“American Idol” 2011 continued March 9th on FOX as the top 13 contestants sang tunes by their own personal musical idols. Here’s a contestant-by-contestant look at the evening’s happenings, including who sang what and how each fared with Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler.
Lauren’s “American Idol” 2011 Idol: Shania Twain
Song Choice: “Any Man of Mine”
The teen’s performance was solid all-around — she played with the audience and really nailed the vocals. However, the song didn’t do a whole lot to showcase her range. Don’t get me wrong, because it was great. In fact, I think I liked it better than Shania’s version. But it felt almost as if her pipes were trying to bust out in ways the song wouldn’t allow, almost as if it constrained them too much. Steven said he “wished it’d been a little bit more kickass.” Jennifer told her to “kick it into high gear” but reassured her: “We love you!” Randy reiterated what he’d said in weeks past — that she doesn’t yet know how good she is. He liked it, but knows she’s capable of more.
Casey’s “American Idol” 2011 Idol: Joe Cocker
Song Choice: “With A Little Help From My Friends:
Man alive, Casey had me from the first line, and it only got better from there. He more than owned the “Wonder Years” theme song; he signed it, stamped all over it and delivered it to America. He is so, so good. Jennifer was wowed, and over the screams of ladies in the audience claimed that “it blew me away.” Randy called him “so unbelievable and so exciting” and said he loved it. Steven called him “a rainbow of talent” and “a plethora of passion.”
Ashthon’s “American Idol” Top 13 Idol: Diana Ross
Song Choice: “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”
I like Ashthon, but this wasn’t her best performance. It may have been her worst. She seemed to really work for some of the notes, and the transitions were wonky at times. It was as if she’d begin to go horribly wrong, and then reel it in. It’s great that she caught herself in time, but it happened a few times too many. Randy liked it, and praised her for controlling her notes well. Steven agreed, and said he had “confidence” in her. Jennifer praised her professionalism and her ability remain composed, but suggested that she choose songs that the general public would recognize.
Paul’s “American Idol” Idol: Ryan Adams
Song Choice: “Come Pick Me Up”
Paul has the most distinctive voice in the competition and is a showman’s showman, hopping around the stage completely in his comfort zone. But I can’t decide if I liked his song or not. I appreciate ‘unique,’ but at the same time, there were ugly moments when he wasn’t particularly ‘on.’ Steven said he loves his voice, but that the performance was “a little pitchy.” Jennifer called him “just so unique” and praised his ability to “move the crowd.” Randy said “I love you for this show.”
Pia’s Musical Idol: Celine Dion
Song Choice: “All By Myself”
Pia is amazing. Her voice is super de duper powerful, rich and melodic, and she totally nailed her song choice for the second week running. She gave Celine herself a run for her money. Jennifer was speechless for a moment before declaring “a lot of people were wondering what you were going to do to top last week…. There it is!” Randy praised her “natural gift” and said “I’m in awe every time…. Very hot, dope, cool performance.” Steven called it “beautiful” and wished her a “happy international women’s day.”
James’ Musical Idol: Paul McCartney
Song Choice: “Maybe I’m Amazed”
I love how comfortable James is when he performs: He goes up there, has a great time, and knocks his vocals out of the park while he’s at it. There were moments of this particular performance that sent chills up my spine. Randy called him one of his “Idol” favorites for being able to do hard rock one week and show his softer side the next. Steven loved it. Jennifer praised his “melodic quality” and called it “really, really great.”
Haley’s Musical Idol: LeAnn Rimes
Song Choice: “Blue”
Haley’s never been a favorite of mine, but as a country music fan, I appreciated her version of “Blue.” And I appreciated how her usually-raspy voice wasn’t quite as raspy as usual. It showed a bit of vocal versatility that I hadn’t realized she owned. I thought it was her best “Idol” offering to date. Steven called it “beautiful” while Jennifer called her “really, really special.” Randy called it “a little boring” and “a little sleepy.”
Jacob’s Musical Idol: R. Kelly
Song Choice: “I Believe I Can Fly”
How awesome is this kid? He can stand with a gospel choir and still shine so brightly that they’re almost invisible. Steven said “pure passion, pure music” and “I can’t judge you.” Jennifer agreed with Steven. Randy appreciated his “signature sound” and though he said he’d lost the notes a little at one point, he praised him for nailing the end of the song.
Thia’s Musical Idol: Michael Jackson
Song Choice: “Smile”
Thia’s voice has the clarity of a bell ringing out in an open meadow on a sunny day. It’s stunning. But I didn’t love her song choice here. There was something awkward about it. Randy “loved the beginning but not the end” and Steven agreed, calling it “a little pitchy in the middle there.” Jennifer called the arrangement “interesting” and enjoyed seeing her move for the first time, but dismissed the criticisms by asserting “you sing like an angel.”
Stefano’s Musical Idol: Stevie Wonder
Song Choice: “Lately”
He’s such an emotional singer that watching him move around the stage adds an entirely new dimension to his music. It was good. Very good. And he’s a little cutie, too. Steven called it “soaring like a volcano” and called the arrangement “crazy.” Jennifer was impressed by the “dance remix” of such a classic ballad. Randy didn’t care for the beginning, but said that even Stevie himself would be proud of Stefano’s work.
Karen’s Musical Idol: Selena
Song Choice: “I Could Love You”
Karen looked really pretty, but it wasn’t one of her stronger performances of “American Idol” 2011. It lacked the power, command and depth of the routines presented by a number of her competitors. It was definitely one of my least favorites of the evening. Jennifer noted that she seemed uncharacteristically uncomfortable with the notes, and Randy agreed. He called it “a little sleepy.” Steven made it three for three, calling it “lacking.”
Scotty’s Musical Idol: Garth Brooks
Song Choice: “The River”
As much as I’m hankering to hear Scotty sing “Long Black Train,” I was so psyched to hear him tackle a Garth Brooks tune. And he kicked, punted and tackled it beautifully. I love Scotty. He’s going to be a country music star. Randy confirmed that he was doing exactly what he should be doing on the way to saying he loved it. Steven declared “you did The Garth justice.” (And then he made some sort of bizarre comment that seemed to confuse Scotty.) Jennifer praised him for “opening up as a performer.”
Naima’s Musical Idol: Rihanna
Song Choice: “Umbrella”
I still like Naima’s voice a lot; I love its quality and its tone. But I didn’t love her version of “Umbrella.” There was something excessively frenetic about it, and just not as spot-on as it could’ve been. Steven called her “crazy good” but “a little pitchy.” Jennifer loved her “fire” and vigor, but told her to work on her control and balance between vocals and dancing. Randy loved the reggae flavor of the performance.
So that’s it for the “American Idol” 2011 top 13 performances. I started to go through to pick out my top few, but it was too hard because there were so many solid offerings. Casey, Pia and James were my top-notchers of the night, with Scotty trailing a few steps behind. I was least impressed with Thia, Ashthon and Karen, but only because I didn’t love their song choices. Their voices are still awesome. So who goes home tomorrow night? Based on last week’s results, my guess is that one of the Wild Card holders — either Ashthon, Stefano or Naima — will get the boot, if only because they didn’t pull in as many votes as the other competitors from the get-go. But we shall see! Tune in tomorrow night for the “AI” results show.