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"American Idol" Top 13: Personal Idol Night

Jenny Chen |
March 9, 2011 | 10:04 p.m. PST

Associate News Editor


Top 13 (Michael Becker/FOX)
Top 13 (Michael Becker/FOX)
American Idol’s Top 13 made their debut on the big stage Wednesday night, trying their best at singing songs by their personal idols. 

Contestants had a chance to work with Jimmy Iovine, Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, and a team of Grammy-award winning producers to perfect their performance, but not everyone turned their advice into musical gold. 

Lauren Alaina – “Any Man of Mine” by Shania Twain

Alaina attempted to kick off the show with her shining personality, but ended up giving a relatively boring performance and flat vocals. Her early attempt at a growl came out more as a squeak and seemed to shy away from the bigger notes, which could be owed to nerves. Steven Tyler said it best when he asked her to be more “kick-ass.” 

Casey Abrams – “With a Little Help from My Friends” by Joe Crocker

The famous growler gave Crocker some credit for his own grunge-y look and tone of voice. Abrams took on the song with a whole lot of energy and passion, offering the bluesy sound he’s becoming associated with. J.Lo said she went by what she felt in a performance and had thought she’d been “watching somebody important.” 

Ashthon Jones – "When You Tell Me That You Love” by Diana Ross

Jones just started the song off wrong with a shaky and breathy tone. While she certainly looked like a star in a silver floor-length dress and sparkling silver hoops, her performance never quite had the power and stage presence Diana Ross exudes. Looking into the camera, Jones actually looked a little lost and scared. Randy Jackson commended her for pulling back when she was going off key and Tyler expressed confidence she’d show more of her talent next time. 

Paul McDonald – “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams

Tyler was nodded along but McDonald sang in a pitchy and whispery tone, bouncing up and down with a slightly maniacal smile on his face. While his outfit and tone was reminiscent of Chris Martin from Coldplay, the performance was all over the place. J.Lo said while McDonald was very unique, the song was so obscure she hadn’t even heard of it. 

Pia Toscano – “All By Myself” by Celine Dion

Sparkling in a one-shoulder golden dress with a sheer train, Toscano channeled the real-life vocal diva. Although she sounded good, Toscano looked and acted more like a beauty queen than a singer as she failed to convey real emotional connection to the song. The judges, however, praised her and Jackson said he was in awe of her “natural gift.” 

James Durbin – “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney

The Adam Lambert-like contestant tried to express his sensitivity but it was just some endless screeching. The judges seemed to be listening to a different performance, appreciating Durbin’s attempt to diversify his sound. “This dude can do anything!” Jackson screamed, before pronouncing him “dangerous.” 

Haley Reinhart – “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes

The country ballad lost some of its sparkle as Reinhart attacked the song with some awkward swaying and lackluster vocals. J.Lo said Reinhart’s voice was special, but Jackson called the performance a little sleepy. 

Jacob Lusk – “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly

Lusk completely altered the song by bringing out the choir singers, probably a little early in the competition for such big dramatics. He initially went a little sharp, but his gospel rendition of the song inspired a whole lot of emotion inside the judges. Tyler said Lusk had sung with “pure passion” and J.Lo added it was hard to judge when Lusk had made her “feel” so much. 

Thia Megia – “Smile” by Michael Jackson (originally Charlie Chaplin)

Megia’s tone was surprisingly lush and full, starting off the song with real simplicity and genuineness. However, she became very pitchy once the band kicked in and the awkward bobbing in place made her uncomfortable to watch. Jackson said it was like being at a boring luau.

Stefano Langone – “Lately” by Stevie Wonder 

Langone sounded good and amped up the competition with his stage presence. While he seemed to be attempting to emulate his idol in tone more than he was trying to be original, the song really picked up with producer Palow Da Don’s beat. It made J.Lo want to dance and it was an entertaining performance in the middle of a pretty boring night. 

Karen Rodriguez – “I Could Fall in love” by Selena

Rodriguez was such a fan of Selena that she even had collector dolls when she was little. Unfortunately, the vocals fell short and Rodriguez lacked any energy. Dressed in a sparkling black outfit that seemed to age the 21-year-old, Rodriguez seemed a little sleepy and J.Lo said she seemed uncomfortable with the notes. 

Scotty McCreery – “The River” by Garth Brooks

The country crooner with the deep voice picked a song that suited his tone and fit his personality perfectly. The vocals weren’t perfect but it was clear that McCreery picked a song true to him and his country music history. “You did the Garth justice,” Tyler said while J.Lo said she saw McCreery open up as a performer on stage. 

Naima Adedapo – “Umbrella” by Rihanna

Adding some dancing and rapping into the performance, Adedapo certainly stuck out but perhaps not for all the right reasons. Her performance was pitchy and the rapping certainly distracted from the overall performance. Still, Adedapo certainly had a lot of originality by adding a reggae sound – “You got fire, girl!” J.Lo said, before adding that Adedapo needed to focus on control when combining vocal and dance. 

Reach reporter Jenny Chen here.

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