American Idol 2011 – Elton John – Top 11 – 3/30/11

It’s Elton John night on American Idol, kids! Ryan Seacrest still really wants to be as big of a tool as Carson Daly, but he makes tons more money than Carson probably ever did, which is sad, because Carson did know his music. But I digress. The judges are actually dressed mostly human, and Jennifer Lopez’s stylist wasn’t drunk tonight, woohoo! Let’s get this party started.

Scotty McCreery – “Country Comfort”

An odd open to the show, especially after seeing some of the other performances. I don’t get why they had him lead things off, but hey, what can he do about it now? Jimmy Iovine made a comment about some people thinking Scotty is a one trick pony, and I have to say, I am one of those people. That being said, there are a lot of country artists that are making a decent living being one trick ponies, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. This performance: passable in the one-trick pony country world? Sure. American Idol material? Not so much. He’ll get through on his loyal fan base for at least a few more weeks.

Naima Adedapo – “I’m Still Standing”

I appreciate the risk she took in giving this song a different feel. It doesn’t seem like many of the others are doing that this year, and Randy is the only one who occasionally mentions it. That said, I got hung up on the fake Jamaican accent she was singing with. Too bizarre for me.

Paul McDonald – “Rocketman”

The flowery motif is back and so is Paul. I’ve picked on him the past few weeks, but I really enjoyed this performance from him. It wasn’t a standout performance, but solid, as usual. I also don’t think he’s got a shot at winning, but he’s someone who I’d buy a ticket to see. A very tender 70’s era singer-songwriter feel tonight. Loved it.

Pia Toscano – “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”

Of all the great mid- and up-tempo Elton John songs, Pia defied the judges and sang another ballad. Sorry, Pia, you are a great singer, but you’re more of a one trick pony than poor Scotty. At least Scotty occasionally moves and can connect, albeit usually awkwardly, with the crowd. Pia seems to like being on a pedestal, singing the same ballads with the same arm motions and the same “tilt your head up and to the right when it’s time for that note.” (By the way, I have a sneaking suspicion, since she’s highly likely going to make it to next week, that she’s going to sing the Celine Dion version of “River Deep, Mountain High,” and that will annoy me, since she sang the Celine Dion version of “All By Myself.” C’mon, Pia, I want to like you again!)

Stefano Langone – “Tiny Dancer”

I like Stefano, but he is wedding singer material, not American Idol material. He’s not a bad singer, but he’s definitely not a star. I think this song sang him, and not the other way around.

Lauren Alaina – “Candle in the Wind”

Beautiful song, horrible dress. Nice to see Lauren sing a ballad, and show that Pia and Thia are not the only balladeers amongst the girls. I only worry that her age is going to get the best of her. She’s so confident and natural when she’s singing, but her youth really shows when she’s just chatting with Ryan or doing her talking heads. Did anyone else catch the shot of Momma Alaina in the audience, trying to look like a teenager again? Yikes!

James Durbin – “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting”

Another solid performance from James Durbin. I freely admit that he’s growing on me. I see shades of Adam Lambert in his performances, and, at least for me, that’s a good thing. (I’ll bet he got a good talking-to for saying the evil word Pepsi though! Whoops!)

Thia Megia – “Daniel”

Jimmy told her to feel the lyrics, and I think she waited until the last line to do it. Thia is a solid cruise ship singer, but like some of the others, clearly not American Idol material. Just not a star.

Casey Abrams – “Your Song”

Sorry Casey fans, but I really didn’t think, based on his previous performances, that he should have been saved last week. But then he comes back this week and is one of the few who actually felt what they were singing, and put some emotion into it. If he would continue with standout performances like this, and lose some of the schtick that just alienates a lot of people and turns them off toward him, I think he’d go further.

Jacob Lusk – “Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word”

Jacob does have a tendency to go overboard sometimes, but I’ll give him this much – he always seems to be feeling what he’s singing, and it comes across in his performances. He doesn’t just sing the words (I’m looking at you, Pia, Thia, Stefano…) Yes, the song had been performed earlier this season, but Jacob just made that song epic. Phenomenal. (P.S. Randy, don’t tell him to be like Pia. Pia is plain white rice, and Jacob is flavorful jambalaya.)

Hailey Reinhart – “Benny and the Jets”

This was the perfect song for Hailey, and whoever chose it for her deserves a high five. I still think she’s moves awkwardly, but Steven Tyler hit the nail on the head – Hailey has got the sex appeal that the rest of them simply don’t have. A great way to end the show.

Although Hailey and Lauren are still my favorites, my vote went to Jacob tonight. My guess is that the bottom three will be Stefano, Naima, and Thia.