Like an old Chinese proverb, if there aren't expectations, can one be disappointed? Really not a good semifinal.
Bobby Bones picks:
Wade - You Are The Best Thing - I don't get how Wade was exactly stepping out of his comfort zone with this song, since it sounds like pretty much anything else he'd sing. His initial pessimism about the song choice (saying he already did a Ray Lamontagne song) may be giving the sleepy viewing audience a little too much credit, as I forget pretty much everything week to week due to so few performances standing out. It was alright, I guess, but any song Wade picks is rather formulaic, so that's more of a description than a critique. On a side note, it's interesting how Ryan, Bobby Bones, or the judges ask "why not Wade?" and the crowd makes too much noise for anyone to interject with the numerous logical reasons why not.
Laci - The House That Built Me - "Downtrodden 23 year old widow" seems to be her wheelhouse and it has a certain appeal, although I admit that her appearance makes up a slice of my fandom. Though I don't really care about it, it looked like she plumped her upper lip up a ton to try and hide her exposed gums, which kind of worked if that's what she was going for. If voters found her to be getting 'long in the tooth' (ha), Lionel telling her to keep being herself sounds like less than suitable advice, although ruining her own vocal cords for the next song to try and steal Wade's audience probably wouldn't have been a wise move, either. Bobby told her to learn the song on guitar, and then she never played during the performance. Maybe it would've been pointed out by the judges, had this season's panel not become reduced to lame jokes and three word "you will win" soundbites.
Alejandro - No Woman, No Cry - No crying or other emotions were present in his rendition, it was lame. I think Bob Marley is overrated as hell and a lot of his fanbase is comprised of teenagers looking to deify smoking weed. Alejandro keeps choosing songs that show his overall lack of range and emotion, and it's a bit tiresome to have it framed as "intimacy", like an artistic choice, when the rest of his personality comes off as similarly avoidant. I hate how he talks like "bro" / "chill" / "dude", etc.. while simultaneously being shy as hell, it really seems like a false dichotomy since that lingo seems like the domain of outgoing people. Despite conveying that like I'm a cliquey high-schooler, hopefully someone else knows what I'm trying to say.
Laine - If he were 20 years deep into his career, calling it effortless would sound like a compliment, but he really doesn't put much into a lot of his performances. There's no strain when singing - although his style is supposed to be easy-going, it just looks like rehearsal for the real show. If all of his songs are going to sound like this, he may end up coming off as passionless.
Madison - What About Us - She has quite the problem with not connecting until the end of the song, which is a good thing for those who think the show's too long and tune out until the last 20 seconds of her songs. She's the best singer of the five and yet the most boring, even compared to Wade, whose mass may be conflated with stage presence, but she's so forgettable. Her smiling all the time makes her look really weak, too. Especially when doing such powerful songs.
Elton John songs:
Wade - Rocket Man - Apparently, him wearing those bedazzled glasses equated to him "finally bringing out his personality", according to Katy. At least it was the only time he's ever been a spectacle to watch. Wade's menthol voice was in full effect, I don't know if it's possible to say that he ruined what was already an affected voice, but it was terrible.
Laci - Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting - This was a pleasant change of genre/style for her, I would've thought she had seasonal affective disorder until tonight, had they not already been in Los Angeles for the past few months. I think the original song is rather hokey, and her version was superior. However, I've never wanted to court Elton John, despite his massive wealth and notoriety, so there's that. I wish she would've showed off more of this energetic side before getting eliminated, though it's not like I could say doing so would've made her last longer.
Alejandro - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word - Well, he pronounced "sorry" quite effortlessly, so I assume that was the main part he was working on during rehearsal last week. This was a step up from his first performance, albeit just as whispered as most of his others. That's the point of the song, so I'm not as annoyed as usual.
Madison - Your Song - I think it was a little unfair for Elton to write Madison an original song to perform tonight, but generous. (stupid joke) Listening for a second time, this was a pretty pleasant rendition except for her screeching towards the end.
Laine - Something About The Way You Look Tonight - This was much better than his first song, although part of that is just due to preferring this song more. I hate how he performed this one like a mayor giving a speech to the press rather than an entertainer, there was zero feeling in this despite the decent vocals.
I would've thought someone would do the obvious choice of Enrique Iglesias' "Hero", although Wade telling his stepdad he'd "kiss away the pain" would probably dissuade voters.
Wade - Hard Luck Woman - His best performance of the three, and a relevant song choice to who he's singing to. (well, his Mom anyway) There must be an abundance of lozenges in that claw machine backstage, as his voice was cleaned up in comparison to the last song. I doubt he won many new fans over with this, but I liked the performance.
Laci - Dreams - Really great performance, IMO. She's more comfortable behind a guitar, evidently, and it was good to see her come back to this type of song (although they're hit or miss with her). Unfortunately, this felt like it was only about 40 seconds long. I'll probably replay this enough times to pretend like she just released a full length EP - which would be nice if she could do so for real while still fresh in viewers' minds as opposed to the usual "remember me?" routine from the past several winners. I wondered why the studio's janitor got a full credit and photo on the album cover before remembering that Nick Fradiani had won the show. On a side note, to the surprise of few, this song as well as many others on these talent shows comes from Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album. It's kind of eyerolling to keep pretending that Stevie Nicks' career has spanned several decades when much of it is endlessly retreading this album inter-spliced with several subsequent duds.
Madison - Make You Feel My Love - Her belting notes are pretty irritating to me, even though this song was rather devoid of them except possibly one. Regardless, I tried to give it another chance and was just bored as the first time.
Laine - Hey Jude - His brother's name is Bubba, did he forget that? Fame has already gotten to his head. Anyway, probably the best song of the three he did, but a lot of the magic gets lost when the performances are so short. I know it's a lyric of the song, but him going "nuh nuh, na-na-na, nuh" while walking around the stage sans-guitar playing made it look like he forgot how to do anything. At least his casual performing style looked natural during this song.
Alejandro - Blesser - Probably the best of the night, which may sound like more of a booby prize considering this year's top five, but it was quite good. I guess it shouldn't have been that surprising that Alejandro's guitar skills were easily transferable to the piano as well, but he's so talented at playing instruments that his singing seems like a total afterthought. All the way to this round of the competition and I don't think he's shown another side of himself while singing other than being in a trial group for new antidepressants. He's more diverse than Laine and Wade, although he is just as firmly rooted in his one sound as they are, if that makes sense. Why can't he do something different, just once? I liked the performance quite a bit, but what he does really comes off like something that gets undue acclaim while on the show and then the audience for it "surprisingly" tapers off when the season is over.
The top three was easy to predict, although I would've swapped Madison out for Laci in a country heartbeat. (AKA a regular heartbeat) Laine seems like he's getting prepped for the most undeserving win in the history of the show next week.
+ Katy almost pulled back on the lame comedy routine this week, but she had to do that fake shouting a few times, that was painful.
- Hopefully Bobby Bones wasn't shocked that he'd actually have to do something to earn his wage this week.
- I forget which song it was, and I'm pretty sure it was said towards Alejandro. Did one of the judges congratulate him for starting to give a shit at this point of the competition? They said something like that, as if it was amazing he decided to put forth some effort. The bar has never been this low. (not talking about Laine's future venues, unless Caleb is taking them all)
- Lionel is really overdoing that line about contestants being in his closet. Especially with the sequin jackets, even though those are more associated with Elton John's closet. If that's Lionel's extremely veiled way of coming out, we won't judge. ❤️ Neither does he, apparently, as none of the judges say anything helpful....EVER.