Top 11 perform Motown

It's American Idol night people, and tonight the kids are singing Motown.  Steven looks more like himself tonight--animal print shirt with a black vest.  This is the week that the Top 10 will be decided.  Those 10 will go on tour.

There's a long clip about the history of Motown, for those who don't know, I guess.  One recurring theme in the video clip is that Motown music is timeless...and that is true.  Now I know what I'll be listening to tomorrow!  Also, maybe this weekend I'll pull out Standing in the Shadow of Motown, which was a great documentary about Motown.  If you haven't seen it, please do.  (For what it's worth, I looked back through some old blog posts and I made this exact recommendation in 2009 AND 2010 during AI's Motown week.  Hey, at least I'm consistent.)

Casey's up first, doing Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Casey's got his hair slicked back tonight and is in a black suit.  He's backed up by some violinists...nice touch.  I think he does a great job with this song and with the crowd.  I love Casey!  Steven loved it and says Casey is the perfect entertainer--"perfect pitch, and perfect mix of crazy-ass, out-of-control ego, and that's what makes an artist today."  JLo says he's so unique and can really carve a niche for himself and be amazing.  Randy agreed with both.

Thia's next, performing Heatwave by Martha & the Vandellas.   She "knocked it out of the park" during her studio session with Jimmy Iovine, and he told her she needs to do the same thing live on stage,  It's her first up-tempo performance.  She sounds fantastic!  I love her voice.  And she looks like she's having a great time.  JLo said it was great to see her let loose, and now she says Thia needs to dig even deeper as she goes forward.  Randy echoed JLo, and said he was happy to see her do something different.  Steven loved it.  Said he's "good with it."

Jacob's singing You're All I Need to Get By by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  Jacob sang the hell out of that song!  His best performance yet--very gospel-ly, rousing.  It was great.   Bob Babbitt, one of the original Funk Brothers, (who played all the Motown music and were featured in that movie I mentioned above) played bass for Jacob.  I watched this performance three times.  Loved it!  Steven came up on stage and gave Jacob a hug.  Standing O from everyone.  Randy said there was absolutely nothing wrong with the performance.  Jennifer was moved.

Lauren's singing You Keep Me Hanging On by The Supremes. Lauren did a good job.  Her voice was strong and she seemed really into it.  She also looks fantastic.  Judges loved it.  Randy said she's got her swagger on.

Stefano is next.  He's singing Hello by Lionel Richie.  Hmmm...yeah, Lionel was with Motown, but when I think of "Motown," I don't really think of anything past 1975.  I feel like this song doesn't count.  AND...I'm positive he won't be able to do anything with it like David Cook did in Season 7.   So far, this is the worst performance of the night.  His voice is okay, but the performance is boring, and talk it feeling like a cruise performance.  And Stefano looks like he's wearing lipstick.  Okay, I'm done with the snark.  JLo didn't feel he connected with the audience.  Randy agreed.  They feel the emotions weren't there.  Steven agreed too.

Haley's singing Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' You've Really Got a Hold on Me.  She's wearing straight hair tonight and looks great.  She gives a great performance.  As Randy said, her bluesy growl was back...that's what I loved too!  Steven said it touched his heart.  He said that's the Haley he's been waiting to see since the first time he heard her.  JLo said she has amazing control over her voice, and that she has the most soulful voice (other than Jacob), in the competition.  Amen to that.

Scotty is singing For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder.  Scott's not that familiar with Motown, being a country boy and all, and tonight he's going to continue with the country sound.  I would usually say "oh no" to that, but it could work.  More on that later.*  Scotty does a nice job.  I'm chatting with some friends online who LOVED his performance--that's not me, but he did do a good job.  Steven said it was just like Glen Campbell.  JLo thought it was a great version, but it wasn't his strongest vocal performance.  Randy agreed, but said he was smiling the whole time because Scotty's taking chances.

Pia is next, singing Stevie Wonder's All in Love is Fair.  Amazing.  She has such a beautiful voice, and she's beautiful. The judges praised her singing, but said she needs to do something different--maybe something mid-tempo, up-tempo.  Randy said, "Ballad, ballad, ballad....you can't live by ballads alone."  Steven said she's the "closest star in this American Idol universe."

Paul is doing Smokey's Tracks of My Tears.  He's doing a folk-rock version, that is more up Paul's alley.  He's playing guitar tonight.  I like it.  And it's nice to see him with the guitar and not dancing around the stage like Elaine Benes.  Randy liked the performance, especially when he sang tenderly at the end of the song.  He said, "bring more of that out."  JLo said it sounded like there's a tear ("teer"....not "tare") in his voice.  Steven loved it.  JLo said he's the most seasoned performer they have...and she said all he needs is a good producer. 

Ryan pointed out that Randy has not said, "pitchy" once tonight.  That must be a record!!!!

Naima is singing Dancing in the Streets by Martha and the Vandellas.  She's going to throw some African dancing into the performance.  Hmmm...should be interesting.  She's does a great job--probably her best performance yet.  The African drums came out and she did a quick little dance.  This time she didn't try to sing and dance at the same tiime, so she maintained her vocal strength.  It was a fun performance.  Steven said, "once again, we see the whole package."  JLo said she's an exciting performance, and she had her first little goosebumps of the night.  Randy said the song arrangement was brilliant, and everything was very smart.

Bringing up the rear is James, singing Living for the City by Stevie Wonder.  Argh!  Jimmy Iovine was getting ready to say something about Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler getting their soul....and then my sound cut out.  We're having thunderstorms here tonight--don't know if that was the problem or not.  Anyway, James did great and even worked in some little dance steps  Who knew?  JLo said it was an incredible thing to watch.  Randy said it started "a little bit rough," (I wouldn't know because I still didn't have sound at that point), but by the end of the song, it was unbelievable.  Steven said it takes a little crazy to make a difference in the world, and that's what James has.  He said James nailed it. 

Wow.  Tough to make predictions for tomorrow.  I really only have one person in the bottom, and that's Stefano.  I suspect Thia might wind up in the bottom three with him, but I don't know who else.  Maybe Naima, if people didn't "get" her African dance, or maybe Paul.

MY top four were Jacob, Haley, Casey & James.  (I couldn't narrow it down to three.)

*Back to the the country Motown thing.  My friend Amy said that Scotty "countryfied" Motown.  As I mentioned earlier, I probably would've said, "oh no" to that, but then I think about an album called Rhythm, Country & Blues, where R&B singers collaborated with country singers...they countryfied some Motown, and the also R&B'd some country songs.  My dad used to blare this album on long drives across the country and even though country isn't my thing, I do like this album a lot.

And finally, I found a clip of my favorite moment from Standing in the Shadows of Motown.  Joan Osborne performs What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.  Love it, love it, love it.  Embedding was disabled, so you'll have to watch on YouTube.  Enjoy!

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