This week's American Idol
opens with the judges delivering an appeal for Japan following the earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11. Viewers are told that profits from the contestants' iTunes downloads on the night will go to the American Red Cross and their relief effort in Japan. Viewers will also be told how to text in donations during the result show.
The theme of this week's show is 'Songs From The Year You Were Born'. Here's what the contestants sang and what the judges thought:Naima Adedapo: 'What's Love Got To Do With It' - Tina Turner (1984)
"You have a sorcerer's grasp for melody," says Steven. "I just loved it." Jennifer thinks that she brings a "specific flavour" to everything that she does, but she's worried about Naima's "consistent" pitchiness and wonders how her performances will stand against the other contestants. Randy admits that when he watched the show back last week he didn't think Naima's performance was great at all, and this week her vocals were "kind of a mess". She promises to get her pitch together and progress in the competition.
Paul McDonald: 'I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues' - Elton John (1984)
Jennifer - who was singing along during the performance - tells Paul that she knows he felt like he was struggling because of a cold, but he has so much star quality he overcame that. "It's about whether you can make it happen, and you did baby, you really did." Randy has a different assessment: "I'm not going to give you a pass because you have a cold." He thinks there were some pitch issues, but likes that he puts his own spin on songs. Steven agrees, but thinks Paul defines "cool dude and loose mood". He adds Paul has good swagger and a distinctive voice.
Thia Megia: 'Colours Of The Wind' - Vanessa Williams (1995)
Randy thinks the vocals were "okay" but he has a problem with her singing ballads every week: "There was nothing special or unique and you have the talent." He wants her to take a risk in her next performance. Steven thinks she sang it beautifully but questions if she thinks that song is who she is. Thia says she thought the lyrics resonated with what is happening in the world today, and says it was the best choice from 1995. Jennifer agrees with Randy that she has to leave her safe zone and work on her bravado.
James Durbin: 'I'll Be There For You' - Bon Jovi (1989)
Steven can't believe his talent considering he was born in 1989, but jokes: "Don't get too poppy on me!" James says that he doesn't want to attempt an Aerosmith song until the finale, prompting Steven to promise that he will sing alongside him if he does. Jennifer admits to singing along during the performance, saying that James brings her so much joy. Randy notices a couple of pitch problems but says that James did it justice by "tastefully" making the song his own.
Haley Reinhart: 'I'm Your Baby Tonight' - Whitney Houston (1990)
Jennifer says she looks beautiful on stage and has an amazing voice, but still comes across nervous. "Don't force anything, do what comes naturally," she advises. (At this stage Ryan runs on to the stage with a tissue to wipe some stray lipstick from Haley's chin which was transferred by the microphone). Randy says that he's a little confused by the different genres she has attempted, saying that she has to decide who she is as a performer. Steven calls her "sweet and tough" but he wants to hear more blues songs.
Stefano Langone: 'If You Don't Know Me By Now' - Simply Red (1989)
"The best performance of the night so far!" shouts Randy. "You took a song that had the highest degree of difficulty and slayed it!" Steven says he had beautiful phrasing and predicts he will make Jimmy Iovine even more famous. Jennifer says it was a perfect song and suggests he could take the whole competition despite the overall level of talent. However, she advises him to connect with the audience more and make eye contact during his performances.
Pia Toscano: 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go' - Whitney Houston (1988)
"You are why this show is called American Idol
," says Steven. "You took that song in your own special way and nailed it." Jennifer is thrilled to see a more uptempo side from Pia, calling it the "perfect" song for the night. "You have an angel watching over you because you are perfect every time you are up there," she adds. Randy says that Pia consistently produces amazing vocals so the other contestants should be warned - she is in it to win it!
Scotty McCreery: 'Can I Trust You By My Heart' - Travis Tritt (1993)
Jennifer says that Scotty "pushed it out there a little bit more" at the end of his performance, praising his final note. She wants him to continue growing in that way and showing off his ability. Randy says that he made a record with Travis Tritt in the past and he thinks Scotty did Travis proud. He likes that Scotty is staying in the traditional country lane but also has the ability to sing anything he wants. Steven adds that if Scotty keeps doing what he is, then he "will go places" in the future.
Karen Rodriguez: 'Love Will Lead You Back' - Taylor Dayne (1989)
Randy says that the performance "started a little rough" but she recovered by the first chorus: "It was definitely better than last week," he concludes. "I'm still not jumping up and down but welcome back." Steven says that he loves it when Karen breaks into her "ethnic what-it-is-ness", while Jennifer could tell she was slightly scared when she took to the stage but likes that she fought it instead of letting the fear take over. "If you are nervous of certain notes don't go there," she advises. "Play to your strengths."
Casey Abrams: 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' - Nirvana (1991)
It's the first time that any contestant has attempted Nirvana on stage. "You are so good, crazy and talented," says Steven. "That's the perfect match; it's the goop that great stuff is made from." Jennifer points out that filling Kurt Cobain's shoes is a big risk, and some parts were screechy: "Kurt had the intensity but he didn't scream all the way." She wishes it had been more pleasant to listen to, like his other performances. Randy says that the most impressive thing about Casey is his willingness to take risks: "It wasn't your best performance or vocal but you're fearless and that's what we need."
Lauren Alaina: 'I'm The Only One' - Melissa Etheridge (1994)
Lauren tells Ryan that she is suffering from the flu before taking to the stage. Jennifer tells her that Melissa Etheridge is one of her favourite singers, and Lauren's strong voice came across. She also appreciates that Lauren made the song her own. Randy jokes that she should have a cold every week because the performance was great. Steven agrees that strep throat can make people sing better, adding. "I loved you the first time I heard you. You're beautiful, you did it again, you're a shining star."
Jacob Lusk: 'Alone' - Heart (1989)
Randy says that he knows it was tough for Jacob because he was stepping out of his comfort zone, and while some of the modulation was slightly off, he corrected himself quickly and delivered a great performance. He also loved the tender ending to the song, calling his decision not to be overpowering "genius". Steven jokes that if gospel had a baby it would be named Jacob Lusk. Jennifer agrees, saying that she loves that Jacob gives himself completely to every performance.American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox
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