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Motown Philly Back Again!

Idol Takes On Motown (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Last night on American Idol, your Top 11 contestants tackled the music of Motown and viewers, while skeptical going in, were treated to a show jam-packed full of good performances.  Usually on this show, there’s a pretty definite line between “safe” and “see ya!”  But not last night.  It’s as if all the contestants realized that good performances Wednesday could make them a lot of money on your this summer!  After all, it’s Idol’s Top 10 who hit the road!

So, how did the contestants do?  Moon and I agree that James Lusk was the star of the night.  He just laid out “You”re All I Need To Get By!”  But we turn to the expert, Steve Thompson, to give us his opinions about the show.  Who rocked?  Who didn’t?  And who faces the dreaded bottom three?

From Steve Thompson:

Who would’ve thought Motown week would’ve produced this good a show?  Not I.  I half expected trainwrecks at every turn, but I think this is the first week in recent memory that I can’t say there was one true failure.  Let me tell you– it might make for a good show, but it also makes for a boring review.

On Any Other Week, You Might Be Safe

11) Thia Megia sang Heat Wave by Martha Reeves & the Vandelas.  Was it just me or was this version a step or two slower than the original?  I just don’t know if this has any resonance for the teenagers who do all the text voting– but I found myself missing Linda Ronstadt during this performance.  Even though I would’ve given her a C for this performance, that still isn’t good enough for how good the other competitors were tonight.

10) Stefano Longone sang Hello by Lionel Ritchie.   I remember David Cook.  I voted for David Cook…  Stefano is no David Cook.  Seriously.  The only version of this song I ever really liked was Cook’s version way back in season seven.  (Never was much of a Lionel Ritchie fan– I was always more rock and country for those of you just joining me this year.)  Once again, it’s not that it was awful– it’s just location, location, location…

09) Casey Abrams sang I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye.  I think he might’ve been better off to try and copy the Creedence Clearwater Revival version.  He went first– a high degree of danger where the voters are concerned.  Also, with other singers actually stepping up their game this week, a C+ may not be enough to keep you out of the bottom three.

08) Paul McDonald sang Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson.  Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Johnny Rivers?  Johnny did a fantastic version of this song (as did Linda Ronstadt in the 70s) yet no one seems to remember except for me.  (Hey, I had a Linda Ronstadt poster on the wall of my dorm room when I was at WKU.  Of course, this was long before she got political some thirty years later.)  I like odd musical voices.  Neil Young is actually one of my musical heroes…  But I just don’t get Paul yet. 

Welcome to the Middle

 07) Scotty McCreery sang For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder.  No one asked my opinion– of course if you take that literally, what are you doing reading this?– but I had hoped for a Curtis Mayfield cover like either Gypsy Woman or People Get Ready.  This?  Much better than I had hoped for given that Scotty was way out of his comfort zone.  Only Steven Tyler would’ve picked Glen Campbell’s name out of the ether, but it was a decent point about country stars once covered popular music on television. 

06) Lauren Alaina sang You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Diana Ross & The Supremes.  (Those of you my age, and you know who you are, may remember the version by The Vanilla Fudge.  Others who are younger may recall the Kim Wilde version in the 80s.)  This turned out to be one of the better performances Lauren has had recently.  If she keeps picking the right songs, she might be in range to win if the theme works in her favor.

 05) Haley Reinhart sang You Really Got a Hold on Me by Smokey Robinson.  I realize her fan base is weak and she may not have a snowball’s chance in Havana of surviving, but by all rights this performance should be enough to keep her safely into the (touring) top ten.  This may be a case of too little, too late– but you can’t begin to convince me Thia is better.

 Your Top Four

04) Jacob Lusk sang You’re All I Need to Get By by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Tyrell.  This was a huge comeback by Jacob after a lackluster performance of a Heart song last week.  I couldn’t agree with teven Tyler more– this was the first person of tonight’s performers who grabbed my attention for the entire performance. 

03) Naima Adeadapo sang Dancing in the Streets by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.  (I always liked the David Bowie/Mick Jagger version– but that’s just me.)  I’m not sure if Naima might be on the wrong show when it comes to her dance moves, but you’ve got to admit the girl has energy to spare.  I rather enjoyed her performance and think she’d be interesting in concert.

02) Pia Toscano sang All in Love is Fair by Stevie Wonder.  The only reason I don’t have this song listed as number one is that I’d really like her to sing something besides a ballad.  However, I thought her version of the song was exquisite and spot-on.  She may be one of the purest vocalists Idol has ever had– Randy was right (!)  which may be a new sign of the coming Apocalypse. 

 01) James Durbin sang Living for the City by Stevie Wonder.  I’m starting to really like this kid.  He has learned from week to week not to constantly overpower the music and I think it’s really helped him connect with both his songs and the audience.  I don’t get the Adam Lambert fans hating him– can’t we all just get along?

 Using this year’s formula, I think Thia is in the most danger because her song didn’t seem to make me care one way oranother.  Haley might be in the bottom three again– but she doesn’t deserve it.  I wouldn’t be too shocked if Casey found his way to the bottom three as well.

 We’ll see Thursday night…

 @March 23, 2011  Stephen W Thompson

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