‘American Idol’: Jacob Lusk Amazes On Motown Night

Robbie Daw | March 24, 2011 6:22 am

During what could have been just another routine bout of Motown Night on American Idol, the volume of talent possessed by Season 10’s contestants was brought to the spotlight. There are 11 of them left, and this week will decide who places in the Top 10 performers to take the Idol tour on the road this summer. And we have a feeling Jacob Lusk doesn’t have anything to worry about. While there is some major talent displayed on stage throughout the evening, the audience is also packed with some famous entertainers. In the house: Liv Tyler (aka judge Steven Tyler‘s daughter), Jennifer Beals, Kirsten Dunst, Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford and, appropriately, Otis Williams, one of the founding members of the Temptations.

Props, also, to Jennifer Lopez‘s makeup artist, for using an industrial-strength can of green spray paint on the judge’s eyes. Daring move.


Jacob Lusk gives one of many remarkable performances among the Top 11, but it’s also by far the most memorable. The gospel-leaning crooner carries out a restrained (if not sassy) interpretation of Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell‘s “You’re All I Need To Get By,” letting his soulful pipes punch through at just the right moments.

Steven Tyler is so moved that he goes on stage to embrace Jacob, while Randy Jackson turns to his fellow judges and asks, “You know what was wrong with that performance, guys? Absolutely nothing!”

Also killing it: Pia Toscano, who belts out Stevie Wonder‘s “All In Love Is Fair” (though J.Lo tells her she needs to start owning the stage); Naima Adedapo, who incorporates some impressive African dance moves into her take on Martha Reeves And The Vandellas‘ “Dancing In The Streets”; James Durbin, who is fortunate enough to have bass-playing Bob Babbitt from original Motown house band the Funk Brothers accompany him on Wonder’s “Living For The City.”

And—surprise—young Thia Megea also shines when she chooses an upbeat number for once (Martha Reeves’ “Heat Wave”) and struts around the stage while smiling and looking more confident that she has so far this season. Randy rightly tells her she took a chance and proved she can really sing.


Call us crazy, but Casey Abrams is just alright. The scruffy contestant is decked out in a suit and delivers a performance of Motown staple “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” But like last week, he’s just kind of screechy. The judges like it, but Casey is starting to come off as being a little all over the place.

Lauren Alaina serves up an okay rendition of the Supremes‘ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” though all we really remember afterward is her zebra print dress. Scotty McCreery turns Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life” into—what else—a country-fried version of the song. If you ask us, it’s a bit of a cop-out. Meanwhile, like Thia, Haley Reinhart also improves upon her turns in previous weeks when she gives a sultry performance of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles‘ “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me.”


Now, don’t get us wrong—Stefano Langone is a phenomenal tenor, and Paul McDonald seems to have cast a spell on both the audience and judges alike. But compared to their Top 11 peers, their performances from these two kind of lag on Motown Night. Stefano gives an emotionless performance of Lionel Richie‘s “Hello,” while Paul turns Smokey Robinson‘s “Tracks Of My Tears” into a bland, John Mayer-esque number—and he screws the lyrics up! (The judges didn’t seem to notice, but we did.)

Stefano especially really needs to step it up if he wants to hang around in the competition.

THOUGHTS ON THE NIGHT: All in all, it was a stellar night for the group, though it was really Jacob who stood out the most. If we had to pick one contestant we think won’t be making it on that big tour this summer, it’s Stefano. J.Lo told him she doesn’t want his intensity to come from wanting to sing well, but rather from his heart breaking. But it might already be too late.