The Top 12 are performing tonight, and the theme is not "whatever you want," for a change. It's "Song From the Year You Were Born" night, a theme which will make the viewing audience feel old and make this recapper have many musical flashbacks. The songs tonight will be available on iTunes and all the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to help people in Japan.
Naima Adedapo is first, and she was born in 1984. I was in 4th grade then, and for some reason that year has always stuck out as a musical highlight for me. 1984, for me, was about big hair and androgyny from Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Culture Club, Eurythmics. Yeah, I was kind of new wavey. My best friend Abbey and I had a sleepover and called MTV a gazillion times to ensure that Duran Duran's "The Reflex" video won the Video of the Week contest (they totally needed our support) and this was a time when those phone calls were not free. That was $80 my parents never got back. So I was all psyched for 1984. Naima is singing Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It?" Not on my playlist that year, but whatevs. She starts halfway up (or is it halfway down?) the stairs, then walks down in precarious platform boots. She's wearing a bright yellow tank top under some layers, with a matching yellow feather in her hair. Which reminds me -- do they ever do Barry Manilow night? Should they? I'm digressing so much because the performance is just okay. No dance breaks in it, nothing really new about it. Steven Tyler, sexy-rock-god-turned-cuddly-grandpa-teddy-bear, says that she has a sorcerer's grasp of melody, then says that she's wearing his shirt. Jennifer Lopez gets real, though. "Last week I gave you a pass on the pitchiness [because of the dancing], now I see you're consistently pitchy." Ouch, J.Lo is worried. Randy says that he rewatched last week's performance and kind of hated it. After the commercial, on the backstage interview-cam, Naima says, "I feel it too much sometimes, it messes with my pitch." She does feel it.
Paul McDonald was also born in 1984. Do you look at him and Naima and see the same age? He used to dress up as a cowboy, but apparently did not grow up to be one. He's singing "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" by Elton John. He's had a cold all week. You know, he still sounds like Rod Stewart sometimes, but also just sounds crazy. He doesn't change up the song so much as he just sings it with his wonky voice, and that is enough of a difference. Jennifer Lopez Singalong Shot Count: 1. She says she feels him, knows he was struggling with his voice from the cold, but he has soul and star quality and he overcame it. Randy Jackson's not giving him a pass because of the cold and says he was off in the beginning. Then he namedrops "new ingénue" Ray LaMontagne as someone else who takes anything and makes it his own. Someone go listen to Ray LaMontagne and tell me if he reminds you of Paul. Steven Tyler calls Paul a cool dude with a loose swagger.