'American Idol' Top 11: Naima Adedapo's African dance FTW, Stefano Langone's 'Hello' - not so much

american-idol-top-11-motown.jpgYou ready to groove on into Motown? The "American Idol" Top 11 are ready. There's a sign in the audience that says, "Steven Tyler, you're my mom's hall pass." Oh, good lord.

After a bunch of filler (because we're down one performance from last week, but the broadcast time is the same), the Top 11 come out, with everyone looking very classy.

Idols who did very well:

1. Naima Adedapo, "Dancin' in the Street," Martha and the Vandellas

She's adding some African dance. How great is she, just being so out there (for this show) and not even caring? So great. She has a fabulous outfit that she may have put together backstage like 20 minutes ago out of the drapes. The vocal is good - she manages to take a very cheesy song and give it some heft, some weight. Then the dancing starts and it's wonderful, what a celebration! And she still has the breath to finish it. Gosh. This girl puts on excellent performances every week, but this week had the added bunus of being on pitch. Awesome. Wonderful. Stupendous. I have tears in my eyes. J.Lo says it was the first goosebump moment of the night. And Randy adds that she finally showed up completely, no pitch problems.

2. Jacob Lusk, "You're All I Need to Get By," Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell
  

It started off lovely and quiet, he's got such a Peabo/Neville quality to his voice. And after it busts open juuuust a smidge, he pulls it back with some falsetto, then gets big again. He is really doing wonderful things with the dynamics of the song. And the ending was fabulous, so much so that Steven had to come up and hug him. Seriously, that was great. Best Jacob performance yet. After Steven and then Jacob's mom get their hugs in, it turns into a giant hug fest with random girls from the audience, plus one dude. Haha.

3. Pia Toscano, "All in Love is Fair," Stevie Wonder

Another ballad, but luckily Pia manages to make them interesting. It's another beautiful vocal, with a really stunning ending, but I'm now itching to see her do something more uptempo. This is all she does. She does it extremely well, but ... let's change it up some week. J.Lo says she can sing, she looks great and the emotion is there, but she needs her to move around more, have more stage presence and more showmanship. Randy says to go uptempo at some point and Steven calls her the closest star in the "Idol" universe. True dat, she's the total package for a certain type of music.

4. James Durbin, "Living for the City," Stevie Wonder

The vocal sounds good, very rocker but still pleasant. He's smiling a little too much for the song subject. Durbin did acknowledge that he thinks it's upbeat and is about hope, but he could perhaps temper the grin just a smidge. There were some great high notes, but I'm a little puzzled why Naima didn't close the show. He was just a teeny let down after her, for me. But still - very good.

5. Lauren Alaina, "You Keep Me Hanging On," The Supremes

This could be a great song for Lauren. She starts off slow and sultry, with her blue eyes sparkling. Hot, great dress. This actually sounds current with her rock-country voice and it's very youthful. It's also so different from Diana Ross' voice, but not in a bad way. Just different. Nicely done, Lauren. J.Lo mentions how amazing she looks and seriously - hot. She just aged like 5 years right in front of our very eyes (and I mean that in a positive way).

6. Haley Reinhart, "You Really Got a Hold On Me," Smokey Robinson

This song is always a little scary for me because of this - pure nightmare fuel. But we'll see how Haley does. First off, she looks great, very Rockette meets current artist. Secondly, she sounds pretty fabulous. Sultry, growly, having some lovely vocal moments on the low stuff and the chorus, then the ending just goes nuts, this girl knew it was all on the line this week. Way to redeem yourself, Haley. The judges loved it.

Idols who did fairly well:

7. (tie) Scotty McCreery, "For Once in My Life," Stevie Wonder

Surprisingly, this sounds like a country song Scotty could release. I was trepidatious about this one, but it's nice. He's uptempo, he's up in his range and it sounds like current country. He has a couple  pitch problems and he needs to stop flicking his hand at the audience in an angry manner. The ending is cheesy and a bit creepy with that look to the camera, but overall, it was good. Tyler says he took a big chance, but he really ripped it. J.Lo loved the arrangement, but it wasn't the strongest vocal.

7. (tie) Thia Megia, "Heat Wave," Martha and the Vandellas

I'm on board with Thia doing something more uptempo and sassy. First off, she looks cute as a frickin' button. Secondly, the vocal is solid. It's not like this is current at all, but it's a considerable step up from last week. She seems to get a little out of breath from all the bopping around, so that's something to work on, and I would've liked to hear her hold the last note longer. But mostly that was good and a big improvement. Thumbs up. The judges echo those sentiments - good, not great, but nice to see her let loose. 

7. (tie) Paul McDonald, "Tracks of My Tears," Smokey Robinson

Oh wow. This is my personal favorite Glambert performance from Season 8, so he's got that working against him. Luckily, Paul changes the style so that it's totally different. It's not a stunning vocal, but that's not Paul's style. It's nice to see him with a guitar instead of bopping around the stage like he's having a stroke. On the bridge, which should've been his big moment, he slurs the words like he's Bob Dylan and it's kinda silly. Hmm. I like this the best from Paul since "Maggie May," but that doesn't mean I loved it. On the other hand, it's more current-sounding than almost every other performance. Hmm. Tyler likes that he sounds like Dylan (or Willie Nelson). I almost feel like I can't rate him compared to the rest of the field because he is in such a different vein.

7. (tie) Casey Abrams, "Heard It Through the Grapevine," Marvin Gaye

Hmm. I like Casey's growl, but he can also sing and that first "with some other GUYYYY" was disappointing. It sounded like he was passing a stone. Use your falsetto, dude. After the opening, the singing got a little better. Certainly an interesting arrangement. He could've been less lounge-singer-esque in the audience. Not my favorite Casey performance, very underwhelming. The judges are complimentary. Randy says "you" a lot, which is diametrically opposed to what he usually talks about, so that's good.

I know it's a cheat to have a four-way tie at 7th, but I just can't rank them. Paul does his weird own thing, Scotty wasn't was good as we've seen but was still fine, Thia was much improved and Casey wasn't up to his usual snuff. So they are a group in the middle.

Idols who did not do well:


11. Stefano Langone, "Hello," Lionel Richie

When will someone do this song while blindly sculpting a bust? When? Also - next "Unchained Melody" should involve a pottery wheel. Anyway. Suppose Stefano will do a rock version like David Cook? No such luck. Instead, he sounds like he's singing while holding an egg in the back of his mouth. And he's dropping the ends of notes like a lounge singer. And there's a weird accent happening. This is ... not good. It's bad karaoke and he needs to stop his Broadway stage presence. There's a  nice moment at the end with the falsetto, but other than that? Hmph. No. Didn't sound good, no emotion, no connection. J.Lo calls him on his lack of emotion, but still says he sounded beautiful. I respectively disagree, Jenny from the Block.

Surprisingly, Motown was a ridiculously good week for these Idols. Almost everyone did a great job. Thia and Haley improved, Naima knocked it out of the park. So who is going to be in the bottom? I can't even imagine. But Stefano should be going home. That one's easy.


Photo/Video credit: FOX