American Idol 2011: Top 5 performance show recap – Haley wows

I wasn’t completely pleased with many of the “American Idol” Top 5 Now and Then song choices, but all and all, it was a pretty good show. In my opini0n, Haley Reinhart and Scotty McCreery were the only two contestants to bring two equally good performances.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a new “Idol” drinking game, here’s an idea. Take a drink every time Randy Jackson  mentions Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross.

As always, I’ll review each performance then assign the letter grade I think each one deserves.

In order of performance

*James Durbin, (Now) “Closer to the Edge.” I wasn’t sure about this song choice. Haley caught flack for doing an unreleased Lady Gaga song, well what about this song by Jared Leto’s band? Seriously, who even knows this song? Actually, I ended up liking the song itself, but not really James’ performance. It had a very rocky start and it took him a long time to get on key. I really think this was James’ worst performance of the season. And this is coming from someone who became a James fan last week. (Note: I will NOT respond or acknowledge any hate-responses from this review and grade). C-

*Jacob Lusk, (Now) “No Air.” Really? This is the song you choose? Out of ALL the songs available from the past few years you choose this. He was SO flat through most of the song. And he looked awkward. And please, Jacob Lusk, never grab your crotch on stage again. I don’t need that visual haunting my dreams. And can someone please tell me why Jennifer Lopez refuses to speak her mind? Why does she always beat around the bush? If she doesn’t like the performance she should just say it. Let’s see, his performance was worse than James’ so that leaves only two grade options for him. I’ll be nice. D+

*Lauren Alaina, (Now) “Flat on the Floor.” I really think Lauren needed to pick a Carrie Underwood song that had crossed over to the pop charts and more people have heard. But in the end, it was a good performance. She handled the up-tempo and heavy song nicely. And she looked great. A-

*Scotty McCreery (Now) “Gone.” I barely know who Montgomery Gentry is, but I really liked the song and I really liked Scotty’s take on it. He had great stage presence, good moves (for the first time if you ask me) and pretty much rocked it. It’s one of my favorite Scotty performances. A+

*Haley Reinhart (Now) “You And I.” OK, I’m not a Lady Gaga fan. I think she’s overrated and kind of fake. And I’m also not a fan of Idol contestants picking songs no one knows. But I think Haley did a great job with the song. I mean, she made me like a Gaga song. I really don’t know why the judges only ever choose Haley to criticize. They let Jacob and James get by with less-than-perfect performances. Why can’t they give her a break? Especially when she was BETTER than the two of them in the first round. A

*James Durbin (Then) “Without You.” For the second week in a row, James performed one of my favorite songs. And he killed it. I don’t care if there were pitch issues (I didn’t hear any this time – did the first round, but not this one). I mean, forget the C from earlier. Forget it all. This was an amazing performance. And there was so much emotion there. If I had a heart, I probably could have cried. I’m kidding. I  have a heart! A+

*Jacob Lusk (Then) “Love Hurts.” Hmm. Why was he so nervous about doing a rock song? Because all he did was take a rock song and turn it into a nasaly church hymn like he does everything. I’ve concluded that I don’t care what he sings, I’ll never like it because he always sounds like  he’s singing out of his nose. I know voice instructors and I’m pretty sure there are some techniques to shake that bad habit. I just didn’t like it. He praised Sheryl Crow’s soft, emotional version and I thought that was what he was going to jump off from. No. Instead, he comes out and oversings it and screams a lot. I don’t care what the judges say about that last note, there’s a difference between singing a note that high and screaming one. C

*Lauren Alaina (Then) “Unchained Melody.” Ugh. Bad song choice. Girl, you’re 16! Not 60! And I thought “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith was your parents’ song? Hmmm. In the end, the performance was just OK. There was a moment where Lauren climbed to the top of her range and had us waiting for more, but then, because of the bad song editing, she dropped it way back down and the song never regained momentum. Weird. There were several moments in the song where she could’ve let loose and owned that song but she didn’t. It was almost like she was afraid of the song.  B-

*Scotty McCreery (Then) “Always on My Mind.” I almost suggested this song for Scotty in my blog earlier this week, but I thought doing another Elivs song would’t go over well. I should’ve known these softy judges could care less. The performance was solid. He didn’t take the song to any new heights, but after his energetic first song, it was OK to relax with this one. It balanced out his night well. A

*Haley Reinhart (Then) “House of the Rising Sun.” This song choice for her really scared me. But then she freaking delivered it. If this wasn’t a family show and a family website, I would’ve used another F-word back there. This performance was insanely HOT. Best Haley has ever been. This was the moment Simon Cowell would’ve said “Well you little minx,” which is quite high praise from him. Hot, hot, hot. A+

The averages

James: C- | A+ | A- (with some extra credit for emotion)

Jacob: D+ | C | C-

Lauren: A | B- | B-

Scotty: A+ | A- | A

Haley: A | A+ | A+

And now, the impossible task of trying to figure out who will go home based on America’s votes. As always, these picks are based on just that — NOT my personal opinions, but what I THINK the outcome of America’s votes COULD be. After last week, who knows if there’ll be a Bottom 3, Bottom 2 or what. So, my predictions this week will be different.

100 percent safe: Scotty McCreery and James Durbin

Not 100 percent safe: Lauren Alaina, Haley Reinhart and Jacob Lusk

Possibly going home: Jacob Lusk

My Thinking: I think Scotty and James are just fine. In fact, that’s probably going to be your finale, America. As for who goes home this week, it should 100 percent be Jacob. But he got more praise from the judges than Haley. But is anyone really listening to these softy judges? Who knows. Jacob will probably go home, but if it’s not him than it would probably be Haley. Even though I think if it’s not Jacob then it should probably be Lauren. OK, my brain is officially fired.

What are your thoughts on tonight’s show?