American Idol Season 10 Top 7 Power Rankings

It was about the right time for Paul MacDonald to leave American Idol Season 10. I enjoyed Paul more and more each week.  His “Folsom Prison Blues” performance was a party, probably his best of the season.  However, Paul MacDonald is quirky indie rocker not a pop star, so American Idol does not represent what we will hear from Paul MacDonald in the future.  I have been very impressed by his grace and maturity upon his exit.  Paul MacDonald has turned me into a fan.

If you read my American Idol Season 10 Top 8 results article, you will know that I was not thrilled with this week’s performances.  Maybe the Idols have set my bar so high that I expect high flying thrills each week.  Casey Abrams came the closest with his daring high wire jazz routine, but I am always distracted by Casey’s snarling and growling singing style.  Everyone else was okay, but did nothing to make a strong case to win American Idol Season 10.

The Top 8 results show was another matter altogether. I think this is best results show I have seen since I started watching American Idol in Season 6. First of all, the guest performers were great. Kelly Clarkson is one of the best singers around, I wish she would find a genre and build a career. It seems she pops up every few years with something amazing and then we don’t hear from her for a while. Rhianna, I am not a big fan, was actually pretty good. I liked the song and I think this is the best I have ever heard her sing live.

However, the Idol duets were the high points for me. First, Christian musician Lauren Alaina, for the second time in a duet with Scott McCreery, showed her tremendous singing voice. I don’t know what happens on performance night, but in these duets she seems much more loose and relaxed. The results have been tremendous for Lauren Alaina. “I Told You So” from a few weeks back was her best performance of the season.   See what I mean in these two videos:

Christian Musicians Lauren Alaina and Scott McCreery sing “I Told You So”

Scott McCreery and Lauren Alaina sing “American Honey” on American Idol

The highpoint of the evening was the smoking duet between Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams.  They sang Charlie Mingus’ “Moanin’” and Haley Reinhart stole the night.  I have even agreed with Randy Jackson when he jumped to his feet shouting “Yo, what!, Yo, what!”  I was doing the same thing at home.  I am so very relieved that Haley Reinhart lived to sing another week.  There is hope.  This girl can sing, with a capital S. Watch and see what I mean.

Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams sing “Moanin’

American Idol Season Top 7 Power Rankings

1)Jacob Lusk- Some people really dislike Christian music artist Jacob Lusk and complain about his singing.  He has, on several occasions, lost control of that tremendous voice.  However, when he controls himself, he delivers mind blowing, jaw dropping performances.  My wife and I have said “wow”  more often listening to Jacob Lusk than anyone else on American Idol Season 10.  This week he delivered his most subdued, controlled performance of the season.  Even with all of that control he closed “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with a succession of notes that caused me to rewind and listen three times.  I thought I was hearing it wrong.  It was incredible.  If you didn’t catch the performance link over to our Top 8 results report, where we have the video.

2)James Durbin- I actually think James Durbin has executed a perfect season on American Idol.  Early on, he clearly defined who he was, metal-rocker.  Then he proceeded to deliver a range of rock songs and a ballad that showed the breadth of his talent and the depth of his personality.  He did all of this with showing no evidence that he is competing.  He seems to be having more fun than any one of the Top 12.  And, by the way, he has delivered perfect singing performances every week.

3) Scott McCreery- Christian musician Scott McCreery disappointed me this week.  With “Everybody’s Talking” he had a chance to solidify his place in the final two.  Instead he decided to play it safe with a pure country song from George Strait.  In doing so he fed into the doubts about how interesting he is.  He will be forced to step outside his comfort zone before we get to the top 2 and that gets more dangerous every week.  With all of that said, all indications are that Scott McCreery remains the most popular performer on American Idol Season 10.  He needs to fight the tendency to get comfortable.

4) Lauren Alaina- Christian musician Lauren Alaina seems to be gathering steam.  If I am correct, everyone else on American Idol Season 10 better beware.  Each week since she did sang “I Told You So” with Scott McCreery, her competition performances have gotten better and better.  This week she sang “The Climb” and it was her best competition performance of the season.  All I have to say is, “Miley, who?”  If she continues this trajectory we could see another Kris Allen-like ascension.

5) Stefano Langone- Despite being in the bottom two in each of the last two weeks I still put Christian musician Stefano Langone in the top 5.  He has a contemporary vocal style, he is growing as a performer and he has the drive and determination to turn his American Idol experience into a thriving career.  I am a little worried that though.  If htis week’s performance of “End Of The Road” lands him in the bottom 2, I don’t know what he can do.

6) Haley Reinhart- This young lady is the most frustrating performer I have ever watched on American Idol.  The voice is there.  Just watch the video above.  The voice is tremendous.  I would say Haley’s voice is almost as good as Jacob’s and James’s.  However, Haley Reinhart has no vision for who she wants to be as an artist.  She seems to just go up on stage each week and sing with no idea what she is trying to say.

7) Casey Abrams- I know that Casey Abrams is a distinctive artist who pushes the American Idol envelope and I like that.  Casey Abrams is the opposite of Haley Reinhart. He has a laser vision for his music persona and he is pursuing it with dogged determination.  My problem with Casey is that he is in a rut as deep as Scotty.  Yes, this week was very different for American Idol, but it wasn’t that different from other things he has done going all the way back to his audition.  Plus, I don’t like his singing style as much as the six Idols above.  I like Casey Abrams and I may buy one of his songs in the future.  He is just at the bottom of this list.

Join us on Wednesday as we live blog the American Idol Season 10 Top 7 performances.  They will be singing songs from the 21st century, lots of Beyonce and Usher with some Alicia Keys thrown in and some Lady Gaga as spice.

American Idol Season 10 Top 8 Results

What is happening on American Idol Season 10?  Jimmy Iovine and his merry band of producers have made a tremendous impact on the quality of the performances.  The addition of Will.I.Am in the middle of the season, while annoyingly jarring, has been a fun addition to the mentoring segments.  Why suddenly did the Top 8 decide not only to ignore Jimmy Iovine’s song selection advice but to openly defy him.  Scott McCreery pulled off a song Jimmy Iovine specifically selected for him after both Jimmy and Will.I.Am raved about the rehearsal.  Then Casey Abrams punctuated his decision to perform the jazz tune “Nature Boy” with :”I don’t care what you say.” (Casey resisted the temptation to stomp his feet).  The lunacy reached its peak with this exchange between James Durbin, who has never cut a record, and Jimmy Iovine, who has sold more than 100 million records:

“Who can tell whether a song is a hit just from hearing it for the first time on a piano?” (James Durbin  after Iovine disliked Durbin’s rehearsal of Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal.”)

“What do you mean who … You think I’m an accident,” a visibly annoyed Iovine fired back. “I know a song is a hit before it gets to a piano, when someone is just humming it.”

A little note to the Season 10 Top 8: Yeah, everyone loves you now and you are getting tons of adulation from the judges and critics and talk show hosts and bloggers.  But when the American Idol wheel quits turning for you, people like Jimmy Iovine are going to be the one to make your career and they have no patience for attitude.

The two most humble performers of last night’s show, Christian music artists Jacob Lusk and Stefano Langone were both like little puppies who had just had an accident on the carpet.  Stefano Langone seems to be truly searching for his voice on American Idol Season 10.  After being saved by the judges in the wild card round and standing in the bottom 2 twice, Stefano is clinging to these mentors to try to find a way to break through.  I think he accomplished that last night with his tremendous performance “End of The Road.”  I thought it was the best performance of the night.

