'American Idol' Recap: 'Finalists Compete'

by Hilary Rothing, posted Mar 16th 2011 11:30PM
Randy and J.Lo are convinced we have a "competition" and I agree. Tonight, just about everyone was vying for a slot in the bottom three.

The Top 12 busted out the awkward body language, bad song choices, sleepy vocals and that cursed "pitchy-ness" all in an effort to make America ponder just who not to vote for.

While the judges, (especially Steven) were forgiving beyond reason - and hearing, there were two contestants who managed to put in stand-out performances: Stefano Langone and Pia Toscano.

After mulling over his 1989 song choices with snotty sarcasm (I love Tone Loc!), Stefano made a wise choice with Simply Red's rendition of the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' classic, "If You Don't Know Me By Now." Closing out the first hour, J.Lo said Stefano "could take this thing" and Randy called it "the best performance of the night, so far." In hindsight, it was probably the best performance of the entire night.

Hot on Stefano's trail was Pia Toscano, with a slightly cheezy arrangement of Whitney Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go?" Pia's technically the best singer in the race and is thus, nearly impervious to bad song choices or off-kilter arrangements, as we learned tonight. I agreed with J.Lo in that it's nice, and kind of important at this point, to hear Pia do something a little bit uptempo. Both she and Thia Megia desperately need to break out of the endless ballads.

Another judges' favorite, Lauren Alaina also had a decent night thanks to Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One." It wasn't a break out performance but definitely a considerable improvement from last week's dull Shania Twain number.

As for the rest of the pack...well, it wasn't pretty. The performances came off as either dull, lounge acts or high school "Battle of the Bands" amateurs.

In the dull department, Thia Megia, Karen Rodriguez and Haley Reinhart all seemed to have an Ambien-like effect on the judges. Thia, who already has a very "Disney" vibe, went with 'Pocahontas' ballad, 'Colors of the Wind.' Randy was "so bored" with Thia's "pageant" like performance, J.Lo advised the sixteen-year-old to work on her vibrato and Steven asked if the song is who Thia thinks she is.

Karen Rodriguez and her bottom-three buddy, Haley Reinhart also floundered a bit. To hear it from Karen, she only tried out for 'American Idol' to hook her sister up with Nick Jonas. What is this? 2009?

At any rate, Steven is a big fan of Karen's "ethnic what-it-is-ness" but Karen wants America to know she's not just a Spanish singer - so she sings in Spanish, again.

As for Haley, J.Lo said she was "unsure of her movements," Randy doesn't know who she is after jumping from Alicia Keys to LeeAnn Rimes to Whitney Houston and Ryan wiped her smeared fire engine red lipstick off her face. Not a great night for Haley and definitely a return trip to the bottom three tomorrow night.

Scotty McCreery was just fine, again, sticking with his go-to country repertoire. He took a few chances with Travis Tritt's "Can I Trust You With My Heart," but it wasn't that big performance I'm still waiting for from Scotty.

In the Robert E. Lee High School "Battle of the Bands" department, the judges seemed to approve of Casey Abrams' "fearless" take on a Nirvana classic but I didn't get much out of the performance other than this guy just doesn't care about winning. And that's not a slam, as Randy said Casey puts "art before commerce." But this is a competition and stunts like this can get old quick.

James Durbin, on the other hand, went back into the whack-a-doodle bin for Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You." Maybe it was the way he jumped into the song right in the middle but there was none of the very necessary build up that opens this ballad. But James did manage to get Steven to shake on singing with him in the finale, if he lasts that long.

Paul McDonald continued to maneuver around on stage like a four-year-old doing the "pee-pee dance" and put in his worst performance so far, with Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues." And Jacob Lusk performed a nearly unrecognizable version of Heart's 'Idol' star-maker "Alone."

Needless to say, both will be safe tomorrow, as will all the guys. Your bottom three? Haley Reinhart, Karen Rodriguez and Thia Megia. I still think Naima Adedapo has a little bit of momentum from last week, despite her disastrous take on "What's Love Got To Do With It?"

Vote for your favorite performance of the night in the poll, below and let us know who you seen packing their bags in the comments!

'American Idol' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on FOX.

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Hi Diana/Vernon

karen shot her self in the foot with the latin idol statement.It's American Idol & Americans vote

March 17 2011 at 9:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hi Diana/Vernon's comment

I agree... I saw that coming a mile away. The latin american idol thing... the mama that can't speak english and the spanglish singing. J Lo was pissed.. she wanted her to stay. You could see her fighting for her. What a load of crap. I agree. Bring back Simon.

March 17 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

PLEASE ....PLEASE............MORE STEVEN TYLER..............LESS J LO!!! THAT'S WHAT AMERICA REALLY WANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 17 2011 at 8:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

last night from best to worse Pia Scotty Casey Stefano (i hated him until last night) James (not his best but still from the better half) Lauren Thia Naima (it wasnt THAT bad) Karen Jacob (hey! carrie underwood and allison iraheta NAILED that song) Haeley (bye bye) and Paul (no comment necessary)

March 17 2011 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Niama is worse than terrible. At least Jennifer & Randy pointed out that she has extreme pitch problems. She surely need to go. As for dancing, what she does is called dancing? I don't think so! Stefano did really well last night and so did Scotty & Pia. The rest are decent but Niama has to go. Please!

March 17 2011 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've said it once before. What is the deal with Jacob Lusk? The dude is so off pitch it's crazy/. Last week was TERRIBLE with last night only being slightly better (which isn't saying much). Call these people out when they suck. You're not helping anyone out by telling them how good they did when they were HORRIBLE!!!

March 17 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I don't see what the big deal is about Paul. His singing was AWFUL last night!

March 17 2011 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Forgot to say the judges are a total wash, complimenting everyone and not calling them on choosing safe songs and having pitch and vocal problems. Bring back Simon, at least he was honest!

March 17 2011 at 12:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I've already given up on American Idol - last week was the last show I'll watch. The performances are overproduced with strings, horns, chorus girls and guys, heavy sustained bass and some sort of odd hum in the background reminiscent of Phil Spector's "wall of sound" productions. I suppose this is all the fault of the "new production team" who are mentoring the singers. Also, all the song selections sound the same, they are old "cat on a fence" howlers that nobody under the age of 30 would ever think of listening to. All the girls want to be Aretha and all the guys want to be ?? The judges this year are Randy, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. TD an TD offer absolutely NO value added. They may as well not be there.

March 17 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do not think Naima did a good job and it's time for her to go although I agree Karen Rodriguez, Thia Megila and Haley Reinhart are at the bottom. I love Casey Abrams but his song choice was not good this week. My favorites? James, Casey, Stefano, Derek and Paul. Paul reminds me a little of Taylor Hicks and how he couldn't dance for the world and I think that's Paul's problem too. And would someone tell the idiot Elisabeth Hasselbeck on the View that it's Casey ABRAMS not Adams. She chose Thia and Stefano as he top two - what???!!

March 17 2011 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nycrokkr's comment

who is derek?

March 17 2011 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sandysolo's comment

Yeah.. who id derek?

March 17 2011 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I like James, Casey, and Pia. But Im waiting for Pia to bust out a big voice song instead of the safe slow ones. Kinda like what Casey did last night! My bottom 3: Karen, Haley, Paul. I dont get Paul? He needs to get a job on a cruise ship, cause he acts so goofy.

March 17 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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