It's time now for another trip back to war-ravaged Idolistan, where sectarian violence between orthodox Luskians and radical Durbinites is at an all-time high. Take cover! As is the custom here on Thursdays, I’ll run through the best and worst of last night’s performances, all culled this week from the catalogs of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. But first, a couple stray observations:
1. Does someone spike the judges’ Coke with a few hits of ecstasy every week? You rarely see blank-eyed rapture like this outside of a Hare Krishna gathering. Turn it down a notch, guys!
2. I think we can all agree will.i.am is probably the most overexposed and annoying figure in pop music—scratch that, in any medium—working today. Did you see how he just lapped up that camera-time like a needy camel at a famewhore oasis?
3. If you looked closely, you may have spotted me bum-rushing the stage at the end of Scotty McCreery’s performance. I have shoulder-length blond hair and I was wearing a Forever 21 T-shirt that says “Cutest Thing Ever” on it. Did you see me?!?
And now, for what you’ve all been waiting for: The Best and Worst!
As you might've already guessed, Scotty McCreery completely won me over with his spastic spin on Elvis’s “That’s All Right Mama.” His performance suggested he’d been hit simultaneously by a doiiiiiii stick and an acute case of ants-in-the-pants-itis, but dammit if the song itself didn’t do justice to The King. And I love The King! I would not say this lightly. Keep it up, Scotty m’boy, and the keys to the Idol “king”dom are yours. (See what I did there?)
At long last, Pia Toscano tackled something that didn’t sound like it should accompany the closing-credits crawl of a James Cameron film, and it did her a world of good. She chose Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High,” obviously an amazing song that requires superhuman vocals to even come anywhere close to the vicinity of the original. And she did! She did a great job. J-Lo’s only complaint, shared after a string of hyperventilated hyperlatives ("It's not that you're not amazing. Please don't ever take me the wrong way! You are spectacular!), was that maybe Pia should, you know, study her heroes’ dance moves. Well, guess what? Her heroes are Mariah Carey, whose signature dance move is scuttling back and forth like a hermit crab, and Celine Dion, best known for her sturdy, wide-legged stance and chest-thumping. So Pia, you’re doing okay.
I’m putting Jacob Lusk in the Bottom Three, because he basically dared America to do so. In the video leading up to his performance, he said, “If I am in the Bottom Three, it won't be because I sang the song wrong. It'll be 'cause everyone in America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror." Then he sang “Man in the Mirror,” rather forgettably. So guess what, Jacob: I am literally holding up a mirror to my face with one hand as I type this with the other, thereby disproving your theory.
There were arguably worse performances last night, but none quite so forgettable as Lauren Alaina’s version of Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” This is a song meant to be sung by the most powerful, confident, and world-weary female your wildest imagination can muster. As such, Aretha pretty much nailed it the first time. No need for second attempts! The Queen of Soul got it all covered.
But Lauren did it anyway, and that produced a number of problems. For starters, she’s 16, so, you know—ick. But she also delivered a very restrained, almost polite interpretation of the song. This is not the time for manners! A woman is telling the person she loves that he alone has ignited her very entity! Her entire being! Hallelujah! Sing it, sister!
What did you think of last night's performances?