Suffering a case of ballad fatigue? You must have watched Wednesday's episode of "American Idol."
Elton John night on "Idol" boasted plenty of strong performances, but the show was incredibly heavy on ballads. I often found myself under a strange "Idol" spell that made me confuse days of the week and crave a cheesy cover of "Crocodile Rock."
Sigh. Such is the life of an "Idol" blogger.
Here are my rankings; share yours in the comments section:
1. Haley Reinhart, "Bennie and the Jets"
2. Lauren Alaina, "Candle in the Wind"
3. Scotty McCreery, "Country Comfort"
4. James Durbin, "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)"
5. Pia Toscano, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
6. Jacob Lusk, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
7. Paul McDonald, "Rocket Man"
8. Casey Abrams, "Your Song"
9. Thia Megia, "Daniel"
10. Stefano Langone, "Tiny Dancer"
11. Naima Adedapo, "I'm Still Standing"
Two contestants will be eliminated during Thursday's results show, which airs 8-9 p.m. on Fox. Here's a full recap of Wednesday's performance show.
Scotty McCreery, "Country Comfort"
Scotty had never heard this tune before selecting it. Naturally, his main motivation was the fact that the title included the word "country." Sure, Scotty kind of sounds the same every week, but I'm not tired of his style. That doesn't necessarily mean I'd buy his album. He pulls this one off, delivering a performance that seems ready for country radio. Added bonus: He gives a shout-out to his grandma, who's in the audience.
Steven: "I love everything about your voice."
Jennifer: "You have amazing instincts...It was a good performance."
Randy: "You have seasoned so fast on this show...Very nicely done."
Naima Adedapo, "I'm Still Standing"
Naima puts a reggae spin on this tune. I have mixed emotions about the final product. I appreciate the fact that she still seems like one of the most contemporary singers in this competition. However, her vocals aren't exactly amazing. And as much as this performance is supposed to be upbeat, it gets a bit sleepy at points. Also, I have a tough time believing Naima magically acquired a Jamaican accent overnight.
Jennifer: "I love you...I'm not sure that this song was suited for that."
Randy: "It kinda came off kinda corny."
Steven: "Good for you for picking a song that fits you."
Paul McDonald, "Rocket Man"
Paul says he tried to perform this song in the past, but it was a disaster. Will he fare better this week? He takes the stage with his guitar and the initial verses are a bit rough, largely because I can't understand what he's saying. At all. He picks it up on the chorus, which I genuinely enjoy. Overall, I'm satisfied. But I'll admit my passion for Paul is driven largely by his personality.
Randy: "There were a couple things that were a little pitchy here and there."
Jennifer: "I wonder if you're holding back a little bit."
Steven: "I love your voice."
Pia Toscano, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Oh, man. This is one of the most commonly performed tunes on "Idol." And I hate Pia for refusing to break out of the ballad mode. Sure, she sounds fine. She gets gospel choir treatment and delivers a bunch of big notes. I'm not going crazy, though. I just don't see her taking any risks in this competition. It'll eventually catch up to her. In her post-performance interview, Pia says she'll sing "River Deep, Mountain High" if she advances next week. Hmm. I'm not going crazy.
Steven: "You nailed it."
Jennifer: "I felt you more than I have before."
Randy: "Everybody here knows you can sing...Pia was great once again."
Stefano Langone, "Tiny Dancer"
My overall assessment of this performance is "fine." Stefano starts off a little shaky, but delivers a few memorable big notes. Nothing too spectacular, but the fact that he's chosen a fairly well-known song should earn him a few extra votes this week. I still don't sense a vibe that screams "big star" when Stefano performs. He ends the song by serenading J. Lo, which is just cheesy. That said...this is probably my favorite performance from Stefano this season.
Jennifer: "You're really connecting with the audience."
Randy: "When you hit the money notes, you are right on."
Steven: "You nailed it. I thought it was really good."
Lauren Alaina, "Candle in the Wind"
This performance isn't perfect, but I appreciate how Lauren isn't doing the cute pageant thing tonight. It seems like one of her most mature efforts so far -- both in terms of vocals and stage presence. Surprisingly, she delivers lots of emotion. I could have used a little more uniqueness in the arrangement...but whatever. I have no major complaints. Well, aside from the fact that this week's performance show is already too heavy on ballads. Right now Lauren and Scotty are my top two of the night.
Point of clarification: Thanks to the commenter who called me out on the arrangement complaint. Trust me, I'm not asking for a rap or reggae version of "Candle in the Wind." I just wish it could have been maybe 10 percent more country to better showcase Lauren's musical niche.
Randy: "That's one of the greatest Lauren Alaina performances on this stage."
Steven: "That was just perfect."
Jennifer: "That was amazing."
James Durbin, "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)"
A fast song?!? Is this really happening?!? I'm incredibly relieved. James says he wants to do a big arena rock performance and he mingles with the audience throughout most of this song. Aside from the vocals, a lot of this performance consists of James being extreme on stage. He does a giant jump! Stands on a piano! Sings near a fire! That aside, we get his signature big vocals. It seems like the band overpowers him at times, but overall it's a good performance.
Wondering about his reference to a "Pepsi moment"? Click here.
Steven: "That was beautiful."
Jennifer: "It was really a full performance of a great song by a great artist."
Randy: "You enjoy yourself."
Thia Megia, "Daniel"
Groan. Another ballad from Thia. What a surprise. I hate her for playing it safe, but I have to admit her voice sounds different to me tonight. In a good way. There's a vocal uniqueness that I haven't heard from her so far this season. I don't hate this, since Thia shows a nice touch of humanness. However, I'd probably rank this performance much higher if Thia hadn't been performing ballads all season.
Jennifer: "That was beautiful."
Randy: "It was still once again very safe."
Steven: "I think you sang a great Elton John song well."
Casey Abrams, "Your Song"
Casey cut his beard and trimmed his hair. Not a total makeover, but I'll take it. Something else I'll take? A lack of growling. Thank you, Casey! This performance has its highs and lows, but it's nice to see a different side of Casey. I just wish he could deliver this part of his personality on the faster songs without resorting to angry mode. Overall, I'm pretty happy with Casey tonight.
Randy: "That was so nice and so tender, dude. Very nice choice and well done."
Steven: "One of the finest moments on the show was putting you through."
Jennifer: "One decision I didn't lose one ounce of sleep over was saving you."
Jacob Lusk, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
Jacob got to meet Mary J. Blige while rehearsing. The big question is whether Jacob will get too theatrical with this tune. I vote yes. And...I'm right. This is so intense. Tons of emotional big notes, not to mention Jacob's pained facial expressions. I think he's crying at the end of the song. A little over the top? Yes. But you can't argue against the strength of Jacob's voice, even if "Idol" isn't the best vehicle for his talent.
Steven: "I loved the whole thing. Once again, you slayed me."
Jennifer: "It was really beautiful."
Randy: "Give me one spot where you go all the way up."
Haley Reinhart, "Bennie and the Jets"
Haley starts off sitting on top of a piano. I'm worried she'll try too hard to play up the sex appeal, but actually this performance is pretty awesome. There's tons of Haley's signature gritty vocals. I know I'm probably in the minority, but I remain a die-hard Haley fan. She has personality and vocal range. What's more, she's resisted an urge to succumb to the ballad trap.
Jennifer: "That was it, Haley...It all came together."
Randy: "Best performance of the night right there."
Steven Tyler: "You sing sexy."