American Idol 2011 – Inspirational Songs/Leiber & Stoller Week

Aren’t those the two guys who are always heckling the Muppets?

James Durbin : Poor James Durbin. Drama going off all around him with literally every other contestant, and he was stuck in the middle trying to get everyone’s attention with his singing of songs. I guess up until now he’s had his fair sure of extra-curricular support, what with the longest Tragic Backstory in American Idol history (I think it got an entire episode yes?) and the drum line and Hulk Hogan and Zakk Wylde and the Adam Lambert Acapella Feelings Lights Show and three “pimp slots” and setting a piano on fire and…well the list goes on. James Durbin got a lot of attention for a lot of things, and it was clearly someone else’s turn this week. So despite both opening and closing the show, James Durbin got utterly lost in the shuffle tonight, and if there were a shock boot, I’d probably bet on him. I await being proved wrong. (*wakes up tomorrow to see Lauren gone*). It’s a shame, in that he chose probably the best song straight up for “Inspirational Week”, in terms of not making me want to throw up. Sure, Don’t Stop Believing is the most played out song this week, but at least it isn’t about getting cheap heat by singing about Jesus and tornados and elephants. It’s about hookers. Straight up hookers. DEAL WITH IT AMERICA! Also Randy was in Journey. Was this ever mentioned? Love Potion Number 9 was lame, but so is all Leiber & Stoller. What are you gonna do? At least it allowed him to get molested by Gaga, which is surely the dream of a good portion of America at his point? Not in any sort of sexual way you understand. Just for the experience. (SCORES : Journey – 6/10, The Searchers – 6/10)

(He seems to be having a run of substandard nights lately. His Journey number was straight-up karaoke, and his second turn had severe pitch problems. SCORES : Journey – 4/10, The Searchers – 4/10)

Haley Reinhart : I swear at this point I don’t even know what the narrative of this show would be if they didn’t have two songs per contestant and the mind of Haley Reinhart to royally fuck with. It’s becoming a bit of a running theme for the judges to slate her first performance and leave her totally wigging out, then for her to come back with an absolute barnstormer of a follow-up and them to be all “see how awesome you are when we’ve just ripped you to shreds?” In fairness, ‘Earth Song’ wasn’t one of her better efforts: in her determination to “feel” it, she wore this strange, pained expression of Feeling The World’s Pain that I didn’t find terribly convincing. Also, some songs just don’t work when they have to be compressed into an Idol two-minute timeslot, and this was definitely one of them: you need the full duration of the song for the lunacy and bleeding heartness to build, and there was no way Haley could’ve got that momentum up in time. I actually thought the song was a good match for her voice as it brought out the growliness, but there were some definite periods of poor pitching and I think the whole thing was just a tad overambitious. Also, I kept expecting Jarvis Cocker to run out and wave his bum at her. ‘I Who Have Nothing’ was a brave choice because that was pretty much the moment where Jordin Sparks won herself the competition back in season six, but thankfully Lady Gaga (who was so ridiculously good as a mentor all evening I can’t even tell you) gave Hayley the best possible advice: play it like a mental. As a result, Haley’s desperate, unhinged take on the song didn’t invite too many comparisons with Jordin’s youthful, plaintive reading and allowed the two separate but equally valid interpretations to exist side-by-side. Haley also gets bonus points for ending the song doing full-on Bassey face. SCORES : Michael Jackson – 5/10, Shirley Bassey – 9/10.

(Earth Song is an abomination that should not be encouraged, and Jordin Sparks came across as more mental when she played it straight. Michael Jackson – 2/10, Shirley Bassey – 8/10)

Scotty McCreery : I have such mixed emotions about Scotty this week. Firstly I have to praise him for finally committing. Up until now he’s played a very soft angle on his country status. Nice boy, slightly odd stage mannerisms, gets on with everyone. God-fearing but not aggressively proselytising, someone to be loved by Red State and Blue State America alike. Well… that was sure out the window this week, as he plonked himself down in leathers and song a song about America. And Jesus. And 9/11. And being proud not to know the difference between Iraq and Iran. The whole “fair and balanced” act went very Fox “fair and balanced” and you have to applaud the naked vote-grabbing just like when Kristy Lee Cook wrapped herself in the flag and screamed “GOD BLESS THE USA!”. This is American Idol after all, not Communism Terrorist Liberal Marxist Idol, and we have to play to our bases. On the other hand the relentless, joyless, nasty Gaga baiting throughout the second half of the episode was just too much. She was trying to help with your joyless fart of a performance there dear, you might want to focus on that, not kissing the cross and praying for her soul and condemning her to eternal hellfire. Can you imagine any other mentor getting slammed like that by a contestant and getting away with it? And don’t tell me that the mentors might not have pissed anyone else off in the history of the show, because they’ve had fucking LULU as a mentor on this show. Honest to God. LULU. So classless. (SCORES – Alan Jackson – 7/10, The Coasters – 2/10)

