"Songs from the 21st Century" last night on American Idol. It was definitely a mixed bag . . . with Scotty McCreery singing 'Swingin'" by Lee Ann Rimes (Uh, what?), my favorite little underachiever Lauren Alaina taking on Sara Evans' "Born To Fly" (Uh, why?) and James rocking out to "Uprising" by Muse (Uh, awesome!!).  What did our Idol expert Steve Thompson think about the show, how did he rate the performances, and who does he think is hitting the road, Jack?

From Steve Thompson:

One of the most interesting things about song selection on American Idol is that many of the songs covered are at least forty years old.  Tonight, there were seven songs (six actually) from the 21st century and I wondered how many of these songs would be considered classics in the future. 

Not too bad a night.  As always, our worst songs are still better than most of the dreck viewers were subjected to last season.  Still, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do... 

Welcome to the Silver Stools of Doom

7) Jacob Lusk sang Dance with My Father by Luther Vandross.  (Does anyone find it strangely ironic that this was the last big hit for Luther?)  In the grand scheme of this show, I believe Reuben Studdard was the best Luther.  Jacob may have been trying to channel Luther, but I figure that station wasn't coming in too clear.  This may have been Jacob's swan song-- but maybe he can help Paul McDonald find the right notes in the next castoff sing.  Verdict?  Not a classic fifty years from now.

6)  Stefano Longone sang Closer by Ne-yo.  I don't listen to this kind of music, but I think I must've heard it during a Dancing with the Stars routine.  Once again, the dogs decided this would be a good opportunity to have a bathroom break.  (Maybe they should be judges.)  I'm not convinced this was half as good as the judges seemed to think it was-- but that's not saying much in this era of "Happy Happy Joy Joy" that has pervaded this season's shows.  I think the biggest gamble of having songs that teenagers have actually heard is that you can hear how close or how far the singer is to the original.  Verdict?  Not a classic in anyone's definition of the term.

5) Scotty McCreery sang Swingin' by Leann Rimes (or for those of you my age, John Anderson back in the 80s.)  Yes, in the tradition of past Idol shows-- covers work for songs released this century.  Really, Scotty?  Of all the country songs released in the last ten years we have to listen to this?  If it wasn't for the rabid fan base, I think this song would've made Scotty toast.  Verdict?  You've got to be kidding!

4) Lauren Alaina sang Born to Fly by Sara Evans. I've been a fan of Sara Evans for as long as she's been around, but I felt like Lauren took a country song and took it too far into pop territory.  Lauren has the voice for it-- i recall thinking on some of her earlier vocals she could easily go into Alison Krauss or even Rhonda Vincent material.  This song sounds more like if Leann Rimes tried to sing Sara Evans.  Sara's best vocal feature is the lonely bluegrass tone in her singing and Lauren made the lonely disappear.  Original is a classic; This version? Not so much.

Your Top Three (Watch This Space) 

3) Casey Abrams sang Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5.  I do not like Maroon 5 by any stretch of the imagination.  I have made fun of this group year in and year out and have always thought they were a tepid bunch of hacks.  What a shock-- I liked this song for the first time ever.  I realize Casey is polarizing to the extreme, but I thought his performance was nearly as entertaining as anything I've seen him do all season.  Verdict?  Maybe.  But then I think I'd Love to Change the World is a classic.

2) Haley Reinhart sang Rolling in the Deep by Adele.  I definitely need to check this singer out.  As I have stated previously, if it's not country or classic rock, I am somewhat in the need of a musical GPS to truly get my bearings.  I really enjoyed Haley's performance of this song-- which, in turn, makes me think I would enjoy the original singer.  I don't know how wildly popular Adele is simply because more people watch this show than currently buy music.  Verdict?  Yes.  I think we have a classic here.

1) James Durbin sang Uprising by Muse.  Thanks to my granddaughter being a huge fan of the Twilight movies, I am fully aware of the group Muse.  (I like the soundtracks better than the movies.)  I thought James did a super job on his high register tonight.  I've always believed singing a high power note is not the easiest thing to do for a male singer and James sounded like he was auditioning to become Freddie Mercury 2.0  The basic fact that James has recognized the difference between screaming and singing bodes well for the rest of the competition.  Verdict?  Absolute classic.

I think anyone in the bottom four could be in major trouble tonight.  I wouldn't be shocked to see Jason and Stefano as our bottom two.  I think Jason may be in more trouble because his vocal wasn't nearly as tight as Stefano's song.

We'll see Thursday night.

@April 20, 2011   Stephen W Thompson