What did Jimmy Iovine mutter to Jacob Lusk? “How dare you lecture America. You never had a hit record.  Mumble,mumble, harump.”  After his challenge to America last week, Jacob Lusk barely looked at the camera.  He came to the studio with two songs, which Jimmy promptly tossed and handed him “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”  I think Jacob would have done “Boom Boom Pow” if Jimmy had told him to this week.  However, Jacob displayed his growing control and dramatic flair while delivering the best vocal of the night.  Those final three notes made my head spin.

After all of the drama and after the performances were done, I don’t think much changed.  We  have 8 diverse performers, each of whom have avid audiences.  Many people are nervous about Paul MacDonald because he opened the show.  However, his performance was so big and joyful, I think he will be all right.  Haley Reinhart took a step back this week with “Call Me” and it may cost American Idol Season 10 another girl.  While Casey Abram‘s performance was brave, exciting and, I thought pretty good, I don’t think America got it.  Casey could be the first guy voted off, again.

I think these three will be at the bottom, with Casey and Haley in the bottom 2.  I think Casey Abrams goes home tonight.

But enough with the speculation, let’s watch the show together to see who lives to insult Jimmy Iovine again.

53 million votes cast last night.  I guess America is not going to let their Pia get voted off this week.

Scott McCreery and Lauren Alaina are doing another duet.  I predict that Lauren Alaina and Scott McCreery perform a duet or two on the American Idol Season 10 tour.  Lauren Alaina seems so much more relaxed in these duets.  She sings better in the duets as well.

Maybe we will see a cool soul duet with Jacob Lusk and Haley Reinhart.  Maybe they will do something like “Dr. Feelgood.”  If so, you know what that means, right?  Yep, the band could be back. Holding our breath with our fingers crossed!

No band.  Aaaagh!  Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart get their jazz on with “Moanin’”  I think this is the music Haley Reinhart should be singing. That duet was better than anything we saw last night.

After that we gotta put those two in the Bottom 3?  Casey, Haley, Scott and Lauren are in the circle of torture. Scott McCreery is safe. Lauren Alaina is safe.  Half of my prediction will come true.  Haley Reinhart is in the bottom 3.  Casey Abrams is safe.

If Haley goes home tonight, she just proved that it will be because she was unable to select songs that displayed her talents.  Her performance tonight, with that jazz number, was her best of the year.   If she stays in the competition Haley Reinhart needs to seriously focus on blues and jazz for the rest of Season 10.

Kelly Clarkson is still the best winner ever on American Idol.

Time to find out which guys join Haley Reinhart on the silver stools of rejection. James Durbin is safe. For Stefano Langone it is back to the bottom 3 again. Paul MacDonald is in the bottom 3 and Jacob Lusk is safe.  How impactful is that opening spot on performance night?  For the third week in a row the performer who opened the show wound up in the bottom 3.

Of these three, Paul MacDonald should go home.  And he does.  Stefano and Haley are safe.  This is the right time for Paul MacDonald to go home.

Check-in with one21music.com this weekendto read about our American Idol Season 10 Top 7 power rankings.

American Idol Season 10 Top 8 Live Blog

It has been nearly a week since the great tragedy of American Idol Season 10 transpired.  Pia Toscano will be all right and so will we.  What we have left is one of the best, and probably the most diverse, group of American Idol performers we have ever seen. Christian music performer Jacob Lusk leads our American Idol Season 10 Top 8 Power Ranking. Christian music artist Scott McCreery is having a wonderful season.  He established his personality early and has gradually showed more and more of his singing and performing talents each week. Christian music performers Lauren Alaina and Stefano Langone have had great moments and some not so great moments, but they both appear to be pretty popular.

This week American Idol Season 10 will take on “music from the movie.” Themes this broad are filled with potholes.  There are many, many bad song choices for the Idols and we have seen many previous Idols make those bad choices.  However, the American Idol Season 10 performers have surprised us every week.  Last week’s rock n roll night was pretty terrific. I am anxious to see what these guys can do with movie music.

Please join us as we live blog the movie music performances by American Idol Season 10‘s Top 8.

Paul MacDonald is wearing the black version of his white rose suit.  He is singing first so he will be on the bubble tomorrow night.  Will.I.Am decided to stay on American Idol Season 10. Paul is trying to capture last week’s good time vibe with Bob Seeger’s “Old Time Rock n’ Roll.”  Paul MacDonald always seem to have a great time and he has some very natural frontman moves.  This is a good song for him and his voice.  Jennifer Lopez is right that he is pushing and growing every week.  Overall, Paul overcomes his weak vocals with an infectious stage presence.  That should be good enough to overcome his slot as the opening act of the night.

Lauren Alaina is doing “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Ugh! Jimmy Iovine is right that Lauren Alaina is a much better singer than Miley Cyrus.  Will.I.Am is turning into a very good mentor.  This is tough for me because I don’t like this song.  She sang it very, very well.  It seemed that she connected to the song in parts, but I think she needed to dig deeper.  J-Lo, Randy and Steven all liked it and think she is on her way back.  She seemed comfortable and she sang “The Climb” well.  I think Lauren Alaina could have done more with that song.

Lauren Alaina‘s post performance interview is 16 year-old cute.

Stefano Langone is doing “End of The Road” by Boys II Men.  Jimmy Iovine and Will.I.Am spend some substantial time pulling Stefano out of a funk from last week’s results.  I wasn’t too sure about his performance at the beginning, but he hit a groove in the middle of the song and wrung all of the emotion from the song.  That was a gut wrenching version of “End of The Road.”  I actually liked it better than the original.  Randy said he slayed the song and that it was his best performance of the season. I agree with Steven that he milked that song for all it was worth.  If that does not keep Stefano Langone out of the bottom 3 nothing will.

Boy, Stefano Langone‘s post performance interview showed one nervous, breathless excited young man.

Scott McCreery just blew it by backing off “Everybody’s Talking”.  He switched to “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait.  Scott had a chance to create a very exciting moment by putting his country spin on a great pop song.  Instead he chose a middling country ballad that he knows and loves.  He sang it beautifully but it was pretty blah for me.  Randy and J-lo cannot criticize.  Randy lauds Scott McCreery for staying true to his roots.  Maybe I am too hard on Scott but I think he could have and should have done more.  Not my favorite night for Scott McCreery.

Casey Abrams steps up to his bass next to perform”Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole, wearing an ascot.  He defied the mentors in the song selection and Jimmy Iovine is ticked-off.  Jimmy Iovine was right.  This would have worked in the back of a smoke-filled lounge with six people in the room.  I very much do not like his sighs and his growls.  This was very jazzy, stretching notes and going atonal.  The judges give him a standing ovation.  Randy is name dropping Herbie Hancock and Charlie Mingus?  Randy called it genius. That may have been brilliant in the studio but I don’t think it translated through the tube.  I think Casey Abrams is in trouble.

A very emotional Casey Abrams broke into tears after he stuck to his guns and did something that had never been done on Idol.  I am happy for him.  The judges kept dropping Grammy references, but remember that America does not vote on the Grammys.

