American Idol, Season 10: Top 13 Performances – “I overstand what they were saying…”

American Idol, Season 10: Top 13 Performances – “I overstand what they were saying…”

Before I start, let me say one thing to the contestants.  If you haven’t been following them this year, all of the top 13 contestants have official Twitter accounts.  Here are three observations for you after following them all for a week.

1.  Scotty McCreery is a very funny guy.

2.  Ashthon Jones feels the need to retweet far too many things written by her followers.

3.  Paul McDonald is the only contestant who seems to really understand how to use Twitter.  Maybe that’s why he has so many followers.

This week was the top 13 performances.  The show opened with the crowd doing the wave and the Ripley’s announcer (again) introducing the judges.  The contestants got to choose a song from their own personal Idols this week, and each worked with a producer to arrange and record the songs.  Enough of the chit chat – let’s dive right in to the performances.

Lauren Alaina – “Any Man Of Mine” by Shania Twain

Lauren opened the show with a healthy dose of attitude.  It was a good song choice for her, and she had fun with it.  She seemed comfortable on stage, and put the right amount of swagger in her performance.  Steven wished it had been a little more kick-ass.  Jennifer and Randy both wanted more from her.  She’s done so well in the past, I think she was a victim to extremely high expectations.  My wife made a great observation – Lauren seems overwhelmed by the competition when she’s not on the stage singing.  We will have to see how she handles the pressure going forward.

Casey Abrams – “With A Little Help From My Friend” – Joe Cocker

I don’t know if you could have picked a better song for Casey.  He proved he has a genuinely good singing voice at the start of the song.  He then proved he has a remarkable passion and energy during the rest of the song.  His performance was aggressive and soulful and inspired.  I’ll say the same thing I’ve said in the past – I hope America appreciates the talent that Casey brings to the table.

Ashthon Jones – “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” by Diana Ross

Saved from elimination last week, Ashthon had the chance to sing for her life again.  She chose a Diana Ross song I’ve never really heard before.  As usual, I didn’t think she did much with her voice – it was fairly generic.  But when she went for the money note towards the end of the song, well – it was still generic.  Yawn.  I will give her the Paula Abdul compliment and say that she looked nice.  It was impressive that she found earrings almost as big as her hair.

Paul McDonald –  “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams

Out of everyone, I think Paul is the most seasoned and natural performer.  Again this week he had something to say to the audience at the start of the song.  I loved that – it made it a concert performance, not a performance on a music show.  He sang a Ryan Adams song that many people may not have known – but he sang it incredibly well.  When Jennifer admitted she didn’t know Ryan Adams, Paul told her, “You should”.  Very nice.  I dig his voice and find his totally uninhibited dancing engaging (he reminds me a bit of Marty Casey from Rockstar:INXS). Paul should get your vote.  BTW – Ryan Seacrest dances with the grace of a Weeble.  I’m just saying…

Pia Toscano –  “All By Myself” by Celine Dion (originally by Eric Carmen)

If you are looking for a diva this season, it’s not Ashthon – it’s Pia.  Hands down.  No question.  Pia is a classic America Idol female superstar, taking on big songs and delivering big vocals with grace and style.  Unlike Ashthon, Pia has the voice to deliver a song like “All By Myself” – and she delivered it in a big way.  Those high notes were sung with authority – and to then bring on the key change and take the money note at the end even higher?  My hat’s off to Pia.  She is going to be one to watch.  (One piece of advice.  Someone needs to tell her to keep that left hand under control.  It gesticulates uncontrollably when she sings and distracts from her performance.)

James Durbin – “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney

I was very impressed James had the musical sensibility to choose a Paul McCartney song this week.  He proved he was more than just an amazing rock and roll screecher this week.  He brought a genuine heart to the performance and really connected with the audience.  This is the kind of sneaky good performance that catapults someone to the front of the pack on Idol.  Jennifer’s advice to him was great– “Let them clap baby when they want to clap”.  I’m pretty sure there will be quite a bit of applause for James in the weeks to come.

