Judging American Idol: Hooray For Hollywood

American Idol's Top 8 sing the songs of Hollywood
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´╗┐´╗┐Lights! Cameras! Don’t fall on your face! Tonight’s eight remaining Idol contestants are singing songs from the movies and I’m excited to see what they chose- so many great options. I’m also excited to see how many, if any, songs I picked correctly in “What Should They Sing?”

Paul McDonald starts us off with “Old Time Rock N’ Roll” by Bob Segar from Risky Business. In rehearsals Jimmy Iovine suggested he do something interesting like maybe beatbox in the middle. I can’t think of a worse idea and Paul broke out a tambourine instead. He also broke out the black, rose-covered nudie suit of which I am a huge fan. I picked this song for Casey but Paul far surpassed my expectations, though. He had a blast, put on a real show, and his voice was as solid as it ever is. I briefly considered this song for Paul but thought he needed a stronger voice. He proved me way wrong. Randy says he felt like he just witnessed song one at a Paul McDonald concert and was into the Porter Wagoner-esque threads.

Lauren Alaina chooses “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus from The Hannah Montana Movie proving once again, she’s a very young 16. Further proving this is her absolute shock and awe when Jimmy tells her she has a far superior to Miley. I’m pretty sure she even got teary-eyed, she was so honored. Lauren… I have a better voice than Miley…what on earth is wrong with you? She came down the stairs looking like Redneck Biker Barbie and sang the song well. This was not my favorite Lauren Alaina moment… I think I only have one, actually. But she definitely did better than Miley, but not as well as I think she could have. It was not a strong vocal performance but she was connected and cute and so into it. JLo says Lauren has a tear or cry to her voice that she loves about her. Randy thinks “Nashville Lauren is roaring back,” he loved it and called her amazing. To me she was perfectly adequate. Steven Tyler said he loves what she brings to a song and what a song brings to her. He was moved “beyond tears.” I still think she should have done “9 to 5,” but nobody asked me.

Stefano Langano is next and picks “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men from Boomerang (I picked this for him!). Jimmy tells Stefano he can win this and to stop thinking he’s already lost …I was expecting Stefano to come off the blocks blazing. However, I think it was weak, I wanted to love it so badly, this song is straight out of my senior year of High School and my boy BFF told me this song was his song to me (rather inappropriate, looking back) and I chose it for Stefano thinking it would give him supreme redemption and he would knock it out of the park. All I got was a foul tip. He threw in a kickass “Pia note” but that was the only highlight, his charisma was at an all-time high but, like Lauren, it wasn’t strong vocally. Randy said he slayed it, and it was his best vocal to date on that stage. They’re doing some major damage control with him because they couldn’t gush hard enough. JLo said it was “the shit.”

Scotty McCreery sings “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait from Pure Country…. again, I called it! Jimmy thought it was great but liked Scotty’s first choice (“Everybody’s Talkin’ “Harry Nilsson from Midnight Cowboy). I agree it was a better choice in that it’s not obvious but Scotty knows what he’s doing. I’m sure he’s been singing this song for years with his friends. And this is what his young, tween girl voters (and their cougar moms), want to hear. I felt like it was same thing we get every week which isn’t bad but there were times that the backing singers overpowered him. He showed more range and is undeniably evolving vocally and coming out of the basement, no longer relying on the deep voice and low notes. JLo says “Everybody wants us to be tough with you guys but, y’all are so damn good!” She does say it wasn’t her favorite song choice of his but she loved it. Randy declared that a star has been born on the Idol stage. Steven Tyler thinks all of America has fallen in love with his voice as he’ll find out by the amount of votes he’ll get.

Casey Abrams got all spiffed up again tonight. He rehearses “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole, Jimmy thought it felt small and suggested he sing his other pick: “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. From the small clip they played for us, he sounded pretty great on it, and gave it edge with his voice. He changed his mind last minute and went back to “Nature Boy” from  Moulin Rouge (and many other movies)and yes he had his stand-up bass, so Randy will have a hard on for that. He scatted a little and gave a couple grunts that sounded more like he was clearing his throat but it was pretty bad. I love Casey, I love this song, and I was not thrilled. I did love the haunting sound and feel he gave the song but the rest left me cold. The audience and judges flew out of their seats for a standing O. I don’t get these people! JLo loved it and said she’s certain Casey can win, she hopes America got it and looks forward to his jazz album. Randy says Casey is unique and unlike anyone ever on the American Idol stage. They kept dropping names like Norah Jones, Michael Buble, Esperanza, and it felt like they were trying to manipulate America into thinking, “oh, I like them – I think I like Casey again, now too.” Steven Tyler said it was brilliant to defy Jimmy Iovine and listen to his heart.

Haley Reinhart says she’s growing as an artist and Jimmy agrees saying that Haley didn’t come out of the gate with all her abilities and weapons. She sings “Call Me” from Blondie, featured in American Gigolo and although I don’t like her style or voice much at all this was easily her best performance to date for me. I loved almost every bit of it, and I’m shocked at myself for thinking this, let alone admitting it. She was adorable, a little sexy, confident, having a blast, and so charming. I’m sold… I have one pinky toe on the Haley train. Randy says he didn’t love the beginning, it was karaoke feeling, and he felt like she should have showcased her voice better. Pervy Uncle Steven actually agrees with Randy but then says it was great, so that was confusing, and she is wearing a super short dress which he acknowledges saying he enjoys “looking up her old address.” JLo said she’s afraid to say anything negative about the girls because there are only two left but she agrees with Randy. How ironic that I finally like her and she’ll probably be gone tomorrow. I’m a curse!

Jacob Lusk comes in for rehearsal and Jimmy Iovine calls him “stool man” for being in the bottom more than once and warns him not to preach to America, we don’t want it. and he hasn’t even released a record yet. He had a couple options for songs that Jimmy wasn’t feeling, and suggested “A Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel from Pursuit Of Happyness. The beginning and all low notes left me cold but by the end I was in full blown goosebumps mode. Wow, just wow. He won’t win but he isn’t going down without a fight. Steven says, “God bless you and your voice” and JLo says he’s a gifted vocalist that’s singing from his “special place.” She, too, had chills by the end. Randy says he marinated the song and coaxed it along with amazing control.

James Durbin is coming in last in what we all now call the “pimp spot” and reveals to Jimmy that he’s doing “Heavy Metal” from the movie of the same name. Sammy Hagar did it originally and James KILLED IT tonight! He even had (oh my God!) Zakk Wylde on stage with him, insanity… I loved it! I love this movie and song already and James Durbin has just surpassed Scotty as my number one favorite.

I love that he defended his choice to Jimmy Iovine (where’s the hook?) and stayed true to himself and his comfort level. He knew he would take this song to a new place, and he did. JLo said it felt “really, really real” and she’s happy to have such a diverse group of potential Idols. Randy exclaimed “Yo! My God!” he gave a shout out to Zakk Wylde and said he’s thrilled for James and his choice, he hopes to see him at Ozfest one day. Steven Tyler asked if he just had to get that out of his system, and he’s glad that he did. Zakk said James “sang his ass off.” What more do you need?

Bottom Three tomorrow will be Stefano, Haley, and Jacob with Jacob going home; I predict these are our next three to go, regardless. What do you think? How did the contestants do last night?