chance!" he proclaims. The vocal's all right, and the performance overall reasonably good for what it is -- but a lot of what it is, is guitar. (Zakk Wylde, it turns out.) Which James is not playing. Best overall performance of the night, but still not something I am loving. Jennifer does, though, and once again pushes the carpet-bombing music-sales strategy. And Tyler praises James for mouthing off to James. Mouthing off has not been a good long-range strategy on "Idol" in the past -- but that was when contestants argued with judges, and these judges aren't saying anything that a contestant would want to argue with.
Really not a good night. And, since my D