'American Idol' Top 5: Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery kill their oldies numbers

idol-top-5-recap.jpgThe theme for the "American Idol" Top 5 is "Now and Then." One current song and one song from "then," which Lauren Alaina's parents don't even remember, so that'll be fun. Seriously, have you seen them? They're like 12.

Sheryl Crow is on hand as the mentor, which is cool. Love her. Also, they are cramming 10 performances into this 90 minutes, which means the scheduling is tight. And Ryan Seacrest shall abide no shenanigans. Which should also be fun.

As it turns out, the oldies are kinder to the Idols than the new songs, save for Haley's Lady Gaga (though the judges don't agree on Gaga).

Here are the performances, from best to worst:

1. Haley Reinhart, "House of the Rising Sun," The Animals

Wow, great choice, especially after Sheryl advises her to start a capella. YES. And it does not disappoint. I have goosebumps right from the start. This is so awesome. Slinky and sexy and still a fantastic vocal. Scotty had my top spot until this performance. I want to download this of iTunes tomorrow. Standing O from the judges. That's all that needs to be said. But Randy does say she slayed it.

2. Scotty McCreery, "Always On My Mind," Elvis Presley

This is much better than his first song. Much. That first one was fun, but not much of a singer's song. This is a singer's song and he sounds wonderful. If you close your eyes, you'd swear you were watching like the Grand Ole Opry or something. I mean, there's not a bum note in the bunch. It may be boring if country isn't your thing and I get that, but he's so good at his genre. J.Lo says he's well-rounded and can sing anything (the "as long as it's country" part is unspoken).

3. (tie) Lauren Alaina, "Unchained Melody," The Righteous Brothers

So this is way more LeAnn Rimes than Bill Medley, but that's OK. She also says this is her parents song. Uh, isn't their song "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing"? Shenanigans! Also, Jimmy Iovine, most people do NOT know this song from "Ghost." They just know it because it's a classic.

Anyway, looking super beautiful in a white and blue gown, Lauren starts off just gorgeous. She's making little plays with the melody line that make it her own and she goes for the big note on "still MINE," which is nice. I thought she might wuss out on it. Her floating between her upper and lower registers is also effortless. Her second "still MINE" is even better, but it's so disappointing she doesn't go for the high note on "I need your love." That's the only criticism, but I was so disappointed she didn't shoot for that. If she had gone for it and nailed it, best of the night. The judges love it. 

3. (tie) James Durbin, "Without You," Harry Nielsen

The song makes James breakdown during his rehearsal and there are clips of his wife and son, awww. Yeah, that's votes too. So he starts singing and honestly? It's OK. It starts off very nice. The lower stuff (just like on his first time) is not there. It's fuzzy and unsupported because he's not a lower register singer. The chorus builds up nicely to the big high notes, though there are some pitch problems. But I will chalk that up to his being so emotional. It's hard to sing when you're choking back tears. Randy admits that it wasn't perfect, but it was "emotionally perfect" and says the competition is James' to lose.

4. Haley Reinhart, "You and I," Lady Gaga

This is perfect for Haley's voice. She gets to growl and show off her lower register, plus she's wearing some very sparkly, very tight pants and really showing off the girls too, so you go, sexy. It's not a terrifically exciting performance, because it's more jammy, but Haley works it and has a nice big note on the end. Definitely a cool performance. J.Lo says she's not sure if it's a good idea to do a song no one knows and that maybe it didn't showcase her voice the best. I agree with the first half of that sentence and not so much the second. Randy agrees with J.Lo. Tyler loved it, says she made it work. I agree. I understand the point about doing an unknown song, but I thought she sounded the best so far.

5. James Durbin, "Closer to the Edge," 30 Seconds to Mars

I love that this is Jared Leto's band. Do you suppose they know "I Wanna Be Sedated"? Where's Tino? Haha. Anyway, James starts off a little hard to hear for me. Is it the sound? Or just his lower register is not quite as strong as it should be? I think it's the latter. Once the higher stuff kicks up, it's better, but ... hmm. It sounds off-pitch. I'm not sold until he gets to the "I will never forget" bridge part. From then on, it's good, but not my favorite Durbin. Tyler says he "kicked that song's a**," but I think it's more the reverse, at least in the beginning.

6. (tie) Jacob Lusk, "Love Hurts," Nazareth

I love this song, I hope he does it justice. It starts off beautifully, just pure and sweet. There are a couple bum notes, but he really gets to wail and show off his range, plus the emotion is fantastic. It really goes off-the-rails towards the end, loses a bit of its tone, but the last big note is awesome. Hannibal Lecter approves. Tyler loved his passion. J.Lo loved the tricks at the end. Randy says it was crazy.

6. (tie) Scotty McCreery, "Gone," Montgomery Gentry

Big song choice for him, maybe we'll finally see him cut loose like Lauren did on Carrie. It starts off low and very Scotty in its Scottyness. The chorus shows off more personality than we've ever seen from him. He's getting a lot of help from the blonde backup twins, but this is fun. His voting demo is going nuts over this performance. J.Lo is cracking up, she's just delighted. Tyler says he danced with the Devil (in a good way) and Randy loves that he owned the stage. Very fun, but not vocally that amazing.


6. (tie) Lauren Alaina, "Flat on the Floor," Carrie Underwood

Carrie is certainly the former "Idol" Lauren should want to be like. Not sure she's quite at the place where she's got the chops for Carrie's s***-kickin' country stompers, but no sooner do I type that then she's on the chorus just wailing. Way to lay it out there, she's really giving it her all. J.Lo is totally into it. Or passing a stone. But I think she's into it. That may not have been Lauren's prettiest performance, but it was her most fun so far and finally it felt like she loosened up some. The judges love it.

7. Jacob Lusk, "No Air," Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown

Interesting song choice - and by "interesting," I mean, I think this is not a good choice for him. The verse is a little muddled; when he gets to the "but how" lead in to the chorus, that gets better. Of course, the chorus then turns into a duet with the backup singers. Jacob is just singing the counterpart and gyrating in a suggestive manner on stage. Yeah, that didn't work. Kind of a mess, off-pitch a bit. J.Lo is really positive, while Randy says it was not the right choice.


Who's going home? Jacob. Haley, James and Scotty did too well and Lauren saved her first song with her second. Jacob's time has come, I think.


Photo/Video credit: FOX