April 20, 2011: Final 7 Contestants Perform on ‘American Idol’

Fox, Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 8 PM (ET) “American Idol’s” 7 remaining contestants sang post-Millennium music on this week’s show.

First up was Scotty McReery singing “Swingin'” by Lee Ann Rimes. Scotty was well-received by the audience but criticized by 2 out of 3 judges for playing it safe and ‘boring.” (“You’ve really got to bring it,” said Randy). For my part, I’m getting the feeling that all the attention has gone right to young Scotty’s head. His eyebrow raising, posturing and microphone-holding apparently doesn’t bother anybody else. I expect that C&W fans will keep Scotty in the competition until at least the final 3 if not the final 2.

Second this night was James Durbin, “the rocker of the group,” who sang Muse’s “Uprising.” James was carrying a cane and was preceded by a percussion group, something Kanye West and Jamie Foxx have used. Jennifer Lopez called it, “Theatrically, the best performance of the night.” Randy pronounced the high octave singing “unbelievable,” sharing the knowledge that Matt Bellamy, the lead singer of “Muse,” had challenged James to sing the chorus up an octave, which he did. I enjoyed Steve Tyler’s remark summarizing James’ look as “Mad Max meets storm troopers on Melrose.” Tyler told James to “stay out of my closet” and, in a remark that Dolly Parton made famous, said, “You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.”

Third up was Haley Reinhart, clad in a red-and-white polka dot dress and singing a song by Adele. Randy, commenting that Haley “chose a perfect direction for you” also remarked that Haley was sharp in the falsetto portion of the song, but declared her overall performance “great.” Steven Tyler called it “a great performance” (“Yeah, baby.”) J-Lo said that Haley had ‘brought a little bit of Haley to it, which is where you shined.”

Fourth singer of the night was Jacob Lusk, who sang Luther Vandross’ “Dance with my Father.” Remarking that his father died when he was only 12, Jacob became quite emotional during the song, which he sang while wearing a black shirt and a gray sharkskin suit. Steven Tyler said, “You were so good. You had a little stumble there, and you pulled it through.” Jennifer Lopez remarked, “Emotionally, it was a beautiful performance,” but also advised Jacob that, “you have to learn control.” Randy pronounced Jacob’s performance “good”, but said, “It didn’t make me jump up and down” and advised Jacob not to hold back next week. “Go for it,” he said.

Fifth performer was Casey Abrams, who sang Maroon 5’s “Harder to Breathe” while accompanying himself on guitar. At the end of the song, he approached the judges’ table and stole a kiss on the cheek from Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer said, “Casey’s not playing fair. I loved it. You took a pop song and took it all the way rock.” Randy said, “Dude, I enjoyed it. You continue to take chances. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do each week.” Steven Tyler remarked, “You already are a cult hero” and then used a common profanity that the network excised from the broadcast. Tyler’s remarks caused Ryan Seacrest to say, “The wheels have fallen off this program.”

Sixth up was Stefano Langone singing Neo’s “Closer.” He wore red suspenders dangling from his pants as he roamed the stage. Steven Tyler said, “I was hopin’ you’d dance, and you did.” Jennifer Lopez said, “You really had your swag goin’ on.” My guess:
Stefano will be in the bottom three again.

Last singer of the night was Lauren Alaina, who sang “Born to Fly” by Sarah Evans. The basic message given Lauren was that she lacked self-confidence and should step up her game in that regard. As Randy said, “You can sing anything. I don’t even think you even know how good you are.” Jennifer Lopez commented on the “color” and “character” in Lauren’s voice, calling her performance “amazing” and said, “You can do that, so do it. Why don’t you do that?”

One other remark seemed to favor Casey Abrams, as Steven Tyler said, “God says all men are created equal, but some are more equal than others” referencing Casey.

For me, tonight, Casey, Haley and Jacob were my favorites, although I will admit that Jacob had a momentary lapse when he became emotionally choked up (Jacob later said that he could only hear “drums and stuff in my ear.”) I’m not a fan of Stefano’s or Scotty’s, but I understand why others are. Very difficult to predict, at this point, who will bite the dust on Thursday night, but it is obvious that the judges favor Casey as one of the finalists and the other is up for grabs.