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American Idol recap: Haley and the Jets

The Elton John songbook brings out the sparkle in most of the top 11

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American Idol Haley

American Idol

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

Welcome back to American Idol. It’s Elton John week, and Ryan has awkwardly short comb-over bangs. So not Don Draper. So not fetch. Keep dreaming, Seacrest!

Gotta say, I appreciated how narrow the theme was this week. My my, isn’t that Elton looking mighty thin lately? I liked hearing songs I knew very well in a more coherent jumble than usual. Sometimes the random song selections of broader theme weeks come together as a playlist you’d force yourself to listen to until you completed some treacherous task, like cleaning your bathroom, or paying your obscene cable bill, or shopping online until you found the same pre-Memorial Day white pants as Steven Tyler. Plus, I could always use a reminder of how amazing Elton John is. So talented. A true artist. Wise. Iconic. Fashionable. Knighted.

AGGGGGGGGH! It’s Entertainment Weekly‘s Dalton Ross! Talk about opposites. How’s that for a cruel slap in the face, right when I’d decided maybe I could feel the love tonight? Dalton just sidled right up to my rose-colored Elton John costume glasses and shattered them, like breaking wind in the presence of a candle. My Inside TV Podcast partner in crime, now in video format? Insanity. He evens speaks! “We’re doing a fancy-shmancy photo spread,” he said while wearing a tie. This esteemed colleague of mine could have tripled his screen time had he agreed to shave Casey’s beard. Alas, the office prince of ’80s ski sweaters is not that quick on his feet.

Scotty McCreery got lucky. The American Idol producers were able to go back in time and have Elton John record a country song so Scotty would have something to sing. I’m joking. “Country Comfort” is real. The low-note ending somehow wasn’t as charming as it had been last week, and I wish he’d picked an Elton song people knew and made it country rather than taking Elton’s one country song and going with that. Then again, who else would choose Elton’s country song? There can’t be that many more Elton John nights left. Who knows how long this ol’ world’s going to be around? So Scotty gets a few points for taking that risk and for going first. He filled in the little circles to spell his name on the SAT. Good for him. But let’s be honest, this week all Scotty had to do was basically say “Hi, my grandmother is in the audience” for the judges to act like he was a superstar.

Naima Adedapo whipped out the Jamaican accent she’s been hiding somewhere in a deep, dark secret compartment of last week’s silver flared pants and put a reggae spin on “I’m Still Standing.” I disagreed with J. Lo and thought this song was a fine choice to complement Naima’s swagger. Why not this song, anyway? It was an interesting re-arrangement — a little repetitive on the chorus, but she can bop around the stage like she’s not about to fall over, so good for her. Some of the contestants are so aware of the camera that they forget to treat the show like an actual concert. Naima comes across as a very different artist week to week, but at least she’s not predictable. And how often do designers get to customize a halter lady suit with Rasta colors? Speaking of crazy semiformalwear…..

NEXT: Randy attempts to break his own Sit & Reach record for Stefano