They say that 13 is an unlucky number. Did I feel unlucky having to watch these 13 contestants perform? Let’s find out!
Lauren Alaina – Performing the Shania Twain hit “Any Man of Mine,” Lauren got the night started off in a dull and pitchy way. She has a strong voice but really seemed to be forcing a lot of the notes, and unfortunately there aren’t that many notes in the song to begin with. I think she has a bright future in country music, but to stay in the competition she is really going to have to stretch herself across genres and pick songs with more range.
Casey Abrams – Before singing Casey talked about hearing his song, Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends,” on the Wonder Years. I wonder how many people watching this show even know what that is? Casey was on again tonight, nailing everything and making the audience feel what he was feeling. What sets him apart is that he is an artist, not just a singer. Can’t wait to hear him again next week!
Ashthon Jones – Ashthon really wanted to pull off some Diana Ross for all of us, and I have to respect that. Unfortunately, she had the same pitch problems as Lauren, but at least this was a tougher song. The judges praised her for “growing as a singer” by being able to correct her pitch and hit the notes – but shouldn’t someone in American Idol top 13 already know how to do that? She just didn’t do it for me.
Paul McDonald – As shocked as I was to hear that Rod Stewart isn’t Paul’s idol, Ryan Adams is pretty cool too. After all he is married to Mandy Moore. I like the song, I like Paul, but I didn’t think this was a great match. Paul is consistently good, but something just seemed off with this performance. Even so, I think he’ll be back next week as he is fun to watch and really seems to have the ladies charmed.
Pia Toscano – Pia chose Celine Dion’s “All By Myself,” originally sung by 80s star Eric Carmen. While the song choice was a bit typical Idol just like her song last week, she was the first female tonight to really perform as if they belonged on this television show. She nailed all the notes in a very difficult song, I just keeping hoping she’ll stretch herself a bit out of the pageant girl mold. Maybe next week?
James Durbin – Of all the artists out there, I was shocked to learn that Paul McCartney is his idol. “Maybe I’m Amazed” was a great choice for him, and as always James did the song justice and then some. Between last week with Judas Priest and this week he has shown the greatest range of any contestant thus far. He also held off on the screaming high notes tonight and it really made the performance.
Haley Reinhart – Leann Rimes’ “Blue” was certainly an interesting song choice, and like James she is able to shift between genres with ease. She sang it well, but the song itself wasn’t particularly memorable and since she is capable, it really would have been nice to hear her take it somewhere new.
Jacob Lusk – I’m always psyched to hear what Jacob is going to do, and I was even more excited when I found out he would be singing R. Kelly. I just knew he would disappoint me and sing “I Believe I Can Fly” but at least he gave a shout out to Space Jam! However, I really think he could have brought it with “Bump n’ Grind.” As for the performance, what is there to say? Jacob takes every song he does and absolutely obliterates it, leaving only the remnants of the original in his wake. He may not take this competition, but he has the most vocal ability hands down. Every time he sings I forget that I am watching American Idol. The gospel choir was an awesome touch too.
Stefano Langone – Stevie Wonder has such a great distinct voice, and I gotta hand it to him, Stefano really did this one justice. Stefano has struggled recently, but this was a solid performance with a really interesting arrangement of a classic. Welcome back to the competition young man!
Karen Rodriguez – Karen ‘s idol was Selena. While this wasn’t the worst female performance of the night, it wasn’t particularly strong either. In the intro they teased the version being a little more rock, or even Beyonce, but I didn’t hear that. She did seem to struggle with pitch, but overall it was the dull arrangement that really took away from what was doing. Kudos though to Jennifer Lopez for not mentioning that she played Selena in a movie, too many years of Kara and Paula Abdul got me used to self-plugging from the judges I guess.
Scotty Mcreery – Whenever Scotty is on television I always feel like I am watching the MAD magazine mascot sing country music. It is just very strange, but maybe it’s just me. Scotty went with Garth Brooks’ “The River.” I love me some Garth Brooks, and he did it well. He’s got good charisma and even better low range, but it is still hard for me to imagine him hanging with guys like James, Casey, and Jacob deep into this competition. As I’ve said before, he has a great future ahead of him in country music.
Naimi Adedapo – I learned something tonight – Rihanna is actually someone’s musical Idol. Who knew? Vocally, this performance was just okay, “Umbrella” isn’t exactly a vocal masterpiece. However, the rest of her performance with the dancing, graphics, and an altered reggae arrangement was one of the most interesting of the whole night. The aesthetics of the performance set a new bar for this season, as she is the only one to really put on a true show and also the only female to really set herself apart.
Tonight a lot of the contestants came into their own, especially Stefano and Karen. While they have yet to reach the heights of guys like Casey and Jacob, they showed that they could compete with them. I think Lauren, Karen, and Ashthon need to be the most concerned about tomorrow night, but barring a major surprise all the guys are safe and probably will be for a couple of weeks. All in all, after the opening performances things really took off tonight, the diversity of the contestants is going to keep things interesting all season long.