Which means tonight’s show should be a ballad-free zone.
Which couldn’t come at a better time since two of our top three contestants — Pia Toscano and Scotty McCreery — seem stuck in ballad land.
And since two popular guys — Casey Abrams and Stefano Langone — are coming off trips there as well.
Upbeat, fast-moving tunes should be in vogue tonight, and Idol will need to be considering more fast moving itself since this week’s show is condensed to 90-minutes, a refreshing change from the two-hour, filler-filled episodes we’ve seen the last two weeks.
As I said in ranking the remaining Idols this week, I’ll be most interested to see who lands in the bottom three tomorrow night.
So far, four girls and not a single guy has been eliminated, so I fully expect Haley Reinhart to return to the bottom three, regardless of how well she does tonight.
But tomorrow night should give us a pretty good indication of how much support Pia and Lauren Alaina — the other remaining ladies — have.
After all, only six contestants avoid the stools tomorrow night. And there are more than six quality contestants on Idol in Season 10. Or else not as much distance between the top six as there has been in recent years.
Well, the 90-minute time constraint isn’t going to prevent an opening advertisement for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. complete with a reminder that Aerosmith is among those honored.
By the way, did you see Steven Tyler’s duet Sunday night with Carrie Underwood at the AMC Awards? If not, head here. It’s a treat.
* Jacob Lusk: So, Jacob takes a turn going first. He was going to sing “Let’s Get it on” but decided the song didn’t suit him, so he changed to “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. Hold it? Is that a rock song? Didn’t think so. Oh, well, Jacob sorta makes it rock. And here come the faces Jacob still hasn’t learned how to control. Steven calls it “beautiful.” That’s 23 straight positive reviews from Steven. But, fact is, Jacob sang the song very well. And for a guy who didn’t want to sing “Let’s Get it on,” that was complete with a few hip thrusts. Hey, I too give Jacob props for changing from a song he didn’t think suited his personality. He loses points for avoiding a true rock song, though. And again, I wasn’t quite as thrilled with the performance as the judges. Grade: B
Haley Reinhart: Miss She Sings Sexy goes second and will take on Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” Hey, Haley is ripping into this, complete with a growl early in the song. I can tell you right now, this is going to be my favorite Haley Reinhart performance. The judges said they heard some Janis in her voice. What I hear, finally, is a song, perfectly suited to Haley’s voice. And I love the way she has fun on stage. Way to go Haley Reinhart! Fabulous. One of the best performances of the season. Grade: A
Casey Abrams: Hey, look, the standup bass is back with Casey, who will be singing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Unfortunately, it can’t mask lots of bum notes in this performance. Hey, Steven Tyler should be thrilled. Mr. Rock and Roll seems to think every performance needs a few. Or at least that’s what he said last week. And I can tell you this. That was my least favorite Casey Abrams performance. Not very good at all. And the standup bass couldn’t save it. Where did rocker Casey go? Of course, Steven loved it. “It’s not just the voice,” Steven declares. Hmm. Grade: C-
Lauren Alaina: She’s going to put a country spin on “Natural Woman.” Lauren says she needs to get her confidence back. Hey, didn’t Kelly Clarkson sing this on Idol? Yep, she did. You can hear her performance by following the links above under 9 Years of Idols. Back to Lauren. Well, maybe. That won’t make people forget the Kelly Clarkson version. But it was adequate. Better than Casey, for sure. But the glory note didn’t really hit home. And she didn’t cut loose the way I thought she might. Grade: B-
James Durbin: If ever a theme was born for a contestant and vice versa, it’s rock week and James. And no sooner have I typed that, than Idol announces that he’ll be slowing it down. He’s going to sing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by George Harrison. Not a wise decision, James. More bum notes. I really thought this song might give James a chance to show off his vocal skills. All he wound up doing was reminding us again, that he can shriek. Well, we already knew that. Not terrible, but not the moment I think he was seeking. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by listening to these clogged-eared, say-nothing-bad ever judges. Grade: C.
Scotty McCreery: Well, this is hardly a surprise. Scotty will sing an Elvis song. If you haven’t been following along all season, Scotty told us earlier than he used to sing Elvis tunes for his classmates in the back of the school bus. Wonder if he had a deep voice even back then? Hold it. Did Ryan just suggest that Scotty might wind up in the rock and roll Hall of Fame someday? The show’s country singer? He’ll sing “That’s Alright.” Not sure that’s the Elvis song I would have picked. There are many better. But, wow, didn’t he look natural on stage? And he sang it very well, as usual. Grade: B+
Pia Toscano: She’s following through with her promise to sing “River Deep, Mountain High.” You know what? Pia just might have the best voice in this competition. She goes sharp occasionally, but tonight, she leaves no doubt she can sing anything. But I still want to see her dirty it up. Vocally, that performance was fine. From a performance standpoint, I still want to see her cut loose. Haley style at least. Grade: B+
Stefano Langone: What’s going on? Stefano sings “When a Man Loves a Woman” on rock night? What, does he think he’s the next great love song balladeer now? I’ve got news for Stefano. Nowhere close. And this is going to go down at one of the weakest vocals of the night, in spite of that big power note in the middle, in spite of that nice soft ending. Jennifer Lopez calls it magic. Randy calls it right — the opening was sort of a mess. Grade: C
Paul McDonald: Well, Idol is determined to make it interesting. Paul gets the pimp spot, one week after landing in the bottom three for the first time. He’ll sing Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” Hey, I’m a Paul McDonald fan, but he’s sucking the life out of this song. And if I’m on Idol, doing a shortened version of the song, I’m not sure I’m sacrificing time in the middle of my performance for a prolonged guitar solo. Speaking of which, how does Paul get to play guitar three straight weeks on Idol? Lots of energy. But not a great vocal by any stretch. Grade: C