The mentors are giving Haley Reinhart a lot of love.  Haley is doing Blondie’s “Call Me.”  Her voice may be a little too breathy to do this song.  It seems Haley has only one stage emotion– happily coy.  The start was a bit rough and I am not sure she brought anything new to the song, until the end.  Right at the end she kicked into a Haley Reinhart growling, groove and it started to work for me.  It seems the judges are as luke warm as I am.  This song really did not show her voice in the best light and I don’t think she connected with the vapid, desperation of the lyrics.

Jacob Lusk has about six songs he can sing from Pursuit of Happyness.  He is doing “Bridge Over Trouble Water”, a big song.  A very humble Jacob Lusk did whatever Jimmy Iovine told him.  Oh my gosh. The end of that song was mind blowing.  I was a little worried halfway through the performance but he dug in the second half and took us to a new dimension.  A dimension that only Jacob visits. The judges were flabbergasted by his vocal prowess. Randy is right in saying that Jacob Lusk feels his songs and makes us feel the songs.  I cannot describe the beauty of what he did at the end of that song.  If you did not hear it, check in tomorrow and I will have a video in the results post.  That was incredible.

Once again Jacob Lusk gives glory to God after his performance.

We close the night with James Durbin singing Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal.”  James Durbin is getting a little cocky with Jimmy Iovine and told them he was doing what he wanted to do.  This is obviously what James Durbin looooves to do.  A little too much guitar solo in the middle.  That was pretty darn good… and a lot of fun.  The song really did not go anywhere but James’s performance was exuberant and exciting.  J-Lo loved it and Randy was hooting at the end of the song. Randy called it unbelievable.  “Durbin rocks, Durbin rocks,” said Randy.  Steven said excellent.

I don’t know about tonight.  I was not blown away.  Jacob Lusk delivered the most amazing vocal tonight.  Paul MacDonald and James Durbin had the most fun.  Stefano Langone gave the most complete performance.

Join us tomorrow night as we cover the results.  You never know what will happen.

American Idol Season 10 Power Rankings W/O Pia

I could not believe it.  I watched Good Morning America this morning.  All they talked about was the government shutting down, earthquakes in Japan and fighting in Libya.  Didn’t they hear that Pia Toscano was voted off of American Idol Season 10 last night.  Where is that 20/20 guy when we need him?  Why isn’t George Stephanop??? (who can spell that) grilling Ryan Seacrest?  We need Geraldo Rivera (what? he works for the Fox guys now so he ‘s conflicted?)

Pia Toscano Leaves American Idol Season 10This has gotten so bad that Texas folk hero and future Ohio darling Colt McCoy said on Twitter that he is going to stop watching now that his favorite is gone.  Really, I always thought of Scott McCreery as the singing Colt. But this is amazing.  Twitter world blew up last night.  Season 8 Idol Michael Sarver was calling for a re-count. I had more than 50 tweets about Pia’s departure from American Idol Season 10.  Well if ABC will not get on the case I can offer some in-depth analysis.

This is a hard one to understand.  Pia Toscano has sung perfectly every week.  Casey Abrams, Paul MacDonald, Stefano Langone, Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhart should all have gone before Pia Toscano.  I could understand if one of our favorites, Christian musician Jacob Lusk, was voted off last night.  As brilliant as he is, he has had some rough moments and his comments in Wednesday night put him in grave danger.  I could even get it if Christian musician Scott McCreery had been voted off.  As popular as he is, his deep voice and commitment to country music limits his audience.  The only performer who had been as consistently good as Pia Toscano was James Durbin.

Could it have been the judges?  Many are saying they  used their save too early on Casey Abrams.  Their very guarded criticisms of all the performances, while uplifting and kind, did not give America much to work with to distinguish the talent between this year’s Idols.

I got!  IT’S GWEN STEFANI’S FAULT!  Who could vote for someone performing in their cow jammies!

Seriously, this is an uber talented young lady who is handling this shocking result with transparency and grace.  Anyone who thinks she is a diva or an ice princess, please just watch this short interview of Pia Toscano from last night.  I am a big fan and if you are as upset as we are about this turn of events I encourage to join me and  buy Pia Toscano’s American Idol Season 10 EP.  With that, the show must go on.

American Idol Season 10 Top 8 Power Rankings

1) Jacob Lusk- I know Jacob Lusk stupidly challenged (see the video), and maybe angered, American Idol voters.  That, and his performance slot at the very opening of a long, good night of performances, landed him in the bottom 3.  But seriously, is there anyone on American Idol Season 10 capable of reaching the vocal heights of Christian musician Jacob Lusk?  We have seen what he can do with “A House Is Not A Home” and “You’re All I Need.”  Everyone has been telling him to hold back.  He did on Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” and you tell me what was wrong with this performance.

2) James Durbin- He took a big risk and went against the wishes of Jimmy Iovine to sing a quiet song on rock week.  With the theme that everyone anticipated would be an excuse for him to show his full rock beastliness with something from Guns n Roses or Led Zeppelin, James Durbin went the opposite direction.  It worked.  While everyone else went crazy with big rock and soul numbers, James changed the pace in the middle of the show and forced everyone to listen to him and to see him.  We liked what we heard (he is an amazing singer who was not off key as some have claimed) and we liked the sensitivity we saw in this bigger than life rocker.

3) Scott McCreery- If we are being honest, it looks like Christian musician is the favorite to win American Idol Season 10.  He has been popular from the beginning.  Each week he is stretching his act a little.  He has a distinctive style and he is very, very likeable.  His rocking performance of “That’s All Right” demonstrated a much more expressive and daring performer than we anticipated.  Get ready for a repeat of Season 8 when the finals come down to a battle between the bigger than life rocker (James Durbin/Adam Lambert) versus the Christian southern heart throb (Scott McCreery/Kris Allen)

4)Lauren Alaina- It seems as if Lauren went through Hollywood Week without a care in the world and suddenly was rattled when American Idol Season 10 went live.  Early on she did not trust her voice and tried to carry her performances with her substantial personality.  Building on her duet with Scott McCreery in last week’s results show, Lauren allowed her voice to carry “You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman).”  She trusted her voice to hit some big notes and she did it without any problem. If she continues to relax into her singing skills, picks harder and harder songs each week and quits thinking so much Lauren Alaina could join the top 3.

5) Haley Reinhart- I have liked Haley Reinhart since the beginning of American Idol Season 10. She has an amazing voice, maybe better than Pia’s.  However, it does not seem that Haley knows who she is as a performer.  On Wednesday night she mauled “A Piece of My Heart.”  It was a thrilling vocal performance.  Yet, I did not feel the song.  Haley’s mood was too bright for that gut bucket blues number. For Haley Reinhart to be successful on American Idol or in her post Idol career, she needs to drop her shield, become more vulnerable and find a purpose for her music.

6) Stefano Langone- If I were ranking vocal capability, this is exactly where I would rank Christian musician Stefano Langone.  We have seen that “blood on the floor” emotion from Stefano that we have not yet seen from Scott, Haley or Lauren.  However, it seems Stefano Langone is in conflict with his heart.  Stefano’s most breath taking moment was when he sang the gospel song “I Need You Now.”  Nothing since has reached the heights of that moment.  He is like the sensitive guy who wants to be cool.  I think Stefano Langone is a gospel singer who wants to be an R&B star. Stefano, be the cool sensitive gospel singer and fulfill your destiny.

