This week has largely been advertised as “Leiber & Stoller” week, which means some updated doo-wop-y songs that usually tell a story. For their second song of the night, though, because they can’t just sing one full song and let the show be an hour, the American Idol Top 4 will be singing “Songs That Inspire.” Oh god, songs that inspire! At least the Space Jam hit, “I Believe I Can Fly” has already been done this season. Who needs another reminder that they could be watching Space Jam for 90 minutes instead of American Idol? Not me!
But seriously, “songs that inspire” almost always fail to inspire. And James Durbin is rumored to be singing “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which is such an obvious song choice I feel like he’s already done it. But Lady Gaga is here, so maybe she can fix everything. I also think she’ll do a good job mentoring when it comes to the Leiber & Stoller songbook. Someone just sing “Stand By Me,” do an amazing job, and get it over with!
It’s all happening tonight: Gaga, inspiration, Leiber, Stoller, Steven Tyler’s sandpaper suit. Right away, James (who is still awkward sometimes) trips on Lauren’s long skirt. She looks like she stepped out of The Three Musketeers. Then to make everything even better, Ryan talks about who will be mentoring the contestants over a shot of MIKE STOLLER, which cuts away as Ryan says, “Lady Gaga.” Poor Mike Stoller, he probably hates that this (the show) is happening to him.
James Durbin sings “Don’t Stop Believin’,” because he has NEVER stopped Believin’. He’s singing first again, and I barely had time to register it was happening. I was still thinking about little old Mike Stoller. James nails the song, of course, and the flashpots go off behind him at the end of the song out of obligation. Steven Tyler tells him, “You couldn’t have picked a more popular song.” Is that a compliment or…? Everyone agrees, it is a good song. But hey, James admits he “slipped up a little bit last week.”
Haley Reinhart is singing “The Earth Song” by Michael Jackson, which covers all the bases. There’s pretty much no right way to do an inspirational song, so I guess this is good enough. The choir came out on the moving stairs as Haley sang about earth and pollution and children dying all just in general. She seemed really into it, and the vocal performance was fine. I like her sparkly top. Jennifer Lopez had some tough love for Haley, telling her that her song was not as popular as the one James chose. Ugh, this THEME. Steven Tyler, bestselling author, tells Haley that Randy and Jennifer are wrong to dislike the performance. Casey Abrams claps enthusiastically from the audience. THEY ARE IN LOVE, YOU GUYS! Even though she has a talented musician who is in love with her, Haley looks defeated.
Scotty McCreery is singing “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning,” an Alan Jackson song about September 11th. If anyone can deliver inspiration, it’s Scotty and his guitar. And even if he was bad, would the judges dare say something bad about a 9/11 song? Scotty was good, and he may as well have killed Osama Bin Laden just by singing this song. His approval rating is sure to go up after this performance. Where were you when the world stopped turning? Scotty was 7.
Lauren Alaina chose a Martina McBride song, and she’s singing it for the victims of the tornadoes in the South. And LOOK at that dress. And that fog. Dress, I dub thee the Inspirational Saloon Prom Dress. Now that I’ve looked away from the ISPD, I think this is actually Lauren’s best performance yet. She sounds confident and professional. That being said, I still don’t know how a 15/16 year old could ever handle being in this competition. I was just worried about trying to get a boy to like me at that time, let alone a whole country. Randy declares that Lauren is “BACK IN IT TO WIN IT!”
Round One is Complete. Ryan Seacrest asks J. Lo who won this round and she answers, basically, “anyone but Haley!” and Randy agrees. God, that’s mean. Haley tries not to cry as Ryan cuts to the commercial break.
Lady Gaga looks crazy, or crazier than usual to mentor the contestants.
Haley Reinhart is singing “I Who Have Nothing,” and Lady Gaga wants more drama, Edith Piaf and psychotics. Even if the judges don’t like Haley, Lady Gaga does. Haley is wearing plastic stripper heels, perhaps in honor of this week’s mentor. Haley seemed a little distracted (understandably) at the beginning of the performance but I think vocally she really pulled it together. Come on, she killed it. The judges gave her a standing ovation, and then patted themselves on the back for “not taking it easy on” Haley. Bestselling Author Steven Tyler told Haley, “You just Reinharted yourself into the middle of next week.”
Scotty McCreery is singing “Young Blood” by The Coasters. Lady Gaga acknowledges that Scotty is funny. That’s what I’ve been saying! She also made Scotty incredibly nervous talking about frenching. I love this pairing. If I had to choose, I guess my favorite part of this performance was Scotty’s “comedy” stylings, where he looked into the camera all crazy-like. He’s a weirdo, but he’s comfortable with it. Randy is still harping on this Scotty Concert business, and while I agree, I don’t think this was a definitive Scotty performance.
Lauren Alaina is singing Elvis Presley’s “Trouble,” but she’s worried that America might think she’s evil because the song says “I’m evil.” Oh geez, Lady Gaga shouldn’t have to help someone with such a ridiculous fear. You know who’s really evil? Whoever is styling Lauren. YA BURNT! Lauren had more fun this time, and I think she’s really coming into her own. I liked her “inspirational” performance better, but this was OK. Jennifer applauded her maturity and “total attack” entrance.
“I love it,” Mike Stoller tells Ryan Seacrest. Then later he texted Jerry Leiber, “This sux!!1 u were smrt not 2 go”
Does James Durbin get to go last because they were still combing his beard when it was time for him to perform in Round Two? Or maybe he slammed his scarf tail in a door. I know, I know, it’s time to get over the scarf tail. James is singing “Love Potion #9” and it’s really easy for this song to be bad, I think. But he’s closing out the night so maybe it will be great. It sounds like James took it up from where he was singing it in rehearsal. Is there a way to make this song cool, though? If so, I guess James did it. The performance was full of typical James stuff. I really hated when he stopped after singing “love potion” (twice) and just asked the audience for applause. He looked surprised that the judges weren’t standing at the end of it, and Steven looked like he was almost slow-clapping it.
I’m surprised to say that some of the best performances came from the “songs that inspire” round. I guess the Leiber/Stoller round was fun, too. I think the judges have made it clear who they see in the finals, though. As he’s closing out the night, Ryan reminds us that THIS IS THE WEEK DAUGHTRY WENT HOME. He was around this long?
(Images courtesy of FOX)