Perhaps I am in the minority this week, but I was not impressed with ANY of the performances. In fact I was kind of disappointed. James was...okay. I usually think he's pretty good. The first song wasn’t a standout, just okay. The second song was emotional, just not delivered well. Scotty was entertaining, but didn't seem to have the voice quality to which I've become accustomed. The second song is a beautiful piece, and has been done well in the past by others. However, it seemed that when he tried to sing very softly his voice almost disappeared. I don't know where Jacob was coming from last night. Again his song selection was odd and did not match the persona or performance that he was trying to deliver – whatever that was. I have been pulling for Jacob, but unfortunately I think he is going home tonight. He has not had the commitment to himself and his style that he has needed. He has been swayed by the producers and bad advice, his image seems to rub many people the wrong way more and more, and he has not recovered from what was a self-righteous faux pas several weeks ago. He has had a good run – some might say he’s overdue, but my support for him has run out. I like Jacob, but would not vote for him after last night.
Unusual for me I probably enjoyed Lauren the most - not saying that she was great, but that says a lot for me since I never really held her in high esteem. I will say that she looked great both times and looked like she wants to be a star. I have been hard on her in the past, but last night she looked as though she has really started to mature. Congrats to her.
And Haley took the night off. It was a bad idea to do Lady Gaga...period. Some "artists" are so unique that you can do more damage than good trying to imitate them. That's probably why more people don't do Prince very often. But, while she seemed to feign concern about doing an unknown Lady Gaga song, her entire attitude and willingness to name drop undermined that concern. Couple that with the fact that if you do an unknown song, you don't know if it will bomb. If L.G. hasn't done it on one of her own CDs, there may be a reason. The criticism from the judges was surprisingly harsh for her. Because the judges have never been very firm or consistent she was visibly emotionally unprepared for their appraisal. She was exposed last night, and she did not take the criticism well. However, the type of real critique they delivered for her was the kind that the judges should have been providing to all of the contestants from week one. So, shame on them for dereliction in their job. Haley got burned with that choice. Lady Gaga didn't ask her to do it, Jimmy Iovine did. So it should not have been so difficult to say no.
Her second choice - House of the Rising Sun - offered a bit of salvation - but not much. The beginning of the song was the best part of the performance. A capella forced her to be clear and in control. But after the music started she disappeared. She does not have the strongest voice in the competition, but she seemed to be soon overtaken by the music, and her background singers were as strong as a stampede - as they should have been, when they should have been. To compensate she went to her customary growling, which then to put me in the frame of mind of Casey. And whether you like him or not, he is gone - in part because of the growling. After the performance she was her usual self - flirtatious and vampish. She will need that more than ever this week because she will need all of the votes that she can get. Haley is probably on her way home. In the past she has had good performances, and I give credit where credit is due. It didn't happen last night. So my prediction is that these two will again be in the bottom three. The last member of that trio will be anyone's guess.
The producers working with the kids are problematic. Jimmy Iovine comes up with some of the weirdest stuff and proposes it to them. Some of his ideas are just crap. Case in point again, the Lady Gaga idea was terrible. Even he knows that in the industry unless a new young performer is strong enough and unique enough to carry their own, they tend to cover some songs to ensure that they do completely fail and become obscure. His advice to Haley was completely misguided. In addition, he does not have the ability to be unbiased. It seems that Jacob pissed him off several weeks ago, and Jimmy's weekly criticism has reflected that since then – It’s personal. I believe that his statements have helped to bias the voting against Jacob, but Jacob has gone a long way to not help himself because of his attitude. But if Jimmy is a pro, then he needs to leave his personal feelings out of the discussion. I wasn't especially thrilled with Sheryl Crow's assessments, either. She was wrong about how good or well received the performances would be most of the time. I think she is a great performer, but I don't get where she is coming from in the producer's chair. However, she seemed to be on point with whatever reservation she had about Jimmy's advice to Haley.
Finally, to the judges - last night seemed to be the epitome of inconsistency. Yes, they did get right about some things, but they were still overly generous in their praises. They did not comment on Scotty fading during his second song. They didn't comment on any issues with Haley's second selection - and there were many. Lauren's performances were very good compared to some of her past performances and compared to the rest of the competition last night- but you would never know it with the lame commentary. It's no wonder that at times the kids seem to have no idea what they are doing. Jennifer talks more than anyone and really has very little to say - especially when she talks and it's not her turn. This close to the end of the season she should know that has played out. Randy is the most vocal, and the most thoughtful, but also contradictory. Steven just loves everybody, but never really says anything constructive about their style, technique or presentation of any use.
Yes, generally I watch the show for its entertainment value. Despite the hype, however, last night was a sleeper.