American Idol 2011 – Top 11 Performance Episode Review

Oh, Motown week. I simultaneously love and hate it. I’ve been listening to Motown music my whole life and really love it. But we’ve seen it done on American Idol so many times, and I’ve heard these songs covered SO many times. We rarely get to hear a fresh take, and it can get kind of karaoke-ey. So I didn’t go into this episode with the highest hopes. Now, let’s talk performances. 

Casey Abrams – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
This was a good song choice for Casey, but I’m getting tired of his shtick. I used to think he was cool and original, but now it seems like he does the same thing every week. And I’d love it if he could look a little less like a serial killer.

Thia Megia – Heatwave
I know a lot of people don’t like Thia, or thought this was an inappropriate song choice for her, but I’ve gotta say – the girl can sing. And she stepped out of the box and took on an uptempo song, which is more than we can say for Pia. Thia is young and sweet and not suited to my demographic, but I think she’s really good and carries a lot of appeal for her particular fan base. I mean, she’s a better singer than Selena Lovato, or Demi Gomez, or whoever.

Jacob Lusk – You’re All I Need To Get By
If anyone was expected to knock a performance out of the park tonight, it was Jacob. And he did really well. The interesting thing about Jacob is that I actually don’t love his voice, even though I recognize that he’s very talented. He’s a little too vibrato heavy for me. But I like his attitude and stage presence, so I like him.

Lauren Alaina – You Keep Me Hanging On
This was a good song choice for Lauren, and she brought enough attitude to the stage to pull it off. Lauren is so young, but it seems like she’s improving every week. I’ve said before that there’s a lot of potential with Lauren, and I feel like we’re starting to see the talent really start to come out. 

Stefano Langone – Hello
Stefano is another guy who was really destined to deliver on Motown night. I kind of think David Cook owns “Hello” on the Idol stage, but for my buddy Stefano I was willing to put that aside – especially since Stefano and David are nothing alike. Stefano has a definite Bruno Mars quality that I love. I just think he has a beautiful voice, and I want to see him go far in the competition. I was surprised the judges didn’t like his performance more – it was one of my favorites of the night.

Haley Reinhart – You Really Got A Hold On Me
I want to like Haley. I really do. I think there’s an interesting, jazzy quality to her voice that reminds me of some of my past Idol favorites like Megan Joy. But like Megan, Haley hasn’t really figured out how to successfully package that yet. The performance wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either. And most importantly, I don’t think it was the kind of material that gets someone out of the bottom three. I can see Haley going home this week. 

Scotty McCreery – For Once In My Life
I was very worried about how Scotty would fare in Motown week. Not that I cared if he did poorly – the kid is good, but I’m by no means rooting for him. I was just concerned for the welfare of  my ears. When I think Scotty McCreery, I don’t think Stevie Wonder. But you know what? It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t his strongest performance and in a lot of ways I hated it. But it wasn’t a trainwreck and with this theme, isn’t that all we can ask? Now if he’d only learn how to properly hold a mic – why is it always sideways, gangsta style? Oh, and his hand movements could use some work, too. And his hair. Maybe I should make a list for him?

Pia Toscano – All In Love Is Fair
On paper, Pia has the whole package. She has a beautiful voice, she’s a beautiful girl. But I find her so boring. Ballads, ballads, ballads, blah, blah, blah. I’d love to see Pia mix things up and do something fun, like a Lady Gaga or Katy Perry song. On Glee, Rachel Berry has sung pop songs and been vocally stronger than the original. Pia could do the same.

Paul McDonald – Tracks Of My Tears
I was worried that Paul’s performance would draw comparisons to Adam Lambert’s memorable performance, but he did so much to make the song his own that I really think he managed to avoid that. I honestly loved the performance. I like Paul because I can see myself going to one of his shows at a funky bar and really enjoying it. I like his vibe. I know it’s not for everyone and that he hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, but I dig him. 

Naima Adedapo – Dancing In The Street
Naima is nowhere near the best singer, but I’ve always rooted for her because of her quirky personality. I like what she brings to the stage, and I hoped that with times her vocals would get better. And I honestly could not love her African dancing more. I like Naima and I liked this performance. I just really wish she could sing a little better.

James Durbin – Livin’ For The City
I freakin’ LOVE this song, and it was a fantastic choice for James. I do think the key was a touch high for him, but I still thought it was a really good performance. And I enjoyed his dancing, to boot.

Overall, I thought it was a really strong show with a lot of great performances – especially considering I didn’t have high hopes for it. Now, check out my rankings:

  1. Paul McDonald
  2. Stefano Langone
  3. Lauren Alaina
  4. James Durbin
  5. Pia Toscano
  6. Thia Megia
  7. Jacob Lusk
  8. Naima Adedapo
  9. Haley Reinhart
  10. Casey Abrams
  11. Scotty McCreery

How the tables turn, huh? I’ve been a big Casey fan, but this week I just did not get it. And yeah, I put Paul at number one. What can I say? I love the guy. Deal with it. I actually found the performance kind of hard to rank this week, because I liked so many of them but loved very few. The competition for Jill’s Favorite of the Season is still wide open!

How do you rank the performances? Do you have a favorite yet? Sound off below!