American Idol Season 10 - Top 7: April 20, 2011

Top 7 - Songs From The 21st Century - April 20, 2011

1. Scotty McCreery - "Swingin'" (by LeAnn Rimes, 2010) B+

I loved that the arrangement was slightly Motown, slightly different than what I expected it. I also loved that there was someone playing an 80's style keytar (although I am not sure what this contributed musically to this performance). Scotty's delivery was way cheesy and as always, over the top. Yet I do think he has discovered how to successfully tell a story with the way he sings. His lyrics are always clear to understand. I wish he had chosen a song with perhaps more lyrical message or one that would have surprised us a bit. Scotty is still waiting for his "Idol Moment".

2. James Durbin - "Uprising" (by Muse, 2009) B+

I absolutely hate Muse and I hate this song. Had James chosen any other song, I am sure my grade for him would have been higher. That said, I loved how James clearly had an artistic vision for his performance. Even though we don't have Kara Dioguardi on the voting panel this season, I can still hear her pleas for "artistry". And I think James is probably the only contestant this year who has a concept of the word. I loved how effortlessly he switched back and forth between his regular singing voice and his metal scream.

3. Haley Reinhart - "Rolling In The Deep" (by Adele, 2011) A

It was fantastically brave of Haley to take on a song that is a current hit on the radio. Remember Ta-Tynesia and Jordan Dorsey with their respective takes on "Only Girl In The World" and "OMG"? NO? REALLY? OK fine. Haley excelled at this song; it was a perfect fit for her unique voice. One thing I would fault her on is her sometimes awkward hand gestures while she sings. It seems as though she is thinking too hard about what to do with her arms when she performs. Luckily, if SOMEONE like Jimmy Iovine (yeah, right) would give her some actual guidance, this is something easily fixable.

4. Jacob Lusk - "Dance With My Father" (by Luther Vandross, 2003) A-

Jacob's best performance on the Idol stage to date! I am normally not a fan of Jacob's at all. However, his restraint and raw emotion served him well tonight. He also did something few contestants have done this season - picked a song with an emotional impact for them personally which translates to the stage. Randy and J. Lo gave him horrible advice after this performance....since when has J. Lo sang a song where she has to rein in her emotions? And Randy, shame on you for encouraging Jacob to "let loose" we really want another "Alone"???

5. Casey Abrams - "Harder To Breathe" (by Maroon 5, 2002) C+

In the beginning of this performance, I thought I would like it. It had me going for a little bit. I liked that Casey brought out his guitar and it seemed natural. But somewhere along the way, he lost me. "For me, for you, it just didn't work for me dawg." And it didn't. It all seemed very contrived and it didn't seem like the right song for Casey, who used the angry nature of the lyrics to make more growly/scary faces.

6. Stefano Langone - "Closer" (by Ne-Yo, 2008) A-

This was the performance where I fell in love with Stefano. I loved that he tried something different besides the same type of ballad each week, and it worked! His best performance in a little while. It was uptempo and fun, although the sort of staccato rhythm of the song makes it the kind of music I wouldn't call a "singer's song".

7. Lauren Alaina - "Born To Fly" (by Sara Evans, 2000) B+

At times, Lauren falls behind the backup singers with her vocals, much like Stefano in his performance of "Closer". This week she picked a song that seemed perfect for her age group and personality. It came off very cute and spunky. There was one golden moment around the one minute mark of her performance where the song slowed down, the backup singers quieted, and her voice really got to shine.

Best of the night: Haley
Worst of the night: Casey