|The Top 12 after last week's results show (Casey was in the hospital)|
It's been a tough week and I know I need a little break. What better diversion than watching the Top 12 perform songs from the years of their births. The show starts now.
Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Ryan Seacrest open the show with a message of support for the people of Japan. Tonight, all proceeds from downloads of the songs the Idols sing will go to benefit the American Red Cross disaster relief fund. Tomorrow, we'll find out how much money was raised.
The judges take their seats and Ryan intros the Top 12. Ryan tells us the week's theme.
Naima Adedapo (1984) - "What's Love Got to do With It"
Naima's mother was a performer and sang to her as a child. She talks about her children and the sacrifices she and her mother have made. Naima starts out on the Adam Lambert Memorial staircase. Her vocals are a bit shaky and she's off-key. I do love her outfit, but I'm not digging this performance at all. It's too slow and the hip-hop infusion doesn't work.
Steven says she opened up a can of ... He loved it. Jennifer says Naima brings her thing to whatever she does, but she says Naima is consistently pitchy. She's worried about how she'll do against the others. Randy says she's always under the pitch and the vocals were a mess. "They were all over the place, babe." He's right. She says it felt good to her, but she understands what they are saying. "I can roll with it." She may roll right on out of here after this one.
Paul McDonald (1984) - "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues"
Paul's having some vocal issues. The song suits his odd voice, actually, and it's' certainly better than last week. His moves are so spastic, it's a hoot to watch. It gets worse as he goes on. It's' a hot mess. Seriously, why is this guy still around? I start laughing uncontrollably.
Jennifer says she knows he was struggling, but that he has so much soul and star quality, he made it happen. Randy laughs. He differs with JLo and says some of the notes were pitchy. But, he liked that Paul is like Ray LaMontagne, and puts his own spin on it. "Get the notes right." Steven says Paul defines a "cool dude in a loose mood." Paul says he's been sick all week and hopes everyone enjoyed it. I did, but probably not the way he wanted me to.
Thia Megia (1995) - "Colors of the Wind"
Her mother is so cute. Thia says she wrote her first song when she was six and we get to hear it. Her vocals are stunning, so polished. And she's in tune. The song really is perfect for the night. She probably shouldn't have been smiling so brightly, but otherwise, it was perfection.
Randy says the vocals were okay, but is having a problem with is that she's been singing ballads every week and there was nothing special or unique about it. He calls it boring. Steven said she sang it beautifully. He asks her if that's who she is. She says she thought it was perfect for what's going on right now. JLo says they loved her voice when they first heard her. She says she hears nervousness in her vibrato. "Push out of the box, work on the vibrato, and them come out next week and kill it." I'm sorry, but I thought that was a solid and moving performance, and I don't even particularly like Thia.
Peggy Blu, the vocal coach from hell, is in the house! As is Kate Hudson!
James Durbin (1989) - "I'll Be There for You" (Bon Jovi)
James tells Ryan they've formed a band (him, Stefano, Casey, and Paul). Mama says he sang his ABCs in perfect pitch. Jimmy Iovine tells James to stay healthy. Ugh, James starts out completely lost tunewise. He recovers, but his preening for the camera is annoying. James is definitely playing the rock start about now. Nope, the vocals are off, way off.
Steven says James made Desmond Child proud. He says he has leftover sandwiches older than him. He tells him not to get too poppy on him. James says he's saving Aerosmith for the finale. Steven says he'sll get up and sing with him. JLo says a great performer makes you want to sing along and she was. "I love it, you were great." Randy says there were a couple of spots, but that he found a way to make it his own. James shows off his custom made leather bandana studded boot decorations. Going glam on us? Steven says James has "a rich vein of inner crazy. I love Steven Tyler.
Haley Reinhart (1990) - "I'm Your Baby Tonight"
Her parents sing in a band. Mom is pretty bluesy. She tears into the song and funks it it. She is also off a bit, but her voice is such that it isn't as obvious. I wonder about the song choice. As she goes on, it deteriorates, and ends up sort of a mess. I think she's toast.
JLo says Haley looks beautiful. But? She says there's a lot of character in her voice, but she seems unsure of her movements. She implores Haley to do what comes naturally. Ryan wipes off some lipstick from her chin. Randy is confused. He points out the wide variety of songs she's sung and says this shows she doesn't know who she it. "It wasn't a great performance." Randy being Simon this year! Steven says it was "sweet and tough," but that he is always waiting for the Janis voice. He wants to hear more blues.
Stefano Langone (1989) - "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (Simply Red)
Stefano's father and grandfather were both musicians. His dad is proud. My first thought is that the performance is very karaoke. Thing is, because he doesn't know the original, he is able to avoid sounding like the original artist, which is a good thing, It's actually a decent performance, possibly the best so far. And that's saying something. At least it isn't boring. He warbles horribly at the end, though. Ouch.
