American Idol

Season 10 Episode 16

The Top 13 Finalists Perform Live For The First Time

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Mar 09, 2011 on ABC

Episode Recap

Lauren Alaina is up first. She's picking Shania Twain as her idol, because she's a country legend and the first female artist to mix pop and country together into one musical style. Lauren is singing Any Man of Mine, and working with producer Don Was. She feels comfortable with him as he cares how she feels about the song. Jimmy thinks Lauren will have a big career someday, and Don thinks she's a real star.

Steven Tyler tells Lauren she knows how much he loves her voice. He doesn't think anyone would be up there if it wasn't for the fact of a good song. He loves that song, but he wishes it would have been a little more kickass. Jennifer Lopez feels Lauren is so amazing and doesn't have to even try, but now they expect her to really kick it into high gear. She has an amazing voice and she's super-comfortable up there, but the competition starts today.

Randy Jackson loves Shania, and believes Lauren sang it well, but they're hoping for the girl that they first saw. Her voice is so big, he doesn't even think she realizes how talented she is. He doesn't think the song quite showed that. Lauren tells Ryan she didn't want to do a ballad, as that's what everyone does. She also apologizes to Steven, but he tells her not to, as he loves the way she sings.

Casey Abrams is inspired by Joe Cocker and singing With a Little Help From My Friends. The first time he heard it he was about 5 and watching Wonder Years. It really stuck in his head. Jimmy advises him that when he sings the opening words, "What would you do if I sang out of tune ..." he needs to look right at the judges. Joe Cocker has that growl in his voice and doesn't look that hot either, so Casey thinks that inspires the same in him. Jimmy explains when Joe sings the song, there isn't one inch of his body that isn't feeling it. Casey knows you feel Joe singing the song, and that's what he wants, to be felt. As he sings it tonight, it's a little mellow in the beginning, then he totally kicks it in.

Since Casey wants to be felt, J-Lo tells him she goes by what she feels, and there was one point where she grabbed Randy and had to ask what she was watching. She knows she's watching somebody important. It blew her away. Randy calls it Idol Season 10 Remix. Every time Casey comes up, it's always exciting to see what he's going to do and how he's going to do it. He is so unbelievable and so exciting he hits all the notes always. Steven tells Casey he's a rainbow of talent and never ceases to amaze him. He is a plethora of passion as everyone in the house felt everything he did. Casey tells Ryan he thinks Joe Cocker embodied him for a second.

Ashton Jones was compared to Diana Ross last week, and this week will be singing one of her songs, When You Tell Me That You Love Me. She's working with producer Rodney Jerkins, who has worked with Mariah Carey, Ke$ha, and Monica. He has her go higher with the song, which she's never done, but is glad she's being taken to a place she's never been. Jimmy was a little nervous about her range, but was so inspired, he invited Berry Gordy to hear it.

Randy admits he liked it and also points out Berry Gordy in the audience, who he calls the greatest ever. He also admits he was worried with the song choice, as it sounded like it was a safe move, but he felt she grew a little bit. She pulled it back when she started gong sharp or flat. Steven agrees and thinks there's a lot more in there than she's showing them. He's got confidence in her. J-Lo calls Ashton elegant, and believes they're already seeing what a professional she is. Now she wants her to start singing songs we can all sing along with her. Ashton tells Ryan she wants people to see the soft side when they look at her, not just the edginess.

Paul McDonald calls Ryan Adams his idol. He's also the kind of artist he looks up to and admires and wants to be like. Paul is singing Come Pick Me Up. His rehearsals with Don Was went well, with Paul thinking they clicked immediately. Jimmy advises him to just nail the chorus. He likes Paul's understated powerful rasp. It's a really interesting song, and he gives another quirky performance like last week.

Steven tells Paul he loves the character and rasp in his voice. It doesn't matter whose song he does, as it winds up being his. It was a little pitchy though, so he needs to find a song next time where the chorus is in his key. Jennifer notes the audience was just smiling and watching Paul. He's so unique, and she hopes America gets it, although she doesn't know Adams' work.

Randy is sure that after Paul did Rod Stewart last week, it wasn't the most exciting, but he loves the character Paul is, and he loves Ryan Adams. It was great he worked with Don, as he's in the same type of music. Paul is different, and Randy loves him for the show. Ryan asks for a lesson in doing the Paul McDonald.

