American Idol 2011 – Top 12 Performance Episode Review

American Idol revisited a classic theme this week – songs from the year you were born. Oh good lord, must we? Why, oh why, does the show revisit this eighties-ridden theme so often? Is it just to give me that terrifying jolt of reality when someone says “I was born in 1993!” and I realize how old I am? Or is it so we can see sickeningly sweet home videos and interviews with proud parents? Because those I could really do without.

In case you were wondering (and I know you weren’t), I did a little research and decided that if I had to sing a song from the year I was born – 1986 – it would be “Who Wants To Live Forever?” from Queen’s album A Kind of Magic. You know, if I could sing and stuff.

Naima Adedapo – What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Naima is a tough person to judge. Her vocals are far from perfect, but I find her interesting. She’s an engaging performer. And what’s more important in the music industry? I can see Naima fitting in in pop music better than I can some of her more talented competitors. But girl needs to learn to control her pitch.

Paul McDonald – I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
I love this song, I love this guy, and I loved this performance. Look, I know this guys isn’t the most fantastic singer in the whole world. And I know he’s not going to win, or probably even make the final four. But I love his quirky voice, funky wardrobe and bizarre movements. And I don’t care if Paul himself thought he was struggling – I totally dug it.

Thia Megia – Colors of the Wind
This song is by Vanessa Williams? I thought it was by Pocahontas. I was completely obsessed with this song when I was nine, and I think it was an appropriate choice for Thia. I don’t love Thia – she’s too sweet and gentle and inoffensive for me to get really excited about – but I do think she’s very talented. I’d like to see her have some fun next week though, just to mix it up.

James Durbin – I’ll Be There For You
I felt lukewarm about this performance. James was fine, but I didn’t think the performance was particularly memorable. He was good, though, and I can see James going really far in the competition.

Haley Reinhart – I’m Your Baby Tonight
Ouch. As soon as Haley said she’d be doing a Whitney tune, I knew she was in trouble. She just wasn’t good enough for that song – it was a very impressive karaoke performance, but a sub-par American Idol performance. I think she would have been better off doing something like Madonna. It just wasn’t good.

Stefano Langone -If You Don’t Know Me By Now
I could love Stefano solely for his tongue-in-cheek descriptions of all the great 1989 songs he had to choose from. But I have a lot more reasons to love him. He has the voice of an angel. His performance was killer – smooth, powerful, yet in control. And that final note? I can’t believe this kid needed a wild card to make it into the finals.

Pia Toscano – Where Do Broken Hearts Go
Once again, Pia kind of bored me. Yes, she’s fantastic. There’s no denying that. But I still feel like we’ve seen at least fifteen different versions of her before. It was nice to see her sing something a little more up tempo, but she needs to show some more originality to win me over. 

Scotty McCreery – Could I trust You With My Heart
How many different ways are there to say “This really isn’t my thing”? This show has only been going a couple weeks and I’m already out of creative ways to discuss how Scotty is talented, but really not my thing

Karen Rodriguez – Love Will Lead You Back
I really can’t stand this girl. I’m sorry, but everything about her screams Miss America to me. She just seems like she’s trying so hard. She looks like she watched tapes of J.Lo’s music videos over and over again and is just mimicking the movements and styling, rather than coming up with her own thing. And does she have to sing in Spanish every single time? It feels like a gimmick.

Casey Abrams – Smells Like Teen Spirit

OK, it would have been cool to sum up Casey’s performance with just one word, but when have I ever been cool? I find Casey so, so bizarre. He’s this totally nice guy in interviews, and then he’s so angry when he sings! For realsies, it scares me a little. But in a good way. It takes guts to tackle Nirvana on the Idol stage, and I thought Casey nailed it.

Lauren Alaina – I’m The Only One
I loved this song choice for Lauren because it’s not country, it shows range, but it still suits her. Her vocals were a little weak, but I think she has definite potential. She needs a better stylist, though, because that unflattering outfit got an F-.

Jascob Lusk – Alone
Wow, I didn’t see this song choice coming. But I’ve gotta say, this was the first time I really enjoyed one of Jacob’s performances. His style of singing doesn’t really float my boat, but the way he mixed it up tonight was really great. It was still kind of out of control and crazy, but in a good way. The performance made him more likable, too – up until tonight I thought he was kind of pretentious, but this was fun and sassy. He took a risk, and I thought it seriously paid off.

I was going to start ranking the performers when we got down to ten, but I changed my mind. So here are my rankings:

  1. Stefano Langone
  2. Casey Abrams
  3. Jacob Lusk
  4. Paul McDonald
  5. Pia Toscano
  6. James Durbin
  7. Naima Adedapo
  8. Lauren Alaina
  9. Thia Megia
  10. Scotty McCreery (This kid should just quit and head to Nashville now, though…)
  11. Karen Rodriguez
  12. Haley Reinhart

Most of you, I’m sure, will disagree since I’ve ranked them based on how much I like them, not based purely on talent. So tell me – who do you like?