Well, that was fun.
We didn't see any big guitar smashing or elusive "moments" when the top nine "American Idol' contestants performed songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Wednesday night. Still, the 90-minute show boasted nine solid performances -- a reminder that this is the best group of "Idol" finalists in quite some time.
Need more proof? The show ended with the gang dancing to rockabilly music on stage.
Also on this week's show, we saw footage of will.i.am helping the contestants with song selection. Gwen Stefani helped the female contestants with their wardrobe choices.
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Here are my rankings; share yours in the comments section.
1. Paul McDonald, "Folsom Prison Blues"
2. Scotty McCreery, "That's All Right, Mama"
3. Pia Toscano, "River Deep, Mountain High"
4. Casey Abrams, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"
5. Lauren Alaina, "Natural Woman"
6. Haley Reinhart, "Piece Of My Heart"
7. James Durbin, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
8. Jacob Lusk, "Man In The Mirror"
9. Stefano Langone, "When a Man Loves a Woman"
Thursday's results show airs 8-9 p.m. on Fox and will feature a performance by Constantine Maroulis. Here's a full recap of Wednesday's performances.
Jacob Lusk, "Man In The Mirror"
Jacob thought about singing "Let's Get It On," but he changed his mind. That song was apparently too nasty. In his pre-performance interview, Jacob says that if he ends up in the bottom three this week, it's "because everybody in America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror." Um, sure.
I like the end of this performance much more than the beginning. Jacob hits his stride with the gospel-like chorus, but he seems to over-sing the verses. I think it's a matter of too much, too soon. But like I said...the end was good. One of the song's writers sang backup on Jacob's performance.
Steven: "That was beautiful."
Jennifer: "Perfect in every way, on every emotional level."
Randy: "I'm so proud of you...That was hot."
Haley Reinhart, "Piece Of My Heart"
Haley's clearly in her element here, even if it's a slightly predictable song choice. She gets to show off her signature gritty vocals without resorting to the sexy lounge singer thing that's gotten her in trouble in the past. My major criticism? Haley could tone the shouting a little bit. Toward the end, the performance borders more on shouting than singing. Other than that, it's pretty good. I liked Haley's Elton John week performance better, though.
Jennifer: "You're a contender...You're coming on strong."
Randy: "That's the Haley that we loved when we first saw you."
Steven: "I couldn't find nothing wrong with that...You nailed it."
Casey Abrams, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"
Casey was going to sing "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," but changed his mind because he could only give the tune 80 percent of his energy. Is this song a better match? Yep. Casey sings while playing the upright bass. It's a nice balance that falls between ballad Casey and screaming Casey. However, my biggest problem is that it seems like Casey's imitating CCR more than showcasing his own vocal uniqueness. The vocals get a little weird at points.
Randy: "You definitely made CCR proud...Casey is making the upright bass cool."
Steven: "You're a true musician."
Jennifer: "That's exactly where you belong."
Lauren Alaina, "Natural Woman"
I can't hear this song on the "Idol" stage without thinking about Kelly Clarkson. Does Lauren reach Kelly's level? Not exactly, but it's not a bad performance. The beginning is better than the end, which gets a bit sleepy. Still, Lauren delivers some good emotion and some nice powerful notes. I like her better on the slow tunes than the faster ones. She should stick around another week.
Steven: "I think you're great."
Jennifer: "She's amazing."
Randy: "You took a very difficult song and you did a good job."
James Durbin, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
James on a slow song? Can you handle it? James really channels Adam Lambert with this one, and it turns out pretty well. He delivers tons of emotion and is crying at the performance's conclusion. We get the signature James Scream at the end of the performance. He seems to get a little lost in his own emotions at times -- as opposed to interacting with the audience -- and maybe that's not a bad thing. It does, however, make his vocals suffer at points. I guess I like it overall, though.
Jennifer: "It's nice to see that other side of you."
Randy: "You did a good job...Very nice."
Steven: "That's really a proud moment for you."
Scotty McCreery, "That's All Right, Mama"
Can Scotty perform an Elvis tune without looking like a cheap Elvis impersonator? Well, yes and no. His dance moves enter "cheesy" territory often. But vocally, he's pretty much classic Scotty. I must admit I'm extremely happy to hear him sing something other than a country ballad. He shows us he can have fun, even if it means getting a little cheesy. Scotty should have no trouble sticking around another week.
Randy: "Scotty is in it to win it."
Steven: "You brought Elvis into the house."
Jennifer: "I love it."
Pia Toscano, "River Deep, Mountain High"
We've been waiting for this moment forever. Pia is FINALLY singing a fast song. I'm a fan of this performance, which is saying a lot since I'm not exactly Pia's No. 1 supporter. But this effort makes me think she could actually be a current recording artist. The vocals are great. BUT...Pia still seems a little stiff on stage. She's still rocking a slight pageant vibe. But don't get me wrong: I want her to stick around. Especially after tonight.
Steven: "You killed it."
Jennifer: "You are really, really, really special up there." Also tells her to work on her stage movements a bit
Randy: "Work on the movement...Pia's in it to win it."
Stefano Langone, "When a Man Loves a Woman"
Wow, another song that's a little overdone on the "Idol" stage. Stefano does a decent job with the tune, but it seems a little bland. OK, maybe a lot bland. I like his big notes...I just wish Stefano would use them a little less often. Most of the time it feels like he's over-singing. I'm not sure if this performance will expand his fan base. Still, he avoided the bottom three last week, so you never know.
Jennifer: "I knew you had it in you. That was beautiful."
Randy: "I don't know if I was jumping up and down."
Steven: Agrees with Jennifer
Paul McDonald, "Folsom Prison Blues"
Oh yeah, baby. This is awesome. Then again, maybe I'm just a little loopy because it's the end of the show. Paul is in his element, perhaps more so than any other week so far this season. He takes the stage with his guitar and his vocals are pretty solid. Well, of course, they're still Paul Vocals. I imagine some viewers will argue this is too much of a bar performance. They might be right, but I don't care. It's incredibly fun, and one of my favorite performances of the night.
Randy: "I loved it."
Steven: "You rocked the house."
Jennifer: "You're amazing."