It's Hall of Fame week here on Idol, and they simply will not let us forget that judge/cougar extraordinaire Steve Tyler is an actual member. (Side note: I've been to the pride and joy of Cleveland — they had seven Britney Spears ensembles and not one mention of OK Computer. Nuff said.) Tyler takes over the intro, wearing an insane shiny ensemble and interacting with a wax bust of his own face. Needless to say, this is something I can't un-see.
Speaking of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will.i.am is there. Because that makes total sense. His ludicrous ubiquity has managed to kill all the goodwill generated by this. (I worked full-time on the campaign leading to a serious soft spot.) Jacob is up first. His original choice was "Let's Get It On," but then he decided it wasn't true to himself, because he didn't want to imply "Let's do the nasty" (his words). So, apparently he's a eunuch. This actually makes a strange sort of sense. His substitute song is Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." He says something really gross about how, if he goes home, it won't be because of his caterwauling, but rather because America isn't "ready to look at themselves in the mirror." Personally, I spend two hours a day looking in the mirror, listening to Luna Halo bootlegs and silently weeping. So there.
All that considered, this thing is a train wreck before he's even sings a note. Then he steps out in an all-white ensemble. So virginal! Jacob does his stupid Jacob thing — I could not be more over him. Meanwhile, Steven calls "Man in the Mirror" "the finest song that's ever been written." OK. Randy is wearing one of the craziest jackets I have ever seen — black patent leather with some sort of prism quality. Not so virginal. The judges continue to cream themselves over this guy. I'll take a minor break here for some social commentary: Remember when there was this national furor over Adam Lambert's is-he-or-isn't-he sexuality? Yet not a peep with Jacob. I wonder if it has something to do with race — to imply that a black man is a smidge light in the loafers would be somehow more serious? (Though it shouldn't be.) Or maybe it's just that no one cares anymore.
Haley chooses Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart." This song has been a little done to death, but I ain't mad at her. She looks great — love the big, curly hair. I feel like the mix is a little big — swallowing her vocals. Fortunately, as the track goes on, her voice just gets bigger. The bridge is great. I remain solidly on Team Haley. J.Lo asserts, "You're a contender."
Casey at first chose "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," a song cursed by one of the worst Idol performances ever. But then he changes it up, going with Creedence's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain." He pulls out the stand-up bass for this one. Meh. I'm bored. The song just doesn't seem to go anywhere. Randy announces, "Casey is making the upright bass cool." I actually had a crush on an upright bass player in high school, so I take issue with that.
Lauren selects "Natural Woman", which we all know as the Kelly Clarkson classic. During her performance, I find myself distracted by the Internet — is this my problem, or her problem? The whole thing just didn't have that IT factor. Also, she is wearing a tragic romper. I had forgotten that all the women were dressed by Gwen Stefani, and therefore look like stylish hobos.
James decides to slow it down with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." This is an Adam Lambert move. You sir, are no Adam Lambert. As he sings, I start to wonder about his voters. Like, "Hello, I'm a James Durbin fan." Who are you? What do you look like? And how are you getting by without Two and a Half Men? The last big note is pretty good. All things considered, this wasn't exactly a sedate ballad — more of a power ballad, which is right in his over-the-top wheelhouse. So much for his "bravery."
Scotty, of course, picks an Elvis song. We already know he was obsessed with Elvis as a child. Love the callback! Rewarding prior knowledge — it's like watching Lost! This is played as some huge departure for the country boy, but I just don't buy it. Elvis had serious twang. He was a Southern boy who understood that sensibility. It's not like Scotty chose a Tool song. I find the performance a little lightweight. I also hate the constant walking around — but respect the Tennessee Tuxedo. At the conclusion, a gaggle of screaming girls storm the stage. He looks terrified.
Christian Slater, get out of my face.
As promised, Pia sings "River Deep, Mountain High." She's wearing yet another one of Gwen Stefani's insane outfits — some weird flouncy jumpsuit thing. She was pretty good. Fun, if a little cheesy. While the judges talk, all I can think about is Randy's jacket. I never knew something like that could exist.
Stefano chooses "When a Man Loves Woman." This is a great song. His outfit? Blerg. Looks like a cheap wedding singer — shiny tie and black vest. I liked way he brought the performance in for a slow finish. His voice still excites me, but it just seems like the same thing every week. I think he might be in trouble.
Nashville's Paul McDonald gets the pimp spot! Meanwhile, I'm still laughing about Michael Slezak's relentless mocking of his creepy whisper at the end of "Rocket Man." He chooses Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Jimmy tells hims to "sing it like you're out of your mind." Shockingly, Iovine is somehow more likable with will.i.am as his foil. Paul tackles the track with a bit more of a shuffle, and some serious speed. He hits his first big note of the competition, but smiles his way through some of the most bad-ass lines ever written. Still, it wasn't boring. (Can I just mention Randy's jackettttt one more time?) Steven calls him "My perfect imperfect boy." I think about that wax bust.
I hope Jacob goes home tonight — but I think Casey and Stefano might be in trouble.