American Idol: Elvis and the Lion Queen

Casey does Kurt Cobain. Really. Almost.

I was out at the SPJ FOI Awards event early in the evening, so I missed the first few performances, but no worries: Vivian and Michael were taking excellent notes and filled me in. And the best stuff came at the end anyway.

First: What was UP with J-Lo's hair? I can't find any pix on the web (Idol is insanely protective of its imagery) but trust me: She looked like something out of the Lion King. And the leopard-print dress didn't help much. It's a jungle out there, Jennifer. Grrr.

Next: The background video/light show continues to be utterly moronic, mixing psychedelia and syrup pretty much at random. With the millions they're making from the Ford commercials, they could get a decent designer.

Also: These people are all so young. The night's theme was picking a song from the year you were born; for Scotty, that was 1993. As his backstage producers noted, "I have a pair of jeans that were born in 1993." Five of the finalists aren't even old enough to buy a drink. No OGs in the lineup this year; Paul clocks in as the senior citizen at 26.

The baby and kid pics were cute; I loved watching Scotty as Halloween Elvis. And with 12 contestants, there wasn't a whole lot of time for nonsense; the show kept moving. Oh: Casey's back form the hospital and seems fine.

The details: Naima does "What's Love Got To Do With It." Eh. From Viv: "J-Lo thought it was a little pitchy and Randy agreed. Really, it was just okay."

Paul: Elton John. "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues." Not Sir Elton's best song, not Paul's best performance.

Thia: "Colors of the Wind." Again, nothing special.

So overall a slow start -- until James hit the stage with Bon Jovi. Steven Tyler was so impressed he offered to quit Aerosmith (can you really quit a band that isn't really there anymore?) and join him onstage. The kid can rock.

Haley: Whitney Houston. Oops.

Stefano, the guy who almost got sent home, turned the entire show around with "If You Don't Know Me By Now." His parents weren't out of diapers when Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes first released that, but somebody else did it 22 years ago, so it counts. Perfect song for him, perfect rendition of a tough piece.

Pia: Whitney Houston, too. The girl is drop-dead beautiful and has a stunning voice -- but that horrid white outfit looked like someone had wrapped her in a plastic garbage bag. ("You can't say it made her look fat," Jean told me harshly. And it didn't, really, because she isn't, but it might have.) Hideous, I almost couldn't listen to the song. 

Scotty is always solid, born to be a country singer. He's so good it's almost boring.

Karen: Marge Simpson hairdo. Devo-meets-Vegas outfit. The song was okay, and the interview with her mom was too cute for words, but next time let mom check the look before you go out the door, okay?

Casey went on with his bass and tried to be Kurt Cobain -- and oddly, it worked. Kind of scary, actually. But it worked. Steven: "Crazy and talented -- that's the goop that great stuff was made of." J-lo still thinks he's sexy. Grrrr, Lion Queen.

Lauren's got the flu, but did a great job with Melissa Ethridge. Jacob tried Heart, and failed.

Naima, Haley and Jacob -- bottom three. And Naima's going home. Tune in tomorrow; I'm never right.