James Durbin Cries, Scotty McCreery Wows, But Haley Reinhart Captivates On American Idol

May 5, 2011 12:58 pm

(Photo: FOX/Michael Becker)

The “American Idol” final five are the cream of the crop. Their styles have already been established (more or less), their performances have shocked and awed both crowds and judges in the later rounds, and they have all won over America at some point in the competition.

With all the performers showing massive amounts of maturity, confidence, and growth it is no longer a matter of who can perform; but rather who is the most consistent, the most passionate, and the most well rounded.

The theme of Wednesday night’s performances was “Then and Now,” and the contestants continue to let America know what genre they fit in, how far they reach out of that genre, and how much they want to win this.

To help resident vocal coach Jimmy Iovine, was 90’s superstar, cancer survivor, and musical icon, Sheryl Crow.

Here is a brief recap of Wednesday night’s performance:

James Durbin, “Closer To The Edge” by 30 Seconds to Mars:
James Durbin came out with a glammed up punk rocker ensemble to go with his contemporary feel for his first song. The song was mainly a chorus that needed high vocals, but James seemed to have fallen a bit short on them. However he still rocked the crowd with pyrotechnics in the back and all. Randy liked it and said, “now we can see where we are going with this,” as to say he knows the type of music James will play after this is all said and done. GRADE: B

Second Song: “Without You” by Henry Nilsson: James had a rough time as emotions overwhelmed him during the rehearsal with Jimmy and Sheryl. The lyrics hit close to home, as he confessed it made him think about his fiancée and son. He performed nearly half the song eyes closed with tears streaming down his cheeks. This competition means more to James than anything, as he puts his heart and soul and family in every performance. Every one who watched felt his pain, and might have won over some doubters. “This competition is yours to lose,” said Randy, as in only James can beat himself. Although the song wasn’t perfect, Randy said it best as, “it was emotionally perfect.” Grade: B+

Jacob Lusk, “No Air” by Jordan Sparks:
Jacob’s first song was certainly an interesting performance. Although his outfit was an upgraded version of his boldly blue suit of last week, his dance moves certainly were not. He has this weird feel on stage where he tries to show his confidence but instead shows his awkwardness. Jennifer Lopez said his “voice is one of the best on the show,” as she praises his showmanship, and Randy didn’t like the idea that he sang both parts of the song, being as that he doesn’t see Jacob as a Chris Brown or Jordan Sparks.GRADE: C+

Second Song: “Love Hurts” by Nazareth. Jacob went out of his element with his second choice of a 1976 rock hit and made it very much his own, as he kept with the underlying heartbreak theme that all the performers were doing on their second song. “That might have been the highest note sang up here on stage” escalated Randy as Steven admitted that the crowd was lost in the song because he was lost. Not sure if that was a compliment or not, and also left Jacob a little confused. GRADE: B-

Lauren Aliana, “Flat On The Floor” by Carrie Underwood. Lauren’s Underwood rendition had the crowd moving as she stuck with her country tone. Crow gave a good suggestion to just stand there and sing it, which would let the song and her voice be heard, rather than be distracted by whatever antics she was doing on stage. This song was a hit, with Lauren’s voice mixed and the fiddler both rockin’ out together, this can definitely  be seen as a song choice for her on the “Idol Tour.” GRADE: A-

Second Song: “Unchained Melody” by Righteous Brothers. Lauren toned it down with her second song coming out with a 1950’s style dress, but adding a contemporary feel to this oldies classic. She struggled a bit in the middle but ended with some strong-forced vocals to bring it home. Jennifer said there was “nothing to judge there, it was a beautiful song, and you sang it beautifully.” GRADE: B+

Scotty McCreery, “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry. Scotty went with a perfect song on his first choice that was gritty, energetic, and he sang it like it was his anthem. “You danced with the devil tonight,” Steven Tyler said “I felt like we were at a Scotty concert, who knew you could rock it like that.” said Randy. This performance looked like the most fun Scotty has had all year on stage, and is without a doubt his style, although still moving like a hip-hop artist with head bobs and hand swaying in tact. Maybe in another life?GRADE: A

Second Song: “Always On My Mind” by Elvis Presley. Scotty has been an Elvis fan all his life, so he couldn’t help himself when the opportunity arose to sing another track from his favorite singer. He slowed this track considerably and got intimate with the crowd as he showed his seductive side. Steven Tyler thought “that was a beautiful rendition.”GRADE: A

Haley Reinhart, “You And I” by Lady Gaga. Haley was given an unreleased track from pop icon Lady Gaga by Jimmy Lovine that was a good choice for one reason, there is no way to gauge her performance with any recorded versions. She has always been the underdog as there has yet to be a performance that blew the judges away, and this one was no different.  She seemed a bit disappointed as the only judge who had anything nice to say was the always soft Steven by saying, “you’re just one perfect song away from being an American Idol.” GRADE: B-

Second Song: “House of The Rising Sun” by The Animals. Haley is no stranger to the bottom three, matter o’ fact some might say she’d even comfortable hearing her name week after week there. However she’s grown tired, puzzled, and even a little upset for not getting good reviews from her performances by the judges. She most definitely let it all out in her second song and the last of the night. Haley killed it. Simple as that. She didn’t miss a note, and came out with this crazy new found confidence. Haley had this attitude, this inner anger, and this sex appeal that gushed out of her performance and has not yet been seen by the judges nor the fans. Everyone in that building and at home watching were blown away, while Haley just seemed relieved and a bit shocked when Randy dubbed her the performance of the night. GRADE: A+

One thing that showed from Wednesday nights performances was that every performer can have an off day, but it’s the willingness to get back up and be your best every time is what makes a superstar — better yet, it’s what makes an “American Idol.”