By Marcus Leshock
SolidLine Writer

Thankfully, nobody decided to sing in their underwear.
American Idol’s Top 8 hit the stage tonight, one week after THE MOST SHOCKING MOMENT IN AMERICAN WIRELESS VOTING SYSTEM REALITY SHOW HISTORY! OK, I’m exaggerating, but you’d think the sun didn’t come up after Pia Toscano was eliminated last week. Turns out Republicans continue to fight with Democrats over our national debt, and my unhealthy fascination with Patrick Kane’s playoff mullet remains. Life, as they say, goes on.

The Top 8 show was one of the most entertaining yet, thanks to Jimmy Iovine’s fireworks.
When he wasn’t pumping his products (you don’t really think he wanted to use that drum machine in Paul McDonald’s “Old Time Rock ‘N’ Roll” do you?), he was tearing into the contestants. While the judges continue to shower them in praise – scratch that, it’s more like a car wash of happiness – the rest of us are picking apart who we liked and didn’t like. It’s nice to see somebody on the cast giving some tough love.

Some quick notes before we get into the performances.

– Tonight was “Music From Movies” night. Which movies did the contestants choose to sample from? Everything from “Risky Business,” to the “The Hannah Montana Movie.” Remind me never to attend movie night at the mansion when it’s Lauren’s call.

– Casey Abrams used to order gnocchi and a side of six meatballs at the Cafe Aroma somewhere in California. Life, as they say, goes on.

Jennifer Lopez was named People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Person Alive, as if you needed a publication to tell you that was the case!

Let’s go! Performances from worst to first….

8. Paul McDonald – “Old Time Rock N Roll” from Risky Business

This was ridiculously corny. I’m starting to sound like a broken record saying how much I like Paul’s sound, but he’s not really evolving from week to week. You could feel America’s collective eyes rolling as he pranced around the stage with his tambourine – again, just felt really cheesy. I’d love to hear this guy make a different kind of record, but something like this wouldn’t be anywhere near it. He could be in serious trouble tomorrow.

7. Hailey Reinhart – “Call Me” from American Gigolo

She looked like she was walking through this one. Nothing too bad, but nothing to remember either. At least she looks like she’s having a good time. Thanks for playing.

6. Jacob Lusk – “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from The Pursuit of Happyness

This is really from The Pursuit of Happyness? Didn’t Clay Aiken sing (and absolutely own) this song on American Idol about three years before that movie was released? Anyways, Jacob did a fine job, but there’s no way anybody will ever match what Aiken did with this on Idol. Nice effort, though.

5. James Durbin – “Heavy Metal” from Heavy Metal

“You and I both know, you can’t hear the potential of a number one hit song just hearing it on the piano” – James Durbin to Jimmy Iovine, a 30-plus year veteran of the music industry and chairman of Interscope Records.

“Who can’t? You think I’m an accident?” – Jimmy Iovine to James Durbin, talent show contestant.

That intro was hilarious. Durbin sang a heavy metal song that Iovine didn’t want him to sing, and he performed it well. It helped that he was accompanied by Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist Zakk Wylde. But is it fair that a contestant gets to perform alongside a celebrity? Just doesn’t seem fair to me. Either way, good times both before and after.

4. Casey Abrams – “Nature Boy” from Moulin Rouge

Casey had a major disagreement with Iovine, who told him not to sing “Nature Boy” because it made him look small. Casey decided against the help, and Iovine was sure to give him the business for it in his intro video. It clearly shook Casey up – who lamented that “people were against me” in his post-performance video.

Was it worth the risk? The standing ovation from the judges said yes – and it was one of the night’s most interesting performances. He does the jazz lounge thing well, and it’s a refreshing change for American Idol, but it didn’t blow me away. I guess we’ll find out how the AI audience feels about this kind of music tomorrow night, but Casey could be in trouble.

3. Stefano Langone – “End Of The Road” from Boomerang

Who knew this was from Boomerang? Anyways, I cringed when I heard Stefano would be singing anything from Boys II Men, but you know what? He did as good as anybody not named Boys, II, or Men could do. I love watching his mannerisms when he really gets into a song – I keep waiting for that vein to pop! Gotta love this guy’s passion, and Randy might have been right when he called it his best vocal. I could have gone without a “Stefano’s in it to win it!,” though. YEAH! YEAH!

2. Lauren Alaina – “The Climb” from the Hannah Montana Movie (don’t act like you don’t own it on Blu Ray)

Iovine started this out by totally dogging Miley Cyrus – “You’re a much, much better singer than Miley Cyrus,” he said…and didn’t stop there. “You gotta bury her on this thing. If one person thinks Miley Cyrus sang this song better than you…..*makes throat slitting gesture.”

Awesome.

Was her performance one for the American Idol ages? No. But it was really solid and suited her voice well. She’s great at carrying her personality into her music, which helps her build a connection with the audience. I like a Lauren/Scotty final at this point.

1. Scotty McCreery – “I Cross My Heart” from Pure Country

Was it the showiest performance of the night? No. What he setting a new trend? Nope. Did he collapse into a ball after the judges gave him a standing ovation? Heck no. He came out and gave an outstanding country vocal. He might not be the biggest performer in the group, but this guy can sing right alongside the country greats of today. Love him or hate him, he’s my pick to win at this point – which probably means he’ll be in the bottom three or eliminated tomorrow!

Predictions…

Bottom Three: Paul, Hailey, Casey.

Eliminated: Hailey

I was wrong last week, what do you think? See you next week to break it all down.

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