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'Idol' Top Nine Performance Recap

Posted by Sarah Rodman  April 6, 2011 10:36 PM

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This week's theme was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And while there were some good performances tonight, I think Ryan Seacrest was overreaching when he suggested that someday we'd see one of these "Idol" contestants enshrined in the Cleveland museum.

We'll take them in order of appearance tonight:

Jacob Lusk didn't do himself any favors by stating up front that if people didn't enjoy his performance of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" it would be because they weren't ready to look in the mirror. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's possible that some people just might not have liked the way it sounded. As it was, it sounded fine. (It was a nice touch having co-writer, and former Jackson duet partner, Siedah Garrett on backgrounds.)

Caving to the judges' Janis Joplin pressure Haley Reinhart sang "Piece of My Heart." That she did so mostly in that roughed up, painful sounding growl made me wistful for the sweeter side of her voice, which she flashed occasionally. But that last gritty note was nicely done.

Hauling out his upright bass, Casey Abrams swung his way through Creedence's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" in a charmingly laid-back fashion. (Even though I enjoyed it, I wonder if Randy really thought that Casey's playing of the upright in a pop song was "revolutionary.")

Sixteen seems a little young to be performing "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin, and I'm not sure Lauren Alaina was exactly feeling what that feels like, but she sounded fine.

Not to sound harsh, but just because James Durbin cried at the end of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"  doesn't mean it was a great performance. It was Lambert-lite as he tried to lay back. But he couldn't keep from one final scream that didn't fit the mood of the song at all. He didn't butcher it by any means, but it wasn't thrilling, which is too bad because it's a tremendous song. (And were you confused by Steven saying "Not only did the Beatles write great songs but George Harrison did as well"? George Harrison was a Beatle. This is a Beatles song. Maybe he meant Lennon/McCartney?)

The judges rhapsodized about how different Scotty was this week but I'm not so convinced. He is a country singer who grew up idolizing Elvis Presley. Just because Elvis was a rock star doesn't make a song like "That's All Right" that far outside of Scotty's wheelhouse. That said, I thought he was terrific. I agreed that he seemed like he was having fun and liked his upbeat vibe. Aside from the return of the bizarre microphone-to-the-right tic, it might've been my favorite performance.

Pia Toscano's take on "River Deep, Mountain High" was a ballad performance wrapped in an uptempo song. Again, that said, she sounded great. 

Oh Stefano. I actually agreed with JLo that this felt like his first truly emotional performance and I thought he sounded good, like he was connected to the words as opposed to just the notes. I enjoyed the feathery falsetto and his sense of dynamics. It might've been my favorite performance of his so far but I still wasn't wowed. I might just be over "When a Man Loves a Woman."

Paul McDonald may have been going for "crazy" on his take on Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" but he landed closer to insanely cheerful. All that grinning and shimmying while talking about shooting people in cold blood and languishing in prison was downright bizarre. But darned if it wasn't his strongest vocal in ages and some of the best energy he's ever displayed.

My bottom three prediction for the week is Haley, Paul, and Stefano with Paul going home, even though I enjoyed his performance, odd as it was.

So what did you guys think? Were you rocked and/or rolled? Who did you love? Who do you think is headed for the bottom three? What did you think of the new comedy duo of Iovine/ Did you really feel like Pia and Scotty switched it up as much as the judges did? What was Pia wearing? Do you think the judges will ever say anything negative again for the rest of the season? If you didn't like Jacob's performance do you think it's because you weren't ready to look in the mirror? Were you a little weirded out that Steven Tyler and Todd Rundgren were sitting so close to each other? (Guessing Liv was not in the "Idol" audience tonight).

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Katie McLeod is's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

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Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.

Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.