American Idol: Top 11 Perform Again

After last week’s HUGE surprise use of the Judge’s Save to keep Casey Abrams, the same group will perform and two will be voted out this week. Ryan Seacrest, fresh from a haircut or styling change of some sort introduces the show and tells us that tonight is Elton John night.

Scotty McCreery is leading off the show singing “Country Comfort”, a highly unknown song which could hurt him. Again a youngster choosing a lesser known song, usually a mistake. He’s playing acoustic guitar and surprise! it sounds just like all his other songs- generic country song sung by the Mad Magazine guy. The judges don’t really say anything about his actual performance but seem to offer positive reactions.

Naima Adedapo is performing second and doing a reggae style version of “I’m Still Standing”. Often when the contestants change up the style of songs it works really well but this is just totally not working at all for me. She said that Elton John songs have never been done reggae style before- there’s a reason for that- it doesn’t work. Started off ok but she’s working in a fake sounding Jamaican accent. Too weird. JLo agrees with me on this song not working in the reggae swing style. Randy Jackson says it’s corny and she’s the cool girl- not who she is.

Paul McDonald is third and I’m excited to see what he’s doing and it’s “Rocket Man”. He’s got his acoustic guitar and embroidered flowered Elton style suit and he’s doing a pretty mellow version but putting some unique vocal flourishes on the lines. Changing up the melody a little bit and it’s really nice. He made it his. RJ thought it was a little pitchy but he went to that tender place. Steven Tyler says he likes it when he’s less than perfect. JLo says to push it more.

Following Paul is Pia Toscano who will be singing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”. Randy said no ballads last week, so this ballad could be a risk. Pia’s hitting those big notes and even making the little notes sparkle as much as her sequin dress is. Good version, judges are clapping for her. Cryptkeeper Tyler says she’s done it again and RJ was wrong about the ballads. Jennifer says she really felt it. Randy says it was unbelievable and he heard Whitney and Mariah in there.

Stefano Langone, who barely made it last week, will be doing “Tiny Dancer”. He’s keeping his eyes open this week, or at least he’s trying to a bit. Can we get him some botox or something to help out? He has a very smooth voice that’s working pretty well for this song. JLo says he really connected with the audience. Randy agrees and says he was right on for the money notes. Steven says he nailed it.

Lauren Alaina is all glammed out and will be doing Sir Elton’s “Candle in the Wind”. She’s adding a little country flair to the song which is what Scotty McCreery should have done instead of choosing the sole Elton John country tune. This is really working and sounds great. She has an innocence to her voice, sweetness, almost like a Sarah McLaughlin. Randy Jackson said it was sensitive and one her best performance ever. Steven Tyler said it was just the right song and keep singing like that and you can afford the rest of that dress. JLo says she looked and sang gorgeous.

Big James Durbin will be hitting it up with “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”. He’s starting out in the audience working his way down to the stage, jumping in just in time for the chorus, spinning around the room working the crowd, while giving the song a rocking flair. Breaking it down with claps, standing on top of the piano which then bursts into flames, while he hits the huuuuuuuge end note. Wow pyrotechnics on American Idol?! A real arena rock performance. Im-freakin-pressive. Steven Tyler says it was great. JLo forgot she was at a competition, great performance. Randy says he enjoyed himself.

Thia Megia will be doing “Daniel”. Jimmy Iovine wants her to focus on the lyrics. She’s singing it softly and it seems like she’s connecting with the lyrics a bit. Pretty good, mellow but good. JLo said it was beautiful and she internalized it and it was good for her voice. RJ liked the focus on her voice but didn’t like that it felt safe. ST said it was the right song.

The saved Casey Abrams has to bring it tonight because America voted him out last week. He needs a comeback with “Your Song”. He’s going full makeover, getting a cut and beard trim at a barbershop (perhaps recommended by Seacrest?). The now 50% more Seth Rogan-y looking Casey is really concentrating on the lyrics and trying not to growl as he sits and sings to an arrangement with just him, the piano, and a stage of stars. He’s in control this week and does a real nice falsetto at the end showing off his range. Randy says it was brilliant and well done. Steven says the last 2 notes alone would get him a standing ovation. JLo says they saved the right person and he proved why with the character in his voice.

Jacob Lusk is up next and I’m scared. He’ll be singing “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” which he first heard from Mary J. Blige (who happens to show up in the studio). Jimmy I says he needs to not overdramatize it. He’s very refined to start off singing in a high register before again he starts to put too much into the song. He always looks like he’s about to cry and has weird facial expressions. Huuuuge note at the end but I’m still not a fan of this guy. Steven says he slayed it. JLo brings up her old favorite Robbie Rosen again but says nice arrangement. RJ says he needs more restraint.

Perennial bottom dweller Haley Reinhart is finishing the show singing “Bennie and the Jets”. She’s starting it off lounge style sitting on top of the same piano that was set on fire earlier. Waaaay too Jessica Rabbit again with the growling, it’s just not working for me- kind of a weird karaoke thing going on and she’s extending the s’s in “jets”. JLo loved it, said it all came together. Randy said it was the best performance of the night- WRONG RANDY- just WRONG. Steven Tyler says she sings sexy.

Overall a kinda up and down night. Some really hot performances and some off ones. I felt like they spent a little too much time promoting the Entertainment Weekly photoshoot for each contestant and then had them sing shortened versions to make up the time.

Our top performances this week were: Lauren Alaina, Pia Toscano, James Durbin and Casey Abrams. Our picks for the bottom three (and remember TWO are going home) are: Scotty McCreery, Naima Adedapo, and Haley Reinhart.

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