V cover girl Lady Gaga went from Mother Monster to American Idol mentor last night, as she guided the remaining four contestants through their choices of songs from the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Yakety Yak,” “Stand By Me,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Love Potion No. 9″) songbook. But like last week, the quartet of contestants did two songs each, and they were first tasked with performing a number that personally inspired them. See how Scotty, Haley, James and Lauren did while following Gaga’s advice below.
Lady Gaga is unleashed on the American Idol Top 4
The resident rock singer’s choice of inspirational song is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Way to kiss up to Randy and pretty much the rest of the music-loving public, James! Like last week, his performance is way pitchy. Someone needs to teach this wailer the art of subtlety with those high notes. But also like last week, the judges loved it, and Randy tells James he set the bar for the evening. Steven Tyler also chimes in: “You did it right. You couldn’t have picked a more popular song right now.”
For his Leiber and Stoller tune, Durbin opts to turn the Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9″ into a fiery metal jam. The best part is watching Gaga — who’s done up like a Carol Channing drag queen with a black and bleach-blonde bobbed wig and a giant black teardrop on her cheek — engaging James in rehearsal to move his hips by standing behind him and physically swaying his body with her hands.
Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” was the pick for Haley’s inspirational song. (She calls it “one big, beautiful, melodic masterpiece.”) We thought she rocked it, especially the notes at the end. But as each week progresses, Randy & Co. seem bent on beating her down — or at least giving her mixed messages — now that we’re getting close to the finale. Jackson says the song choice confused him as to who Haley is as an artist. Jennifer Lopez loves that Haley picked a song that really inspired her, but thinks it isn’t the right one for where the competition is at now. And then Steven butts in and says, “They’re both wrong. That song showed me that you can.” That’s when Ryan Seacrest asks all three, “What is she supposed to do with that concoction of feedback?”
For the record, Haley’s performance was fine. But we’re getting the impression Randy and J.Lo are gunning for a Scotty/James showdown in two weeks.
Reinhart gets her revenge after Gaga, whose “You And I” Haley sang last week, encourages her to go for the drama and act a little psycho when she takes the stage for her second number, Ben E. King’s “I (Who Have Nothing).” She knocks the song out of the park with a performance no one can deny, and prompts a standing ovation from all three judges. “You just had a moment right there that put you in it to win it,” Randy announces. Steven one-ups his colleague with one of his usual zingers: “You just Reinharted yourself into the middle of next week.”
There’s not too much to say about “Scotty The Body” (as Ryan insists on calling him) these days, because the 17-year-old country crooner has looked completely at ease and in his element while delivering top notch performances each week. Alan Jackson’s 9/11 tribute “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” is McCreery’s inspirational number, and it causes him to tear up while singing.
The mood then shifts when Scotty meets Gaga, who tells him to “make love to the mic” and all sorts of other naughty anecdotes (“[The mic is] your girlfriend, and she says to you, ‘If you don’t stick your tongue down my throat, we’re through’”). Despite their clashing personalities, she gets him through the Coasters’ “Young Blood.” And even though Scotty kisses his cross after meeting Mother Monster, he follows her advice and delivers a completely hammy performance (yes, with mic properly close to his mouth) that has Steven comparing him to Pat Boone.
Lauren chooses Martina McBride’s “Anyway” for her first song and dedicates it to her tornado-stricken hometown. It”s just alright for us, and nowhere near as good as Scotty or Haley’s inspirational performances. The judges, of course, disagree. “America, Lauren is back in it to win it,” Randy says.
For her Leiber and Stoller tune, Lauren opts for Elvis Presley’s “Trouble,” but has some trouble of her own with the repeated use of the word “evil” in the lyrics. Jimmy Iovine explains to her that she’s just playing a character when she’s singing, while Gaga basically tells her to get over it. “You’re not a kid — you’re 16,” the “Edge Of Glory” singer tells Lauren. Thankfully, the teenager crosses over to the dark side and struts onto the Idol stage for a slinky, sexy rendition of “Trouble.” Mama, your little girl just turned into a vamp. And you have Lady Gaga to thank!
Thoughts on the night: It’s down to the wire, and if we had to guess who’s going to be in the Bottom Two tonight, it would probably be Lauren and Haley. Love her as we do, the powers that be just seem to be conspiring to keep Haley out of the finale.
Coming up tonight: Jordin Sparks, Enrique Iglesias and Lady Gaga are set to perform, while Steven Tyler’s “(It) Feels So Good” music video will premiere.