7) Paul MacDonald- He had his best moment of American Idol Season 10 this week. He was able to close Rock n Roll night with a rousing, and I mean rousing, version of “Folsom Prison Blues” that ignited the entire studio.  For the first time this season I thought I might want to go see Paul MacDonald in a club.  Paul would have made it to the finals of Season 9 but I think his days in Season 10 are numbered.

8)Casey Abrams- He seems to have lost his equilibrium since he was sick.  That is understandable because he was seriously sick.  He had a patch of bad performances and followed his save with some solid but forgettable performances.  I do not think the judges wasted their save on Casey.  He deserved to last until at least number 9.  I would have chosen Pia over Casey but that wasn’t the choice the judges had.  I think Casey will go home in the next two weeks and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Join us Wednesday night when the American Idol Season 10 Top 8 songs from the movies.  I have never enjoyed this theme but I do remember Kris Allen igniting his run to the Idol crown with “Falling Slowly” from Once.  We will live blog the performances, vote and hope for the best.

American Idol Season 10-Top 9 Results

Post Results Commentary: Pia Toscano was voted off American Idol Season 10 tonight. So all of last night’s fun was sucked out of the studio tonight. The contestants were stunned and judges were ticked-off.  American Idol Season 10 just grew a little dimmer tonight.  Pia Toscano should have been in the top 3.  The remaining 8 Idols must be terrified if the best singer in the room leaves at number 9.  What do you need to do to win American Idol Season 10?

Pia Toscano Exits American Idol Season 10

This is what they sent home tonight

What follows is our live reactions to tonight’s show as it happened.

What a fun show last night.  The performances were consistently good, the judges were in good spirits, the audience was rambunctious.  American Idol Season 10 is easily the most entertaining season since I started watching in Season 6.

Scott McCreey American IdolThough there were no great or weak performances last night a few moments stood out.  Paul MacDonald‘s “Folsom Prison Blues” was his best performance of the season and an appropriately raucous ending to the evening.  Haley Rienhart delivered on the promise of her vocal power but I don’t think she connected with the emotion of “Piece of My Heart.”  Scott McCreery was a revelation with his joyous “That’s All Right.” James Durbin‘s huge risk with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” paid off.  I think last night may be the first night America truly connected with James.

This is the third week in a row that I don’t think anyone deserves to go home, but someone will.  Even though the American Idol Season 10 is evenly balanced from the top to the bottom, I think three favorites are starting emerge.  Pia Toscano and James Durbin, with their huge voices and fearless song selections are chasing Christian musician Scott McCreery, he of the deep voice and wild pre-teen following.

I am afraid our favorite, Christian musician Jacob Lusk may be in trouble tonight.  He performed first last night, delivered his most subdued performance yet and challenged the audience with his pre-performance comments.  If you don’t remember, he said that if he ended up in the bottom 3 it would not be because he did not sing the song well but because American did not want to look themselves in the mirror.  I don’t think he meant it the way it was heard, but there is no room for slip-ups this season.

I do want to stand up for Jacob Lusk.  He initally selected Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and Jimmy Iovine and Will.I.Am went nuts when they saw him rehearse it.  However, Jacob decided to change because the song expressed a message that was in conflict with his values.  One21music does what it does because there is a universe of musicians whose music expresses the values of their faith.  I salute Jacob Lusk for not allowing the pressure of success to cause him to compromise his values.

I do think we will have the first guy departure in American Idol Season 10 (the top 24 don’t count).  In addition to Jacob, I think Christian musician Stefano Langone may have lost too much momentum over the past few weeks.  Casey Abram’s was the least memorable performance for me last night and, despite a great ending to the show, I  am afraid that America has grown tired of Paul MacDonald.

I think Jacob Lusk and Casey Abrams will be in the Bottom 2 and Casey Abrams will go home.  However, I would not be surprised by the departure of any of those four guys.  Join us as we discover who goes home and how everyone reacts to what is sure to be an agonizing result tonight.

We just watched last night’s show again.  When I live blog I miss a lot of the visual performances.  Fully seeing the performances, I thought they were all great.  I will be sad tonight, no matter what happens.

Ryan is talking about another shocking result tonight.  I just predicted half the Top 9 at the bottom. How could anything be shocking?

Time for some results.  First up, Casey Abrams, Stefano Langone and Lauren Alaina.  Lauren is safe and Casey is safe.  Christian musician Stefano Langone is in the bottom 3.  I am already half wrong for the bottom 2.  I hope I am 100% wrong but I will be shocked to see anyone but Jacob and Paul join Stefano on the stools tonight.

More agony now.  Paul MacDonald, Scott McCreery and Pia Toscano are in the hot circle now. Scott is safe.  Paul MacDonald is safe and Pia Toscano is in the bottom 3!!!!  No way! I don’t know what to say.  I think she has zero chance of going home but to think she is not in the top 3 of votes is mind blowing to me.

Last person in the bottom 3 is?  James Durbin, Haley Reinhart and Jacob Lusk is who we are choosing from. James is safe, of course.  It is between Jacob and Haley and Jacob Lusk is in the bottom3.  Yep, two of the three best singers of Season 10 are in the bottom 3.  None of these guys deserve to be in the bottom 3 tonight.

So now, for the horrible results.  Tonight we say goodbye to Pia Toscano.  What has happened? This is a travesty. I really don’t know what to say.  I am as mad as the judges. Pia Toscano consistently gave the best performances each week and America did not appreciate her talent.

American Idol Season 10 Top 9 Performance Live Blog

American Idol Season 10 Top 9

American Idol Season 10 turned a corner last week with the elimination of Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia.  Both Thia and Naima had talent and we look forward to seeing them on the tour, but neither one was ready for the Season 10 competition.  Now we can get on with the task of watching the remaining 9 develop as artists and fight to be named Season 10′s American Idol.  Our Top 9 Power Rankings have Jacob Lusk at the top.  We are amazed at his vocal talent but this race is really too close to call.

One21music features Christian musicians competing on American Idol and four remain in the top 9: Jacob Lusk, Scott McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Stefano Langone.  Scott and Lauren are both country singers but very different.  Scott McCreery, and his “deeper than the ocean” voice, embrace the traditional country of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and George Jones.  Lauren Alaina, with her bubbly cheerleader personality, embodies the modern country style of Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.  Both exude confidence and maturity that far surpasses their 17 years on this planet.

Jacob Lusk and Stefano Langone are both R&B/gospel singers, but they are even more different that Scott and Lauren. Stefano Langone possesses a high thin voice that was made popular by Marvin Gaye, Prince and Michael Jackson.  His is the voice of modern R&B.  Jacob Lusk, on the other hand, possesses a voice that we have rarely seen on the American Idol stage.  He uses his incredible talent to conjure up traditional gut rocking soul and gospel in the mold of Andre Crouch, Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross.  Both have pushed their performance to, and in some cases beyond, their limits.

The past two weeks we have watched these performers adeptly navigate the catalogues of Motown and Elton John.  The field opens up a little this week with songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  That could be good, but we have seen past Idols stumble with too much freedom.  I think this group will do well.  Will Haley Reinhart finally grab a Janis Joplin or Etta James song that she can throw her voice into.  How will Pia Toscano do with the upbeat song she promised last week.  Will James Durbin grab a Queen or Led Zeppelin song (we hope so)?

Share our raw reactions to the American Idol Season 10 Top 9 performances tonight as we live blog through the show.

