Live: American Idol Gets It Together At Nassau Coliseum


American Idols Live
Nassau Coliseum
Wednesday, August 24

Better than: A two-hour elimination episode.

To say that the 10th season of American Idol—the first without Simon Cowell, the fifth after the victory of gray-haired boogie man Taylor Hicks "broke" the show's ability to mint stars—was plagued by problems is to be somewhat charitable. Sure, it's still the most popular show in the country, despite surges by the likes of Dancing With The Stars; yes, it probably assisted Jennifer Lopez's return to the pop charts after she'd seemed all but exiled from them. But this season was plagued by a lackluster contestant pool and an outcome that seemed all but predetermined from sometime in mid-March. Yet despite the victor's assured dominance on the phone lines, the Idol powers that be were so unsure of the public's wisdom that they decided to throw the bulk of their promotional energies not behind country boy Scotty McCreery, the Josh Turner-imitating, sideleaning kid from Garner, N.C. who won the whole thing last May, but behind Pia Toscano, the ninth-place finisher from Howard Beach who amalgamates the most boring parts of Québecois belter Celine Dion and Pussycat Doll leader Nicole Scherzinger into a package that stands stock-still while competently belting out even the most meaningful phrases.

It's too bad, really, because last night's show at Nassau Coliseum proved that the most viable pop star to come out of this year's crop was actually the guy who finished... seventh?

Stefano Langone, 22 years old and from the outskirts of Seattle, has babyfaced good looks and a voice that recalls other pop n' b stars of the current moment—Bruno Mars, Ne-Yo, Usher. Last night he performed songs by two of those artists: "Grenade," the bombastic Mars track that so many Idol contestants attempted during auditions and that he tore himself up for; and "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love," the early-'90s throwback jam by Usher that isn't really much of a technical showcase, but that did allow Langone to whip off his shirt, so caught up in the moment he was. A cheap ploy, sure, but one that made the room pop for the first time all evening, and Langone's gesture wasn't completely unnatural-seeming; who among us, after all, doesn't get really sweaty in a club. That he'd also showed up Toscano both vocally and charismatically on their duet of "California King Bed" earlier made a little more sense after the shirt-doffing, too, and his appearances on stage (he was the go-to male for backup-singer duty as well), each of which was greeted by "ohs" and "oohs," further underscored the fact that a female contestant is probably never going to win Idol again.

The show was paced much better than the filler-filled episodes of the TV show—all singing, group numbers that weren't too embarrassing, not much synergistic BS or judge pontificating, over by 9:45. That was a big relief for this Idol viewer, who sits with her finger nervously poised over the fast-forward button during the entirety of some episodes. The first half had its ho-hum moments, most of which involved Toscano and crawling-into-herself 10th-place finisher Thia Megia. The second was more packed with showy Idol-ready moments: James Durbin powered his way through Guns N' Roses and Muse, showing off his not-quite-Lambertlike big notes and twirling the microphone stand as if it were a cane; Haley Reinhart, probably the competitor who got most screwed by the whole Team Pia thing, showed off her formidable pipes and only got a little frustrated when the largely under-18 crowd didn't know the words to "Bennie And The Jets."

And then there was Jacob Lusk, a great big whirling force of nature and stank, briefly turning the Coliseum into a 1979 dance club for a whirl through Luther Vandross' "Never Too Much" and then bringing the house down for "You're All I Need To Get By." His performance of that soul chestnut during the season was without a doubt the show's peak this year; last night he dedicated it to its late songwriter Nickolas Ashford and proceeded to take everyone to church, flopping down in a heap when it was all done. I was pretty spent, too, I should say. He's probably the only Idol contestant from this year who I'd pay to see live.

By the time Scotty McCreery showed up on stage—he'd been held back from all the big group numbers so as to make his arrival onstage more oomphy, I guess—there had been a lot of climaxes, making his deep-voiced, subtle delivery more of a dénouement than was probably intended. McCreery, who seemed to have gained a bit of swagger between his time on the show and last night, performed Turner's "Your Man," a.k.a. "Babylockdemdoors," the song that during the season he pulled out time and time again to prove that, yes, he did have a deep voice and an ability to mimick basic country tropes and utterly pinchable cheeks that so many of the older women burning up the Idol phone lines adore. (Lauren Alaina, the second-place finisher, sang a song about moms as an effort to woo voters away from calling in for Scotty during the finale. It's that chronic.) His win seems less fluky than that of Lee DeWyze in 2010, but in the context of this show his subtlety, which despite a fun take on Montgomery Gentry's "Gone" borders on the soporific at times, certainly came off like a bit of a comedown after the barnburners who'd preceded him.

The show ended with a big old medley of Journey, Whitesnake, and Aerosmith songs sung by the company, with the most recent hit in the mix being Whitesnake's 1987 hit "Here I Go Again." Not exactly the most cutting-edge pop presentation—particularly for a show that started off with "Born This Way"—but it got the crowd on its feet, and not just because they wanted to beat the traffic on Hempstead Turnpike.

