American Idol Season 10 - Top 5: May 4, 2011

Top 5 - Now & Then - May 4, 2011

1. James Durbin - "Closer To The Edge" (by 30 Seconds to Mars) B-

I found that James's studio version of this song was far superior to the live performance he gave on Idol. I did not at all like the song live, as James's cadence at the end of each line seemed to veer into a shouty territory that did not flatter his voice.
I could not stand the backup singers shouting "NO NO NO" at random intervals in the song also. I so badly wanted to like this performance more than I actually did. Check out the Studio version though - it's pretty good! I do have to give James credit for picking a current song that may foreshadow the direction he will eventually take in his career.

2. Jacob Lusk - "No Air" (by Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown) D+

Jacob is now blaming this awful performance on Jimmy Iovine. While Jimmy is to blame for a myraid of things on Idol this season, I do not know how this disaster could be his fault. Due to the duet nature of the song, the backup singers had to take a leading role in the music and Jacob was reduced to yelling random things like "without me!" and "can't breathe, no air!" God help us. I have heard worse songs on the Idol stage this year, and I guess that's the best compliment I can give.

3. Lauren Alaina - "Flat On The Floor" (by Carrie Underwood) B+

It was nice to see Lauren do an uptempo song with an attitude - trying to break out of the storyline the show has set for her perhaps? This is the kind of song I could picture her doing in her post-Idol career. At least hopefully - maybe she'll get buried beneath the strain of a multitude of forgettable midtempos (kind of like her Idol run). I'd love to see Lauren have a true Idol moment this year.

4. Scotty McCreery - "Gone" (by Montgomery Gentry) A-

Randy finally had it right when he said that it felt like we were at a Scotty concert this week! Another "I rocked so hard my hair clip fell out" moment. A truly enjoyable performance and the best at this point in the night. I liked how he actually seemed to embody the lyrics in his style of singing. This song has a very fast succession of lyrics and Scotty handled them admirably.

5. Haley Reinhart - "You And I" (by Lady Gaga) A

Truly transcendent performance by Haley. I absolutely adored it. I was stunned when the judges gave her bad feedback and criticized her song choice (mainly because it was an "unreleased" song that many people did not know). I never heard the song "Gone" before but I truly enjoyed Scotty's performance! UGH. This was the absolute perfect song choice for Haley, who gave it a whiskey-soaked barroom flavor that truly fit the song lyrics. I could not have loved it more.

6. James Durbin - "Without You" (by Badfinger) A-

Yes, there were a few pitch problems here and there, but on a show where the judges always stress connecting emotionally to the lyrics, James excelled far and above his younger peers on this show. He could have hit some of the notes better, and it might have been amazing to see a completely acoustic version of the song, but all in all, the kind of performance that makes an Idol moment.

7. Jacob Lusk - "Love Hurts" (by Nazareth) C-

You know what else hurts besides love? My poor ears after listening to this song. There was one note that sort of sounded like "bleeeeuuuuuughaaah" which is not the kind of thing anyone should be singing on American Idol. EVER. I absolutely love this song and when I heard Jacob would be singing it, I think my stomach sank a little bit.

8. Lauren Alaina - "Unchained Melody" (by the Righteous Brothers) A-
A beautiful, lilting take on the song, but I think it really hurt Lauren when she failed to hit the "big glory note" of the song.

9. Scotty McCreery - "Always On My Mind" (by Willie Nelson) B+
This reminded me of Scotty's best performance on the Idol stage this year ("You've Got A Friend" from Carole King Week). Clearly a song that meant a lot to him and he delivered it in a way that was authentic and understated (unlike many of his previous performances).

10. Haley Reinhart - "House of the Rising Sun" (by the Animals) A+
The true kind of Idol Moment (TM) that can not be denied, even by Nigel Lythgoe's pre-determined script for the show and the judges clearly being told to take swipes at Haley whenever they can.

Best of the night: Haley
Worst of the night: Jacob