The Verdict on Idol: Top 4

Top 4 baby! We’re almost there. Tonight is crucial because it determines which of the three win the coveted home visit, complete with mad PR and public appearances that even today’s top celebrities would kill for. They all want it. Who’s going to deliver?

You know who’s not going to deliver? The judges. How useless have they been in the past couple weeks? Jennifer has become the head cheerleader, throwing out needless praise to all those except the one girl who’s prettier than she is. Randy was always just “the other judge.” In the beginning of the season, he was putting of a great Simon impression, but now he’s reverted to his typical, useless, tries-way-too-hard-to-be-cool self. Stephen is Stephen, and that’s all that can be said. Collectively, they suck at doing their job, which is to judge, and excel greatly at doing their true job, being Nigel’s puppets.

You know who would be a great judge? Lady Gaga. How awesome was she at working with these kids!? Scotty may not have been a good fit for her, but she really pushed Lauren, Haley, and James into giving some of their strongest performances. People laughed when Gaga was announced as the mentor. Now, I laugh at them. She was easily the most effective mentor on this show, ever. Period.

Onto the rankings!
4. Lauren Alaina – Anyway, and Trouble
You know what, Lauren? No more free passes. Tonight, in both of her performances, she demonstrated that she quite simply isn’t in the same league as the other contestants. She’s always been middle of the pack, doing just enough to stay out of danger. Tonight, despite what Randy might say, she continued to be complacent with doing “just enough.” At this stage, its not good enough. “Anyway” was a great song choice, and should have been the moment we’ve been waiting for. However, when it came to the glory notes, Lauren pushed, and then let up just before the moment could be created. On a song that could have easily been a 10, she gave us an 8, and that’s not enough anymore. Her second choice was also just shy of creating a moment. She came out more confident and poised than we’ve ever seen, and sauntered on stage singing a gruff, bluesy, dirty little number. It was fantastic up until everything went all hoe-down on us. Then it just became another fun little country ditty. Overall, Lauren turned in two safe performances, and I just don’t feel like she’s earning her keep. Yeah, Randy said she was “back,” but how many times has she gone, come back, gone again, come back again, etc.?

3. Scotty McCreery – Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning, and Young Love

Scotty gave two performances that were typical Scotty McCreery. His first performance was a reminder that he’s incredibly awesome at what he does. “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” was another excellent song choice. It was almost as good as his “You’ve Got a Friend.” He has this seemingly magical connection to the audience that really worked. This is going to be what makes Scotty McCreery sell records. However, his second performance was cringe worthy. “Young Blood” was probably the best song choice given the terrible theme, and while it did show a more fun side to him, there was just nothing too it. He just kind of walked around singing a mediocre song, and making a joke out of it. At this stage of the game, a song like that can get you killed. Luckily, the audience seemed to enjoy his humorous side, and so did I. It was just “meh” over all.

2. Haley Reinhart – Earth Song, and I Who Have Nothing

Never, in the history of American Idol has there been a bigger bussing campaign than there has been with Haley Reinhart. While “Earth Song” was a bit screamy in parts, it wasn’t anywhere near the disaster that Jennifer and Randy made it out to be. And how unfair was it that they brought it up again in Scotty’s critique, and then again after Lauren’s performance. Other than the middle of the performance, there really wasn’t anything wrong with the performance. Could she have chosen a better song? Yeah, but her delivery of this song was pretty good. The beginning was captivating, and the final note was magical. While there was plenty to criticize, there was also plenty to praise, and Haley got none of that! Luckily, she nailed her second song. “I Who Have Nothing” was not only the best of the night, but one of the best of the season. It was dramatic, compelling, hauntingly chilling, and above all, vocally flawless. Really, I’ve had chills before, but this performance was the first one where my heart started beating faster. It was just that emotional and dramatic. She clearly made the most of Gaga’s advice, because it was a side of Haley that we’ve never seen. Way to go Haley. She’s survived a bus crash for the second week in a row.

1. James Durbin – Don’t Stop Believing and Love Potion Number 9

James finally return to his position t the top. After an overall terrible last week, he came back and delivered in a big way. “Don’t Stop Believing” was a perfect song choice, even if a bit predictable. He sang the hell out of it, and the high notes were simply awesome. Overall a good performance, but “Love Potion Number Nine” was absolutely fantastic. While not something that’s going to be played on the radio, it was definitely something that I could hear on a “Punk Goes Classic” album, or a really cool cover song from an even cooler rock band. It was creative, original, and James’s best overall performance in recent weeks. Although Haley’s second song was the best of the night, his combined performances were overall stronger. Welcome back, James.

So there you have it.
Overall, the night was pretty even. The rankings don’t really mean much when everyone is having an uneven performnce.

Lauren and James gave two good perforamnce,
Haley gave a bad one, and an incredible one,
Scotty gave a good one and a bad one,
So who will go home?

By all accounts, Lauren’s time is up. However, Haley is going to have a rough time surviving that bussing. Its more than likely that she’ll be the one to return home without the fanfare.

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