In what seems like eons since the American Idol contestants have had an interesting theme to play with, tonight they got a chance to sing songs from the extensive catalogue of Leiber and Stoller. And while tonight's theme selection has probably left most viewers scratching their heads, us theatre folk of course know that they're the guys who wrote hits like "Hound Dog," On Broadway," "Love Potion #9," and "Stand By Me." Thank you, Smokey Joes Café!
Perhaps the most interesting twist of tonight's episode came right off the bat when Ryan revealed who was chosen to be the guest mentor for the final four- Lady Gaga. Now I, like the rest of the planet, love me some Gaga, however I'm not entirely sure that she was the right girl for the job- her meat dress wearing, egg hatching history just doesn't scream Leiber and Stoller. Am I right?
Before the Leiber and Stoller marathon commenced however, the first round kicked off with songs that inspired the idols. James got the evening rolling with a solid performance of Don't Stop Believin by Journey. Hmmm. I can't say it was the most original song choice, and, in my opinion, James still has pitchy tendencies, but he certainly brought high energy which gave his performance a fun, concert vibe. The judges, of course, loved it. Jennifer claimed it was a "great song, great job, and great performance."
Haley continued things with Earth Song by Michael Jackson, which, of course, contained a very liberal use of her sassy scream/growl. To say the least, the judges gave her a hard time. Jennifer and Randy claimed it wasn't the best song choice. Randy seemed to think the song didn't "suit or fit" her as an artist and claimed that she screamed the last half. I get that it wasn't her best performance to date and I guess she could have been a bit more creative with her riffing at the end, but I feel like the judges were unnecessarily harsh.
Scotty continued the evening with a simple yet gorgeous arrangement of Alan Jackson's Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning). I'm no country music fan, but the song certainly spoke for itself and hearing Scotty sing it was just icing on the cake. The judges agreed. Randy stated, "I think it's the perfect song choice for where we are now as a country."
Lauren finished up the inspirational round with what was certainly an inspired performance of Anyway by Martina McBride. Was anyone else really into her grungy note sliding during the chorus? The judges loved it and Steven claimed that she delivers a song "like a blue plate special."
Moving on to some Smokey Joe's Café now, Haley came back with a vengeance as she nailed the dramatics of I Who Have Nothing. This is the second week in a row where Haley has been heavily criticized for song choice in the first round and has come right back to sing the crap out of her second choice. JLo stated, "This is why we can't take it easy on you. Look what you're capable of...one of the best performances of the year." I'll be downloading this recording pronto. Enough said.
Showing off the goofy side of his personality now, Scotty gave a theatrical performance of Young Blood originally sung by The Coasters. The song was cute; he gave a solid performance as always. The judges all loved it. Randy praised his song choices, loving how the evening showed off both sides of a Scotty concert. Steven claimed he made "Gaga's YaYa go LaLa." Yes, that is a direct quote.
Lauren continued the evening with a super sassy performance of Trouble originally sung by Elvis Presley. JLo claimed she saw a performance quality and a maturity that she hadn't seen before. Randy and Steven loved it as well. Though Lauren may not have been my absolute favorite as this season has gone on, I feel like she has sincerely grown and blossomed as an artist. It's refreshing to see.
James ended the evening with a high energy performance of Love Potion No. 9. Randy praised his ability to have "a moment every single week" and JLo felt the song really showed his versatility as a singer.
My official consensus of the week: Everyone really brought it this week, kudos to Gaga for forgetting to wear pants but remembering the important things: how to bring out the dramatics in everyone's performance and her mime makeup. Haley gave the best performance of the night with I Who Have Nothing. I honestly don't think I can pick a bottom two but I wouldn't be surprised to see Lauren go this week.