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If things felt a bit familiar on last night’s episode of American Idol top eleven show, it’s probably because it’s the second time around. After the judges saved Casey Abrams in last week’s surprisingly entertaining results show, the bottom two vote getters will be going home this week. You could tell the contestants were feeling the pressure last night, but luckily most of them channelled that pressure into some pretty impressive performances. Here’s my ranking:
(Side note: If you like all things American Idol and haven’t yet seen Jimmy Fallon’s skit on Casey Abrams’ future in endorsement deals, check it out here.)
1. Casey Abrams (“Your Song”)
I couldn’t help but smile while watching this. This is the Casey that I (like many people) originally fell in love with. He left out the faces, and the growling, and the gimmicks, and he just sang. And he sang it beautifully. When he did the second set of “I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind”, it (to steal a line from J.Lo) gave me goosebumps. My other favourite moment was the line, “or the man who makes potions in the travelling show”. You don’t see many lines that are phrased so beautifully on American Idol. He totally redeemed himself and proved that the judges were very wise to use their save.
2. Lauren Alaina (“Candle in the Wind”)
Lauren may be barely capable of stringing together a coherent sentence for the camera, but somehow that all vanishes when she sings. Her take on “Candle in the Wind” was restrained and beautiful. She put the slightest little country twist on it, while still maintaining the classic simplicity of the song. She’s regaining momentum by the week.
3. Pia Toscano (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”)
This was a predictable choice from Pia, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t knock it out of the park. I do understand why people call her boring, and her ballad-only approach to the competition is a bit dull. But some of those notes that she hits are far from boring. As J.Lo said, “the notes take us to an other-worldly place”.
4. Haley Reinhart (“Bennie and the Jets”)
What is happening? I…I have no explanation for this other than the fact that Haley was good this week. Like, really rather good. The growling still grated on me, but my god, some of those notes were amazing. Definitely her best performance by FAR. And I didn’t even mind her personality this week. I feel very confused right now.
5. Scotty Creery (“Country Comfort”)
Scotty kicked off the night with Elton’s one and only country tune, and as always, he did a good job. People criticize Scotty for singing the same style of song every week, and I’m kind of split on this criticism. On one hand, his performances do tend to all sound alike (especially since I’m not familiar with most of the songs he picks), but he does that style so well. And considering that he’s one of the only contestants who’s ready to record an album in a defined style any day now, singing something completely different would be kind of pointless, since he’s obviously not trying to be any other kind of artist. It was the usual from Scotty, which means he didn’t surprise me in the way that some of the others did, but I kind of like the usual.
6. James Durbin (“Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”)
You can always count on James for a dynamic, showy performance. And complete with flaming pianos, his take on the Elton John stomper was fun. But I kind of get the sense that James is more interested in acting like a rockstar than singing. Of course he sings well, but he’s currently stuck at a cheesy hair-metal level. It was fun when he did the Judas Priest tune (and he made a wise choice in singing McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” the week after), but he needs to push himself more and focus on the vocals. He’s always solid, though.
7. Jacob Lusk (“Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word”)
Randy gave Jacob great advice when he told him to pick one part of the song as the standout moment. Because with Jacob, every part of the song is in top gear, guns a blazing. Don’t get me wrong – it was a good performance. I just feel a bit like I did with Siobhan Magnus’ signature “scream” last year. If you can do something impressive like that, don’t do it ALL THE TIME. It begins to lose its impact, and people stop caring.
8. Thia Megia (“Daniel”)
Oh, Thia. Unfortunately, she is floundering big time. This is probably the only situation where not having Lauren or Haley’s personality is a bad thing. Her take on “Daniel” was nice, but it just…didn’t work, somehow. It was enjoyable to listen to at the time, yet I remember almost nothing about her performance after the fact. I feel like Thia’s losing what originally made her unique.
9. Paul McDonald (“Rocket Man”)
Last week, Idol blogger Richard Lawson lucked out with the realised Seacrest/Stefano sexual tension, and I imagine he’s having all sorts of fun with the literal interpretation of his “Willy Whispers” label for Paul this week. Sadly, that strange final note was probably the most memorable part of Paul’s performance. I of course love Paul, and he was good last week, but the pitch killed him again this week. It wasn’t an especially strong rendition of the song to begin with (save for a few strong moments), but his mangling of the melody in the chorus was rough. I wish he could pull himself back together.
