Recap: ‘American Idol’ Top 8 – Songs from the Movies

In case you’ve forgotten, Pia Toscano was eliminated on last week’s “American Idol.” Don’t worry, “American Idol” isn’t going to let you forget.

But how will last week’s shocking results impact Wednesday’s (April 13) show? What will the blowback be? Can we expect a newly feisty judging panel, ready and eager to voice their criticisms? Can we expect an judging Affirmative Action program to protect the endangered species known as the “American Idol” female?

Click through to find out…

Singer: Paul McDonald
Song: “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll”
My Take: Our first song and our first cheat. Yes, this Bob Seger song was featured in “Risky Business,” but it was a hit several years earlier. Is this part of the “Idol” conspiracy to get a man eliminated? Surely Jimmy Iovine knew this wasn’t a good idea. Yes, Paul’s energetic and he appears to be getting the crowd bopping around, but he’s barely singing any of the notes in the actual song. There isn’t a single high note remaining. Not one. Sometimes he whispers the high notes. Sometimes he speaks them. Nothing at all is sung. This is less of a performance from Paul and more of an early evening jog. Oh look, “Old Time Rock and Roll” just came up on his iPod. How cute that he’s pretending to sing along! And what a funny track suit.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: “I love your crazy, wild abandon,” Steven Tyler says, clearly not instructed to be substantive. “It’s like watching a diamond in the rough and every week, a little more polish,” J-Lo says, clearly not instructed to be substantive. “Dude, I love it. I love that you’re not a typical singer,” raves Randy, clearly not instructed to be substantive. It’s pretty much official: The judges don’t care. They don’t care about this being a singing show, but they don’t even care about this being a talent show. That was cartoonish dreck from Paul and nobody wanted to even bat an eyelash.

Singer: Lauren Alaina
Song: “The Climb”
My Take: Jimmy Iovine is not a fan of Miley Cyrus. Why is Jimmy Iovine not replacing the entire judging panel? For one night and one night only, “The Hannah Montana Movie” has ascended to the ranks of “cinema.” When I think of all of the songs from tremendous artists Lauren could have sung that she decided to equal Miley Cyrus… It’s just perplexing. She’s entirely average and she has no aspiration to be anything other than average. You’d think the Pia elimination might have shaken her, but the shaking may have been into deeper complacency. The crowd loves her, but half the time Lauren was being drowned out by the background singers. Miley Cyrus wouldn’t let that happen. She’d have gone all diva on those chumps. It’s a middle-of-the-road cover of a middle-of-the-road song. And you want to know the most damning thing of all? There is no notable way in which Lauren is confirming Iovine’s contention that she’s a better singer than Miley Cyrus.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: J-Lo loves the “tear” that Lauren has in her voice. “You don’t need to steal anybody’s votes. You’re getting plenty of your own,” J-Lo says. Apparently J-Lo continues to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the “American Idol” voting process. Randy thinks the Lauren they saw in Nashville is “roaring back.” Steven loves what Lauren brings to a song and what the song brings to her.

Singer: Stefano “The Aneurism” Langone
Song: “End of the Road”
My Take: Leave it to Will.i.Am to properly sum up Stefano’s sense of Survivor Guilt. More earnest mumbling and vein-popping falsetto from The Aneurism, who is attempting to generate enough emoting for an entire ’90s-era boy band. And yes, Stefano is probably the most boy band-ready “American Idol” contestant since the glory days of Grammy nominated songwriter Ace Young. Stefano is better this week than he was last week. Thanks to Paul’s abuse of Bob Seger, I don’t even need to root for Stefano’s elimination. Stefano would be terrific on a Canadian teen variety show. He should be doing double-entendre-laden duets with Robin Sparkles 10 years ago.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Randy raves that Stefano is in it to win it. “You know how to milk a song,” gushes Steven, who predicts that this isn’t the end of the road for Stefano. J-Lo thinks that Stefano has finally recognized The Key. “That was the s***” J-Lo says. Apparently mere praise is no longer enough. We’ve moved into the realm of obscenity-laden praise. Because apparently the FCC-approved words for hyperbolic praise have been rendered insufficient.

Singer: Scotty McCreery
Song: “I Cross My Heart”
My Take: Scotty selected the correct song in “Everybody’s Talkin’.” It was perfect. Too perfect. So he backtracked and decided to do the most banal George Strait song ever, because apparently he needed to go back to his country roots. I’m assuming that J-Lo’s confusing comment about his hip-hop swagga left him genuinely terrified. Oh well. He does a Scotty performance, all cock-eyed sneering, deep-throated purring and unsteadiness on the higher notes. Sorry y’all, but absolutely everything about this show is beginning to annoy me.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: “Scotty, I just love your voice,” Tyler says. “Everybody wants us to be tough with you guys, but the truth is you guys are so darned good,” J-Lo says, though she admits this wasn’t her favorite song choice. “I love it when you return and stay at your roots,” Randy says, before adding “a star is born on this stage.”