Only 90 minutes tonight and Gwen Stefani must have something to sell because she has come to American Idol Season 10, not to mentor their performances but, to style the ladies.  Steven takes us through a nice walk through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I have been, it is a reason to go to Cleveland but wait until June.  Will.I.Am is helping Jimmy Iovine coach the performers.

Jacob Lusk changes his song in the middle of the week because he could not reconcile with the lyrics of  Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”.  He changes to Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror.” The beginning may be Jacob’s most controlled performance of American Idol Season 10.  Jacob is getting his gospel on, stomping and dancing around the stage.  That was a much looser, more controlled Jacob Lusk.  One of the writers of the song sang in duet with Jacob, pretty cool.  That was slamming.  I love his integrity and his performance.  The judges loved the performance and his moral conviction.  If he didn’t have it already, he had all of my votes for the rest of the season.  Jacob Lusk just answered all of the questions I had about who my favorite performer is on American Idol Season 10.

Haley Reinhart is succumbing to the judges pressure to sing Janis Joplin with “Piece of My Heart.”  Wow, this girl can sing. If she would just stand still and sing this would be perfect.  The judges were right.  That was awesome, incredible and “wow”.  This was a Haley Reinhart moment.  J-Lo says wow and “that was hot”.  Randy gushes and says”Haley, welcome back.”  Steven says there was nothing wrong with that.  I agree.  Haley follows Jacob with her best of the season and has a real chance to take the night.

Jacob Lusk and Haley Reinhart just set the bar way high for the night.

Casey Abram‘s changes his song in the middle of the week as well. Jimmy Iovine and Will.I.Am are fighting over Casey’s performance.  He changed the song to CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” with a mandolin and his stand-up bass.  This is kind of weird and jazzy and scatty with a dash of growling.  I did not like the arrangement.  Randy liked it and thought it was cool.  Randy likes that he is making stand-up bass cool.  Steven really likes his musicianship.  J-Lo says that is where he belongs.  I am growing tired of Casey’s act.

Lauren Alaina jumps into deep water with Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman).”  Jimmy and Will.I.Am  are getting very pumped about her combining soul with country.  I can see why Jimmy was excited.  Lauren has done something I did not think possible.  She has created her own version of an Aretha song.  The pace of the song gave her a chance to show off her strong voice.  This is her most confident performance of the season.  Lauren the contender is back.  Steven loves her voice. J-Lo says Lauren is amazing. Randy says this was one of the most difficult songs and says she did a good job.  I will buy that on iTunes tomorrow.

James Durbin, in a shocker, slows down this week with George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”  Will.I.Am worries about the lack of energy he can generate with this song.  Boy, this young man can really sing.  He amazes me every week.  This is a tender, heartfelt cover of this song.  I could see him performing this in a club in the middle of a show.  That was a nice interlude.  J-Lo loved it and loved the choice.  Randy loved seeing his real emotional connection with the song and the audience. Steven appreciates how James released his emotion.  James starts crying during and after the performance while thinking of his family.  That was a meaningful change of pace in James Durbin‘s quest.  I think it makes him more accessible to American Idol viewers.

Scott McCreery, in no surprise, is singing “That’s Alright Mama” by Elvis.  I am surprised that he  is going full rockabilly. I would have preferred seeing him with his guitar on this song.  Little Scotty unleashes the animal in his personality.  This was a strutting, growling performance that make us laugh and cheer and caused teenage girls to swoon.  That was awesome.  The judges are loving it.  Randy is amazed by the new Scotty. Steven says he heard girls screaming in the audience.  J-Lo felt a bit of flava in his performance.  That performance was way out of Scott’s comfort zone but he went for it, was not tentative and delivered the goods.  That will do nothing to hurt Scott McCreery’s front runner status.

Pia Toscano steps out with Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” Will.I.Am is right that this song will require a much bigger personality than we have seen from Pia so far. Okay she can sing anything and she is fearless.  That is one incredible voice, but the performance does lack a little personality.  J-Lo is right that Pia proved she can sing uptempo but she needs to study the great performers to learn how to really perform.  Randy says she showed that she delivered on the challenge to sing an uptempo song.  I agree completely with the judges that she is an amazing singer but needs to work on her performing skills.  She can overwhelm the audience with that voice but she needs more to reach her potential.

Stefano Langone is going to try “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge.  This is a big risk for Stefano. I think he pulled it off.  Stefano continues his trend of one weak and one strong performance.  This was a strong one.  That was a beautiful arrangement and a heartfelt performance.  J-Lo called it magic and argues with Randy’s critique.  Randy thinks he jumped into the R&B runs at the beginning.  Steven says he nailed it with a lot of passion.   That will keep Stefano Langone back for another week.

Paul MacDonald finishes the night with Johnny Cash’s “Folsum Prison Blues.”  Jimmy is challenging  him to push the performance over the top. Paul is going to try to get crazy. We are seeing some of his band performance skills with his guitar and a trio. Paul is the opposite of Pia.  His voice is okay, but he performs with full personality.  That was a good way to end a really great show.  Randy says “I loved it!”.  Steven says he rocked the house and J-lo calls it a perfect way to end the show.  That was a high energy finale to the show.

This is a difficult show to assess.  Haley, Scott and James took the night and that is a high compliment.  The only one I don’t think lived up to the standard of the night was Casey and he may be in trouble. I need to go back and watch the show again to try to find a bottom 3.

American Idol Season 10-Top 9 Power Rankings

Time for the American Idol Season 10 to kick into full gear.  The six week love affair with the Top 13 reached full flower this past week. We saw two competitors sent home who had no chance.  Now the season moves into serious growth and development mode with each week’s performances having dramatic implications for the final week.  There are four legitimate contenders, four people who are capable but have some work to do and one Idol who is extremely talented but out of his element.

American Idol Season 10 Top 9 Power Rankings

The rankings stayed pretty steady after American Idol Season 10 Elton John night.  I don’t think I have ever seen such an evenly matched group on American Idol, who are consistently delivering good performances and occasionally reaching greatness.  In years’ past you could easily identify judge and crowd favorites.  Not this year.  I think most people like all of the Idols.

