American Idol Celebrates Rock ‘n’ Roll Without Actually Rocking

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American Idol embraced singers from The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame this week, but if you were looking forward to some loud, energetic, and rockin’ tunes, don’t get too excited. These kids managed to squirm their way around the challenge by choosing Michael Jackson ballads (Jacob Lusk), Aretha Franklin ballads (Lauren Alaina), and Percy Sledge ballads (Stefano Langone). There were plenty of uptempo entries also (surprisingly by Pia), but very few of them actually came close to balls-to-the wall rock — the kind we’d seen James Durbin flaunt around with. Sure, there were some classic rock songs on display, but I wouldn’t say the roof was blown off the theater.

Nevertheless, check out a quick rundown of the performances after the jump…

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CASEY ABRAMS: Yea or Nay?

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As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, American Idol ragamuffin Casey Abrams was saved by judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and Randy Jackson last Thursday after he wound up with the lowest vote tally of the final eleven. The move was something of a surprise, given how early along in the process we were; however, according to the judges, this was a no-brainer. Without even listening to Casey sing for redemption one last time, Randy Jackson et al announced that they’d be having Casey back for another week. This caused the bearded singer to tremble with shock before having a borderline breakdown.

In the wake of Casey’s reprieve, the blogosphere erupted with exultations about the twist, with many describing the hour as one of Idol’s most dramatic yet. I’m sure I would have felt the same had it all not been spoiled for me on Twitter and Facebook, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that this was a pretty ballsy move by the judges to use their one save of the season so early, and it has me wondering: was it worth it?

Let’s look at Casey’s track record: his “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a growly mess, but his “With A Little Help From My Friends” was pretty solid (although still indulgent with the growls). Then again, his “I Put A Spell On You” was over-the-top, and his “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” was forgettable karaoke junk (hence him receiving the lowest votes of the night).

That being said, I know there are those who love his style, love his look, love his sound, love his energy, and love his parents (well, we all love his parents). So, yea or nay: should the judges have used their one save of the season on Casey?

AMERICAN IDOL RECAP: They Were Born This Way

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Our top twelve finalists on American Idol took the stage again last night to sing tunes from their birth year, which meant an overwhelmingly large representation from 1989, which makes these kids a full decade+ younger than me. In some cases, I’m actually more than twice their ages. Not cool, Father Time. Not cool.

Anyway, I like this group as a whole, but last night was not their strongest night. Some performances were better than others, but none blew me away. A quick rundown after the jump… Continue reading

AMERICAN IDOL RECAP: Let The Fun Begin!

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Last night was the first night of finals for American Idol, and overall, the kids are alright. Once again, while some performances disappointed, we didn’t have any outright Antonella Barba / Sanjaya Malakar disasters; although, we did have one fairly grim moment courtesy of the girl who I vociferously noted yesterday shouldn’t be in the top thirteen at all.

That dud of a performance came from Karen Rodriguez, who happily butchered “I Could Fall In Love” by Selena. I never really thought of it as a particularly hard tune, but I guess when you have the self-imposed weight of representing ├é┬íLatina flavor! for the season, it can be daunting. Also daunting: doing Selena in front of the biggest faux-Selena of them all — Jennifer Lopez, who shot to fame after portraying the late musician. Poor Karen Rodriguez. She means so well, and she sings so poorly. I don’t want to say “Told you so,” but quite frankly, I did tell you so. Continue reading

Breaking Down The ‘American Idol’ Top Thirteen

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Against all odds, American Idol has turned out to be pretty awesome in its first post-Simon season. The revised and brief semifinals round proved to be one of the strongest in ages, and given all the talent that didn’t crack the top thirteen, it’s left me wondering if maybe the problem all along was… Simon? Of the top twelve guys, only one was truly, inexorably awful, and of the girls, no one was a full-on disaster.

Sadly, only thirteen could advance. Let’s take a look at the group in advance of tonight’s first week of the finals. Continue reading

AMERICAN IDOL RECAP: Here Come The Men

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We’ve finally made it: after several weeks of auditions and testing, American Idol kicked off its semifinal round last night, and if you blink, you might miss it the whole thing because we’re only getting one week of this stuff before we go to the big stage. Correction: we’re already at the big stage. That’s right: the producers have attempted to up the excitement level by skipping the lil’ semifinal space, and I’d say that it actually worked. Things did feel a bit more exciting on the big stage; although, I wonder if we’ll miss some of the pomp and circumstance that goes along with ascending from semifinals to finals.

Either way, I’m happy to report that this retooled season has actually turned out to be pretty awesome. I had some serious doubts in the beginning, thanks to a boring spate of audition episodes. However, when the action moved to Hollywood, the show took off. J-Lo and Steven Tyler came into their own, and the producers managed to find all sorts of juicy drama with a two-hour group night that allowed us to truly bond with (and against) several contestants. Even better, the silly Beatles excursion to Vegas added more group fun to the proceedings. I don’t know why the producers gave us only one paltry hour of that stuff and then two painful, drawn-out hours of decision-making. We can only watch these kids walk down an ominous walkway so many times. And maybe it’s me, but I kind of miss the elevator of doom. Continue reading

AMERICAN IDOL 2.0: Yea or Neigh?

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After months of anticipation, the new-look American Idol premiered last night, and the results were… eh? Gone were Simon Cowell, Ellen Degeneres, and Kara DioGuardi. In their stead were Aerosmith’s legendary frontman Steven Tyler and Marc Anthony’s legendary rear woman Jennifer Lopez. The big question was how would these two new celebrity judges fare in the Idol spotlight, and could they possibly fill Simon’s shoes? The answer to the latter question is, in short, no.

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Lee DeWyze’s New Single Is Surprisingly Good

I made no secret about my preference of Crystal Bowersox over Lee DeWyze during last season’s forgettable American Idol finale. However, I must admit that even though I wasn’t pulling for him to win, I do like Lee’s new single, titled “Sweet Serendipity.” Bouncy and fun, the song is the sort of generic rock that I like (as opposed to a droning Nickelback tune). Take a listen by clicking on the player below:

For more information, check out Zap2It’s coverage here.