10. Naima Adedapo (“I’m Still Standing”)
I like Naima for being unique. And I didn’t mind her reggae twist on “I’m Still Standing”. It was just…kind of amateur. The singing was okay, but she never seems like she’s quite good enough to make it far on the show.
11. Stefano Langone (“Tiny Dancer”)
“Tiny Dancer” is one of the best entries in Elton John’s impressive catalogue, so I was worried when Ryan Seacrest’s tiny dancer Stefano announced he was taking it on. And sure enough, he managed to suck all of the emotion out of it and turn it into something completely boring. His phrasing was wonky, his facial expressions were ridiculous, and he completely missed the emotion of the song. But he did keep his eyes open for an entire song. So there’s that.
Should Go: Stefano, Thia (Er…it felt wrong putting Haley in this spot after that performance. And with Thia falling in the bottom half of my ranking for a few weeks running, she’s not adapting.)
Will Go: Stefano, Thia (or possibly Naima)
I recently jumped into the Hunger Games hysteria, and I enjoyed the first book in the series (the only one I’ve read so far) quite a bit. It’s a fast-paced story (sometimes too much so), and though I hate to echo the masses, I basically could not put it down. It’s definitely not high literature, but it’s a really fun read.
Of course, Jennifer Lawrence was recently cast as leading lady Katniss Everdeen. I thought they would be going for a younger cast, but Lawrence was fantastic in Winter’s Bone, so I’m happy to see her in anything. (But since she’s also in the X-Men reboot, I was kind of hoping that she wouldn’t be in any more big franchises.)
That leaves the two key roles of Peeta (Katniss’ companion in the Hunger Games) and Gale (her childhood friend from home). Slash Film recently released this list of supposed good bets for each of the roles:
Hunter Parrish – 23 years old (Weeds)
Josh Hutcherson – 18 years old (The Kids Are All Right)
Evan Peters – 24 years old (Kick-Ass)
Alexander Ludwig – 19 years old (Escape to Witch Mountain)
Lucas Till – 20 years old (Battle: LA, X-Men: First Class)
I have to echo the popular vote here and put my support behind Hunter Parrish for Peeta. He just seems like the perfect choice. I think that he’ll ultimately get the part, because he already has a strong fanbase and seems to be just on the cusp of being a huge star. He and Lawrence would probably make a good match, too.
I initially couldn’t picture Hutcherson as Peeta, but aside from the age difference between him and Lawrence, the idea is kind of growing on me. But to be honest, I actually think that he should aim higher than The Hunger Games. Despite being the youngest of this group, Hutcherson is probably the most established. He’s already done a lot of action-y blockbusters (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Zathura, Cique Du Freak), and with two more on the horizon (a Journey sequel and the Red Dawn re-boot), he should move on. Or, at least, he should go for movies where it’s his vehicle. Really, though, despite his jock-ish looks, I think he’s better suited for more low-key fare. He was really good in Bridge to Terabithia when he was only a young teen, and though he wasn’t given much to do, he showed considerable charisma in The Kids Are All Right.
As for Evan Peters, I like what I’ve seen from him. He made a good sidekick in Kick-Ass, and though it was a random, one-episode role, I really loved him as Michael Scott’s bored slacker nephew on The Office. He was also on the short-lived show Invasion from a few years ago, and I remember really liking him on that, too. It’s great to see him getting considered for big roles like these, but he seems like a strange fit for Peeta.
Lucas Till looks the part alright for Peeta, but I’ve never seen any of his movies, so I can’t really comment on his acting skill. But I will say that I think Parrish has a sturdier, more outward charisma that is required for the role.
Liam Hemsworth – 21 years old (The Last Song)
David Henrie – 21 years old (The Wizards of Waverly Place)
Robbie Amell – 22 years old (Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP)
Drew Roy – 24 years old (Secretariat, Greek)
I have to admit, I know virtually nothing about these guys. I know Hemsworth was in that Miley Cyrus movie and dated her for a while (are they still together? I can never keep track of these things, nor do I particularly want to), but he seems way too flashy for Gale. The other three all look the part decently, but based purely on looks, my vote out of that group would be for Drew Roy. He has the strongest “boy-next-door” vibe going for him. At 24, he seems way too old to be playing a character who’s 16 (or is he supposed to be/look older than he actually is in the book? I can’t remember.) but if they’re going to cast Lawrence and (hopefully) Parrish, he probably wouldn’t look too out of place.