  1. Jacob Lusk maintains the top spot in our power rankings.  I said on Wednesday that Jacob is like a musical Incredible Hulk.  When he sings  I sit saying “hold it, hold it”.  When he holds back that power  the performances are special, like with “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.”  You can complain that Jacob is over dramatic but you can never deny that he possess a rare voice.  Solomon Burke just died, America needs a new soul singer.
  2. James Durbin makes me smile.  His voice is so complete and his singing so effortless that he does not need to think about it.  On Wednesday night he spent his entire performance of “Saturday Night’s All Right (For Fighting)” running around the stage.  His vocals never wavered and he was spot on throughout the song.  Everyone was excited about Adam Lambert being the next great rock singer.  Two years later we may have found the next great rock singer.
  3. Pia Toscano is so self assured that she continues to openly defy Randy Jackson. Three weeks in a row Randy has told her to stop singing ballads and yet this week she throws down “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.”  However, each week she delivers and this week she brought much more soul and power to this ballad than the last.  Pia Toscano may just have a career as a soul singer.
  4. Scott McCreery continues to roll through American Idol Season 10.  This week he added to the collection for his first album with “Country Comfort.”  Performing with his guitar, he displayed a much more assured stage performance to go with those vocals that deliver week after week.  In all of my research, Christian musician Scott McCreery continues to be the most popular performer on American Idol Season 10.  He tops the lists for studio reaction, page views and voting estimates.
  5. Lauren Alaina had a nice comeback this week with a countrified version of “Candle In The Wind.”  However, her vocals on Thursday night’s duet with Scott McCreery were amazing.  If she could garner the confidence to build her performances around that big voice she demonstrated on Thursday night, she could capture a place in the top 3.  If she continues to hold back like she has all this season, she will struggle to make the top 5.
  6. Casey Abrams regained his footing this week.  His version of “Your Song” was servicable and turned the tide of off kilter performances for Casey.  However, he has hurt his reputation on the show and needs a couple of weeks of strong performances to regain the respect of America.  We need to see some relaxed jazz tinged but respectful performances from Casey.
  7. Haley Reinhart made progress with “Bennie and The Jets” and maybe avoided elimination last week.  She still has not created a musical identity that America can embrace.  However, did you hear her lay waste to Pia Toscano in the vocal showdown on Thursday’s results show.  Haley has a set of pipes to match anyone on this show.  I would like to see her do a duet with Jacob.
  8. Stefano Langone has had two performances that have saved him as a wild card and propelled him into the top 9.  They have been surrounded with poorly received “competition presentations.”  I have seen Stefano sing his guts out on youtube.  He needs to forget that this American Idol and just sing from his gut.  If he can’t find that in himself, he will be in danger every week.
  9. Paul MacDonald is a cool, indie hipster who does not have the vocal talent to compete at this level on this stage.  We clearly saw that on Thursday when he sang a duet with James, Stefano and Casey.  If everyone of the top 9 delivers their best performance of the season next week, Paul will go home. He should be proud to be here in the American Idol Season 10 Top 9.

Next week, the American Idol Season 10 Top 9 sing songs from “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”  That should mean that just about all of the great songs from the past 50 years are available.  Choose carefully Idols.  No on can afford a misstep here.  Join us on Wedensday as we live blog th top 9 performances.

American Idol S10 Top 11 Results

American Idol Season 10 is losing two tonight.  After the love affair between the judges, the producers, the mentors and these performers reached its peak last week, with Casey Abrams save, it is time to get on with the competition.  There will be tears and sadness when the two depart tonight, but it will not matter in the bigger scheme of American Idol.  Whomever goes home tonight never had a chance to win American Idol Season 10 and everyone in tonight’s group number goes on the tour. Time to move on.

Last night’s top performances came from Pia Toscano, James Durbin and Christian musicians Jacob Lusk and Scott McCreery.  Everyone gushed over Haley Reinhart’s performance but, even after watching again I did not get it.  I have always liked Haley, and even though she probably did enough to make it into the Top 9, I thought she has had at least two better performances this season.  Christian musician Lauren Alaina continued her comeback with a country version of “Candle In The Wind” and Casey Abram‘s “Your Song” was strong enough to keep him out of this week’s bottom group.

Unfortunately, Christian musician Stefano Langone‘s uneven performances over the first five weeks of American Idol Season 10 will probably land him in the bottom 4 with Thia Megia, Naima Adedapo and Paul MacDonald.  I suspect that by the end of tonight’s show we will have six guys and three girls remaining after Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia go home.  That will be ironic that the lady whose huge personality undermined her vocal performances goes home with the girl whose sparkling voice could not overcome her introverted personality.

How will they do this?  Will they do one elimination halfway through the show and then another at the end or will they do both at the end?  The lead-in promises shocking results.  Does that mean Lauren Alaina is at risk?  Did Casey Abrams not do enough to save himself?

Wow, over 55 million votes.  This is getting serious.  Those are top 3 numbers.  Fantasia, Jamie Foxx and Wil.I.Am are performing tonight.  Kinda cool, they are breaking from the big group number.  First is a country duet with Christian musicians Lauren Alaina and Scott McCreery and it is very cool.  Lauren just hit a big note she should have been displaying all season.

Now they go straight into the results with Scott and Lauren.  Both of them are safe, so Lauren Alaina is not the shocker.

Naima Adedapo and Jacob Lusk are singing Ashford & Simpson. This is Naima’s best vocal of the season. Jacob, not as much. However, they did seem to have fun with the song.  Results time again and Naima Adedapo is in the bottom 3.  Jacob Lusk is safe.  This is not a surprise.  Remember she was a wild card selection to get into the Top 13.

Haley, Thia and Pia are doing a trio performance.  The band name rhymes, cool!  Interesting that Haley Reinhart sounds better on this song than Pia Toscano. Does our blonde bohemian have a stronger voice than the resident diva?  Now for results.  Pia Toscano and Haley Reinhart are safe, but Thia Megia is in the bottom 3.  America has it right so far.

This is tracking exactly as we thought.  Will the final member of the bottom 3 be Stefano Langone, Paul MacDonald or, maybe Casey Abrams?  Is the American Idol Season 10 rock band going to perform?  Yep, the band is debuting for America tonight with “Band On The Run”.  Ooh, those harmonies in the beginning did not work.  I think James Durbin should be the lead singer of this band.  But they sure do look happy, for a moment.  Time to break up the band.  Casey Abrams is safe.  James Durbin is rightfully safe.  It is down to Paul MacDonald and Stefano LangonePaul MacDonald is in the bottom 3 for the first time.  After hearing these four sing together, I think America got it right.

Pretty cool.  Like in Season 8, nearly half of the top 9 are Christian musicians.

Who goes home?  It is time.  Paul MacDonald is safe.  Thia and Naima go home. It was time for these ladies to go home.  They had a great run and deserved to be in the top 11, but not in the top 9 ahead of any one of the remaining performers on American Idol Season 10.  Check back on Saturday for my Top 9 power rankings.

American Idol S10 Top 11 Performances Again

After a terrific week of performances and uber-drama on American Idol Season 10, what can American Idol and their stable of budding superstars pull off this week?  Remember that two Idols will go home this week so the stakes are high.  Couple that depth of talent on American Idol Season 10 and the pressure to perform is intense.  As Casey Abrams proved last week, no one can afford two or even one weak performance.

Mix in the Elton John catalogue and this week becomes a high wire act for most of the Idols.  I am listening to my Elton John collection as I write this.  I am a big fan of the Rocket Man, but his music is highly structured and his songs after 1979 are pretty sketchy, sorry Lion King fans.  Tonight, the Idol’s need to be very careful to keep their singing in a pretty tight range, without seeming derivative or hokey.

Our Top 11 Power Rankings has Christian musician Jacob Lusk at the top.  With two people going home this week, I think he needs to be very careful.  The Elton John catalogue can be a tremendous pothole for him.  Maybe he will surprise me, but I don’t hear much room for Jacob’s signature runs and histrionics in Elton John’s songs.  I hope he takes “Your Song” or “Tiny Dancer” and honors the intimacy of those songs with a quiet, straight delivery.  If Randy says it was “I don’t know man, it was a little boring for me”, Jacob has accomplished his goal.

I expect Paul MacDonald and Pia Toscano to do well tonight.  I think James Durbin and Christian musician Scott McCreery could do well but both can survive a misstep.  Everyone else should be terrified.  I am not sure what Christian musician Lauren Alaina can do with this catalogue and she is starting to fall behind the other favorites.  Just like Jacob, this week is a major pothole for Christian musician Stefano Langone.  I am not confident that Haley Reinhart, This Megia or Naima Adedapo will survive the votes this week.

So, as you can see, I am a little pessimistic.  Let’s see if the American Idol Season 10 crew can surprise me as we live blog tonight’s performances.