Pia Toscano has admired Celine Dion since she was 8 years old. She's family-oriented just like Celine. To have that career and still stay close to her family is very important. Pia is singing All By Myself and has had rehearsing instilled in her by her dad. She works with producer Ron Fair who advises her to work with the reverb. After working with him and Jimmy, she feels she can now really sing the song tonight and hopes to make her dad proud.

Jennifer just shakes her head, then says what we were all thinking. People were trying to figure out what Pia was going to do to top last week, and there it is. Randy has had a lot of seasons on the show, and the big three are Mariah, Whitney, and Celine. They always say don't tackle those songs if you can't do them, but Pia has that quality. She has such a natural gift; he's in awe every time she's up. It was a very hot, dope, cool performance. Steven tells her it was the sum total of all the work she's done so far, polishing the apple. He also wishes her a happy international woman's day.

James Durbin is singing a song from his idol, Paul McCartney. He's one of the greatest musicians, writers, and singers that have ever been, and is very versatile. He's singing Maybe I'm Amazed, and working with producer Jim Jonsin. He had a whole new idea that brought forth Paul's vision, as well as Jim's and James'. Jimmy feels American Idol is finally a chance to get to hear a voice like James', which he says is difficult in this business.

Randy tells James he is one of his favorites, because back in the day when Randy was growing up, he loved the kind of voices that could sing everything. Last week he rocked the house with Judas Priest, and tonight he sings Paul McCartney and slays it. He showed he had a sensitive side with the falsetto, leaving Randy to think, "This dude can do anything, Man! James Durbin is dangerous."

Steven tells James he has taken everything he ever felt and kicked it into the middle of next week. If ever there was a review to be said about him, he just sang it. J-Lo comments James has such a quality with those high notes, but the truth is he has what the greatest rock singers have, and that's a melodic quality. He's clean-shaven with a fresh haircut and no tail this week, by the way.

Haley Reinhart is singing Blue by LeAnn Rimes tonight, as it hits home for her and takes her back to when she was a lot younger. She's working with the producing team of Rock Mafia. They pushed her out of her comfort zone and think she can reinvent it. Haley knows this symbolizes the start of her career. Jimmy tells her it'a really tough song, yet she's convincing, as he doesn't think other people can do it. She even gets a little yodel going into it singing it tonight, and Steven looks like he's really loving it.

Steven tells Haley it was beautiful, and if she listens really close, she can hear American roaring at how great it was. He knew LeAnn when she recorded it. He thinks she did a fine job today. J-Lo feels America is starting to get to know Haley. She does so many diverse things with her voice. While Paul is unique, so is Haley. To be honest, Randy found it a little boring, as he likes her with that strong, gravely voice. Jennifer argues everyone is different, and Haley brings a really sexual quality when she's up there. Not everyone has to run al over the stage.

Jacob Lusk's idol is R Kelly. When he met Jimmy and Rodney and sang I Believe I Can Fly, he came to it from a different place. He was nine years old when Space Jam came out, and he fell in love with the movie and the song. Jimmy notes Jacob has an incredible gift. Tonight, Jacob puts a weird fake vibrato in, but regardless sings it amazingly.

Steven mentions Jacob's pure passion and pure music, and says he can't even judge him, as he's just that good. He'll soar beyond his wildest dreams. Jennifer agrees it's hard to judge him, as he makes them feel so much. People keep asking her who's going to win, but with performances like the ones they've seen this week, it's anybody's game.

Randy agrees and says they're blessed. Jacob has such a signature sound that while people can say that's Luther, that's Jacob, Jennifer, that's Steven, that's what he in particular has. He went a little sharp, but at the end he was hitting the top notes and was unbelievable. Jacob admits he gave it all he's got.

Thia's idol is Michael Jackson, who Randy compared her to last week. She'll be singing Smile, and producer Ron Fair tells her it's really Charlie Chaplin's song, and she then calls it "Charlie Chapman," obviously having no idea who it is. She calls it a privilege to work with Ron, and while they were working, Jimmy walked in and suggested a more intimate softer beginning. Her voice is as pure as ever, but her timing seems a little off in the beginning. We had this problem lat time this song was sung on this show. It's not a young person's song and just seems lost to not have great meaning behind it.