The Hollywood Reporter says that things are “not limited” to the names above, which makes things interesting. They’d be crazy to go with anyone aside from Parrish (please not Alex Pettyfer!), but based on that list, the role of Gale seems to still be anyone’s game. I personally think Matthew Beard would be a good choice (you may remember him as the perpetually ignored Graham in An Education).
Motown week never excited me on Idol, but I’m now forced to eat my words, because last night’s show was the best live show yet this season. I’m kind of relieved, because things weren’t looking good those past two weeks. The season started off really well, but until last night, it had slowly been losing steam. It wasn’t an AMAZING night, but by comparison, these kids looked pretty damn good. And we also got some A-grade Steven nonsequiturs, which is always a treat. As always, here is my ranking for the night:
1. Pia Toscano (“All in Love is Fair”)
I really want to hate Pia. And every time I see one of her robotic video packages, I do hate her. But then she opens her damn mouth and sings, and it’s undeniably gorgeous. She killed it, she’s amazing, blah blah blah.
2. Jacob Lusk (“You’re All I Need to Get By”)
Thank you, Jacob Lusk. After his almost entirely out-of-tune rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” and a ho-hum take on “Alone”, Jacob reminded everyone why he made the top 13. It was a passionate, beautiful performance. He killed the vocals like we knew he could, and it’s great to see him back to form. He’s not even one of my favourites, but he can be great, and he was great here.
3. Paul McDonald (“Tracks of My Tears”)
My sweet Paul! Congratulations on not being awful this week! I felt the recurring twinge of disappointment with those first few notes, but he really pulled it together once the song got higher. I liked his take on the Smokey Robinson tune, and there were a few moments that reminded me why I fell in love with his voice to begin with (such as the line: “My smile is the makeup I wear since my breakup”). It’s a somewhat rare thing on Idol when a contestant performs a song in a way that I really enjoy, and that actually brings something new and interesting to the song that makes me want to listen back to it a few times. (And all that talk of smiling and clowns seemed appropriate for Paul, right?)
4. James Durbin (“Living for the City”)
I was unsure about how James would do with Motown, but he did a cool little rendition of this Stevie Wonder tune. It seemed a bit by-the-numbers at times (as in, “okay, high note here, scream here, point to the audience here), and just this side of sharp on some notes, but it certainly won’t hurt James any.
5. Lauren Alaina (“You Keep Me Hanging On”)
Her personal connection to the song was shaky (to me, it seemed like she was grabbing for people’s sympathy. Something about people on the internet being mean? How shocking), but if that’s what it takes for Lauren to give a heartfelt performance, then go for it, girl. She delivered a solid if slightly forgettable performance. Lauren is re-building some of her momentum, and if she keeps it up, she could definitely be sitting pretty in the top three.
6. Scotty McCreery (“For Once in My Life”)
I hope this isn’t creepy (for the record, I’m only a couple of years older than him!), but Scotty is so cute. He just makes me smile. The poor thing was out of his element big time last night, but his take on the Stevie Wonder tune was interesting. His herky-jerky delivery style was in full swing last night (it seems better suited to actual country songs, obviously), but I really liked some of his “high” notes. Progress!
7. Naima Adedapo (“Dancing in the Streets”)
Like Jacob, Naima mostly pulled her pitch together this week. And she also gave a lively, lovely performance. I find her phrasing a bit awkward at times, but she always captivates me when she sings. I didn’t think that it was quite as amazing as J.Lo seemed to, but a nice performance overall. The dancing was awesome, too!
8. Thia Megia (“Heatwave”)
The merriment was a bit forced here, but Thia (who wisely chose an up-tempo song this week) did a decent job of convincing everyone that she was having fun. She sang better than she has for the past two weeks, and it’s a step in the right direction. Not amazing, but a solid performance.
9. Casey Abrams (“I Heard it Through the Grape Vine”)
Casey was the first one to perform, and after his performance, my expectations for the show were pretty low. It wasn’t a bad performance, and I do still like Casey a lot, but I’m happy to say that it was one of the weaker of the night. Despite saying in the video package that he was going to pull back on the screeching, he had some of his screechiest moments yet for me. I miss audition round Casey. Things were more low-key with him then. Kind of a slow boil. Now it just seems like he’s trying EVERYTHING, and it’s not really working.
