'American Idol' Top 11 redux: Stefano Langone, Naima Adedapo not so hot on Elton John
When the judges arrive, Tyler and J.Lo are looking particularly feftching tonight. Tyler's got his best "Saturday Night Fever" outfit going and J.Lo's dress is to die for - she is disgustingly beautiful sometimes. Like, she's always beautiful, but then sometimes it's just too much. Seacrest is also dapper in a blue suit. At least Randy isn't wearing a sweater, we guess.
Before we get to the performances, I just have to comment - does it seem like J.Lo has to sit in the middle not because she's a girl (so that it alternates boy-girl-boy), but because Steven Tyler often wants to strangle Randy Jackson with one of his many scarves? Just me?
Here are your Top 10 plus 1 Idols, from best to worst:
There is a three-way tie for 1st - they were all great and all too different to choose which was best.
1. (tie) Jacob Lusk, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
Mary J. Blige stops by the studio, which is cool as hell. Jacob's vocal is very understated and wow, heartbreaking on some notes. His eyes are shining with tears, the emotion is like ... choking. This is a little ugly, in the way that some people's cry faces are ugly? But beautiful in its emotion and vocal. That was staggering. Tyler says Jacob slayed him, J.Lo says really beautiful and Randy says to keep his racehorse reined in, not to overdo it.
1. (tie) James Durbin, "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)"
Perfect pick for Durbin. TOE TOUCH! Holy cow, where did that come from? This is great. Rocking, but in pitch, nothing too scream-y, which I don't always like. Wonderful. He throws a mic stand, he's on the piano, there's fire, holy mother of god what is happening?! This is too much. Too much awesomeness. Just needs a "thank you Cleveland!" at the end. The judges love it.
1. (tie) Lauren Alaina, "Candle in the Wind"
Her adorableness during the fashion shoot is, well, adorable. She talks about the first time it came out like she remembers that. Hell, she doesn't remember either version. Hee. Anyway, she looks gorgeous and the song suits her so well. She seems very emotionally connected to it, which is a fair feat since she's so young. The "when the rain sets in" part is particularly lovely. She could release this song. Goosebumps. The judges rightly go nuts (and Steven manages to hit on her, so that's nifty).
2. Casey Abrams, "Your Song"
Rodney Jergens tells him to lose the beard, so he heads to the barbershop for a trim. The results are - nice, actually. On the song, he totally reins it in for this one, which is excellent. Casey can really sing and he's completely lost that in his schtick over the weeks since his audition. I hope he goes up on the eye color verse, like Ewan did in "Moulin Rouge." Except he doesn't get to that verse. Bummer. That would've put it over the top for me. Instead, he gets a little grunt-y on the finale, but really it was a good job by Casey. He does need to keep an eye on his nasally pronunciations, but way to prove the save was not in vain
Randy says it was "one of the greatest saves we've ever had on this show." Oh, really? Out of three? Out of one who went home two weeks later and one who went from Top 10 to Top 4? Don't jump the gun, Randy.
3. Haley Reinhart, "Bennie and the Jets"
Interesting choice for Haley, I don't really think of it as a singer's song, but it actually fits her growly, sultry voice really well. It's like "Fabulous Baker Boys" goes Elton and it really works for me. It's a shame she can drop low on the first "jets," but that's the problem with being a female singer. The song loses a bit when she gets off the piano and starts waving her arm in the air - don't do that, it's cheesy. But vocally this is fun. A weird choice for the show closer, but cool nonetheless. J.Lo goes nuts, Randy says best of the night, which ... hmm. No. But good. Tyler says "You. Sing. Sexy."
4. Pia Toscano, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Apparently Pia is going to "rock" this song. Hmmm. She also promises next week she's going to "get y'all movin'" She comes out rocking the middle part and straight hair that is just this side of Morticia, so they need to watch that. Vocally, it's another great Pia ballad. There's a great high part on the chorus where she just nails it, but I don't really get Fergie-meets-Axl from it. The quiet ending in her high voice before the big note was just lovely. Tyler says she nailed it because he's crying inside. J.Lo likes that she's trying to break the barrier. Randy says she slays the ballads, but that's not the point - the point is to loosen up, switch up gears. I completely agree. Pia is a beautiful, great singing robot.
5. Scotty McCreery, "Country Comfort"
In his fashion shoot he's kinda "Twilight"-y, no? Anyway, he's playing a very cool acoustic guitar this week and the vocal starts off right in the Scotty lane. Low, country, nice. He gives a shout-out to his grandma, which is pretty cute. The last deep note was not perfect, but it was a very decent attempt. The whole thing was just very Scotty - nothing flashy, nothing bad, but nothing that makes me jump out of my seat, either. Not that it wasn't good, because it was. He's just very understated. Tyler says something about high-heeled cowboy boots, J.Lo praises his instincts and Randy says he has seasoned so fast and that that song could be on Scotty's record. True.
He named his guitar "Scarlet" and talks about Scarlet's sister guitar, Stacy. That's adorable. Scotty is just too much with the cuteness.
6. Thia Megia, "Daniel"
This is a biggie for Thia to tackle, given that her emotional connection to songs is not often there. But she does very, very well with it. The vocal is lovely and she seems to be really connected. The ending is gorgeous, chilling. J.Lo says "really beautiful," Randy says safe, Tyler says "you sang a great Elton John song well." A little sleepy, but the best Thia by far.
7. Paul McDonald, "Rocket Man"
The guitar helps Paul's weirdness SO. MUCH. It makes him much more palatable. Also? This song really suits him and the changes to the melody line keep it interesting. The chorus gets a little off in spots, but this is a very good Paul performance. Right in his wheelhouse. Did not love the whispered "time" at the end - creepy. But other than that, good. Randy says there were a few pitch problems, but the quiet, tender stuff was great. J.Lo thinks he's holding back. Tyler likes his character.
8. Naima Adedapo, "I'm Still Standing"
Naima is doing her Naima thing with the song, which is a risk. There are only so many times somebody can be weird before there's backlash and people want her to play it straight. She starts off with a shout-out to people struggling all over the Earth. Her affected Jamaican accent is ... weird. I mean, she'd sound weird singing reggae without the accent, but on the other hand, it's not her accent. Vocally, it's not a stretch at all and still not perfectly on pitch, plus this song is uber-repetitive. I do love her crazy pinstriped jumper Jamaican flag thing she has going on.
J.Lo is not crazy about flipping the song to reggae, like maybe it was better in theory than it was in practice, but does say she's a good performance, which is true. Randy says corny (yes) and Tyler says "boom shaka laka laka baby."
9. Stefano Langone, "Tiny Dancer"
This is a wonderful song. And Stefano kinda biffs it. What's a "ballerinum"? Is that like a "nubian"? The changes he makes to the chorus are terrible, there are pitch problems, he can't sustain the high notes and his one move is sticking his right arm out to the side, then clenching it to his body. Stefano has always smacked of "Idol" like 6 years ago to me and this is the epitome of that. Weirdly, the judges praise him. Ugh, really? What is their hard-on for this guy? Naima was bad, but at least she wasn't bad and boring.
Who should go home? Based on tonight, Naima and Stefano. I love Naima, but tonight was pretty rough.
What do you think, "Idol" fans?