It's getting down to the end, and as Randy says, this is where you figure out who's in it to win. And last night, with the possible exceptions of Jacob and Lauren, they all were.
The theme: One classic song and one modern song. Each of the five remaining contestants gets to sing twice. J-Lo has a flower in her hair. Steven has some kind of crazy red coat. The mentor of the week: Sheryl Crow, who looks fabulous at 49.
First up: James, "Closer to the Edge." Not his best performance (that was later), not a great song, but he's a rock god. (ivian is convinced he's going to the final no matter what, since Steven Tyler promised to sing with him on stage in the final performance and nobody wants to give up those ratings.) Jacob: "No Air." Viv says it's "terrible." I just thing it's the wrong song for him (trying to do both parts of a duet is a bad idea) and the judges agree. After the first round, he's not looking good.
Lauren: "Flat on the Floor." She rocks it. Good song choice, nice upbeat performance. Nothing stellar, but fine. Scotty: "Gone." A different side of him. Steven is thrilled: "You danced with the devil."
Haley takes a huge risk and sings an unreleased Lady Gaga song, which sucks. But she sings it well, as well as she's done all year. the problem: Nobody's ever heard the song before. Nobody wants to hear it again.
Now Round Two, the classics. and all I can say is, Wow.
James: "Without You." Epic. Over-emotional sap about his family, and he didn't hit all the notes perfectly, but damn he's a performer. He had the audience spellbound. He is, I think, the next Idol.
Jacob: "Love Hurts." I'm not a big fan of Jacob, and there were some screachy moments here, but again: He had the audience. Great performance. Not enought to save him tonight, but great.
Lauren: Whoa, who chooses her outfits? Some sort of blue-striped dress that's a cross of cowgirl at the state fair, hospital volunteer and antebellum pajamas. "Unchained Melody." Boring song, but she can belt it out. J-lo: "Nothing to judge." I agree. Nothing much.
Scotty: Elvis, of course. "Always on my Mind." Perfect for him. A little slow, but the audience loved it.
Haley: Holy shit. I've never seen "House of the Rising Sun" done like that. For once, she's actually sexy and not goofy; the teeny-bopper smile is gone, replaced with a New Orleans bluesy-edgy voice and look that counts as a verifiable Idol Moment. She just saved herself. Performance of the night, maybe of the month.
Tonight: James, Scotty and Haley are clearly safe. Jacob and Lauren are in the bottom, and Jacob goes home. Finally. But don't believe me; I'm never right.