The Verdict on Idol: Top 9 perform

Tonight, the producers decided to pick a theme that’s actually cool, and let the top 9 sing songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Heck yes! Finally we get to bring the RAWK! Right?

Well, not exactly. Its clear that this week, the contestants decided to hit the snooze button rather than put in the extra practice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like everyone was bad…it’s just that they were all performing at the same level of “slightly above mediocre.” There were a few exceptions, but don’t tell the judges that. Tonight, hey were all taking hits from Paula’s left over stash of happy-crazy pills. They were simply slathering contestants with praise, and it became quite annoying. Meh…what are you gonna do?

Anyway, on to the rankings!

9. Jacob Lusk – Man In The Mirror
There was just so much wrong with this performance. First of all, Jacob probably sang it well, but I don’t really care. The tone of his voice made the song sound quite unpleasant. That’s not the worst bit though. He has become the single most awkward contestant on stage ever. He moves like a marionette trying to dance at a 70’s strip club. It’s not cool, Jacob. It’s not cool at all. Other than the technicality of his vocals, there weren’t too many redeeming qualities of this performance, and it easily stood out as the worst of the night.

8. Casey Abrams – Have You Ever Seen the Rain
Casey wasn’t necessarily bad tonight. This is just that point where everyone was “good,” and finding one that was better than the others is harder. Casey decided to show off his softer side, and play his bass while singing a rather nice song in a rather nice manner. There wasn’t any unnecessary growling or belting…it was a pleasant performance. Not particularly risky or interesting…but pleasant. I don’t think he’s going anywhere, but I found it be just a bit “meh.”

7. Paul MacDonald – Folsom Prison Blues
I’m really confused about this performance. Originally, it tasted find, but now I have an odd aftertaste in my mouth, and I don’t know if I like it at all. Paul is easily the most comfortable on stage, and he is easily the most artistically defined. That much is obvious, and it makes his performances unique, and interesting. However, that isn’t necessarily what this show is about. Vocally, it was his best, but that isn’t saying too much, because he’s easily the worst vocalist left. I couldn’t even tell you what language he was singing it. It came off as a manic shout fest at times, and it was really uncomfortable to listen to. However, Paul was having a blast up there, and that much was infectious. I did like many parts of this performance, and hated just as many. Eh? What do you do with that? Figure it out next week, I guess?

6. Stefano Langone – When A Man Loves A Woman
Stefano is constantly up and down in my rankings. This week, he sits comfortably in the middle. When he connects to his song, he brings it hard. This week, he clearly had that connection, but the vocals were off in a few spots. He tried to give the song his own rnb styling, and I’m not sure it worked in every part of the song. It started off really awkward, but he finished strong, and turned in a decent performance. I don’t know if it was enough to put him in the safe zone, but I enjoyed it moreso than some others.

5. Lauren Alaina – Natural Woman
When I heard that Lauren was singing Aretha, I let out a nervous giggle. Really Lauren? Really? Well…ok then. She actually did much better than I had expected. Her country voice shined through, and technically, it was pretty good. She really needed to deliver a solid ballad, and I’m really glad that she did. I’d really like to see her start having fun again, because the past few weeks, it seems like she’s strayed away from the girl we saw at the beginning.

4. Pia Toscano – River Deep, Mountain High
Finally…Pia sang an uptempo number! It’s about time, girl! This was the first time that we’ve ever seen some vocal vulnerabilities from her, but even at her weakest, she’s still the strongest vocalist in this competition. My only complaint with this performance is that she just didn’t bring the diva swagger that she needed to show. She walked around the stage like a little girl in a new school for the first time, trying to play it cool. She has the potential. It’s clearly there, and this was a fantastic step in the right direction, but she still has some work to do.

3. Scotty McCreery – That’s Alright, Mama
Scotty has a firm hold on this competition, and this performance solidified that grip. It was by far one of his best performances. He broke out of that shell and delivered a great uptempo number, and looked comfortable on stage while doing it. His vocals were also decent, even if he is technically one of the weakest singers left. Overall, however, it was a great, entertaining performance.

2. Haley Reinhart – Piece of My Heart
We finally got to see Haley go all out blues, and it was awesome. This style of song really suits her voice, and Haley just tore it up. It’s hard to do Janice, but people pick this song over, and over again. Out of all the versions of this song that I’ve heard, I honestly think that Haley was the best. She’s been on the upward swing, and after three solid performances, I believe that Haley is a legitimate threat in this competition. Pretty good for someone that was originally meant to be cannon fodder!

1. James Durbin – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
After last week’s questionable performance, James decided to take it down a notch and deliver a rock ballad. The result? One of the best performances of the season. It was full of raw emotion, and James’s vocals were spot on. He didn’t overdo it, and simply let his emotions hit us rather than his wails. Finally, can we talk about that last note? Magical. James is doing everything he needs to quietly coast to the top 3.

And there you have it. Overall, a decent night with a few really good performances. Who belongs in the bottom 3?
Jacob, Paul, and Stefano

Going home?
Stefano most likely.

We shall find out tomorrow.

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