Well, yesterday I wrote "An Open Letter To Lauren Alaina" and encouraged her to start singing like she can WIN this competition.  And, last night, Lauren and the other members of Idol's Top 8 went to the movies and performed songs from the cinema.  So, how did they fare?  Who rocked it out and who's in danger of following in Pia's steps and hitting the house?  Our Idol expert Steve Thompson shares his thoughts . . .

From Steve Thompson:

Evidently, no lessons have been learned in the last week since the ouster of Pia Toscano.  Judges are still blowing smoke rather than making credible critiques.  Contestants are still wandering in the darkness looking for an honest judge.  I realize we may have gone too far into season ten for a reboot-- but there need to be some changes before year eleven or The X Factor will do what it did in Great Britain: cause the cancellation of Pop (American) Idol.

I realize this may be construed as so much sour grapes since I thought Pia would finish in the final three-- but with few exceptions, I can't really say I was all that impressed with tonight's performances.  It's almost as each contestant realized the unwritten mantra: if Pia is gone, I could be next.

 Welcome to The Bottom Three

 8)  Stefano Langone murdered End of the Road  by BoyzIIMen.  (Are those guys still around?  Shouldn't it at least be MenIIMen by now?)  Featured in the movie Boomerang.  I'll take movies you couldn't pay me to see for $200, Alex!  Jimminy!  Can we all say this together, folks?  On the  count of 1--2--3: "Appropriate song choice!"  This may be Stefano's best chance at fulfilling the promise of his song.  The natives are irked that he survived last week-- and judges to the contrary, I was not moved by this performance.

 7) Jacob Lusk killed Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel. From the movie Pursuit of Happyness (see previous faux Jeopardy category.) You know, one of my favorite versions of this song was done by Johnny Cash.  Say what you will about Big John, but he never had to overpower a song to make it his own-- his understated style did just fine.  As to this train wreck of epic proportions?  The sound must really be something at the studio because my dogs wanted to go outside and potty.   (This is known at the Thompson household as the Danny Gokey Effect.)

6) Haley Reinhart failed with Call Me by Blondie.  In my critical opinion, the only thing I liked about the movie American Gigolo was this song.  As much as I've liked Haley's songs the last two weeks, I'm afraid this may have opened the door for yet another woman to be pushed under the bus by the Idol producers.  Karaoke?  Yeah, that's what I heard.  I liked her style but had to agree that the song has always been more chorus than substance.  I sense a high degree of danger for  her tonight.

Meet Them in the Middle

5) Paul McDonald struggled with Old Time Rock & Roll by Bob Seger.  From Risky Business. I'm going to say something controversial here-- I liked the movie better when it was called Night Shift.  This would make me think Bob Seger might want to shave his beard off to escape any questions about the performance of this song.  Weirdly enough, Steven Tyler and I were on the same page: can we vote for the sax player?

4)  Scotty McCreery tackled I Cross My Heart by George Strait.  From the movie Pure Country.  Frankly, I would've liked to have heard Scotty's version of Everybody's Talkin' from Midnight Cowboy.  I wondered if someone told him what the movie was about and that was his real reason he changed songs-- but you know me and my conspiracy theories.  Is tackling King George the country equivalent of the girls trying to sing Whitney or Celine?  Scotty sounded a little flat in spots-- or maybe there's a reason hardly anyone covers George Strait.

Your Top Three (Watch This Space)

3)  James Durbin sang the title song from the movie Heavy Metal by Sammy Hagar.  While it's not my favorite Sammy song, having Zak Wylde as your guitarist was an interesting choice.  Let's face it-- Durbin is currently in a zone where he seems to know what works best for him.  I firmly believe that if he starts taking the advice of will.i.am he will be ushered off the show faster than you can say Iggy Pop.

2)  Lauren Alaina sang The Climb from Hannah Montana by Miley Cyrus.  I'm not sure if heavily invoking Pia Toscano's name will cause Pia's fans to vote for Lauren, but I will say that Lauren certainly found a song where she was stronger than the original singer.  The best thing for Lauren now would be to try and take herself to another level to make sure she doesn't fall from the graces of the voters.

1) Casey Abrams sang Nature Boy by Nat King Cole.  This song has been in tons of movies but I figure the producers were thinking more Moulin Rouge than The Boy with Green Hair (which is a fine late 40s anti-war movie if you happen to be able to find it.)  This may have been polarizing for some, but I thought Casey brought kind of a rough-edged Sting sensibility to his interpretation of this song.  I've always liked Nat King Cole's music-- heck, I find myself singing The Ballad of Cat Ballou on certain occasions-- but there was something innately cool about this for me. 

So who will leave Thursday night?  Who am I?  The Oracle at Delphi?  Up until last week, I thought I understood how America was voting.  Now I find myself shrugging my shoulders and staring off into the vast emptiness of the Orion nebula. 

I think both Jacob and Stefano are endangered and, unless her fans save her, Haley could also be in the bottom three.  Stefano seemed to be the most out of his element, but who knows?

We'll see Thursday...

@April 13, 2011  Stephen W Thompson