(Pandering of the absolute worst variety. At least when The Colonel made her shameless grab for votes, she did so in a desperate attempt to get herself out of the bottom three (not a problem that Scotty has) and played the whole thing with a wry wink to the camera (not something that Scotty bothered with). Her insincerity was charming, Scotty’s was just depressing. And he earned himself an automatic zero before he even sang a note of his second song with that nasty cross-kissing bullshit. (SCORES : Alan Jackson – 2/10, The Coasters – 0/10)

Lauren Alaina : Naturally, this was Lauren’s scheduled “comeback week” after her surprise (or not so surprising) bottom two placing last week. All she really needed to do was return herself to an even keel and she’d get the comeback edit, but if she were smart, she’d use this opportunity to really raise her game and re-establish herself as a credible contender for the title. As things turned out, she rather fell between two stools. Her first performance, ‘Anyway’, was great from a vocal perspective, arguably one of the best of the night, but completely underwhelmed as a performance – she stood there rooted to the spot in such a manner that even Pia Toscano was probably sitting on Mark Ballas’s lap somewhere screaming “MOVE, WOMAN, FOR FUCK’S SAKE”. To make matters worse, Gwen Stefani had apparently got loose backstage again, because Lauren had been shoved awkwardly into some kind of bizarre zombie prom queen outfit. It’s hard to really work the stage when you’re in a miniskirt and a big poofy train. I was worried that Lauren’s second performance would hit similar snags as she spent the entirely of her pre-performance VT whining to Jimmy Fraggleface and Lady Gaga that she didn’t want to sing that she was evil in case people actually thought she was evil. And while she is a woman on reality television, so I can totally understand why she perceives this as such a risk, she doesn’t really do herself any favours by assuming America is as painfully literal as she is. Anyway, in the end, Lauren came out with her hair all big and in a cute-trampy outfit that made her look like Haley had an adorable lovechild with Ke$ha, and vamped her way through the song in a manner that was massively unconvincing but strangely endearing, because she was at least as close to committing to the character of a song that I think Lauren Alaina ever gets. Carrie Underwood had exactly this problem, by the way – her ability to create a persona for her performances was limited at best, even on songs like ‘Alone’ where she knocked it out of the park vocally – and it never held her back, so I haven’t entirely given up hope on Lauren. Her second performance was the most enjoyable she’s ever been, so I’m inclined to think she’s earned her right to be in the top three. SCORES : Martina McBride – 7/10, Elvis Presley – 8/10.

(I like that this was what Lauren Alaina thought embracing her evil side looked like. She sure thinks drag queens are evil. SCORES – Martina McBride – 6/10, Elvis Presley – 7/10)


6 thoughts on “American Idol 2011 – Inspirational Songs/Leiber & Stoller Week

  1. Tim

    Haley was worst and best of the night, again. Glad to see I’m not the only one who had the Jarvis Cocker flashback too, and that someone else also thinks James has had two momentum-stalling weeks in a row. Lauren was good but not spectacular, and Scotty dialled 9/11 and then just dialled in his second performance, period.

    A dull week overall, I thought, enlivened only by the barmy heaven that is Gaga.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I also enjoyed Haley just telling the judges to screw off basically. Her end-of competition nervous breakdown is spectacular indeed – you can only wonder what she’ll do if she somehow makes the final.

      1. Tim

        I know all logic dictates otherwise, but I just wonder whether there will be enough anti-Scotty votes to create a Haley vs Lauren final? God only knows, if I was in the US I would be dialling Haley’s number constantly. Er, that didn’t quite come out right …

      2. monkseal Post author

        It seems unlikely but who knows? Gokey got derailed at Top Three out of nowhere, maybe Scotty will do a scream or something.

  2. Victoria

    Dear god, how has it come to this? Watching Scotty is like watching a cartoon version of the Val Doonican show.

    1. monkseal Post author

      And yet I look back at who’s been eliminated, and somehow most of them seem even worse. (Except Boom Fiyah obv.)


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