10. Stefano Langone (“Hello”)
Perhaps Stefano chose a good song, because he’s kind of American Idol‘s
Lionel Ritchie. He’s got a pleasant voice and he’s likeable enough, but he is not relevant by any stretch of the imagination. He sang well, but I’ll have to borrow a critique from my Idol viewing partners (aka my parents) and call it schmaltzy. Oh, and I haven’t had a chance to read Richard Lawson’s recap of the show over at Gawker yet, but I imagine he was ALL OVER that Sefano/Seacrest sexual tension (Randy Jackson must read his column).
11. Hailey Reinhart (“You Really Got a Hold On Me”)
Let me start this by saying that this was my favourite performance from Haley so far (and not just because my television’s audio cut out for 30 seconds in the middle of it). I really didn’t mind it, for the most part. Sure there was some growling and vocal gymnastics, but she actually SANG, which was a refreshing change. That said, it was a strong night and I don’t like Haley so…
AND, since I just finished watching the results show tonight and it was an unusually interesting one, I’ll talk about it a bit now. The whole results show was sloppy and strange, and I kind of loved it. It’s Steven’s birthday! Hulk Hogan’s here! Ryan Seacrest is flying through the air! Is Casey James alright…no, seriously, is he okay?
- So apparently the reason that everyone sucked the past two weeks and was good last night is because they didn’t know how those monitor things worked before? And now they do? And it required Marc Anthony to show them that? I really enjoyed how none of the contestants gave a single fuck when Mr. JLo came out and continued to ignore him backstage (good effort, though, Paul! I saw you trying to care. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.)
- James and Paul wrestling was way cuter than it had any right to be.
- James in a suit was way cuter than it had any right to be.
- Oh, hey Stevie Wonder!
- Sugarland confirmed the fact that they are actually terrible in every way possible.
- And as for the results, they were kind of surprising. If you look at my rankings (which I made before the results show), I guess the bottom three kind of made sense (though I thought Haley was toast). But just because Casey was so-so the past couple of weeks DOESN’T MEAN YOU SEND HIM HOME. I’m glad the judges saved him (though I legitimately feared for his health when the judges announced it. He was so pale! And he’s been in the hospital and everything…), though I was ready to enjoy some old-school Casey bluesy stuff when he sang for his life.
So overall, a surprisingly entertaining week of Idol!
I vaguely heard about Steven Silver’s new film, The Bang Bang Club, when it played at TIFF, though it didn’t seem to make much of a splash. Now, it’s finally getting a theatrical run, and Tribeca films has released the first official trailer.
If you’d asked me who was in this movie before watching the trailer, I could not have told you. But it turns out that the film stars Ryan Phillippe and Tim Riggins Taylor Kitsch as two photographers working among poverty and strife in South Africa during the mid-1990′s. Malin Akerman also stars as an editor that the team works with.
Phillippe, Kitsch, and Akerman are not three people that I generally associate with top-notch acting. And not knowing much about the film’s premise before watching the trailer, I had expected something rather different. But this actually looks pretty good. Silver’s previous work has been mainly in documentaries, and it shows here in what seems to be an effectively filmed and edited movie (or trailer, at least). Yes, it does have the Hollywood sheen, but The Bang Bang Club actually looks to be more heavily focussed on the moral implications of what these photographers are doing, rather than a bunch of cool explosions.
And maybe I’m being too harsh on these actors, because they look decent here (aside from some dubious accents). The jury is still out as to whether Akerman can act, but Phillippe can be good, and to me, Kitsch is one of the most fascinating young “heartthrob” actors around. I haven’t seen him in anything besides the first season of Friday Night Lights, and I couldn’t decide if his acting was awful or legitimately good on that show. He obviously has tons of charisma, and he brought a strange understated humour. But even if Kitsch is not a good actor (which is entirely possible), I have to give him credit for creating such a bizarrely compelling character in Tim Riggins.
But I could go on all day about my love for Tim Riggins. Let’s not get into that. Instead, I’ll simply say that I am now a lot more interested in The Bang Bang Club.