Haley Reinhart – “Blue” by Leann Rimes

Again this week we were treated to Haley’s annoying vocal stylings – amplified even more by the fact she chose a song that included yodeling.  I think Haley finds herself far more entertaining than she actually is.  Randy was the one judge that got it right again – “It was a little sleepy and a little boring”.  He struggled mightily to put a positive spin on it, but it was tough.  Thanks for singing Haley.  Moving on…

Jacob Lusk – “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly

First off – I loved the picture of Jacob as a child with the Kid-N-Play haircut.  Nice.  Second – Jacob put every ounce of himself on the stage.  I don’t know that I would ever buy an album from Jacob, but I have to respect his God-given talent.  I look forward to hearing what he is going to do each week.  I don’t know how to better compliment him.  (One final observation – looks like the producers are pulling out all the stops the year – having the gospel choir show up on the second live show.  When will we see the bagpipe guy?)

Thia Megia – “Smile” by Michael Jackson (originally by Charlie Chaplin)

I still don’t get it.  Thia sounded pretty good on the opening of the song, but what the hell was up with the back half of the arrangement?  Was it trying to be hip-hop? Middle Eastern?  Just plain annoying?  I’ll go with the last one.  “Smile” is a great song, and Thia did absolutely nothing with it.  The judges seemed as underwhelmed as I was, but still tried to give her some positive feedback.  I wouldn’t have bothered.  Thia told Ryan, “I felt a lot more better in the beginning of the song.”  I felt a lot more better when the song was over.

Stefano Langone – “Lately” by Stevie Wonder

The song started out a little rough, but when the beat came in, Stefano found his groove.  Even Randy seemed to be involuntarily nodding his head along with the dance beat (along with the woman in the audience, visible just behind him).  I’m not generally a fan of the dance remix, but I really enjoyed what Stefano did with “Lately”.  He’s got a clean tone in his voice and plenty of character, he just needs to listen to Jimmy Iovine and open his eyes more.  I do have to say though, when I look at Stefano I find myself coming back to one question over and over again- “Where’s Chandler?”  Maybe he’s at home voting.

Karen Rodriguez – “I Could Fall In Love” by Selena

Karen’s Idol was Selena.  I was SHOCKED!  Really??  Selena??  I never would have seen that coming in a million years.  The song itself didn’t really do a lot for me (or the audience it seemed).  I may have fallen asleep for a few moments in the middle of it.  Jennifer tried really hard to throw her a lifeline, “Were you having trouble hearing yourself up there?”  “Why yes, I had some trouble in rehearsal.”  How convenient.  Excuses aside, it was a forgettable performance.  We’ll have to see if America remembers to dial in or not.

Scotty McCreery – “The River” by Garth Brooks

Scotty looked a little more stylish on stage, but he said something great in his interview, “I want to stay true to me”.  I hope he remembers that in the weeks to come.  I like Scotty, but I don’t think this was a good song choice for him.  First off, the arrangement was a bit to fast.  Second, he seemed to get lost in the band and the back-up singers at times.  In the end, he did a good job, but I think it could have been better.  The crowd absolutely loved him – he may have gotten the biggest applause of the night.  I hope the producers allow Scotty to stay in his comfort zone.  If they do, he’ll be set up for big things.

Naima Adedapo – “Umbrella” by Rihanna

From wildcard selection last week to pimp spot this week (they must really want her to stay in the competition).  I like Naima more and more, but I really didn’t care for this performance.  On one hand, I respect the fact she tried to infuse some stage performance into the song.  On the other hand, it seemed to take away from the vocal performance (lightening bolts and thunder – really??)  That’s exactly what sent Jordan Dorsey home last week.  I still think Naima is unique and will have a strong fan base this season – I just don’t think it will be enough to take her to the top spot.  I could be wrong, time will tell.  (And did she really just say she could “overstand what they were saying”?  Did I miss the memo about changing “understand” to “overstand”?)

And that was that.  It was a long two hours with some good performances, some not so good.  I’m anxious to see what America does once the phone lines open.  Will they pick up where they left off last week and re-eliminate one of the wildcard singers, or did one of the original top 10 stumble bad enough to get the hook?  We’ll find out soon.  Until then – Word Zombie out.

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