I'll admit, I'm very impressionable. So, when Michael Slezak jumped on the Haley bandwagon for good this week, I couldn't help but follow. She is so wrong that it's gloriously wrong. Plus, who doesn't love the underdog. Little did I know that the winds of fortune were about to shift for our little growler. But we'll get to that later!
They open this week's show with a swooning look back at the dramedy of last week's results show — the big Casey save. Instant nostalgia. What, do they think this is, Charlie dying on Lost? It certainly isn't. (Not Penny's boat ... tear.)
So, due to said save, two people will be going home this week. Let me also take a moment to mention that JLo looks smokin'. The contestants will all be singing Elton John this week, and I love how during the intro package it's apparent that Elton had far less hair decades ago.
Scotty goes first. The EW photographer (the kids were glammed up for a photo shoot) says he has "elegance." Ha! He finds the one Elton country song ever; it's called ... wait for it ... "Country Comfort." He's playing guitar, which makes him look so much more natural — especially since he's not holding the mic like a pan flute. OK, in theory, it's totally ridiculous and cheesy to give a shout-out to your grandma during your performance. That said, Scotty's grandma totally got me — she had this little gloss in her eyes. What pride! (I assume that's how my mom feels when she reads me analyzing John Darnielle's lyrical prowess. This kid really is so good at his little thing that he does. "You have seasoned so fast on this show," says Randy — and he's right! The last note was slightly wonky, but I'll forgive it.
Naima decides on "I'm Still Standing," with a reggae twist. She opens by saying, "This is for all the people out there in the world who are still standing," or something like that. It loses any potential impact since we've already seen that Jimmy Iovine suggested it. She sings the whole thing with a strange Jamaican accent. I like that she has the whole band onstage — makes it feel less like karaoke. And, at the end of the day, I love that she's on this show. It's something totally different. The judges are very meh on it. I sorta agree. Ryan mocks Randy's "For me, for you" business. Zing!
Nashville's Paul McDonald is up next, and during his interview package he recalls "touring in a 15-passenger van with 14 dudes, eating dollar menus just to stay alive." That is something that separates him from all the tweens singing into their hairbrushes in front of the mirror. (Scotty, I'm looking at you.) This guy was playing music before, and he'll play it after — probably with a few more fans — no matter how this all shakes out. Maybe he'll even be able to go from five roommates in his East Nashville bungalow to four; maybe turn that extra space into some sort of office/jam space so he can have peace and quiet to write. Also, he'll pull far more tail at 3 Crow.
He chooses "Rocket Man," adding that his band covered it years ago, and that it didn't go well. Cut to Paul onstage: There it is, our old love, the Nudie Suit. He can not let go of that thing. He actually seems to be telling a story for this first time. I like this song because it makes me think of something Ray Bradbury would write. The judges like it, but want him to "push" more. That sounds dirty.
Pia tackles "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," which she calls one of her all-time favorite songs. Yes, it's another ballad. Yes, it's predictable. But! But!! She's just so fracking good. When she's done, there's some awkwardness at Judges Table (have I been watching too much Top Chef?) as Steven takes a dig at Randy. She promises something upbeat for next week. Back in the real world, my friend Sulli asks me, "Why is Pia a Kardashian sister with smooshed face?"
Stefano goes for "Tiny Dancer" — def a fan favorite. Jimmy is tough on this guy. Personally, I like him. I just do. Nothing too special, but still solid. He still isn't great at working with the cameras. And apparently his dad looks just like Howie Mandel. Tragic.
Lauren almost got me here. The vocal was beautiful, and she made some surprising choices on "Candle in the Wind," a song that's been done to death. But then she does that cutesy half-smile thing and I almost throw my remote at the TV. For once, it feels like she's trying to be serious — like a real performer — but then can't resist the pageant bullshit. It's so almost awesome.
James Durbin says, "I love wearing make-up." This guy is such a prima donna. He sings "Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)," and continues his hammy ham ham crap, playing to the audience at every opportunity. It makes us people out in TV land feel neglected. Plus, he has his hair in this stupid Sanjaya-esque up-do. As for the singing, he ditches all musicality so he can scream and preen. The judges eat it up. I think it's the worst performance of the night.
Oh, Thia Megia. What happened to the hipster girl we knew and loved? She chooses "Daniel" because apparently she was "best friends" with a brother who was 10 years her senior. Creeptastic. She is boring. I have nothing else to say.
After last week's meltdown, I think Casey might be mentally ill. Just saying. Jimmy has him look back at "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and announces that "everything" was wrong. Yet let us not forget that the judges gushed over it. He chooses "Your Song," and actually wins me back a bit. I think that the experience of getting voted off really humbled him (or maybe they have tweaked his medication). This was truly good — beautiful and heartfelt. I (and all the wine in my belly) was moved.
Jacob sings "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." Jimmy says he hopes Jacob can tone down the drama, then he walks out in a fog of dry ice. Ha! God, this guy makes the wonkiest faces — and the expression on that final note was ludicrous. The judges remain so hesitant to criticize him; it's borderline bizarre.
OK, so when they gave Haley the pimp spot, I thought we might be in for something interesting. Maybe they were going to slowly drip nail polish on her head, and not tell her about it. But no, they were just saving the best for last. Our little ragamuffin tore into "Bennie and the Jets." It still had some goofy elements— um, she started perched on the piano — but she just killed the vocal, making me hear the song in a whole new way. I was laughing and clapping. JLo was grooving along. She made some great choices, and the growl has never sounded better.
After the show, I wrote this: "I think Naima and Thia are going home." I was right. Naima, you will be missed. Thia, now I'll actually have to pause my DVR when I want to pour myself another drink — not just wait for you to start singing.