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American Idol recap: Mostly Stupid and Contagious

Many of the Top 12 sounded screechy and off-key during their ”Birth Year Songs”

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James Durbin Idol
Michael Becker/Fox/PictureGroup

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

In between scripted therapy sessions with Jimmy Iovine, American Idols top 12 — all of whom are much, much younger than you — sang “Birth Year Songs” (2011’s updated lingo for the tried-and-true “Songs From The Year You Were Born”) on Wednesday’s disappointing performance show. The best contestants — Stefano, Pia, James, Scotty — stood out only because they were not as wretched as the others. They were more like kneel-outs than standouts. Maybe squat-outs. Squat it out, everyone! I am mostly talking to name-dropper Randy.

Exotic flower Naima Adedapo probably tried her best on Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” but an overwrought arrangement from Rodney Jerkins and Naima’s inability to remain on pitch rendered this opening number a disaster. Someone forgot to tell Steven. “You’ve got a sorcerer’s grasp of melody,” he raved. I suppose this could be true in the same way that Grandmother Tyler has a sorceress’ grasp of ladies’ fashion. Randy and J. Lo brought Mr. Wizard down to earth by confirming that Naima was indeed “consistently pitchy.” It’s because she feels it too much. Okay.

Rhinestone cowboy Paul McDonald came down with a cold this week, so he picked a song with a title that could properly convey both sadness and indifference: Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.” It’s a great song, and Paul might have been able to hit it if he’d been patient instead of literally a patient. But his voice cracked, his wobble seemed unavoidable instead of deliberate, and who even knows where his beloved imaginary pet turtle (typically leashed on his wild left arm) might have ended up after such a crazy walk? About halfway through, Paul clearly gave up and lost all sense of rhythm — like a karaoke lifer at 3 a.m., desperate to cling to the last vestige of sobriety or just pass out and get it over with. Randy declined to give Paul a pass because he had a cold, but Steven, of course, loved it. “You define a cool dude in a loose mood,” he raved again. Grandmother Tyler simply could not stop finding ways to talk about herself! WE GOT A HOT COMPETITION, BABY!

Thia Megia picked everyone’s favorite song from 1995: Vanessa Williams’ “Colors of the Wind.” Ugh. Seriously? I know, I know, Pocahontas is a Disney movie and therefore sacred, but I’d argue that “Colors of the Wind” is the lamest of the made-for-Disney-movies songs performed by real people. It was definitely the most embarrassing one to sing along with on the radio. That one time. Fine, a billion. Anyway, Thia Ruxpin was singing perfectly in key, but the whole thing seemed rushed and some parts (especially the word never) came off as quite nasal. Like Paul, she seemed to be racing through it. Really boring stuff, but amazing Disney princess hair. Considering the night at large, I’d call this a win for Thia. Then again….

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NEXT: James starts a fire, Haley gets lippy