Last year around this time, I took a stab in the dark at some super early Oscar predictions. They actually turned out better than I’d expected (I guessed four out of the five eventual Best Actress nominees, and also predicted David O. Russell, Colin Firth, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams for nominations), so I thought I’d try again this year. I’m hoping to do a bit better than 4/10 in the Best Picture category, and maybe get a few more right in the acting categories, too. Maybe The Tree of Life will finally pan out for me this year.
Category placement is also messing with me this year. Are Mortensen, Fassbender, and Knightley all co-leads in A Dangerous Method? What about the mega-cast of Contagion? And do Carey Mulligan (Shame) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners) count as lead or supporting?
(NOTE: I’m currently hedging my bets that J. Edgar and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will not be released this year. Both are listed on IMDB as 2012 releases currently, and though that’s obviously not a definite indicator, by my experience, movies don’t usually come out earlier than expected.)
A Dangerous Method
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Ides of March
The Tree of Life
Other Possibilities: Shame, On the Road, Contagion, We Bought a Zoo, The Impossible, The Skin That I Inhabit
David Cronenberg – A Dangerous Method
David Fincher – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Martin Scorsese – Hugo Cabret
Stephen Spielberg – War Horse
Other Possibilities: Bennett Miller (Moneyball), George Clooney (The Ides of March), Jason Reitman (Young Adult), Steve McQueen (Shame), Cameron Crowe (We Bought a Zoo), The Skin that I Inhabit (Pedro Almodovar), David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), Steven Soderbergh (Contagion)
Antonio Banderas – The Skin That I Inhabit
George Clooney – The Descendants
Ryan Gosling – The Ides of March
Gary Oldman – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
Other Possibilities: Brad Pitt (Moneyball), Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method or Shame), Matt Damon (We Bought a Zoo), Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Woody Harrelson (Rampart), Johnny Depp (The Rum Diary), George Clooney (The Ides of March), Tahar Rahim (Black Gold), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter or The Iceman)
Glen Close – Albert Nobbs
Felicity Jones – Like Crazy
Meryl Steep – The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin
Charlize Theron – Young Adult
Other Possibilities: Emily Blunt (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method), Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn), Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Charlotte Gainsboug (Melancholia), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Emily Watson (Oranges and Sunshine), Linda Cardellini (Return)
Best Supporting Actor
Paul Giamatti – The Ides of March
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Moneyball
Viggo Mortensen – A Dangerous Method
Sean Penn – The Tree of Life
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Other Possibilities: Aaron Eckhart (The Rum Diary), Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady), Tom Hardy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Jude Law (Contagion), John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Christopher Plummer (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Ben Kingsley (Hugo Cabret)
Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life
Carey Mulligan – Shame
Kristen Scott Thomas – Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Emily Watson – War Horse
Robin Wright – Moneyball
Other Possibilities: Marisa Tomei (The Ides of March), Kate Winslet (Contagion), Marion Cotillard (Contagion), Mia Wasikowska (Albert Nobbs), Robin Wright (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Rampart), Judy Greer (The Descendants), Viola Davis (The Help)
After last week’s underwhelming top 13 showing, I’m happy to report that most of the Idol contestants came back with something to prove. The majority of the top 12 were better than they were last week, and we saw several strong performances. There’s still lots of room for improvement, but I think that they’re at least on the right track. My only complaint is that while J.Lo and Randy seem more outspoken than ever, judge Steven Tyler is unexpectedly getting shuffled into the background. But here’s a rundown of tonight’s performances, from best to worst.
1. James Durbin (“I’ll Be There For You”)
I’ve been very impressed with the Durbs since the “live” shows started. He’s been remarkably consistent (he, Scotty, and Pia are probably the only ones who have had three good performances in three weeks), and it seems like he’s thankfully used his “screams” sparingly. Though I liked his vocals better last week on “Maybe I’m Amazed”, I have to give him a lot of credit for improving his stage performance. Yes, American Idol is really cheesy, and James is also kind of cheesy (so much hair metal!), but he worked the stage like a pro last night.
2. Scotty McCreery (“Can I Trust You With My Heart”)
Scotty wins for best pre-performance video package (baby Elivis impersonators? Yes, please!), and he also gave a super solid performance, as usual. His “high” note was lovely, and he seems to be gaining confidence each week.
