The Top 12 American Idol contestants took the stage last night to perform songs from the years in which they were born.  And the result:  good, bad, and just downright ugly!  Moon and I were chatting this morning with Steve Thompson, our American Idol expert, and we all agreed that last night's episode, if it did anything, separated the contenders from the wannabes!  

Moon thought Jacob rocked out on "Alone" by Heart!  I really liked James Durbin taking on Bon Jovi!  And Steve Thompson thought Pia did pre-crack Whitney Houston incredibly well.  In fact, Steve breaks down the entire episode and makes his predictions about who's staying and who may be hitting the road!

From Steve Thompson: 

Tonight's show is an example of when Idol has used a category too many times.  Choose a song from the year of your birth?  Seriously?  Combined with last week's theme, this was a bit like two weeks stuck in the nineties. ( I guess it could be worse-- the best song from the year of my birth was about little Jimmy Brown.)

I'm not sure where this ship has run aground.  (I thought it was the Titanic-- now I'm sensing it may be the Minnow.)  How did the singers who sounded so great previously suddenly turn into karaoke?  Is this just because of the live shows?  The competition?  Or is Simon going to have the last laugh?  I wasn't particularly fond of most of tonight's attempts at entertainment-- but I still say the level is higher than it was in year nine.

Here are three categories for you to snipe at...


12) Thia Megia sang Colors of the WindNow far be it from me to complain about teenagers singing Disney songs, but Thia picked the wrong night to go Disneybot on us.  Not that there's anything wrong about singing in peculiar metaphorical terms, but all the judges seemed ready and wiling to throw her under the bus. 

11) Karen Rodriguez sang Love Will Lead You Back by Taylor Dayne.  Gee, whatever happened to Taylor Dayne?  I remember actually almost liking her and her singing wasn't too bad, either.  Unfortunately, Karen just doesn't seem to be able or willing to sing anything of any interest to the voting public.  I'm not one to comment on hairstyles, but for the love of the B-52s, what's up with the hive?

10) Naima Adeadapo sang What's Love Got to Do with It by Tina Turner.  I really want to like her because of how well she did in Hollywood Week, but this was nothing but poor karaoke in my opinion.  (I think the song may be too familiar-- Private Dancer would've been a big hit with her voice.)  Maybe she needed to go crazy like she did last week-- but you can't really out-Tina Tina.

9)  Paul McDonald sang I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues by Elton John.  I just don't know about this guy.  I've liked him when he sang The Beatles and I cut him a lot of slack when he chose Ryan Adams-- but I think Elton John should've cried tears of remorse over this version.  Granted, apparently Paul was one of the unattached folks who may have been sharing cold germs with someone else in the Idol mansion-- and since Chris Harrison isn't here, I'll just leave that speculation alone-- but I don't think Elton is the right person for Paul to cover.

Nice Tries

8)  Jacob Lusk sang Alone by Heart.  I really wanted to like this one simply because the only fan club I ever officially belonged to was Heart.  However, this song went off the rails so many times I was beginning to think the driver was inebriated.  Several bad notes and a few missteps later, I realized he wasn't boring like the four previous contestants-- just seriously outmanned by the song.

7)  Stefano Longone sang If You Don't Know Me By Now by Simply Red (originally Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.)    I'm not sure the judges heard the same song I heard.  I wasn't impressed by Stefano's ill-fated attempt to follow in the footsteps of Mick Hudnall.  It was competent, but it certainly wasn't one of the best songs of the night.  I still say he can do much better-- but only if the audience hasn't turned on him. 

6) Haley Reinhart sang I'll Be Your Baby Tonight by Whitney Houston.  Steven Tyler said it best about Haley-- she needs to find a bluesier song than this one.  I thought she did a fair job on this one and I have to confess to never being a fan of Whitney.  Her problem?  Did she do enough to get more votes this week than last?

Your Top Five (Watch This Space)

5) Lauren Alaina sang I'm the Only One by Melissa Etheridge.   I'll have to give her credit this week.  Lauren was able to give a rock song from Melissa a countrified spin that actually sounded decent.  I still don't like how the judges and the producers seem to pimp her every chance they get and I'm getting tired of her clowning around with Seacrest.  But, she made my top five this week.

 4)  Scotty McCreery sang Can I Trust You with My Heart by Travis Tritt.  Good for Scotty that he sticks to his guns and sings country every week.  Can you imagine him trying to sing pop or hip/hop?  Me neither.  But in the genre of his own choosing, I think Scotty has a career whether or not he continues on Idol.  Fortunately for him, the teenage girls make most of the calls.

 3)  James Durbin sang I'll Be There for You by Bon Jovi.  Once again, James has learned he doesn't have to hit every quarter note as if it was a glory note.  I was a little worried about his health at the beginning of the Seacrest interview because James showed signs his Tourette's was  bothering him more than it had been.  However, I thought James did very nice work for the second week in a row. 

2) Casey Abrams sang Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.  So JLo thought this song was too angry or something?  Has she ever heard this song before?  This is not a mellow song-- even with the fantastic Tori Amos cover, which made the song severely sinister in her voice-- this has never been a mellow song.  And why even bring up that Casey didn't sound like Kurt Cobain?  Are the judges wanting clones or new artists?

1) Pia Toscano sang Where Do Broken Hearts Go by Whitney Houston.  Is it a cheat to have an uptempo arrangement of a pop ballad?  No.  Some of the best songs ever attempted on Idol were songs that sounded different from the originals.  I never liked this song before (either) but I liked Pia's take on it. 

I think my top five picks are safe and would probably tell either Karen, Paul or Thia to pack their bags.  For the same reason as last week, I would send Karen home because I just didn't care about her performance one way or the other.  Surely in this kind of competitive environment the ones who don't excite or aggravate you are the ones who are first to leave. 

OK.  I won't call you Shirley.

 Tune in Thursday night .

 @March 16, 2011   Stephen W Thompson