American Idol Quick Wrap 3/9/11~ It’s Anybody’s Game

As the Top 13 American Idol contestants hit the stage for the first time, it quickly became clear that we have a serious competition on our hands that is anybody’s game. While previous front-runners Pia, Scotty and Jacob continued to soar, two of the wildcard picks (Stefano and Naima) made strong impressions and two of last week’s top contenders faltered (Thia, Karen). So, let’s take a look at this week’s ranking of the continued new and improved, not to mention kindler and gentler (thanks judges)  Idol where they took on songs of their own singing idols tonight.

Performance Rankings 3/9/11
(Doing the safety dance…)
1. Pia: grabbing the top spot for a second week in a row, this beauty slayed Celine Dion’s # 4 hit from 1997 “All by Myself”. She was pitch perfect, confident and emotionally connected and she’s my favorite in the competition right now. It’s about time we just had a girl who could wail win this show again!
2. James: holy crap, the rocker’s new spin on Paul McCartney and Wings’ top ten hit from 1976 “Maybe I’m Amazed” was kinda awesome. James showed a softer side, got a great new makeover and displayed great vocals. He’s really growing on me and the audience clearly loves him.
3. Jacob: taking us to church again (this time with an actual choir), Jacob rose to the heavens on “I Believe I Can Fly” the # 2 smash from R. Kelly. Jacob has so much conviction in his performances I think he might explode, but in a good way. Now, I want him to take one of the divas (Celine, Mariah, Whitney) like Pia!
4. Stefano: taking Stevie Wonder’s 1982 hit “Lately” and turning it into a dance jam was a big risk, but it paid off big time for the little singer that could. Stefano was fantastic tonight especially in the second half of the song and I guarantee he’s put the dangerous “wildcard” label behind him. Remember, Clay Aiken was a wild card and got second while Jennifer Hudson was a wildcard and now has an Oscar and a Grammy!
5. Scott: keeping up his momentum, the country wonder boy gave another strong performance on his cover of Garth Brooks’ #1 country song from 1991 “The River”. The judges loved him (and the four above singers) and the audience went nuts for him. Looks like the tween girls have settled on their fave for the season.
(Still walkin’ on sunshine…)
6. Lauren: my second fave singer wound up in the middle of the pack this week with an assured version of Shania Twain’s # 1 country hit “Any Man of Mine” from 1995 (ahem the year Lauren was born!). While it wasn’t her best performance, Lauren’s pipes are undeniable and she will be a fierce contender in the weeks ahead.
7. Casey: Grizzly Adams tore through Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from my Friends” with a ferocious hunger and we all ate it up. While, it wasn’t as good as last week, he still put on a great show.
8. Naima: showing her versatility, dance moves and an awesome reggae/rap section, Naima closed the show with a fascinating and entertaining version of Rihanna’s 2007 #1 hit “Umbrella”. While she needs to work on her pitch and breath, we saw a lot more personality and artistry from her tonight and she’s beginning to make me a fan.
(in the danger zone…)
9. Thia: modeling her prom dress, the girl who wowed us last week took a tumble on Michael Jackson’s “Smile” (the song that got Gina Glockson sent home a few seasons ago). While the quiet beginning was lovely, once she launched into the jazzy second half of the song, it began to go off the rails. It’s clear she can sing wonderfully, but now she needs to make better choices with stronger arrangements.
10. Karen: channelling judge J.Lo in the Selena movie, Karen attempted Selena’s “I Could Fall in Love”. While she hit some nice notes at the end, Karen’s singing was rather uneven and she might end up being forgotten on a night of bigger performances.
11. Haley: my least fave performer and Miley Cyrus clone, Haley yodeled her way through LeAnn Rimes debut smash “Blue” from 1996 and hit most of the notes well. However, for the second week in a row, the whole performance was calculated, annoying, cloying and, worst of all, boring. And was she going to that same prom as Thia in that dress?
12. Ashton: Miss Ross was not in the house. Instead it was Miss Jones serving up a lackluster interpretation of Ross’s “When You Tell Me that You Love Me” (previously covered by the season 4 finalists including Carrie and Bo!). She hit some notes here and there, but it was just a bit off and her silver spaceship dress and crazy arm movements did her no favors.
13. Paul: performing an obscure song by the also somewhat obscure rocker Ryan Adams was not a smart move for the likable raspy voiced singer. His unique qualities became a little annoying on this sluggish song, “Come Pick Me Up” that had little melody. Paul better hope his pearly white smile can save him from this disastrous and odd performance.

Predictions:
Bottom 3: Ashton, Karen, Paul (but Haley and Thia should be worried)
Bottom 2: Ashton, Paul
Going Home: Ashton

So, it seems I think our resident diva Ashton may be on her way out at unlucky # 13. We’ll see tomorrow night on the results show which will also feature an awesome acoustic performance of “Aftermath” by Grammy nominated former Idol Adam Lambert. I can’t wait… But first, I want to know what you think of tonight’s show and who you think will see their Idol dreams squashed tomorrow. Sound off below.

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