So Simon Cowell seems to think that the judges are too nice this year and there's too much sappy drama. I'm with him on the second point, but a big difference this time around is that the talent is so consistently good, so much better than in the past, that there's less reason to be harsh. That said, it is a bit of a lovefest and I do miss Simon.
On to the round of 11:
Jennifer's got a shiny pink top on, which is fine, and her hair is much better, but my god, the makeup! The blue eyeshadow and pink blush makes her face look like a clown. Somebody backstage is out of control.
Steven has the best line of the night, as always. Ryan: "How did Motown affect you?" Steven: "It made me want to make out with girls."
He's also got the rock-performer ethos down. Casey does "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," good job if a bit over the top, and Steven says: "Perfect pitch and perfect mix of crazy-ass out-of-control ego." Ayup.
Thia's dress looks like a wedding cake and her singing isn't exceptional. The judges love Jacob, and so do Vivian and Michael; I'm not such a fan. Maybe it's my bad attitude toward anything remotely religious; he always sounds like he's singing in church. And I don't like church. Not his fault; he's doing well.
Lauren's probably the best of the women, and "You Keep Me Hanging On" was just right for her. The zebra dress was a problem, though.
Stefano. White lounge-lizard jacket; on anyone else, it would be a joke. He actually pulls it off, and does a fine Lionel Richie "Hello." Haley's doing her best, and "You Really Got A Hold On Me" was adequate, but she's just not up to the level of the others. And she shouldn't wear hot pants.
I was worried about Scotty doing Motown, but wow! He sings "For Once In My Life" with a country edge, and it's awesome. Steven says he's just like Glen Campbell, which is kind of insulting, but he's the breakout artist of the show so far, the one who's going to wind up with a recording contract win or lose.
There's something weird about Pia. I mean, lots of women can be really sexy without being classically beautiful, but Pia manages to be drop-deal gorgeous -- and not sexy at all. She has an amazing voice -- maybe the best in the show -- but she's ... boring. She just stands there and sings ballads. Not working for me.
Paul. "Tracks of My Tears," with the guitar. Bad hair day. He sounds a little like Rod Stewart trying to do Smokey Robinson, but it's such a good song and he sorta pulls it off.
Naima. I was worried about her. She needed a big hit -- and she got it. "Dancing in the Streets" was perfect for her, and the African drums at the end let her show off her dance moves, which frankly are better than her singing. So she ought to survive this round.
James is the other guaranteed star. "Living for the City" isn't an easy song, and he nails it. He's going to the final round.
Tonight's bottom three: Thia, Haley and Pia. But pretty soon, this is going to get tough.