This week, American Idol‘s remaining nine contestants picked tunes from the “Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll” exhibit at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. (Unsurprisingly, none of these eligible songs were performed.) Black Eyed Pea will.i.am, back for his third week on the show this season, acted as Jimmy Iovine’s wingman as the guest mentor, which makes perfect sense. When anyone thinks of rock-and-roll, they think of the man who never met a synthesized beat he didn’t immediately sample, right?
Take the jump to find out which underdog slayed, and which frontrunners took a risk that didn’t exactly pay off.
The show began with rock-n-roll legend himself Steven Tyler taking us ’round the Idol stage on a mini tour of rock memorabilia, and the Aerosmith frontman ended on a bust of his own freakishly-huge-mouthed face:
Those two should audition for The X Factor! They take duos and groups of any age!
While Jimmy and will.i.am tried their best to mold the contestants into rockers, Gwen Stefani (who survived seeing No Doubt’s “Bathwater” be slaughtered by a pony-hawked Sanjaya back in Season 6) returned to the show as that week’s style expert, but received barely any love or screen time on the show. You do not invite Gwen on your show and then forsake her! Let’s hope she gets some on-air time tonight.
Onto the performances!
Mermaid-wannabe Haley Reinhart turns her success from Elton John theme night into a two-week streak by performing Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart”. Haley’s scratchy voice is definitely an acquired taste, but she’s distinguishable. When you hear Haley, you’re not mistaking her for anyone else. Hold on, girl! Keep busting our performances like this and you might get out of the Bottom Three yet!
Scott McCreery pays tribute to his boyhood idol Elvis Presley with “That’s All Right Mama”, and he waltzes across the stage like we’re at the Scotty McCreery Show and not American Idol. He may not be our personal cup of tea, but he’s got the most professional voice in the whole competition. The youngster has yet to come across one faulty note, ever, all season long. If he just works on those shifty eyebrows, we can see him winning this whole competition.
Casey Abrams and his less-overwhelming beard perform Sting’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” Clearance Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”. Crisis averted by changing songs last minute! There’s no way that Sting song could do anyone favors. We honestly can’t get enough of Casey and his upright bass — maybe he can bring back his melodica next week? In any case, Kelly Clarkson sure is a fan: “I might have a bit of a crush on Casey on American Idol this season,” she tweeted while watching the show. “He’s super cute and obviously super talented. Great job tonight man!
Pia Toscano tries something different by nixing the slow songs in favor of Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High”. Pia really needed to really whip her hair back and forth or go bat-crap insane up there to turn this song into something more memorable. She never quite reached Tina levels of brilliance (hey, who can?), but it was a welcome change from all the ballads.
Paul McDonald paid respect to Johnny Cash by performing a super upbeat “Folsom Prison Blues,” and was entertaining, jovial and just what Paul needed to be saved for another week. And Lauren Alaina shows us she wants to be Kelly Clarkson 2.0 soooo baaaaadly that she belts out Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” – the same song Clarkson killed with back during Season 1 – but squeaks by the whole number without having a real shining moment.
Jacob Lusk also brought his bombastic vibrato (again? Yes, again) to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”. (Another last minute song switcheroo.) We like Jacob – his voice has a power behind it and he always seems like singing is his absolute favorite thing to do. But after one particular eye-rolling statement (“If I end up in the bottom three, it won’t be because I sang the song wrong… it will be because America wasn’t ready to look themselves in the mirror”) we wish we could dock points off Jacob’s tally on our Idol Power List simply for arrogance.
We were really looking forward to James Durbin finally performing a ballad, The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Besides the one high-pitched, elongated Lamberty-Durbinish money note at the end, the only thing this song did was show that James’ vocals aren’t really that strong. Er, maybe stick to uptempo rock songs from now on? Too bad, because James has covered this song before and sounded much more polished. (Watch here and scratch your head at what went wrong for him last night.)
Stefano Langone went falsetto for “When A Man Loves A Woman”, and more than being bad, his performance simply lacked excitement. But that’s enough to get you voted off at this point in the competition — just ask Thia Megia. Even guest producer Ryan Tedder couldn’t help Stefano much with this one.
THOUGHTS ON THE NIGHT: We think Chris Daughty put it best: “Watching Idol…Um….I thought it was Rock N Roll week.”
One contestant gets voted off tonight! Our money’s on Stefano. How about you?