American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "Finalists Compete"

Season 10, Episode 18
Episode Synopsis: The finalists perform songs from the year they were born.
Original Air Date: Mar 16, 2011

American Idol Episode Recap: The Top 12 Perform Season 10, Episode 18

American Idol's Top 12 take on one of the show's longest-running themes: songs from their birth year. Despite a flu bug hitting the Idol mansion, many of the contestants took the judges' complaints from last week to heart and kicked up the energy a few notches. However, for every good performance and exciting song choice, there were still plenty of snooze-worthy moments.

So which sick singer caved under the pressure and which finalist fought the flu and rose to the occasion? Let's break down the performances:

Naima Adedapo, "What's Love Got to Do With It"
The beginning feels a little karaoke-y and almost as if she is speaking instead of singing, but it's the chorus where Naima really shines. Her pitch is very shaky throughout the performance and she veers from the melody at times. This song doesn't feel like the best fit for her — not to mention that Tina Turner is hard to top — but the real problem is I'm still lost on what Naima is all about.
The Judges Say: "You've got a sorcerer's grasp for melody," Steven says. J. Lo calls Naima "consistently pitchy" and says she's worried about her long-term standing. Randy says her vocals "are kind of a mess."

Paul McDonald, "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"
Before he hits the stage, Jimmy Iovine notes in rehearsals that Paul's voice sounds hoarse. Unfortunately, it becomes very clear very quickly that he hasn't shaken his cold in time. In theory, this is one of the better song choices of the night, but he just can't get it together. Although he's still dancing around the stage as he does so well, sometimes his voice gets too soft.
The Judges Say:
J. Lo says his soul overcame his cold. Randy says he was very "under" the first half of the song, but says makes Paul did a good job of putting his own spin on the song, and Steven agrees.

Thia Megia, "Colors of the Wind"
In case we didn't realize just how young Thia is, she chooses a Disney song for her performance! Her energy is still not there (come on, girl) but this performance is much more her style than last week's disastrous "Smile." The melody is good, her pitch is much better than Paul and Naima, but this rendition is just flat and this song seems intended to put the audience to sleep.
The Judges Say: Randy says it was "so safe and so boring" and urges her to take some risks. Steven agrees and asks if she really connected with this song. J. Lo questions her bravado.

James Durbin, "I'll Be There for You"
He instantly lifts the crowd up significantly with this Bon Jovi classic. James rocks the microphone like a pro, he moves around the stage a lot and he really works the crowd. There's even smoke at the end! His singing is good. However, his signature scream late in the song has been better in the past.
The Judges Say: Steven warns him not to get too "pop-y", but says it was great. [Insert a big old bleep from Steven]. J. Lo says she loved it. Randy tells James he did it without overdoing it.

Haley Reinhart, "I'm Your Baby Tonight"
This is an interesting choice for Haley, and one of the more daring picks thus far. She starts out a little lackluster, but seems to find her groove quickly. Unfortunately, she decides to try her best "walk up the judges" trick just when the song's pacing kicks into high gear and she just as quickly loses momentum.
The Judges Say: J. Lo tells her it feels like she is a little stiff and not to force anything. Randy says it's time to find what type of music she performs best, and Steven says he wants more blues from her.

Stefano Langone, "If You Don't Know Me By Now"
After trying out a more uptempo R&B song from Stevie Wonder last week, slowing it down to a ballad is a good way for Stefano to diversify himself. The song doesn't speak to me as a great example of music from 1989 (the original version came out in 1972), but it gives him a chance to show off his strong vocals — the strongest of the night so far with the exception of his last note.
The Judges Say: Randy says he took a truly difficult song and "slayed it." Steven commends his phrasing, and J. Lo tells him to work on his eye contact a little more (OK?)

Pia Toscano, "Where Do Broken Hearts Go"
Another Whitney Houston song, but Pia's vocals are light years ahead of Haley's. She's a little off on the melody, but it's about time she strays from a straightforward ballad. After the second verse, she really hits the high notes and nails it on both attempts.
The Judges Say: "You are why this show is called American Idol," Steven says. J. Lo is also glad Pia did something uptempo. Randy says Pia is in the competition to win it.

Scotty McCreery, "Can I Trust You With My Heart"
Another slow country tune from Scotty, but it's a great song choice because it really shows off his range and his ability to deliver the goods vocally outside of his signature deep baritone. Scotty starts out OK, but really holds his own in the upper register of his voice by the end of the performance and ends on a great note.
The Judges Say: J. Lo says he really pushed it out at the end and she tells him keep learning and keep doing. Randy says Scotty did Travis Tritt proud and he loves seeing Scotty take chances.

Karen Rodriguez, "Love Will Lead You Back"
It's clear from the get-go that this performance is an improvement from last week, but Karen is another finalist who constantly feels stiff on stage. She busts out the Spanish again in this song, but she hits a few rough patches when it comes to the tune's high notes.
The Judges Say: Randy says it was better than last week, but he's still not jumping up and down. Steven says he loves when Karen breaks out her "ethnic what-it-is-ness" [direct quote]. J. Lo applauds her for attacking her fear.

Casey Abrams, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Another week, another crazy song choice from Casey. With his trusty bass and his awesome angry face, Casey goes where no one else has gone so far this competition. He's a little pitchy at times and his screams sometimes get the best of him, but you can't keep your eyes off of Casey and his energy puts him over the top.
The Judges Say: Steven gives Casey two thumbs up, but J. Lo says there were parts where he was screeching. Randy loves that Casey is putting art first even though this wasn't his best performance.

Lauren Alaina, "I'm the Only One"
This Melissa Etheridge song makes a lot of sense for Lauren, but she has the flu and after Paul's performance, there is a little trepidation. From her low notes in the first verse to the higher chorus, her vocals are very impressive and she's far less pitchy than she has been in the past. Despite her illness, she has a lot of energy and really gets the crowd involved.
The Judges Say: J. Lo says Melissa is one of her favorite artists ever, Randy says that was very nice and tells Lauren to have a cold every week. Steven agrees and calls her a "shining star."

Jacob Lusk, "Alone"
A Heart song? Oh yeah, Jacob says he's ready to shake it up. He will never, ever (ever) be short on energy, but this song is not the best rock song Jacob could have chosen. There's less room for over-singing in this tune, but Jacob still belts it out a little too much and hits it really sharp on one high note in the middle. However, he manages to rein himself in by the end.
The Judges Say: Randy says it was sharp, but his "tender" moment at the end was genius. Steven says he was on fire. J. Lo compliments Jacob for giving every performance his all.

Who were your favorites? Who do you think will get their walking papers? Share all your thoughts in the comments below.

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American Idol's Top 12 take on one of the show's longest-running themes: songs from their birth year. Despite a flu bug hitting the Idol mansion, many of the contestants took the judges' complaints from last week to heart and kicked up the energy a few notches. However, for every good performance and exciting song choice, there were still plenty of snooze-worthy moments.

So which sick singer caved under the pressure and which finalist fought the flu and rose to the occasion? Let's break down the performances:

Naima Adedapo, "What's Love Got to Do With It"
The beginning feels a little karaoke-y and almost as if she is speaking instead of singing, but it's the... 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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