Singer: Casey Abrams
Song: “Nature Boy”
My Take: “Nature Boy” or “In the Air Tonight”? Only Casey Abrams would be having this particular dilemma. He chose “Nature Boy” and Jimmy Iovine tosses him right under the bus. It’s another of Casey’s standing bass performances, one which gains absolutely nothing from the foot of smoke pouring over the stage. This performance is on a totally different musical level and performance level and even vocal level from anything else we’ve seen tonight. He’s totally steering the music with his bass-playing and he basically stops singing for 20 seconds for a bass-and-piano solo. Anybody else think Casey’s tired of this and ready to go home? Because that was *not* a performance for casual fans at home. To follow J-Lo’s obscenity-driven lead and quote Rage Against the Machine, that was a “F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me” to Jimmy Iovine and probably to “American Idol” as a whole. Will see if he’s rewarded or punished for his indolence.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: The judges give Casey a standing ovation. J-Lo blathers for a while and eventually says that music crosses boundaries and there’s no reason why a jazz performer can’t win “American Idol.” Randy calls it “a Grammy-kind-of-performance.” Randy thinks that “American Idol” is about education. Randy then calls it “brilliant” and “genius.” He adds, “The world cannot live by pop stars alone.” Tyler throws Jimmy Iovine under the bus and says Casey’s an artist in the truest sense. Casey invokes the name of Esperanza Spalding, just in case he hadn’t already alienated the Bieber Generation sufficiently.

Singer: Haley Reinhart
Song: “Call Me”
My Take: Janis one week, Debbie Harry the next week. Haley Reinhart is not shy. Nobody would accuse Haley of shyness in this particular short-skirt-and-side-boob ensemble. Yes, one day after the Yuri Gargarin anniversary, we have another bold new frontier: Haley brings side-boob to “Idol”! Where did the girl who could barely take two steps while still singing? She’s prancing and flouncing about, practically daring the director to get an up-skirt shot. And the vocals? Sigh. I’m not paying any attention to the vocals. Sometimes I can be a superficial guy. It beats listening to a so-so Blondie cover.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: “Honest, I didn’t love the beginning of it,” Randy says, using the “k” word. Wow. This is a historic moment, kids. That is the first truly negative critique from our judges in two weeks. Yes, in the glory days of Simon Cowell, that might have been a compliment, but we take our negatives where we can get ’em. Steven agrees, but he didn’t care, because Haley named the chorus. “That thing you have on is gorgeous, too,” Tyler says. “I’m so afraid to say anything about any of the girls,” J-Lo says, before saying this wasn’t the best. Congratulations to Haley for overpowering the judging mandate to protect the two remaining “Idol” women! Will tentative side-boob be enough to keep Haley safe?

Singer: Jacob Lusk
Song: “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
My Take: Jimmy Iovine blasts Jacob Lusk for preaching at the audience. ZING. Jimmy also forces Jacob to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which Jacob approaches as a punishment. Apparently this song was used in “Pursuit of Happyness,” so it counts for the theme. Even though it shouldn’t. Jacob tears into the song. It’s a big vocal, thanks to his “I Believe I Can Fly,” I can honestly say it’s not nearly as showy as he sometimes can be. And those last notes? Those suckers are high. I’m talking dog whistler high. Is that good or bad for Jacob’s chances? I don’t rightly know. But we’re reminded, once again, that Jacob can do things vocally nobody else on the show can (or should) do. Remember, America: If you don’t vote for Jacob, you hate bridges and the troubled water wins.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Somebody — Steven? — is so pleased they have to swear. It is, indeed, Steven. He swears again before being astounded by his “crescendos and innuendos.” Tyler ends by blessing Jacob. J-Lo’s full of rapture and goosebumps. “It was like perfect, perfect, perfect harmony,” Randy says. Ah, the judges are BACK!

Singer: James Durbin
Song: “Heavy Metal”
My Take: James Durbin wins tonight’s song choice competition. Sammy Hagar? From “Heavy Metal”? Love it, James. The mentors? They’re not so pleased. If their job was to help James with his confidence, they pretty much failed poor Jimmy. I adore James’ fidelity to his roots. Unlike Scotty, it’s not like he hasn’t tried other things. He’s displayed quite a bit of range and this just happens to be what he loves. And he just happens to be most excellent at it, especially accompanied by Zakk Wylde shredding it on the guitar. Oh, James Durbin. You’d definitely have made a Top 4 on “Rock Star.” I’m also beginning to think James Durbin is making a strong case to win “American Idol” 1988.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: “That felt really, really REAL,” J-Lo raves. J-Lo wants to make it clear that no matter how things sounded at home, everybody was killing it in the theater. “Tonight, you did you,” celebrates Randy. Tyler also a fan.

TONIGHT’S BEST: As much as I salute Jimmy Iovine for giving the night’s only substantive critiques, I’m also included to salute the singers who had the fortitude to tell Jimmy to take a flying leap. So I’m recognizing Casey Abrams and James Durbin as the night’s best.

TONIGHT’S WORST: Sorry, Paul McDonald. I love your whimsical spirit. I hate that you can’t actually sing. Sorry, Haley Reinhart. I love your short skirts and your increasingly strong stage presence. This just didn’t cut it. Sorry, Lauren Alaina. You were barely mediocre and “American Idol” voters hate women like they’re characters in a Neil Labute play. Oh and don’t think I’m letting you off the hook, Stefano. You’re still not actually good.

IN DANGER: I think Stefano gets a pick-up from the extensive pimping from both Seacrest and the judges and he escapes the Bottom Three. Until the voters give me any reason to think otherwise, I’m going to assume that the girls are in trouble. Haley and Lauren are in the Bottom Three along with… Paul, who becomes the first man actually sent home this season.

Who did you like? Who did you dislike?