Boy, American Idol really played up last week’s drama.  Let’s hope Casey Abrams health holds up for the rest of the year.  Does Elton John have a new album coming out?  American Idol tonight and he hosts Saturday Night Live on Saturday.  Jimmy Iovine is right.  All 11 Idols have to kill it tonight.

First up Scott McCreery is working with Don Was on “Country Comfort.”  This is an obscure song from his early album Tumbleweed Connection.  Good selection and, with the guitar, he has a different vibe on stage.  Another assured, solid performance from Scott McCreery.  This could be a single from his first album. He slayed the end with a deeeeep note.  Perfect choice to keep it in a very distinct lane.  He did not try to do too much with the song. Steven and J-Lo did not seem too excited but Randy was exuberant in agreeing with me that this could be on his first album.  Scott McCreery has set the bar high.

Naima Adedapo is bringing a reggae twist to “I’m Still Standing”.  Remember, I begged the Idols to not do this song. Let’s see if the reggae vibe moderates the hokiness of this song.  Jimmy said that the slower tempo made it harder to stay on key.  Naima is proving him right. i like the reggae take on the song but this is not a good singing performance from Naima.  I think she may be in trouble.  J-Lo did not like this interpretation, I disagree I just did not like the singing.  Randy thinks it was corny, but he likes reggae.  Steven like that she picked a song that fit her.

Paul MacDonald has gone from touring in a 15 passenger band to doing runway photo shoots.  He is singing “Rocket Man.” This is a tough song for a singer with his range.  Paul brings his guitar as well.  That was almost cool. It just did not take off for me.  He sang okay, but I think he missed the emotion of the song.  Randy thinks his soft voice is infectious.  Randy and J-Lo think he is holding back. It was interesting but not compelling.

Now, to someone no one can accuse of holding back.  Pia Toscano is bringing her chops to “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”.  She is certainly sure of herself by continuing to ride her ballad train.  Pia has gospel chops.  Nice soul phrasing and then she slams on those big notes.  Another mind blowing performance from Pia.  I liked this better than her other performances.  She was a little looser than the past few weeks.  I agree with Steven that it was just about as good as it gets.  I agree with J-Lo that we felt her a little more this week.    I can now hear Pia Toscano recording an R&B album in the vein of Mariah Carey.

Stefano Langone, tread carefully with “Tiny Dancer”, one of my favorite Elton John songs.  Jimmy Iovine is very concerned about this performance. Can he capture the intimacy of this power ballad?  Very strong start, he lost it a little when he moved away from the mike stand but recaptured the song on the second chorus.  Stefano Langone did himself well tonight.  That was very good. J-Lo and Randy loved that he connected in a way he had not in the past.  Stephen thought he nailed it.  Another very good performance from Stefano Langone.

Halfway through the Elton John songbook and the American Idol Season 10 Top 11 are delivering solid performance after solid performance. These guys are really good!

Lauren Alaina is singing “Candle In The Wind”, the best selling song in the history of Billboard. Lauren’s country phrasing is throwing me off a little.  Good for Lauren, she is toning down the stage theatrics a bit and letting her voice carry her performance.  That was very nice.  We finally get to see the singer that is Lauren Alaina.  Randy says it was nice and sensitive, very professional. J-Lo says it was amazing, I agree that this was the first time America was able to hear Lauren’s power.  This was Lauren Alaina‘s best performance of the season.

I am really impressed that the Idol’s are respecting these songs and performing the songs rather than competing with the songs.  This feels more like an Elton John festival than an American Idol competition.

James Durbin turns up the volume with “Saturday’s All Right (For Fighting).” Jimmy thinks he is taking a risk by starting his performance in the audience. Heis  just amazing.  He can run and jump all over the stage and it does not impact his singing one bit.  This is not my favorite song, but James Durbin turned it into to a crazy, fun rave.  He makes me smile.  J-Lo says she makes her forget she is at a competition.  Randy loves that James really enjoys himself.  I agree with the judges, it does not seem James is aware that he is in a competition.  It seems he is just excited to have a new stage.

Thia Megia takes on “Daniel.”  This is another gut wrenching song from the beginning of Elton’s career.  This will require a much deeper expression of feeling than we have seen from Thia before.  Jimmy is right that this song is poignant rather than dramatic.  Thia Megia has such a beautiful voice.  I just cannot connect.  I don’t know why.  I was trying.  J-Lo thought it was beautiful.  Randy liked her voice but felt it was safe.  Steven thinks she sang a great Elton John song well.  Thia sang Daniel to her brother, but we were not inspired.

Casey Abrams is singing “Your Song”, my all time favorite Elton John song.  I don’t think this is the right song for Casey.  Maybe he will surprise me.  I hope it is not the jazz version of “Your Song.”  Yes, he did trim his beard.  Well, I was wrong.  He stays grounded and centered and sings this beautiful ballad with feeling and meaning.  Not a mind blowing performance but the right performance for this song.  Randy thinks it was brilliant. J-Lo compliments him on the character in his voice.  Casey Abrams did justify his save and is back in the competition.

Will Jacob Lusk be able to control all of those crazy chops with “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.”  Mary J Blige showed up in the studio while he was rehearsing.  He was blown away.  Tricky and Jimmy are advising him to not over dramatize. I am speechless.  This guy is like the Incredible Hulk of singing.  I sit here and think “hold it”, “hold it”, “hold it” and he did it.  The judges did not really know what to say.  They thought it was brilliant.  Randy tried to offer criticism but no one really understood what he was talking about.  Jacob Lusk did exactly what he needed to do tonight and it was amazing.

Haley Reinhart gets her best shot to save herself with the final spot. Can she turn “Bennie and The Jets”  into her season turning moment? Not a chance, this is Elton John’s worst song, even considering the Lion King stuff.  She does the best she can by starting it with a quiet jazz twist and singing the dog out of the chorus.  However, the middle of the song brings out the dorkiness of the song.  J-Lo just loved it.  Randy says it was the best performance of the night.  Steven says she sings sexy.  I need to go back and watch Haley’s performance again.  I was not able to overcome my distaste for the song so I need to give Haley Reinhart another shot.

Overall, another great night.  This exceeded my expectations by a mile.  We really felt the influence of the producers and the maturity of these performers.  I think Naima Adedapo, Paul MacDonald and Thia Megia delivered the weakest of the performances.  I am holding judgment on Haley Reinhart.  Everyone else was consistently excellent.  Please vote and join us tomorrow night as we report in the results live as two Idols go home.

American Idol Season 10 Top 11 Power Ranking Again

If you go look at the intro to our coverage of the American Idol Season 10 Top 11 results show I said Casey may be in trouble and that the judges may save him.  It happened as I thought it might. The judges also agreed with me that Casey needs to stop the growling and the screaming and return to the jazz influenced musicianship we all fell in love with.

I also said last night that, after a wonderful night of Motown performances that no one deserved to go home this week.  Even better, the American Idol Season 10 tour will include all of 11 of these wonderful American Idol hopefuls.  That just could be a ticket worth buying.  Imagine Thia Megia’s beautiful voice after she has matured under the tutelage of the American Idol road show producers.  Think about the joy Naima Adedapo‘s passion will bring to the stage.  Buy some ear plugs because you will need to protect your hearing from the screams of 12 year old girls when Scott McCreery and Stefano Langone hit the stage.  Christian musicians can be heart throbs. Be ready to be awestruck when the voices of Jacob Lusk, Pia Toscano and James Durbin are released in a live setting.