Randy admits he loved the intro, as he heard the Michael in Thia, but then it got a little pitchy in spots, as she got into the jazzy arrangement with the band. All in all it was good, but he loved the beginning more than the end. Steven has to agree. It was a little pitchy in the middle, but she's so new and young with such a bright future in front of her. Jennifer thought the beginning reminded her of last week and says that's transcendent, It was interesting to see her move, as they haven't seen that yet. It doesn't matter, though, as she sings like an angel. Thia admits she felt better with the song in the beginning. She cries later backstage.

Stefano Langone's idol is Stevie Wonder. He like the way he's carried himself throughout his career. He's singing Lately, because the words tell a story, and that's what music's about. He's working with producer Polow DaDon. They were in the same exact spot with the song. When Polow saw Stefano doing his whole bit, he decided he wanted him to win. Jimmy tells Stefano it's cool to close your eyes, but the audience wants to connect with him.

Steven tells Stefano he pulled it off and built it from the beginning to the end like a volcano. The arrangement with double time in the middle was crazy, but he pulled it off beautifully. Stefano had J-Lo dancing for a bit, as she says it's not easy to do a dance remix of a ballad, but it wasn't just a remix or a copy, it was really him, and he sounded great. Randy thought it started off rocky. While it's hard to sing Stevie, he'd be proud of him, as by the middle of the song he was soaring. Stefano felt as a wildcard choice he had to come and let it all out and let America feel his soul.

Karen Rodriguez is singing some Selena, as she's the one who inspired her to be a singer. Her mom even used to dress her up like Serena when she was little, and she even had Serena Barbie dolls. She worked with producer Jim Johnson, and when he played the track for her, it was different and more edgy, more rock/pop like Beyoncé. Jimmy advises Karen not to over-sing the night before and not talk on the phone to save her voice. She sounds good, but isn't too exciting.

Jennifer tells Karen she looks beautiful, but also warns she could tell she was a little bit uncomfortable with some of the notes, the lower end as well as the higher. She asks if Karen could hear herself as usually she's spot on. Karen admits she did have a little trouble hearing. Normally Karen is one of their strongest girls, so she hope she makes it to next week. Randy agrees, saying it felt like Karen was fighting the song. She tried to do the little run at the end, but it was a little sleepy for him. She has all that energy with the big voice. Steven feels the same way, as the energy it took to ramp up to how well she ended the song was lacking a little bit. He knows she can sing so much better. She explains to Ryan she designed her outfit herself.

Scotty McCreery worked with Don Was and figures there's no other way to show off Jennifer's claim that he was born to sing country music than to sing some Garth Brooks. He's chosen The River and hopes he can do it some justice, as it's one of Garth's classics. Don has worked with Willie Nelson, Garth, and Waylon Jennigns and says what they have in common is they're incredible storytellers, and Scotty seems to know how to do that naturally. Scotty attributes that to growing up in North Carolina.

Randy tells Scotty he liked his answer to the conversation with Jimmy about possibly trying something different. "If it ain't broke, don't even think about fixing it." It jus goes to show this is exactly where he belongs. He could put it out as a record right now. Steven tells Scotty he did Garth justice. Someone wrote a song, "The carpet's all paid for, God bless the TV, let's shoot a hole in the moon." Roy Rogers was riding high, and Scotty's riding high tonight. What J-Lo loved especially tonight was that she saw Scotty open up. They love listening to his voice, and now he's taking everyone with him.

Naima Adadepo has chosen Rhianna as her idol and is singing Umbrella. On top of that, the producer she's working with, Tricky, produced the song for Rhianna. He's going to let her put a little bit of her in it, and wants to let her get a fresh look at the song. She knows since it's a current song she has to bring something different to it. Jimmy was scared to death for her last week, but right now thinks she could go straight to the top five. She does well with it, but it is hard to forget Rhianna. She brings the storm, literally, at the end, with a lightening bolt.

Steven tells Naima she's crazy good. She was a little pitchy, either it being not her cup of tea or else she couldn't hear it. She brought another little something tonight and he adores her for it. Jennifer doesn't care about the pitchy, as she has fire and was dancing and rapping up there. She was doing it like a real recording artist does and just needs to work on her control. Randy differs a little and does care about the pitchiness. She did learn something tonight, though, and that's that she needs to control her breathing when she's moving around. He loved the reggae feel to it.