AMERICAN IDOL “Top 13 Perform” Review

AMERICAN IDOL “Top 13 Perform” Season 10 Episode 16 – If there’s one thing we can count on this season it’s that Jennifer Lopez will be nice. She’ll be extremely nice. Even when you do badly, as a few contestants did, she will literally kill you with kindness.

A few of these kids deserved to be killed as brutally as they butchered some of their songs. Lucky for us it was only a few.

And this isn’t to say there are any standouts as yet. For me, no one is head and shoulders above the other talent, or killing it to the extent that a Crystal Bowersox, or an Adam Lambert, or even Carrie Underwood did in years past. At least not yet. It’s early. Abrams or Toscano could get there. Here’s how I stacked ’em up this week on American Idol:

Casey Abrams: 24

Song: With A Little Help From My Friends (Joe Cocker)

Performance: 4 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 4
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 5

Notes: Abrams really got his Wolfman Jack howl going for this one, and it was appropriate. Joe Cocker is right up his alley, and in fact that’s sort of what I see Casey doing years from now. The bad news, for American Idol producers, is that Joe Cocker hasn’t really sold albums in like 30 years. Unique? Sure. Relevant? Not in 2011. Abrams will have to diversify a little if he’s going to be the pop superstar A.I. wants him to be. Casey-as-Casey would be their nightmare, I think. But he was still the best of the night. Top of the leader board.

James Durbin: 23

Song: Maybe I’m a Man (Paul McCartney)

Performance: 4 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 4
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 4

Notes: Durban showed off a smoother side this time, and it could be he’s getting more and more comfortable with the stage. His voice was exceptionally clear, and his take on an old McCartney song was fresh. They could probably release that as a single and it would do well. There’s no way he goes home yet.

Scotty McCreery: 22

Song: The River (Garth Brooks)

Performance: 4 Originality: 2 Stage Presence: 3
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 5 Intangibles: 5

Notes: As I said last week, McCreery has his niche and he’s playing it for all its worth. Don’t expect him to change, especially if the audience keeps eating it up like it did tonight. McCreery probably got the loudest audience response, and even moved around (a little) onstage. He’s not going to score as high with me as others will (“originality” will probably always be a 2 or a 3), but that may not stop him from winning.

Pia Toscano: 22

Song: All By Myself (Celine Dion)

Performance: 4 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 3
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 4

Notes: Pia regressed a little for me, which isn’t saying much, coming from a 24 to a 22 and still being the best female performer of the night. Vocals were excellent, of course. Her stage presence is a little wonky. She reaches her hand out a lot. Like over and over again. That may get tiresome. And her fashion was slightly bizarre; I liked the dress and the earrings but didn’t get that gauzy cape. It looked like two dead insect wings hanging off her back. She’ll still sail through, easily.

Paul McDonald: 21

Song: Come Pick Me Up (Ryan Adams)

Performance: 2 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 3
Appearance: 4 Marketability: 4 Intangibles: 4

Notes: Last week a 21 was certainly good enough, but this week it puts you in the bottom half of the men. Not that McDonald cares; he sort of marches to the beat of his own drummer any way. I liked the practically unknown song he chose. He has expansive appeal and a crazily unique voice … not that I think it was showcased at all very well tonight. I think I liked everything but the actual performance, which he struggled at. (Randy said “Kind of pitchy.” Really, dawg? Kind of?) Loved his Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band jacket. We’ll see where he places, but I’ll still guess he won’t be bottom 3.

Haley Reinhart: 21

Song: Blue (Leann Rimes)

Performance: 3 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 4
Appearance: 4 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3

Notes: I’d say she had the second best female performance, but the women are nearly all clumped near the bottom this week, so that’s not saying much. Hell, if people found her yodeling annoying enough they might still send her packing. She looked great though, and seems to be the consummate performer. Randy dissed her performance and the crowd booed him harder than they booed all night, so for now I’m going to guess she’s safe.

Jacob Lusk: 20

Song: I Believe I Can Fly (R Kelly)

Performance: 4 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 3
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3

Notes: Still like Jacob, but now we have to compare him to the other boys and girls we have left, and I’m not sure his appeal to women is as great as McDonald or Durban or (certainly not) Abrams. I don’t see Lusk getting to the top 6 unless he really picks his game up.

Stefano Langone: 20

Song: Lately (Stevie Wonder)

Performance: 4 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 3
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3

Notes: Stefano can sing like a motherfarmer, but I think he regressed a little today. For me, anyway. Wasn’t crazy about the dance remix, or the fact that he kept changing tempo back and forth. After not having enough votes to advance on his own power, Langone was forced to take a “wild card” spot, so this week I was hoping he’d really knock one out of the park. To quote Randy, “But for me it was just okay.”

Naima Adedapo: 19

Song: Umbrella (Rihanna)

Performance: 2 Originality: 4 Stage Presence: 4
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3

Notes: Another “wild card” selection who regressed. She sounded off-pitch and out of breath. I get that it’s a “performance,” but next time concentrate on the singing rather than the quirky dance moves. You’ve got a great story, and certainly plenty of cred from other more famous performers, but you’re not a star yet, kid.

Thia Megia: 19

Song: Smile (Michael Jackson)

Performance: 3 Originality: 3 Stage Presence: 3
Appearance: 4 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3

Notes: It wasn’t an improvement on last week, that’s for sure. In many minds it was probably worse, but I wasn’t that fond of her last week, personally. The singing itself wasn’t bad, just … everything else seemed off. Pretty dress though. Her confidence seemed crushed coming off that stage … and they even let her off nicely. I wonder how long she’d survive one of Simon’s tongue-lashings. Too bad we’ll never know.

Ashthon Jones: 18

Song: When You Tell Me That You Love Me (Diana Ross)

Performance: 3 Originality: 3 Stage Presence: 4
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 2

Notes: This could have gone much worse than it did. The beginning was horrible. Lucky for her she picked it up at the end. I don’t think her penchant for referring to herself in the third person is going to endear her to anyone, unfortunately. And since she was already “rescued” … she could be in some real trouble this week.

Karen Rodriguez: 16

Song: I Could Fall In Love (Selena)

Performance: 2 Originality: 3 Stage Presence: 2
Appearance: 3 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3

Notes: I didn’t expect this sort of crash landing. You’d think Selena would have inspired J-Lo to compliment her no matter what, and I’m glad she didn’t. Pretty abysmal performance.

Lauren Alaina: 15

Song: Any Man (Shania Twain)

Performance: 3 Originality: 2 Stage Presence: 2
Appearance: 2 Marketability: 3 Intangibles: 3

Notes: This will be the test, won’t it? Alaina stunk it up today. She looked tentative at best, and scatterbrained at worst. She really looks as though she needs a few more years of musical training. It’s almost painful watching her shuffle around on stage in heels, when clearly she’s not even used to them. And her shoes weren’t the worst part of her wardrobe either. (Oy—this girl needs a stylist pronto!) If she somehow avoids the bottom three its only because the “wild cards” from last week were disappointing.

Agree or disagree?

Tomorrow: Boot! I think it’s just one. But I wouldn’t mind two. Or three. Get the pretenders out.

Follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker! Or else!