Critical bias: Jacob > [big gap] > Stefano > Naima > Haley > Casey > Paul Scotty > Lauren > Pia > James > Thia. (Sorry, Thia.)

Overheard: "Booooo!"—woman in front of me when Kris Allen's 2009 win over Adam Lambert was replayed. (This woman's friend, it should be noted, popped out of her seat in an effort to grab James Durbin's shoulder when he stormed by during his "Sweet Child O' Mine" performance.)

Random notebook dump: I wonder if Thia Megia's nightly performance of the damn-the-doubters Selena Gomez trifle "Who Says" is dedicated, in her mind, to Tom Breihan.

Set list:
Born This Way (Lauren / Haley / Pia / Thia / Naima)
Empire State Of Mind Pt. II (Pia)
California King Bed (Pia / Stefano)
Maggie May (Paul)
Who Says (Thia)
Tightrope (Haley / Pia / Thia / Naima)
Grenade (Stefano)
DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love (Stefano)
Animal (James / Jacob / Casey / Paul)
On The Floor (Naima)
This Time (Pia)
Smooth (Casey)
Moanin' (Haley / Casey)
Harder To Breathe (Casey)
Forget You (Lauren / Haley / James / Jacob / Casey / Stefano / Paul / Pia / Thia / Naima)
--
Flat On The Floor (Lauren)
Like My Mother Does (Lauren)
If I Die Young (Lauren)
Sweet Child O' Mine (James)
Uprising (James)
Never Too Much (Jacob)
You're All I Need To Get By (Jacob)
House Of The Rising Sun (Haley)
Bennie And The Jets (Haley)
Your Man (Scotty)
Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not? (Scotty)
I Love You This Big (Scotty)
When You Say Nothing At All (Scotty / Lauren)
Gone (Scotty)
Here I Go Again / Faithfully / Walk This Way / Any Way You Want It / Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' (All)

[SOTC homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Letters]

My Voice Nation Help
23 comments
HatesPopSchlop
HatesPopSchlop

I agree with Martin. Taylor didn't break the show. I, for one, am glad he wasn't a "Daughtry." (a radio fodder "pop" star).  Where is Daughtry today, anyway? I never hear anything about him.

Lorrainemain
Lorrainemain

Jacob Lusk is the greatest performer of this century. Glad to see you recognize just how magnificent he is 

DorkAngel-GBW
DorkAngel-GBW

It's a very pleasant surprise to read something nice about Jacob for once. Hope things work out for him as well as the others. Thanks.

Lorie Heller
Lorie Heller

I'm also a fan of Taylor Hicks.  The problem is that Taylor is not a pop/rock singer.  He is more like soul/jazz and the company that signed him never promoted him properly because they didn't like him.  Taylor is a very charismatic performer in person.  He is not the greatest singer produced on Idol but he is still talented.

As far as the Idols from Season 10 you can have them - I wouldn't pay to see them.  And we certainly don't need another pop star like Stefano or a would-be metal rocker like James Durbin.  They are both cliche with no originality.  They're are all about gimmicks; Stefano taking his shirt off and Durbin entering through the crowd and running all over the stage like a mad man.

martin3939
martin3939

Where in the holy hell do you get off calling T. Hicks the "boogie man" . The only people that "broke" idol were the idiots in charge that did not know what to do with a truly talented musician. Taylor was a certified platinum artist and would have done much better if the label had not pulled support of him in a snit over a dispute. The show is ruining itself by deciding to support who they want instead of who the people want. Why should I vote for anyone when all support goes to their choice. Like Pia, getting more songs than anyone when she came in 9th. Totally ridiculous. I recently watched a Hicks concert. Better by far than any idol show. Hes doing just fine as an independent. Very talented and smart man.

kevin_writes
kevin_writes

I'm guessing Maura must be a woman, hence such a high rating of Stefano, who uses his sex appeal to get cheers instead of his voice (seriously, what self-respecting person gets half naked while singing on stage...imagine what you would say if Haley stripped down to bra and panties while singing). That being said, I have seen many clips of his "DJ..." performance, and he sings it really well; actually the whole performance with the girls is pretty good. But all credibility of this article was lost by the early statement, "this season was plagued by a lackluster contestant pool." This is the first time I have ever seen a comment that did not argue the possibility of it being the best pool of contestants to date. But I'll cut some slack because I was not there live to see any of it. I only watch the replays online. From what I've seen from videos online so far, Jacob is pretty lame. And when you listen to the transition from him to Thia when they sing "Forget You" and "Walk This Way," Jacob sounds flat out awful compared to Thia. Again, I'm basing it on replays from other shows. Maybe I'll be proven wrong when I watch replays from this show...but I doubt it.

