So last week was a disaster. For me. Personally. I spent Wednesday evening watching my Philadelphia Phillies own the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. No Name Guy With Funny Glasses pitched well, the Phanatic was whimsical as ever, and many delicious local drafts kept me warm in the unseasonably chilly weather. All that = great. BUT, when I returned home, it was a DVR disaster. No Idol. No Idol at all.
So the next day I had to locate an illegal stream and watch it on my computer while alternating between word processing and web browser. It was not my normal routine. I was cranky. Plus, no JLo in HD. Truly tragic.
The theme was "Now and Then." Each of the Top Five sang two songs, one from ... wait for it ... "Now," and one from "Then." (Personally, I wish the theme had been the classic tween-girls-become-old-ladies movie Now and Then.)
James is up first, singing a song by Jordan Catalano's band 30 Seconds to Mars. It's called "Closer to the Edge," and it's stupid. Maybe he should have done this instead. James seems much more focused on hamming it up with the crowd than actually singing, going on a high-five rampage. His voice sounds thin and tinny. He also looks ridiculous — get some sleeves, bro. Obviously, the judges go nuts over it. I really don't understand why they like this guy so much.
Both Jacob and Lauren are doing songs by former winners. Jacob has selected "No Air," a duet by Jordin Sparks and noted abusive lunatic Chris Brown. It sounds terrible and his dancing is repulsive. JLo mentions the whole "what kind of record would he make" conundrum. Randy actually admits that he hated it, and calls singing a duet "silly." Steven isn't even paying attention. Jacob's response: "I think I'm an artist that appeals to everyone." Hurl.
Lauren sings "Flat on the Floor" by Carrie Underwood. Mentor Sheryl Crow (who actually manages to give some great advice throughout the evening) tells her to stay put on stage and focus on singing. She only halfway listens. Meanwhile, Lauren continues to get the Mighty Ducks edit — Jimmy even says, "I'm proud of Lauren." This is a fun song, but it also reveals that she's not as good a singer as Carrie. That said, she looks the best she's ever looked. The uber-girly thing has been toned down a smidge.
Before his performance, Scotty is snuggling with girls in the audience. Subtlety is really this show's forte, eh? He's singing "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry. Sheryl assures him, "You got a big career ahead of you." This is an upbeat, well-done performance, and the crowd is going nuts. Randy says, "I feel like we were sitting at concert Scotty." Recently, this genre of compliment is really all Randy has to offer — and this time it's not even grammatically correct.
Haley is going to sing an "unreleased" Lady Gaga song. It's a boozy torch number called "You and I." She sings the hell out of it. Meanwhile, in Crazytown (aka the judges' panel), JLo questions the song choice. WTF?! Apparently they wish Haley would have chosen something everyone knows. Yeah, like 30 Seconds to Mars, right? They didn't even talk about the vocals. Haley looks seriously discouraged. More fuel for the conspiracy theorists ...
For his second number, James has selected Harry Nilsson's "Without You." We get to see him cry. About his family. Sheryl looks awkward. At least his upper arms are covered. Man, it doesn't sound very good —but he's crying, so we're all supposed to care. Randy says, "This is a mark of a great performer. No, it wasn't perfect, but it was emotionally perfect." Whatever that means. I really don't understand all the love for this dude. He doesn't sing very well. Period.
Jacob is doing "Love Hurts." During rehearsals, the highlight is when Sheryl sings — who knew her voice was that straight-up awesome? It starts out slow and kinda OK, but then he goes full Jacob on it. I could not be more over this dude. Fortunately, (spoiler alert!) I'm not alone.
Lauren sings "Unchained Melody." Jimmy says, "Most people know this song from the movie Ghost." Um, OK. (You heard it here first: Jimmy Iovine has a home pottery studio.) She really lets the song breathe, and I dig the performance. "It was a beautiful song, sung beautifully," says JLo.
Scotty, noted Elvis obsessive, is doing "Always on My Mind." I like the pedal steel on the arrangement. This is his most understated performance in terms of pulling faces and ladling on the cheese. The judges liked it. I agree. I also take a moment to think about how far he's come from "Babylockthemdoors." From joke to favorite. That hasn't happened much on this show — imagine Tatiana (shudder) making it to the Nokia Theater.
Haley closes the show with "House of the Rising Son." I had seen murmurs on Twitter (@stabert, btw) that she had killed, so I had high expectations. They were exceeded. She opens the song a cappella, and it's straight-up magical. She seems to be channeling the judges' apathy into seething rage. I like it. As if to redeem their behavior from earlier, the panel gives her a standing ovation. During their comments, Haley looks over it. Over them. I know the feeling.
As eluded to earlier, Jacob is sent back to the spa. I'm going to go look in the mirror. I think I'm finally ready.