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American Idol: Top 11 Double Elimination Show Reviews and Predictions

In Music, Television on March 31, 2011 at 6:21 am

After last week’s shocking vote, which would have sent Casey Abrams home if not for the judges wisely using their one save of the season, the Top 11 all got to perform again this week.  From here on out, the judges will be powerless to do anything if the voters get it wrong again.  The pressure is now on the contestants to choose the right songs each week and connect with the voting audience if they want to remain in the competition.

Because the judges used the save last week, two contestants will be going home this week, but all 11 will be going on tour this summer.

This week, each contestant was asked to perform an Elton John song.  Almost every contestant chose a song that was one of Elton John’s well-known hits, but not everyone chose the best song for their voice and style.

Here is this week’s breakdown (in reverse order):

[11]         Paul McDonald – You would think that it would be an advantage to perform a song that you have covered already before trying out for American Idol, but for McDonald, this was not the case.  The only thing that stood out about his performance was his Elton-esque wardrobe.  Other than that, it was just more of what McDonald delivers every week.  His rendition of “Rocket Man” was fine, but certainly nothing special.  He would have been better served if he chose to perform “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues” instead.

[10]         Scotty McCreery – It is very surprising that the judges seem to lambaste everyone who tends to stick to the same style every week, but when McCreery does it, he gets praised.  Ever since the first season of Idol, the judges regularly accuse contestants of being too safe with their song selections.  They should have been all over McCreery for choosing a song called “Country Comfort” this week.  It wasn’t like it was one of his favorites.  In fact, he knew nothing about the song except that it had the word “country” in the title.  Even though I am a lifelong Elton John fan, I have to admit that this song didn’t even seem remotely familiar.  McCreery’s performance was fine, but American Idol is a competition, and this was one of the least competitive song choices in the show’s history.

[9]           Naima Adedapo – Like McCreery, Adedapo took an Elton John song and made it her own.  However, she did so by drastically changing one of Elton’s most popular songs.  Her reggae version of “I’m Still Standing” was interesting and somewhat entertaining.  However, it came off as trying to force things when she sang it with a faux-Jamaican accent.  Adedapo is at her best when her singing complements her stage performance (which was virtually non-existent this week).  She gets an “A” for originality this week, but a “C” at best for her singing and interpretation of an Elton John classic.

[8]           Jacob Lusk – As one of the judges’ favorites since the beginning, it seems that Lusk can do almost nothing wrong.  To his credit, he always does his best to connect with the song and show how passionate he is.  But he often times comes up short when it comes to delivering the song with style.  His choice of “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” was based on Mary J. Blige’s cover version rather than Elton’s original.  If Lusk really wanted to shine this week, he should have chosen “Take Me to the Pilot” and made it his own.  It may very well have been viewed as one of the best of the evening instead of just rising high enough to avoid elimination this week.

[7]           Haley Reinhart – It was very surprising that Reinhart wasn’t in the bottom three last week since she was the previous two weeks before.  Her rendition of “Benny and the Jets” was, by far, her best performance of the season.  She looked more comfortable than ever on stage, and she showed off the bluesy style that she is capable of singing.  It is highly unlikely that Reinhart will be able to go toe-to-toe with the top singers in the competition, but it looks like she may go further than most would have expected just a few short weeks ago.

[6]           Stefano Langone – For the first time ever, Langone finally took the judges’ advice and opened his eyes to connect with the audience.  There is no doubt that he can sing, but he needed a better stage performance to help sway Idol voters.  The judges seemed pleased with his progress.  Although he did what they asked, his version of “Tiny Dancer” was only slightly above average, but it is not entirely his fault.  In order to showcase different parts of the song, the arrangement was done very haphazardly.  The song had no flow whatsoever, and it didn’t even come close to tapping into the emotions that Elton does when he performs the song.

[5]           Casey Abrams – On the heels of the most shocking vote in American Idol history, Abrams was mercifully saved by the judges.  Clearly, the brush with elimination has shaken Abrams.  His decision to perform a safe, mellow version of “Your Song” was disappointing.  Although he performed it well, it showed that he is more concerned with doing whatever it takes to stay in the competition rather than delivering a performance to show that he’s in it to win it.  With a trimmed down beard and new haircut, Abrams looked much more mainstream, but if he doesn’t try and recreate the magic that made him stand out in the competition, he will likely find himself going home sooner than he anticipated.

[4]           Lauren Alaina – Each week, Alaina seems to be gaining confidence and delivering performances that show why she was one of the early favorites.  Her country pop version of “Candle in the Wind” was nicely done.  She made the song her own without changing it drastically like Adedapo did with “I’m Still Standing.”  After a few rough weeks early on, Alaina is now showing that she can be a factor in this competition.  She may not have enough to compete with James and Pia on a weekly basis, but she is showing that she has good potential just the same.

[3]           Thia Megia – It wasn’t surprising to see Megia end up in the bottom three last week.  For some reason, her performances since the Top 13 was announced have been average at best, and sometimes below average.  She made up for it this week by choosing to sing “Daniel, a song well within her range and a very good fit stylistically.  This performance was one of the best of the evening, and was definitely Megia’s best in several weeks.

[2]           James Durbin – It’s hard not to root for Durbin even when trying to be objective.  But he is either light years ahead of everyone else when it comes to stage show, or the producers desperately want him in the finale.  Choosing the upbeat “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” lent itself well to creating a lively performance, but the piano on fire and the blinding light show made Durbin look like KISS and the rest of the contestants look like KISS’ warm-up group.  That being said, Durbin is absolutely the most polished stage performer in the competition, and it is understandable why the producers want to keep him around for as long as possible.  His vocals this week were not nearly as impressive as they usually are, but he stole the show anyway.

[1]           Pia Toscano – With each passing week, it certainly looks like Toscano and Durbin are destined to meet in the finale.  She didn’t leave her ballad comfort zone this week, but she did try to connect with the audience more than she usually does.  The only one who can come close to her vocally is Durbin.  Every other girl pales in comparison.  Once again, her vocals shined as she performed “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”  It would have been nice to see her tackle one of Elton’s songs that aren’t so close to her style, but as long as she keeps nailing every song that she sings, there isn’t much to complain about.

WHO’S IN THE BOTTOM THREE?

Naima Adedapo

Stefano Langone

Paul McDonald

WHICH TWO WILL GO HOME?

Naima Adedapo and Stefano Langone.

Adedapo’s decision to do a reggae version of “I’m Still Standing” is ironic because it will likely knock her down and out of the competition.  Langone deserves to stay, but he isn’t unique or special enough to inspire voters to support him over others.

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