American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "Finalists Compete"

Season 10, Episode 16
Episode Synopsis: The Season 10 finalists perform songs by their favorite artists.
Original Air Date: Mar 9, 2011

American Idol Episode Recap: The Top 13 Perform Season 10, Episode 16

American Idol's Top 13 hit the stage this week with songs recorded by their personal idols, but not all of the night's performances were worthy of being worshipped. With a few exceptions (one of which was an equally troubling rap-reggae take on a current song), the night seemed to be plagued by sleepy arrangements. But do we blame the singers or Jimmy Iovine's team of producers? (More on that later.)

Luckily, there were a few standouts that kept us from completely nodding off. Let's break down the performances:

Lauren Alaina, "Any Man of Mine"
She chose the perfect song and her voice was as strong as ever, but somehow it just didn't add up to a "wow"  performance they way it should have. I found some of her phrasing to be odd, especially the way she cut off certain notes. Also, I know she's young, but she's got to work on how she responds to questions from Ryan and the judges. In those moments, she talks like a stoned 7-year-old, and the immaturity is incredibly off-putting.
The Judges Say: Steven likes Lauren, but wanted a song that was more kickass. Jennifer says Lauren doesn't have to try to sing well, but she wants her to turn it up a notch. Randy wants more of the girl they saw back during the auditions.

Casey Abrams, "With A Little Help From My Friends"
Casey nailed the Joe Cocker version of this Beatles tune, but honestly, I would watch him sing anything at this point. He's just so much fun to watch. Stylistically, however, this felt really similar to what he did last week, and I hope to see him bring his wacky flavor to other styles in the weeks ahead.
The Judges Say:
J. Lo said she was blown away and that she doesn't hear Casey sing — she feels it. Randy also loved Casey's fun performance and Steven said he is a "rainbow of talent ... a plethora of passion" that never ceases to amaze.

Ashthon Jones,  "When You Tell Me That You Love Me"
This performance is brought to you by Ambien. Ashthon took the judges' comparisons to Diana Ross from a week ago to heart, and decided to sing one of her songs. She promised in her pre-song package to sing a note higher than she's ever sung, and when she got to that note, I was left thinking, "Really?" Jimmy Iovine invited Berry Gordy out to hear the song, but if heard what I did, it was an out-of-tune snoozefest.
The Judges Say:
Randy said it could have been a safe choice, but that she showed some growth... by being able to recover from bad notes. Um, what? Steven skipped the critique and said he can't wait to see what else she has to show us. J. Lo said Ashthon let the song get away from her, but she pulled it back.

Paul McDonald, "Come Pick Me Up"
I don't think Paul has even the slightest chance of winning this competition, but you can always bet his five minutes on the screen will be pleasant. I think his small voice gets easily swallowed up in the band, but what cuts through generally sounds good.  Highlight of the night: Ryan Seacrest giving out Paul's numbers while imitating his one-of-a-kind dance style.
The Judges Say:
Steven says Paul's voice has a quality that makes any song he sings his own. Jennifer and Randy just love how unique he is. (So do I, but how long does that alone carry him, guys?)

Pia Toscano, "All By Myself"
Anyone think last week's standing ovation was a fluke? Pia took on Celine Dion's version of Eric Carmen's oft-covered hit, and while doing Celine is generally a recipe for disaster, Pia nailed it. The big finish was a bit repetitive, but she hit those huge notes with ease, while still managing to make the smaller, quieter notes interesting as well. For my money, she's still the one to beat, though I don't think she will ultimately win.
The Judges Say:
J. Lo said she wondered how she could possibly top last week's performance, but that she did just that. Randy said he is always in awe when Pia sings and that it was a "hot, dope, cool performance." Steven, who clearly was checked out already, said something about polishing an apple. Yeah, I got nothing on that.

James Durbin
, "Maybe I'm Amazed"

I'll be the first to admit that James surprised me tonight in a very good way. I liked seeing him take on a song that wasn't built for his hair-metal high notes, and even though he wedged a few into the song anyway, it was easily my favorite performance from him this season. He has a lot of control over his voice, as he displayed by doing some falsetto runs as opposed to screeching non-stop. Baby steps, people.
The Judges Say:
Randy liked seeing his sensitive side and said that he will be dangerous in the competition. Jennifer said she liked the melodic quality his voice had when it wasn't hitting the big notes.