Randy says it's the best performance of the night. He says he took a song that had the highest level of difficulty like the Olympics and slayed it. "Over the top," says Steven. JLo says if he continues to sing to her and connect with his eyes he could win this thing. Stefano comes down and hugs Mama.
Pia Toscano (1988) - "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" (Whitney Houston)
We see little Pia singing "I Will Always Love You." Her grandfather was her biggest fan and she wishes he was still around to see her now. "What I do, I do for him." The arrangement is too fast or something. She isn't really with the music. I hate her jumpsuit. Maybe it's because her mike is too high. It seems disjointed to me. Her vocals are good though. One problem seems to be the mic is turned up too high and the band seems distant.
Steven says Pia is why this is called 'American Idol.' JLo says the producers took her there and it was perfect for her. Randy says every week she produces amazing vocals. "Pia is in the competition, where you all at?"
Scotty McCreery (1993) - "Can I Trust You with my Heart" (Travis Tritt)
Scotty grew up idolizing Elvis. This kid is ready for the recording studio. No kiddin. He lucks out again and gets to sing a country song. I wonder if he can sing anything else? He's a bit wobbly tonight, which is unusual, but his voice is so reamarkable, I can forgive anything.
JLo says Scotty pushed it out there a bit more at the end. She says he's right there. Randy says he's happy Scotty did a song by his "dear friend" Travis and did Travis proud. "We believe in you Scotty." Steven says Scotty is going places. Scotty's baseball team is in the house! He's just a kid.
Karen Rodriguez (1989) - "Love Will Lead You Back" (Taylor Dane)
Karen is the only remaining YouTube auditioner. She tells Ryan her sister pushed her to audition so she could get closer to Ryan who's good friends with Nick Jonas. Mama tells us she lives her music through Karen. Sadly, Karen massacres this song. She doesn't get the depth of it at all and it ends up being and off-key pageant performance. She does a little bit of it in Spanish, which is actuallyl better I'm putting my money on Karen this week. That was a mess.
Randy says it started a little rough, but by the time she hit the chorus, it was better. He's still not jumping up and down. Steven loves it when she breaks into her "ethnic what-is-isness." JLo says if she is nervous about certain notes, don't do it. "Perform it from your heart and watch how it translates.
Tamyra Gray is in the house.
Casey Abrams (1991) - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Nirvana)
Casey's parents were in their forties when he was born. He looks older than 19 too. He's playing bass guitar. Has he turned into a "white guy with a guitar?" I think not! What? Holy cats and dogs. This is postively electrifying. Casey screeches a bit, but it's so intense and he's so into it. Dude just sprinted to the front of the pack.
Steven says Casey is crazy and talented. JLo says it was a risk and there were parts of it that got screechy. She wishes it had been more pleasant. After he drops about forty names, Randy says he's most impressed that Casey loves taking risk and that he puts art first and them commerce.
Lauren is next. Looks like Jacob's got the pimp spot tonight.
Lauren Alaina (1994) - "I'm the Only One" (Melissa Etheridge)
Lauren has the flu. Her parents look like teenagers. Lauren's voice is weak from being sick and her energy level is affected. She puts a bit of a country spin on it and gets a tad shrieky. Plus, I think she missed some lyrics here. It's not good. JLo looks upset. Her mic was turned up too high as well.
JLo says "Very nice." She says she stayed true to the melody of the song, but made it her own. Randy says it was very nice, cold or not. Steven says when someone has a strep throat it makes them better. "She's back."
Jacob Lusk (1987) - "Alone" (Heart)
Jacob's mother thinks she can sing, but she really can't. She's almost as fierce as he is. The song is sort of a weird choice. He's over the top, as usual, and has some pitch problems, but at least he's feeling it. He gets the dramatic lighting and all, though, and finishes up rather splendidly. It isn't his best, but I don't care because I totally love this guy!
Randy says it was a nice performance, but he lost himself, but them saved it. He says "Jacob is in it to win it." Steven "Gospel had a baby and they named it Jacob Lusk." JLo says she loves that he gives himself to every performance. "Seriously, so good." Randy says, "We got a hot competition."
Note: Jacob sang in Nate Dogg's gospel group a few years back. Nate died Tuesday, and I think Jacob's performance was affected by that.
Best and Worst
I liked Casey the best tonight. He was original, intense, and straight up sold it to me. Stefano and Thia round out my top 3. I'd put Jacob, James, Pia, Lauren, and Scotty in the middle. Haley wasn't bottom-three worthy, but I think she'll end up there. Paul should be in the bottom 3, but won't be, which leaves Naima and Karen. Karen should go, but I think it'll be Haley.