Casey Abrams Saved By American Idol Judges

Back to the save. Here is the full video in case you did not see one of the most dramatic moments in the history of American Idol. If you saw it live, look for what you missed. Check out the faces of shock on Jacob Lusk and James Durbin just after the results are announced. Watch Casey’s hands tremble when he goes over the shake the judge’s hands. Watch the joy of Jacob Lusk and Lauren Alaina when they realize that all eleven will go on the American Idol Season 10 tour.

Well, nothing was decided last week.  I think we probably have six or seven contenders for the title of Season 10′s American Idol.  It amazes me that the voting seems to track week to week performances.  America voted Karen Rodriguez into the Top 10 over Naima Adedapo and Stefano Langone and two weeks later she fell to the bottom of the voting in the Top 12.  This week, Casey Abrams and Stefano Langone delivered the weakest of  11 very good performances and, despite numerous triumphant performances earlier in Season 10 by both, they were at the bottom this week.  There is no such thing as momentum in American Idol Season 10.  That is good for us as viewers, but which of the Idols will crack under the weight?

American Idol Season 10 Top 11 Power Ranking, Part two

There is a lot movement from last week’s American Idol Season 10 power rankingsJacob Lusk, Pia Toscano and Paul MacDonald made big moves up the rankings.  As you might expect Casey Abrams and Stefano Langone fell pretty far.  With the strength of this crew we should expect to see a lot of movement throughout the season.  There is a wide variety of styles and a deep well of talent in this group.  I try to be stylistically agnostic in the rankings.  Notice that the top 4 are old school soul, sold-out rocker, committed balladeer and country crooner.

  1. Christian musician Jacob Lusk delivered one of the greatest performances in the history of American Idol on Wednesday night.  Jacob is a rare talent.  I did not see Fantasia win American Idol, but she is only one I can think of that reaches the heights of Jacob Lusk.  I am a huge fan of Jennifer Hudson and her performance on Wednesday night paled in comparison to Jacob’s performance of “You’re All I Need”.  Check it out.
  2. Wow!  Unlike so many of his competitors who are working to stretch themselves, Jacob is so effortless and has so much to bring to a song. His biggest issue is restraint.  He looked completely comfortable and relaxed in this performance.  If he can maintain that restraint through the rest of Season 10, he is the only one capable of separating from this incredible group of American Idol hopefuls.

    2. James Durbin just continues to stroll through Season 10 almost effortlessly.  He seems to just be enjoying every week’s performance.  It is almost like he is ignoring the competition aspect of American Idol, because he is just that talented.  James has delivered consistently excellent performances.  It seems week after week one or two people throw out the performance of their lives to rival him for the top spot, but James brings it Wednesday night after Wednesday night.  I was impressed that James was able to connect with the meaning and message of Stevie Wonder’s “Livin For The City.”  Most people missed Stevie’s point but James understood that the upbeat party grooves were juxtaposed against the lyrics of poverty and prejudice to signify the hope of a generation coming out of the civil rights and anti-war strife of the 60′s.  Pretty good for a kid who had not been born when the song was written.

    3. Pia Toscano makes a big move from 7 to 3.  I think she may be the only girl who can rival the guys as a contender for the Season 10 title.  I had her at 7 last week because I said she needs to prove she can sing more than ballads.  I was wrong.  Sing ballads Pia.  Her interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s lesser known “All In Love Is Fair” showed great music sensibilities.  Her performance, with its subtle soul phrasing, respectful arrangement flourishes and picture perfect singing, demonstrated that Pia Toscano is ready to go.  She is the most polished artist on American Idol Season 10.  It is time for her career to start, this American Idol nonsense is a distraction now that we know her.

    4. Christian musician Scott McCreey falls from 2 to 4 just because Jacob, James and Pia were so great.  I actually think Scott created a hit record.  There has not been a popular version of “For Once In My Life” and after hearing Scott’s version I do not know why.  This should be on Scott McCreery‘s first album and American Idol should release it to the country charts today.

5. Paul MacDonald makes a huge leap from 9th to 5th. The past two weeks I have heard more of Paul’s singing voice and I like what I hear.  I wish he had exercised more of the interpretive skills I assume he has and turned Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears” into a singer/songwriter ballad.  I liked the slow quiet beginning of the song and the quiet ending.  If he had stuck with that vibe he might have created one of those transcendent moments.  Randy called him on it in the judging when he told Paul to use more of his quiet voice, that it had something special.

6. Christian musician Stefano Langone has had two great nights and two nights where he seems to miss the point.  I think Jennifer hit it right when she told him to quit competing and to start performing and connecting with his music. His two great moments came when he was fully immersed in his song and he was not worried about creating emotion or performing perfectly.  Stefano has a chance to be great in the competition, he just needs to be more consistent.  I wait for Stefano with high hopes every week and this week he did not deliver.

7. Christian musician Lauren Alaina is surprising me.  It feels that she is starting to get swept-up by American Idol Season 10.  She has a big, powerful, clear voice and a big personality.  It seems she is using that personality to overcome her singing.  I am not sure if she is just too young to deliver some of these performances, but Jordan Sparks was her age when she won American Idol.  Lauren needs to dig deep and focus on her singing. Her performances have felt a little superficial lately. I would like for her to come out this week, stand in the middle of the stage and belt an introspective ballad without flirting with the camera.

8. Haley Reinhart delivered a wonderful performance.  I did not think it was good enough to save her.  I was surprised she was not in the bottom 3.  It hit me on Tuesday night that Haley Reinhart is American Idol‘s Joan Osborne.  Remember her from ” …what if God was one of us“.  Both have these incredible bluesy voices that can sing anything and both of them cannot pick a musical style.  I would have preferred that Haley belt out “Midnight Train to Georgia” on Wednesday night.  That would have given her room to infuse some deep emotion into her performance and to blast away with that great voice.  I think Haley still needs to create her moment if she plans to stick around much longer.

9. Naima Adedapo had her moment on Wednesday.  This was clearly her best sinigng performance and her African, tribal arrangement of “Dancing In The Streets” was fun and innovative.  I enjoyed it.  She is probably the weakest singer of the Top 11, but her personality can carry her performances.  She needs two more weeks of solid singing or she goes home soon.

10. Casey Abrams did not fall from 4 to 10 because of this week’s performance.  He fell because last week was not an anomoly caused by his hospitalization.  It seems Casey took all of the adulation from his week 1 screaming, growling version of “I Put A Spell On You” and turned into his “winning” style.  It is not winning.  If Casey returns to his jazz roots he will be alright.

11. Thia Megia is growing on me.  Her voice really stands out in the group numbers and her performance of “Heatwave” felt appropriately young for her.  Being 2nd string in the NBA means only means that you are one of the top 500 basketball players in the world.  That is pretty darn good.  Being 11th in American Idol Season 10 is pretty special as well.

The theme for next week is Elton John songs.  I don’t remember seeing this as a theme before.  I think they did it in Season 3.  Sir Elton has some great songs but there are some real land mines in there.  Choose carefully Idols.  Please, no one sing “I’m Still Standing” or “Bennie and The Jets.”  Pia, if you are thinking Lion King, please just say no. See us next Wednesday as we live bloge the performances of American Idol Season 10‘s top 11.