The Verdict on Idol: Top 12 Performances

Last night, the top 12 took to the stage to perform songs from the year that they were born. I’ve always hated this theme. Yes, the contestants need to be challenged outside of their own repertoire, but I couldn’t tell you a single song from 1988 that I listen to.

Also, with a theme like this, certain contestants have it easier than others. Scotty with a Travis Tritt song? Score. Jacob resorting to a Heart track? Not so much. Some of them just made bad choices. For example, I saw Thia choosing a Disney song from a mile away, yet if she had chosen Lisa Loeb’s extraordinary song “Stay,” she could have easily had a moment. Overall, it was a strange night. Some are calling it a good night, while others are panning it as the worst since…well, last season’s disaster.

On to the rankings!

The Bad;

12. Paul McDonald – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
I think that Jimmy Iovine hit the nail on the head with this one; Paul should not do cover songs. Ever. Now don’t get me wrong, when he did his original song with the guitar, he was nothing short of brilliant. However, he has yet to perform anything above “bad” at the live rounds. This performance was all over the place vocally. Sure, there were some spots where his unique tone shone through, but overall it was just a disaster. It didn’t help that he was all over the stage like that drunk cousin at your sister’s wedding. This performance was probably the first train wreck we’ve had this season. I know that Paul has the potential to be brilliant, but I’m quickly loosing patience to wait that long.

11. Jacob Lusk – Alone
When Jacob said that he was singing “Alone,” I thought that we were going to have a slam dunk performance. He has the vocal capabilities to pull it off in a way that we’ve never heard. Unfortunately, screeching and screaming is not the style I wanted to hear this song performed. This song was so over affected that it was almost unrecognizable. I feel that if Jacob had just kept to the same melody and hadn’t over sung, then it would have been a great performance. I appreciate the risk, but when you make Ramiele Maluby’s rendition of this song look like a show stopper…something is not right.

10. Naima Adedapo – What’s Love Got to Do With It
Naima was coming into this week off of a huge victory last week. Unfortunately, she did not deliver on her new found momentum, effectively knocking her back down to the bottom half of the ladder. This seemed like it should have been a great song choice, and yet she failed to deliver the goods. The vocals were just not there. I will say this though, Naima has tons of charisma and swagger on stage, and I like this newer urban, reggae Naima a lot more than the Naima that was wearing odd dresses and singing Jazz music. However…maybe retuning to the old Naima wouldn’t be a bad idea.

9. Karen Rodriguez – Love Will Lead You Back
Bad song choice, Karen! Don’t you know that this song is cursed! Both of it’s victims, Mikalah Gordon and Carmen Rasmusen sang this song the week that they were eliminated! After her performance, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she was the third victim. Was it a good performance, sure, why not? Certain parts were really good, while others exposed weaknesses in her upper register. Also, a third ballad in a row is showing her limitations. It’s time to do an uptempo number, my dear! She does earn a few points for her outfit though. It takes cajones to come out looking like the babe from a 50’s sci-fi movie.

8. Thia Megia – Colors of the Wind
I love Disney. I mean, I freaking love Disney! However, this was the last song that I wanted to hear Thia sing. She really does need to steer away from the pagent dresses and sappy ballads, because America seems to hate that. Now, this performance was good enough to squeak by. Thia sang beautifully, and looked stunning. She was clearly hoping that America hasn’t seen enough real life Native Americans to tell the difference between them and an Asian, but the earthy dress and the feather in her hair were a very nice touch. It was a pleasant homage to one of my favorite movies, but Thia really needs to start stepping outside of her comfort zone, and singing some songs from this decade. Preferably upbeat songs.

7. Casey Abrams – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Here’s someone who knows how to play the game. Casey has already proven that he’s a legitimate contender for the title, so why not take a risk and do something completely insane? Taking on Nirvana is probably the single riskiest move ever made on this show…ever! Nirvana fans are notoriously difficult to please, mostly because Kurt Cobain was apparently some sort of rock god (I think he’s over rated, but whatever). Casey’s version wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but it was far from the worst. High risk, high reward, right? I’m glad somebody’s taking risks, even if they don’t always pay off.

The Good;

6. Haley Reinheart – Tonight I’m Your Baby
Haley is another contestant that knows how to play the game. Each week, she’s showed us a different side to her. While that may have overloaded Randy’s brain (a versatile contestant!? Unthinkable!) I really enjoyed Haley’s upbeat performance. She’s showing that she has the vocal capabilities to really shine in this show. Now, I’ve always said that Haley’s best case scenario would be to make the tour, and I think that she’s well on her way to seeing 50 cities. If she takes Randy’s advice and delivers a blues song next week, then she may go even further.

5. Lauren Alaina – I’m The Only One
For having the flu, she really delivered a strong performance. Sure, this song was just as predictable as Thia’s song, but America is much more receptive to the cute, young, country singer than they are the pagenty balladeers. Lauren delivered strong vocals despite being sick, and while she seemed like she wanted the song to be over as soon as possible, she still managed to put on a happy face for those two minutes. At this point, she’s coasting through, so I’d like to see her challenge herself by singing a ballad, or trying another genre sometime soon.

4. James Durbin – I’ll Be There For You
Did anyone else get the feeling that Stephen was bitter that James picked a Bon Jovi song? Either way, James picked another rock song and really hit it out of the park. He’s a total rock star…pyrotechnics and everything. My only issue with him is that we’ve only seen him sing rock song from a few decades ago. It’d be nice to see him sing some Breaking Benjamin, Trapt, or Muse to see if he could be a legitimate rock singer in today’s market.

3. Scotty McCreery – Can I Trust You With My Heart?
For the first half, I thought that this was the same old song and dance that we’ve seen from Scotty. However, at the end, he finally opened his mouth and sang like an Idol contestant! And it sounded great! He still doesn’t have the strongest voice, but now that we’ve seen some new capabilities from Scotty, it’s going to be interesting to see how he continues to grow and challenge himself. I’d still like to hear him sing something uptempo and get out of this story time ballad mode for at least a week.

2. Pia Toscano – Where Do Broken Hearts Go?
Like Scotty, Pia is coasting through this competition. It’s kind of hard for her not to…she’s one of this show’s best vocalists ever. I appreciated the uptempo re-arrangement, even if it did sound like a bad disco review performance. The fact of the matter is that Pia is showing growth, and that’s a good thing. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s drop dead gorgeous. If she doesn’t win, she should consider getting into a scandal of some sort. Her career will skyrocket.

1. Stefano Langone – If You Don’t Know Me By Now
Remember when Stefano performed in the Wildcard round, and blew everyone away? Well this was that…only better. Stefano showed much more control over his voice, and he put much more emotion into this performance than he has been giving us. Now I feel like Stefano may have been holding back from us this whole time. With this performance, he showed that he is indeed a legitimate competitor in this competition, and has potential to go much farther than any of us thought.

The Verdict;

Overall, I thought it was a decent night. We had some good performances, some great ones, some mediocre ones, and a few terrible songs. However, with each week, we’re seeing the face of the competition change. Some contestants rise to the occasion, while other falter.

Who’s going to be the bottom 3 this week?
Paul, Namia, and Karen

Paul deserves to go home, but I have a feeling that we’ve seen the last of Karen.

We shall find out tonight!

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