‘American Idol’: Haley Reinhart Is A 21st Century Girl

Becky Bain / April 21, 2011

On last night’s American Idol, the Top 7 hopefuls sang songs from the 21st century, ie, everything from 2001 on. (No, the year 2000 is not part of the 21st century, so I hope you weren’t holding out for Scotty McCreery to perform Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”.) With literally an entire decade of songs to choose from, the contestants did not disappoint in picking some of the weirdest, most obscure songs yet. Or should we just feel grateful all seven Idols didn’t bust out yet another version of “Hallelujah”? Recap below.

First, Ryan Seacrest introduces all five eliminated female Idols (and Paul McDonald, wearing another one of his flamboyant rose-adorned suits) to have them sing Pink’s “So What”. It’s depressing for a variety of reasons: 1) By clumping all the voted off females (five!) on stage, it’s more apparent than ever that there’s very clearly a voting favoritism problem on Idol; 2) The producers wanted Pia Toscano back on the show so badly they invented this reject reunion; and 3) Paul sounds terrible. A guy with a voice like that should not be singing a Max Martin song.

THE STANDOUTS

You have to be brave to cover Adele – John Legend and Gwyneth Paltrow both had the guts to do so quite recently, and so does Haley Reinhart, performing the singer’s #1 hit “Rolling In The Deep”. Haley looks adorable, sexy, and classy all at the same time in a polka dot dress, and her throaty, unique vocals make us hear this song in a whole new way. Girl’s on a roll!

THE MEH

Jacob Lusk gets emotional and tears up while singing Luthor Vandross’ 2003 song “Dance For My Father” during rehearsal, due to his own father dying when he was young. During the actual performance, Jacob holds it together, and gives it his all. His shaky vibrato is a major annoyance, though.

Scotty McCreery sings John Anderson’s 1983 song “Swingin'”. LOOPHOLE! Lean Rhimes recorded it in this century. You’re so wily, Scotty! The country man does his usual thing during this totally boring song, and as confident as his vocals are, we’ve had enough of his eyebrow-raising, mic-twisting, all too predictable performances from this guy. Maybe he should have done “Say My Name”? He’s certainly high enough on the Idol Power List that he could take a risk and would probably be safe for another week if it didn’t pay off.

Ryan says that James Durbin’s performance of Muse’s “Uprising” is the first Muse song ever to be performed on Idol, but we all know that’s not exactly true, since Adam Lambert performed the British band’s version of “Feelin’ Good” during Season 8. Anyway! James, dressed in all black, gets assisted by a 3-person marching band, and though we appreciate the modern song choice, his voice nowhere matches Matthew Bellamy’s, and his high notes were screeeeeching.

THE UH-OH

Casey Abrams took on “Harder To Breathe” from Maroon 5’s debut album in 2002, a song we totally forgot existed. He does his best, but his vocals are a bit muddy this week — and the kiss he plants on J-Lo at the end of the song was random (the track is about heartbreak and pressure, not a meet cute) and gimmick-y. Jennifer sure liked it, but we have no idea what Steven thought of Casey’s performance, since the censors cut out pretty much everything he  had to say. (Nigel sure ain’t happy!)

Stefano Langone busted out Ne-Yo’s “Closer”, and his confidence shines through. We can almost buy him as sexy! Almost. But not quite. Plus, Stefano’s cadence – almost like he’s singing in a language other than his native tongue – is distracting.

Lauren Alaina sings “Born To Fly” by Sara Evans, and has the help of Rock Mafia (Miley Cyrus’ producers). This could have been her week to bust out a meaningful, emotional performance, and instead she chooses an obscure country song that provides her with absolutely no shining moments. It’s pretty much the biggest disappointment of the night, since it becomes clear that the 16-year old – who does have a great voice – doesn’t know what to do with it.

THOUGHTS ON THE NIGHT: James and Scotty might be at the top of our Idol Power List, but we really do not want to see either of them win. (Scotty is too one-note; James’ vocals are too inconsistent.) We sincerely hope Haley, who has the most distinct voice of anyone left in the competition, continues her streak and ends up rolling right to the finale.

Tonight, Katy Perry performs her alien fantasy “E.T.”, David Cook performs his new single “The Last Goodbye”, and one more Idol hopeful gets voted off. It could be anyone! Even… YOU! (If you’re one of the seven contestants on the show, anyway.)