American Idol: Top 13 Breakdown and Predictions

In Music, Television on March 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

It looks like the change of judges has breathed some new life to American Idol, as evidenced by the performances of the Top 13 contestants.  One of the interesting changes this week was watching the contestants working with producers on their upcoming performance.

Having each contestant choose a song from one of their idols was a great idea, because it meant that they would be singing songs that would allow them to shine (in theory at least).  Despite the freedom to choose the right song and the help of industry executives, many of the contestants still chose songs that put them at risk of going home this week.

Each week, Television2Day will review American Idol and rank the contestants based on their performance for the week.  After the rankings, a prediction of the bottom three will be made, along with a prediction of who will be voted off the show.

Here is the Top 13 Breakdown (in reverse order):

[13]        Karen Rodriguez – Performing “I Could Fall In Love” by Selena, Rodriguez struggled to find the right notes, and left the judges unimpressed.  She created the right look, but the vocals never came close to where they needed to be.

[12]        Paul McDonald – McDonald chose “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams, but it almost didn’t matter.  Because of his unique voice, people seem to really like him.  While his vocals were adequate, his performance on stage is awkward at best, and often times bizarre.  Ryan Seacrest, who is usually annoying when goes off script and tries to inject himself into the show, was actually entertaining as he did his impression of McDonald’s on-stage moves.

[11]        Haley Reinhart – Reinhart’s performance of “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes was nothing special.  While the judges seemed to like her ability to yodel, there was nothing else that makes her stand out from the crowd of contestants.

[10]        Thia Megia – As one of the early favorites based on last week’s performance, Megia took a big step backwards with her performance of “Smile” by Michael Jackson.  It’s unfortunate that she seemed to be talked into choosing a song that wasn’t what she had in mind because of a recommendation from the mentors.  She is one of the most talented singers, but her song choice did nothing to show off her abilities this week.

[9]          Ashthon Jones – Poor song selection is likely to hasten Jones’ exit from the competition despite her talent.  She made the right choice by picking a Diana Ross song, but made the colossal mistake of picking one that wasn’t well known (“When You Tell Me That You Love Me”). In all honesty, her performance was no better than average.  It was nice to see Jennifer Lopez point out the danger of doing songs that are not known by the masses.

[8]          Lauren Alaina – It is very puzzling that Alaina has relied solely on upbeat country songs the past couple of weeks because it is not what got her into the Top 13.  Her likability and performance will most likely keep her around for a while, but if she doesn’t start showing off the talent that got her to this point, she will be gone before too long.  Choosing a Shania Twain song was fine, but like many other contestants, she chose the wrong one (“Any Man of Mine”).

[7]          Stefano Langone – It’s kind of difficult to get a grasp on what Langone would be if he should ever record an album.  While pigeonholing himself into a specific genre might not elevate him against the competition, his lack of identity is likely to hurt him in the coming weeks.  His performance of “Lately” by Stevie Wonder was pretty good overall.  He had some moments in the song where he showed his range, but nothing that made the performance memorable.

[6]          Jacob Lusk – Personality-wise, you can’t help but root for Lusk to do well.  He brings so much passion into his performances that even the judges can’t help but be swayed by the emotion.  His ability and range is as good as any other contestant.  That being said, his performance of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Could Fly” was good, but not great.  The notes that he hits are very impressive, but other than the way he connected with the song, stylistically, it was not his best performance.

[5]          Scotty McCreery – There is no doubting that McCreery is ready to record a country album right now.  His performance this week was much better than last week because he looked a bit more comfortable on stage.  Garth Brooks’ “The River” was a very good choice for McCreery.  Unless there are a ton of country fans voting, McCreery’s one-dimensional style will not elevate him into the top of the competition, but his consistent performance will keep him around for a while.

[4]          Naima Adedapo – If not for some issues with pitch and breathlessness, Adedapo might have had the top performance of the night as she performed “Umbrella” by Rhianna.  She wisely chose to do a modern song that is known to virtually everyone, which came as a bit of a surprise being that she has leaned toward the classics previously.  Her stage presence was the best of any contestant, and she showed this week that she has the potential to be a star if developed properly.

[3]          Pia Toscano – It was going to be difficult to top last week’s stellar performance, and Toscano did take a small step backwards.  However, her performance of Celine Dion’s version of “All By Myself” showed why she is still one of the favorites to become the next American Idol.  She has proven once again that she is the most powerful female vocalist in the Top 13.

[2]          Casey Abrams – It came as no surprise that Abrams chose to do “A Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker.  It was the perfect song choice, and his stage presence is always engaging and very entertaining.  With or without an instrument, Abrams consistently delivers memorable performances.  He is clearly one of the favorites to be the next American Idol.

[1]          James Durbin – One of the biggest criticisms of the contestants every year is that they choose songs that don’t fit their voice or songs that are not known by most people.  To his credit, Durbin always chooses songs that fit his style and that everyone can sing along to, although certainly not to his level.  Durbin’s rendition of “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney was, by far, his best yet.  This was the first time that he showed off his near-perfect voice without adding in Adam Lambert-like vocal gymnastics that don’t always fit the song.  If Durbin can continue to mix power, melody and control like he did this week, he may very well be the contestant to beat.


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