Rpmiller
Rpmiller

Wow.  Here is my take>>.as an older person I enjoyed this concert tremendously.  50 years old with my niece who is 22 we were able to cover all the music between the two of us.  Wrong song choices for Haley.  I would have hoped for a Christina Aguillera song instead of Elton John.  Pia looks too old to be in the group as she has a mature as you said , Celine Dion showmanship...or that of Barbara Streisand (showing my age again).  Crooner Scotty should have chosen Elvis and the one that just had a ball of energy was Naima whose body moves like a rubberband and whose strength as a performer far outweighed the others...she seemed like she had been on stage forever.  True, Luther Vandeross by Jacob was a reminder but I wanted to unbutton his tight jacket and yell at Lauren to stop pulling at her dress.  The costumes were very off for some and right on for others.  Overall for the money this is a HUGH night for entertainment and well worth the money...

Bronxish
Bronxish

If stephano was the best of the night I'll never attend another Idol tour again. I used to go for the excellent singing. In the first few years you were blown away by the voices. Now you got the usual pop crap. Bad singing, dancers, flashing lights and stripping off clothes but lousy singing.

carol
carol

James Durbin is not even trying to be Adamlike.  He is an amazing person.  We all have our opinions --that is mine.

Berightback
Berightback

I loved this, but I do feel compelled to point out that "Québécois" has an accent over the second "e"!  Okay, I'll show myself out now.

Ross
Ross

A girl is never going to win again? I hope not.

maura
maura

Oh dear. You're really going to make that argument as a Taylor Hicks fan?

maura
maura

It's not like his record sold gangbusters, come on! I saw him live a few years back and thought he was a top-notch bandleader, but his win certainly wasn't the result of him being the most pop-star-ready contestant in the pool. (Hello, Daughtry??) And I called him a "boogie man" because, well, he performs boogie music!

maura
maura

You're actually the first person who isn't paid by 19 who I've heard call this pool strong at all.

maura
maura

I was consistently not a fan of the way Lauren was styled on the show—she tended to be styled as someone who was 30 years older than her 25 years ago—but her outfit last night during her solo performance, and how she was clearly not happy with it, made me feel bad for her. At one point I think she mouthed a complaint to Haley and the other backup singers who'd come out to join her. Did someone stick her sweater-dress in the dryer as a prank? She always seemed to have something undermining her confidence during the season; last night it was her clothes. At least she looked happy in her prom-dress-and-cowboy-boots getup.

maura
maura

Jacob was the *best* of the night, but Stefano was definitely the most marketable-in-2011. And he sounded very good (and the fact that he kept being called on for backing-vocal duties is I think a testament to his talent).

Ross
Ross

As in I hope a girl will win again. Come-on everyone don't let those teeny boppers get to you!

martin3939
martin3939

Correction, I meant to say debuted 3rd highest not sold 3rd highest. All water under the bridge now anyway. At least he can say his finale was the most watched show of the decade. And now on to other things. I really didn't think this years crop was very good. Some good singers but not fun to watch.

martin3939
martin3939

Glad to know you liked his band, hes only gotten better but you might not realize that the T. Hicks deput album sold the 3rd highest of all the winners. It would not have taken much to have built on that, but it seemed like they chose not too. Only one that the label did not get a single out to radio before the album  and only one they never made a video for. Think that may have held down sales a little. And when they parted company they bad mouthed him to the point it was not a good thing. Personally, I care more about live music and talent than record sales and I think its better that he is independent and able to keep the money he makes which has been considerable but what I was objecting to was blameing him for the sales of people who came after him. That was not his fault in any way. It was the fault of idol and the contestants and how they were handled.

MisterMiguel
MisterMiguel

You're actually the first person I've heard declare Jacob to be the best. How much is he paying you?

kevin_writes
kevin_writes

Hmm, maybe you need to read some AI blogs other than your own. But I suspect that you would only interpret what you read the way you want it...I noticed on your home page that you have a recent tweet that says "three months after it ended, i have finally found a non-19 employee who thinks that season 10 boasted idol's strongest roster of singers." Putting 1 + 1 together, I can only assume you were referring to me since your reply here says that I am the first non-19 person you have heard say this. Maybe you should have actually read what I wrote. I never said season 10 boasted AI's strongest roster of singers. I merely said that yours was the first article I had seen that did not argue that they could be, which made me question your article's credibility. That statement makes you immediately come off as a "hater"...ok, maybe that's a strong word...how about a "disliker." But I get it...successful blogs are supposed to be provocative and get people to speak their mind. So nice job on that. But I personally could care less where the contestants rank year over year. My only takeaway from the show is any contestant that I think is talented enough to make me want to follow their career.

maura
maura

Sorry about misreading. But I have heard nobody say that this year's roster was anywhere near the talent produced by previous seasons. Maybe it's better than the season nine bunch, but that was a pretty dire group.

I would love for Idol to have great singers, believe me. It would make my job a lot more fun.

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...