Haley Reinhart
, "Blue"

I liked this song from Haley better than what she did last week, and I recognize that it's a really hard song to pull off. She did it as well as anyone could ask, but I could not have been more bored by the whole thing.  Also, she didn't really bring anything to the song to differentiate it from LeAnn Rimes' original.
The Judges Say:
Steven said the song (or Haley?) was "so fine." Jennifer liked seeing the diversity in Haley's voice week-to-week. Randy said it was boring. What? Randy and I agree? The end days are nigh.

Jacob Lusk, "I Believe I Can Fly"
Can we please add this song to the list of tunes that should be permanently banned from Idol? Jacob sang (most) of the song really well, especially the big finish, when he let his huge voice free on some crazy high-to-low vocal runs. The middle portion was either way out of tune, or horribly arranged. (Most likely both). Also, it's a little early to be bringing the choir out on the stage.
The Judges Say:
Steven said Jacob is "pure passion, pure music" and that he can't judge him. (OK, so he really has checked out.) Randy said he likes that Jacob has a signature voice.

Thia Megia, "Smile"
Oof. The song — a tribute to Thia's idol, Michael Jackson — started off simple and sweet. My concern was that it felt a lot like her performance a week ago. Then the band kicked in. Thia sounded totally lost in the (awful) jazzy arrangement, and the whole thing just didn't make sense. One good thing: The quirky quality of Thia's voice that I like came through more in this song than it has the past couple of times I've seen her.
The Judges Say:
They unanimously agree that the beginning was great but the end was kind of a mess. J. Lo adds that she sings like an angel.

Stefano Langone, "Lately"
I liked Stefano more in this song than anything he's done previously. But I'm not sure this song needed a dance remix. (Aside: In years past the judges urged singers to make songs their own. But how much are they able to do that this year when it sounds like Jimmy Iovine's dream team of producers have the track laid out before the singer even shows up? Whoever is picking the arrangements, tonight had some stinkers.)
The Judges Say:
Steven said Stefano was soaring by the end.  Randy said Stevie Wonder would be proud at how Stefano slayed the song.

Karen Rodriguez, "I Could Fall In Love"
This performance is brought to you by Lunesta. Seriously, insomniacs of the world, just replay this over and over on your DVR. Karen, who I was most surprised to see get put into the Top 10 by America, does have a good voice, but she struggled with this one. Worse, she wasn't doing anything to better Selena's original. It all just fell flat.
The Judges Say:
Jennifer could tell Karen was uncomfortable with the song. Randy said it felt like she was fighting with the song the whole way through.

Scotty McCreery, "The River"
Raise your hand if you were surprised that Garth Brooks was Scotty's idol? I give kudos to Scotty for telling Jimmy that he's going to stay true to himself this season. I just hope we don't have to suffer through a Southern-fried version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" this season! The song was in Scotty's wheelhouse, and therefore he sang it with aplomb. If he is going to stick to country, however, I would at least like to see some range.
The Judges Say:
Randy says if it ain't broke don't fix it. Steven quotes a Roy Rogers song about shooting a hole in the moon. (I can't make this stuff up folks!) Jennifer was glad to see him open up and give more of a performance.

Naima Adedapo, "Umbrella"

Based on the throwback stylings we have seen from Naima thus far, does it strike anyone else as weird that her idol is Rihanna? Also, while Rihanna's hits are all over the radio, very few of them are "singer" songs, as I think Naima learned on this one. So, she just decided to rap. The frenetic arrangement did nothing for me, and while the song at least woke me up, I don't think Naima did herself any real favors. People will be talking about it, one way or another, I guess.
The Judges Say:
Steven said it was pitchy but that she did something no one else had done. Jennifer liked the fire in her dancing and reggae flavor. Randy said she needs to work on her control.

Overall, I think the guys really stepped ahead of the girls tonight. Who did you love? Who do you think will be sent home? Share all your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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American Idol's Top 13 hit the stage this week with songs recorded by their personal idols, but not all of the night's performances were worthy of being worshipped. With a few exceptions (one of which was an equally troubling rap-reggae take on a current song), the night seemed to be plagued by sleepy arrangements. But do we blame the singers or Jimmy Iovine's team of producers? (More on that later.)

Luckily, there were a few standouts that kept us from completely nodding off. Let's break down the performances... read more

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Premiered: June 11, 2002, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
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Premise: The smash reality series showcases wannabe pop stars competing for a record deal by crooning for a panel of judges, including, most entertainingly, the acid-tongued Simon Cowell, who departed the show in 2010 after serving for nine seasons. The judges review a performer's talent (or lack thereof), and at-home viewers then vote for their favorite potential star. The show helped launch the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

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