3. Pia Toscano (“Where Do Broken Hearts Go”)
I was relieved that Pia avoided doing another ballad. Yes, it was still a Whitney Houston song and yes, there were still lots of power notes, but it was nice to see something a bit different from her. It’s not a style of singing that I love, but she does it extremely well.
4. Lauren Alaina (“I’m the Only One”)
Lauren was battling the flu this week, and despite a strange pre-performance interview with Ryan (where she was even spacier than usual), she overcame the illness for her performance. She’s just a naturally great singer. This song showed off her voice much better than last week’s, and I think Lauren is now back in the competition.
5. Stefano Langone (“If You Don’t Know Me By Now”)
I haven’t been much of a Stefano fan, but I think that this was his best performance yet. He didn’t change the song up much, but considering last week’s Stevie Wonder debacle, that was probably for the best.
6. Casey Abrams (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”)
I love Casey Abrams’ parents. And I also love that Casey always surprises me with his performances. He took on the mighty Nirvana this week (yay 1991 babies!), and while it was certainly a strange performance (and yes, a bit unpleasantly screechy at times), I give him a lot of credit for doing something that we’ve never really seen on the Idol stage. And with some good moments, it was much better than it had any right to be.
7. Jacob Lusk (“Alone”)
Can we please stop “Lusky stank” from entering the Idol lexicon? Please? The exuberant Jacob took on a Heart song, and thankfully, he was much better than last week. It still didn’t totally work (and he went off-key at a couple of spots), but as always with Jacob, it was a passionate performance.
8. Thia Megia (“Colours of the Wind”)
Thia was born in 1995 (that even makes me feel old!), yet despite having the most current music to chose from out of anyone, her performance felt the most old-fashioned. She sang it very well, and it was a nice performance, but this girl is going to fall by the wayside for sheer blandness if she doesn’t step it up. She should do something more current (maybe something Adele-like, since apparently Adele is the only relevant female artist that the judges can think of to compare people to).
9. Paul McDonald (“I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues”)
Why are you doing this to me, Paul? Why are you making me rank you 8th and 9th for the night? It was definitely an improvement from last week, but while some parts showed off his voice nicely, other parts were hopelessly flat. His energy also seemed a bit lower this week, despite all of the hopping around stage, but I’ll chalk it up the cold that he had.
10. Naima Adedapo (“What’s Love Got to Do With It”)
You know what’s great about Naima? She’s the only female contestant currently on the show with a definable personality. But you know what’s not so great? Her recent inability to hit more than half the notes in any given song.
11. Haley Reinhart (“I’m Your Baby Tonight”)
Like most of Haley’s performances, there were a few really nice moments, vocally. But most of the time, she was a bit all over the place (too much growling!). Her stage movements were awkward, and not in a fun Paul McDonald way.
12. Karen Rodriguez (“Love Will Lead You Back”)
If it wasn’t for her ridiculous hair and pandering to Nick Jonas, I would literally remember nothing about Karen’s performance.
Will Go: Karen
Should Go: Haley or Karen
This fan-made trailer of Ferris Bueller re-imagined as an angsty indie drama has been all over the internet today (I saw it, like two days ago, bitches!) These are three thoughts I had about it:
As much as I hate to admit it, I would probably be all over this pretentious, re-imagined Ferris Bueller, if it was an actual thing
I forgot/never realised how artfully shot that movie is
A whole bunch of kids are now going to watch Ferris Bueller for the first time and expect something entirely different.
Okay, I apologize for the overexcitement that has invaded this blog in the last twenty minutes. But HOW had I only semi-heard about this project before now:
Okay, so I’m thinking, “that’s kind of exciting, because Andrew Dominik directed The Assassination of Jesse James. The plot sounds kind of okay, I guess…” But it gets better. OH, IT GETS BETTER:
Casey Affleck, Brad Pitt, and Sam Rockwell reunited in a movie with Andrew Dominik directing? And you want also to cast Javier Bardem, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Mendelsohn, and Richard Jenkins? Oh, yes, sure I suppose that would be fine, too. (!!!!!!)
Between this and J. Edgar, I’m already kind of pumped for 2012.
YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT REECE THOMPSON MADE IT ONTO THE POSTER
The first live show of the season just ended (last week’s performances were pre-taped), and well, things were a bit rough. There were very few standout performances, and quite a few disappointing ones. Even the judges were a bit out of sorts (it seemed like Steven and J.Lo were battling colds, perhaps?) and just ended up praising most of the contestants. Here’s a rundown of what I thought of the performances, from best to worst.
