"American Idol" - Top Nine Performance Show - April 6, 2011
Ryan tells us that Gwen Stefani styled the contestants and will.i.am helped coach them.
Theme: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
In the audience: Christian Slater; Todd Rundgren
Video Package: We get a history on the Hall narrated by Hall of Famer himself Steven Tyler.
Contestant: Jacob Lusk
Song: "Man in the Mirror," Michael Jackson, which he switched from "Let's Get it On," Marvin Gaye. He claims if he's in the bottom three it won't be because he sang the song badly but because people weren't ready to look in the mirror.
Performance: It's gentle and straightforward with a couple of pitchy moments at the beginning. He does a little back and forth with a back-up singer who looks like Siedah Garrett. He takes it a little higher on the chorus but never gets really get crazy on it.
Steven: Calls Garrett back out for a curtain call as the co-writer of the song. Says each time he sings he brings another piece of himself to the party and calls it beautiful. Twice.
JLo: Says he makes everybody know that if you believe in yourself you can do anything. Calls it perfect on every emotional level.
Randy: Loves that he switched songs over his moral convictions and the deeper message of the song and he's also proud that there were "Jacob moments" all over it and calls it hot.
Contestant: Haley Reinhart
Song: "Piece of My Heart," Janis Joplin. She says the judges have been throwing the name around all season. Will says she sounds like an artist not a singer but he wants her to feel something when she looks in the camera, to look at it as if it were he boyfriend that messed up her head.
Performance: She's doing that rough up thing on her voice that sounds like it hurts. It sounds fine but feels affected but she hits a great, gritty last note.
JLo: Says they're off to a strong start and she's showing people that she's a contender.
Randy: Says what she did was what they wanted not so much Janis specifically but to get bluesy and gritty.
Steven: Couldn't find nothing wrong with that. Says Janis gave the voice to rock and roll back in '68 and Haley did it again tonight.
Contestant: Casey Abrams
Song: "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," Credence Clearwater Revival. He was going to sing "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" by the Police but Jimmy didn't like it.
Performance: He plays his upright bass and does a fun, swinging, laid-back almost tropical version with charm and grit.
Randy: Says he made CCR proud and that he's making the upright bass cool and calls it revolutionary.
Steven: Thinks he should put some wheels on it and ride it around town. He calls him a true musician and he brings something every time.
JLo: Says that's exactly where he belongs and she's paying top dollar to be in the front row.
Contestant: Lauren Alaina
Song: "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman," Aretha Franklin. Jimmy and Will love that she's combining country and soul and tell her to be in the moment.
Performance: It's all fine and good if a little stiff until the final third when she lets loose a little. Again she sounds fine but I'm not sure she's really "feeling" what it feels like to be made to feel like a natural woman.
Steven: Says he loves her and says she came in a little girl and tonight she became natural woman.
JLo: Agrees with the crowd that she's amazing.
Randy: Says she picked one of the most difficult songs and he wasn't jumping up and down but she did a good job.
Contestant: James Durbin
Song:"While My Guitar Gently Weeps," The Beatles. He wants to do something unexpected and slow it down. Will respects the danger of it but says he has to make sure his energy is high as the other people who are doing rock songs.
Performance: Seated with slanted mood lighting over his face he takes it slow and easy, hitting a few rough pitch patches. It's very Lambert-lite. He throws a big scream on the end that doesn't fit the song at all. He didn't butcher it but it was kind of boring.
JLo: She liked to see that other side that makes the rock and roll thing work, she likes that he's vulnerable to share with them.
Randy: Really loved seeing the real true emotional side of him, he liked that he wanted to take a chance.
Steven: Loved that he gently wept as well and called it a proud moment for him as well. (He notes, oddly, "Not only did the Beatles write great songs but George Harrison did as well." Um, yeah, George Harrison was a Beatle.)
Contestant: Scotty McCreery
Song: "That's Alright Mama," Elvis Presley. Will tells him to combine country and rock as if this is some kind of news when an Elvis song. Scotty says he's going to switch it up this week.
Performance: Ack, that weird microphone to the right thing is back. He sounds great, walks around a bit, scats, and gets a bit gritty. He's having fun which is nice to see. They then let a bunch of girls run onstage and hug him, screaming.
Randy: Says Scotty is in it to win it. Says anybody who thinks he's a one-trick pony is wrong, liked that he was having fun.
Steven: He thought he was all hat and no cattle but Scotty made it cool and he hopes Scotty brings that kind of music back into vogue.
JLo: Also loves that he was having fun, being funny, and bringing a little flavor to it.
Contestant: Pia Toscano
Song: "River Deep, Mountain High," Tina Turner. Will and Jimmy worry about Pia being compared to Tina and want her to turn on her personality and wow people. She says she can't wait to show that other side of her.
Performance: She sounds great, is rocking a cute ponytail, a bizarre polka dot jumper. Honestly, it feels like a ballad peformance in an uptempo wrapper since she's not really moving too much. (That could be the shoes). But she sounds terrific and the song has momentum of its own.
Steven: Calls her a murderer because she killed it. Says there's a million guys in a million bars having a million drinks over her.
JLo: Calls it amazing and calls her special, and wants her now to study great performances so she can become more amazing as a performer.
Randy: Says she showed that she could definitely do the uptempo thing and now she does need to work on the performance.
Contestant: Stefano Langone
Song:"When a Man Loves a Woman," Percy Sledge. Will gives him some tips on performance and building anticipation. Ryan Tedder tells he can own the song or be owned by it. Stefano thinks it's going to be a big week for him.
Performance: He starts seated and a feathery falsetto. For the first time he seems more connected to the words as opposed to just the notes. He has a couple of nice quick runs and has a decent sense of dynamics. This may be his best performance.
JLo: She says she knew he had it in him and calls it beautiful and that she loved it and says she felt it had another layer of emotion.
Randy: Wasn't jumping up and down because the start was a little jerky.
Steven: Like the old-timey part in the beginning and liked that he played with it, liked the passion and thought he nailed it.
Song:"Folsom Prison Blues," Johnny Cash. Jimmy tells him to sing it like he's out of his mind. He vows to sing it like he's crazy.
Performance: He seems less crazy but just really really cheerful even when he's talking about wanting to stay in prison. It's a good, strong vocal though and he's very engaged and energetic yelling at the crowd to make some noise.
Randy: Has three words: "I loved it."
Steven: Also loved it.
JLo: Thought it was a perfect way to end the show. Right in his lane.
Bottom Three Prediction: Haley, Jacob, Stefano