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American Idol: Top 11 Review and Predictions

In Music, Television on March 24, 2011 at 9:26 am

The Top 11 American Idol contestants each had to perform a Motown song this week.  For the most part, all of the contestants chose songs that they were capable of singing.  Every week is important for the contestants, but with the exception of the finale, this week is the most critical as the contestant that gets voted off does not go on the American Idol tour.

If history is any indication, the contestant that gets voted off this week is not likely to be heard from again, and will be forgotten fairly quickly.

Because this week is so critical, the contestants who have built up a loyal following will likely make it into the Top 10, regardless of their performance or the judges’ comments.  The only way that the judges would use their save this week is to protect someone who they feel is special or someone who is so unique that losing them would hurt the tour.  This bodes well for some of the contestants, and not so well for others.

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 11 Breakdown (in reverse order):

[11]       Haley Reinhart – Performing “You Really Got a Hold on Me” by Smokey Robinson, Reinhart had her best performance since reaching the Top 13.  Unfortunately for Reinhart, it was still nothing special, and there is no reason to believe that it will be enough to move her up in the rankings.  Her overall look was better this week, but the decision to have someone who is not comfortable on stage walk down potentially hazardous stairs wearing stiletto heels was questionable.  It’s very hard to focus on singing when you’re trying not to fall.  Reinhart has talent, but screams at times when hitting the power notes and her lack of stage presence is detrimental when it comes to generating votes.

[10]       Thia Megia – It is unfortunate that Megia cannot seem to deliver the kind of memorable performance that she did to make it into the Top 13.  In an effort to listen to the judges’ advice, Megia stepped out of her ballad comfort zone with her performance of “Heatwave” by Martha and the Vandellas.  It was good to see her loosening up a bit, but her performance felt a bit forced.  The talent is there, but Megia seems to be overwhelmed by having to compete on the big stage.

[9]         Paul McDonald – After stating his interview that he grew up on Motown music that “makes you move,” McDonald smartly chose not to showcase his frantic movements this week as he performed “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson with an acoustic guitar.  If Rod Stewart didn’t exist, McDonald’s voice would be much more intriguing.  But Rod Stewart does exist, and McDonald’s weekly performances merely serve as a reminder that there is a much better version of him out there.  This was his best performance in the Top 13, but overall it was just more of the same old, same old that has become very predictable.

[8]          Scotty McCreery – If there was one performer who was at a disadvantage with the Motown theme, it was absolutely McCreery.  He did what he could to make Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life” his own, and for that he should be commended.  But the fact of the matter is that the original song is powerful and emotional, and McCreery’s version, while original, did not even come close to capturing the essence of the song.  Pushing himself beyond his deep register seemed to satisfy the judges to a degree, but this was his weakest performance yet in the Top 13.

[7]         Stefano Langone – One of the bigger surprises of the Top 13 so far has been Langone’s ability to show off his vocal range.  That being said, this week’s performance was a big drop off from last week, and Langone continued to struggle with keeping his eyes open and connecting with the audience.  His choice of “Hello” by Lionel Richie was bizarre for a few reasons.  First of all, the song was recorded in 1984, which is not exactly Motown’s heyday.  But more importantly, Langone admitted that he didn’t really know the song, which makes it a very questionable choice.  This is especially true given the fact that he said that he grew up listening to Motown.  Langone shined at times, but he spent too much time with his eyes closed, and the condensed version of the song was awkwardly arranged.  It wouldn’t come as a complete shock if the judges’ comments end up pushing Langone into the bottom three.

[6]         Casey Abrams – There was nowhere to go but up from last week’s Nirvana performance.  Aside from the fact that his cleaned up look was reminiscent of Zach Galifianakis in “The Hangover,” Abrams delivered a solid performance of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”   Abrams knows how to work the stage and the crowd, and his sound is definitely unique, and thought this performance was not even close to his best, it was more than enough to push him into the Top 10.

[5]         Naima Adedapo – More than any other contestant, Adedapo needs to deliver memorable stage performances because she simply is not a strong enough vocalist to compete with the best singers in the Top 11.  Two weeks ago, her performance of “Umbrella” by Rhianna turned heads, even though the vocals were not outstanding.  Last week, her subdued performance of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to do With It” landed her in the bottom three.  With a spot in the Top 10 on the line, Adedapo delivered her best overall performance to date with “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas.  Her look was spot-on, her vocals were very solid, and her stage show was very entertaining.  Adedapo will never be one of the top vocalists, but her command of the stage gives her a chance to be a successful entertainer.

[4]         Pia Toscano – Vocally, the only one who can compete with Toscano on a regular basis is James Durbin.  Once again, her singing of “All in Love is Fair” by Stevie Wonder was incredible.  But from an entertainment perspective, it just didn’t measure up to some of the other contestants.  Toscano is a beautiful girl with an amazing voice, and she doesn’t need to do much to stay in the competition at this point.  But as the competition moves forward, she is going to have to deliver more than just great vocals if she wants to make it to the finale.  Because her vocals are so perfect, she has some room to turn it down a notch and focus on connecting with the audience.

[3]          Jacob Lusk – If there was a contestant who was made for Motown week, Lusk is it.  His performance of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need to Get By” was his shining moment in the Top 13.  He always delivers the big notes, but doesn’t always do it with style.  This week he did.  Even though it was a Marvin Gaye song, Lusk’s performance was much more reminiscent of Luther Vandross (which is not a bad thing).  He worked very well with the background singers, and you could see that his comfort level was higher than it has been in weeks.

[2]         Lauren Alaina – On the heels of her admirable performance of Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One” last week, Alaina delivered her best performance to date with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes.  For the first time since reaching the Top 13, Alaina showed why she was considered to be one of the early favorites in the competition.  This was her best look by far, and her confidence was at an all-time high.  Her singing and performance this week launched Alaina right back to the top of the competition.

[1]         James Durbin – During the Season 10 tryouts, Durbin stood out early on because of his great voice and the challenge of overcoming Tourette’s and Asperger’s Syndrome.  Since making it into the Top 13, Durbin has proven that he not only belongs, but he has a very real possibility of winning it all.  More than any other contestant, Durbin continues to choose songs that are ideally suited for his voice, and with each passing week, his confidence seems to grow.  His performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” this week was flawless.  No one has shown the combination of amazing vocals and engaging stage presence like Durbin.  He hits every note almost effortlessly as he commands the stage and works the crowd.  At this point, the only one who can stop Durbin from reaching the finale is Durbin himself.

BOTTOM THREE PREDICTION:

Haley Reinhart

Thia Megia

Paul McDonald

WHO GOES HOME?

Haley Reinhart – After ending up in the bottom three each of the last two weeks, Reinhart had to deliver the performance of her life to make it into the Top 10 and go on tour.  She improved, but not nearly enough to compel Idol fans to pick up the phone and start voting for her this week.  Many of this year’s contestants bring something unique to the table.  Reinhart does not.  She is merely a good singer who needs a lot of work on her stage presence.  The fans that have put her into the bottom three for the past two weeks are the same fans who buy tickets to see the American Idol tour.  It would be very surprising to see anyone other than Reinhart going home this week, but then again, Idol voters are often times unpredictable.

WILL THE JUDGES USE THEIR SAVE?

Highly unlikely.  Unless one of their unanimous favorites somehow ends up with the lowest amount of votes, it would be very surprising to see the judges do anything to give someone another crack at making it into the Top 10.

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