American Idol's top eleven performed throwbacks to the music of Motown tonight.
Unfortunately for Motown, not all the singers “really had a hold” on the genre. The funny thing about Idol is it's ability to showcase great talent singing music that is entirely wrong for them. Fortunately, though, the top eleven pulled through regardless of vocal differences and the judges seemed more pleased than ever with tonight's performances.
Haylie sang “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” which I found didn't sell her voice short. Steven has been asking her every week to go back to the “bluesey Janis Joplin thing” she did at her original audition. He was happy to hear her finally return to the Janisy place from whence she came tonight and I have to say I agreed. Both Jlo and Randy gave some good feedback and all in all I think this performance may bail Haylie out of the bottom three this week.
Naima finally got a great note from Randy with “Dancing In The Street.” Steven and Jennifer have always been fans and don't miss a beat giving Naima good notes after every performance. I have to say I don't agree. It's hard for me to believe that America isn't voting her into the bottom three. Her performances are sloppy, her style is strange (and not in that oh-so-epic Lady Gaga way) and her vocal talent isn't Idol material. I thought this week was progressive, but didn't sell me entirely.
I was nervous for Scotty this week, considering his strong country influence is a little strange when imposed into Motown. But he actually pulled through, singing “For Once In My Life.” His accent was there but he nailed the notes and pulled it off well.
Paul played his own guitar in a very Rod Stewarty version of “Tracks Of My Tears.” I actually do think Paul has the caliber of skill needed to remain in this competition. The judges seemed to agree, giving him good notes and noting his seasoned talent.
Is it just me or does James sound far too much like Adam Lambert not to acknowledge it? I know he's not screeching out the high notes with quite the same tact, but there's something far too similar about the vocal style for him to be a front runner. I can't say I'm a huge fan of his voice, to me it sounds like instead of heading for Idol fame, he is headed for a midlife crisis Van Halen tribute band. I know the judges (especially Steven) love him, but still wondering if America will see eye to eye.
Lauren sang “You Keep Me Hanging On” which honestly, in my eyes, was a forgettable performance. All judges agreed she was on point vocally and put on a good show.
Stefano, who in my eyes is one of the front runners to win, chose the song “Hello.” This may be one of the toughest songs he could have possibly chosen in my opinion. It's such an emotional, sometimes jokey, song with hard performance to master. The judges all agreed he just didn't have the connection he needed. I feel for Stefano here, because it's tough not to go over the top with a ballad like this and he was probably trying to keep it grounded. Just wound up not working for him.
Jacob chose to perform “You're All I Need To Get By” and definitely won over the great Jlo herself. She was in love with this rendition and I can't say I blame her for her over enthusiasm. It's an awesome song choice for someone with good range and it was definitely a performance that showcased his talent and personal vocal style.
Thia ventured away from ballads this week, as the judges all suggested. She sang “Heat Wave” and didn't do a bad job. I know she's the youngest hopeful on the show and can't help but feel bad not rooting for her, but she just doesn't have the vocals to land a top spot. The panel was excited about the song change and I did agree with it being a clear improvement.
Pia sang “All In Love Is Fair” in a way that certainly showcased her vocal talent but didn't show off her performance skills. It seems like the judges are always on her about her presence and it's something she really needs to work on for future shows.
Casey, who I'm still attempting to forgive for the Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” performance(and I use that word loosely). Sang “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” which I thought was an interesting fit for him and his vocal spin. Not overly impressed but his voice may be just unique enough in comparison to the other contestants to keep him in the game.
Such positive comments from judges tonight. Oh Simon, we miss your scowl....