1. Scotty McCreery (“The River”)
Mainstream country music is not my thing at all, but I do adore Scotty. He’s just such a pro. He basically salvaged the night with his rendition of this Garth Brooks tune. And as J.Lo pointed out, he loosened up, connected with the audience and looked like he was having fun.
2. James Durbin (“Maybe I’m Amazed”)
James Durbin has been doing a lot of screaming, so it was really refreshing to see him take a step back and sing as prettily as he did tonight. He did throw in some power notes, but they were done tastefully and accented his performance (as opposed to overwhelming it). His little falsetto run near the end was gorgeous, and he completely nailed this one.
3. Casey Abrams (“With a Little Help From My Friends”)
Taking on Joe Cocker’s barn-burning rendition of the Beatles tune is no easy task. And while Casey is a pretty passionate guy, his version did pale in comparison. It was a good performance, but there were a couple of key moments to the song that he didn’t hit. Not his best, but still very enjoyable, as always.
4. Pia Toscano (“All By Myself”)
Pia blew me away last week with her performance of “I’ll Stand By You”, but it seemed like she was trying to top herself this week. The problem was that she didn’t need to go any bigger than last week. She did wander into oversinging territory tonight, but there were also some really stunning moments.
5. Naima Adedapo (“Umbrella”)
I was very surprised to hear that Rihanna is Naima’s inspiration. I’d simply expected someone from an older era. But she did surprisingly well with Rihanna’s megahit “Umbrella”. It was not a perfect performance by any means (especially that last segment), but she did bring a welcome energy and unique flavour to her version.
6. Lauren Alaina (“Any Man of Mine”)
Lauren Alaina annoys me sometimes, but I thought that the judges were too harsh on her (since she was the first to perform, maybe they wanted to seem like they had very high standards. But then as the night wore on, it seems like just about anyone would cut it). Not great (and not a great showcase for her voice), but fun and lively.
7. Thia Megia (“Smile”)
She sang it well, but Thia’s performance of “Smile” was a bit of a mess. To begin with it was the wrong song choice – way too old for her. And then they took an old-fashioned song and made it seem even more irrelevant by adding some weird jazz arrangement. This girl has such a unique voice, but she needs to pick songs to showcase it.
8. Paul McDonald (“Come Pick Me Up”)
My sweet Paul. I wanted so badly to like this. He took two things that I love (Paul himself and Ryan Adams), but it just didn’t really work. “Come Pick Me Up” is a great song, but it was too low and didn’t suit Paul’s voice. I admire that he picked an artist that he actually admired (rather than Ashthon and Thia who just chose whoever the judges compared them to laste week), but there were other Adams songs that he could have done much better with (“Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd.”, Adams’ rendition of “Wonderwall”, “Dear Chicago”, “The Rescue Blues”). Also, I was shocked that J.Lo was unfamiliar with Ryan Adams. I know he’s not huge but COME ON. Someone who’s in the industry like her should know these things. (Semi-Side Note: Ryan Adams is currently trending worldwide on Twitter!)
9. Karen Rodriguez (“I Could Fall in Love”)
10. Jacob Lusk (“I Believe I Can Fly”)
Did I completely mishear this? Because to me, Jacob seemed to be singing in about half a dozen different keys. He’s usually solid, and he can be amazing, but this was just all over the place.
11. Haley Reinhart (“Blue”)
Good lord, some of those “yodelling” notes were really painful to me. You can insert the dying animal analogy of your choice. There were some nice moments, vocally, but the whole performance was boring.
12. Stefano Langone (“Lately”)
Frantic, sloppy, and boring all at the same time. It’s a rare combination.
13. Ashthon Jones (“When You Tell Me That You Love Me”)
Ashthon seems to be getting a lot of hate online, but I’ve always kind of likes her voice. But this was just stuffy, and not particularly well sung.
No one completely crashed and burned, but there were a lot of really underwhelming performances. Almost everyone was better last week, so we know that they’re capable of more, but this was a slow start to the finals (though to be fair, the first Top 10/11/12/13 show is usually rough)
Will Go: Ashthon?
Should Go: Ashthon, Stefano, and Haley are seat fillers to me right now.