I may be no Grammy Award winner, but I sure do have my own opinion when it comes to the contestants’ performances this season. Here’s mine for the Top 9 performances, although I will try my best to just keep my comments short and concise (and probably brutal):
Theme: Rock and Roll
Jacob Lusk: Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson
To be completely honest, I do not like him. He may be a great singer, but he does not have the complete package. Jacob is not marketable, he prances around like a drag queen, and he just has this ethos that makes you appreciate his singing, but not make you itch to vote for him. I’d rather vote for another contestant, thank you very much.
Haley Reinhart: Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin
I felt like it was a little screechy, but the song choice really helped her a lot. She sounded great with the tempo, and she knew exactly where she wanted the song to go to.
Casey Abrams: Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival
For two weeks in a row, I don’t think his performances had been exemplary. I think he is too self-conscious, to the point of holding back and not letting his natural instincts guide him through his performances. The culprits: America’s stupidity for making him the bottom contestant during the top 11 results show and the advice of the judges for him to stop growling.
I think he sings best when he adds that kind of flavor to his songs — that is who he is: a renegade artist who has soul and is unapologetic about it. Let’s admit it, his voice is not the most distinct among the bunch, but during the early parts of the competition, he was able to successfully infuse flavor into his songs.
But right now, it seems like he just wants to play it safe all the time, in hopes of not getting America’s ire (or apathy) for his being fearless. If he lets this continue in the coming weeks, then without a doubt, he will become forgettable and predictable sooner than he can let out a grooooowl.
Lauren Alaina: Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin
I used to think that this girl had the range that can propel her all the way to the finals. Her performance tonight though, was an eye-opener for me, and it confirmed so many deep-seated doubts that I had about her and her capabilities as a potential artist.
Her performance failed to deliver (obviously not up to par with Aretha, or even with Kelly Clarkson), pretty predictable (she did not know which notes to sustain or fire up), and just so-so.
At first, I thought she had the range that can help sustain her — but lately, I’m beginning to think that she never had it in her in the first place. If she can prove to America that she has the capacity to challenge herself and that her high notes are as sultry as her low registers, then perhaps her chances of making it far can improve.
James Durbin: While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison
I don’t like this dude. Arrogance personified. He has not even made it big yet, but he already thinks so highly of himself. Attitude problem perhaps? Yes, I know, he may be able to hit the high notes and shriek like a kid who is still approaching puberty, but I am perfectly content with Adam Lambert, thank you very much.
Scotty McCreery: That’s Alright Mama by Elvis Presley
He got lucky tonight that he was able to sing an Elvis song. I know that the judges constantly tell him that he is not a one trick pony, but it is obvious, even to a nincompoop, that he is the king of all one trick ponies.
If you look back on his performances for the past five weeks, all he did were country songs that were mixed with soul, rock, and other half-genres. I don’t know about you, but it baffles me why the judges seem to be hard on the other contestants to explore other genres, but when it comes to this country boy, they are all praises. This, for me, even begs the question: Is this show scripted?
Pia Toscano: River Deep, Mountain High by Ike and Tina Turner
Personally, I felt that that was the best performance of the night. Like the judges, I was a little bit worried that for the past weeks, she seemed to be only capable of doing ballads — but beautiful ballads, mind you. So for this week, she worked the stage like a pro and sang her up tempo song with impeccable sheen. Pia also has a distinct sound to her voice, one that is neither generic nor forgettable.
The judges comments: She needs to watch how the greats do their concerts. How Mariah, Celine, Whitney all move when up on the stage — because, apparently for them, she still needs to push it further. Didn’t she push it already with her song choice this week, not to mention she did her ‘pushing’ really well?
Given that most of the judges’ comments to almost all of the contestants that night were positive, their reception to Pia’s performance may be misconstrued by the American public to be one of the poorer ones that night. Gah. It seems like with her, they will never be satisfied. I need to stop, before all the blood gets to my head.
Stefano Langone: When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge
He is definitely one of the best contenders this year. In my book, he needs to be in the Top 5 — if only for his distinct voice quality, his range, and his charisma. I seriously do not get what the judges meant when they told him in a previous episode that there was a disconnect in his performances.
Sometimes, Randy and Jennifer give very abstract critiques, and they do not even offer a plan of action so the ‘imagined’ problem will go away. He sings well, he’s not just an AI winner material.
Paul McDonald: Fulsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
I really, really, really like this bluesy singer. If only for his distinct voice quality, and his emotionally-drenched performances, I think he deserves to go far, say Top 5 or 6.
Tonight, he delivered again. But I do agree with the judges that perhaps, it will be a challenge to convince America that his uniqueness can be the real deal.
He is unconventional, but that does not mean that he is not good. If ever he gets cut soon, it’s not because he has less talent. It just means that America, just like in previous seasons, would have it wrong again.
So there goes my three cents worth for AI’s top 9 performances. If you agree with what I had to say, then well and good. If you don’t, then hey, I’m no Simon Cowell — so chill.