American Idol 2011: Top 9 performance show recap – Idols (mostly) rock

Tonight’s Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame episode of “American Idol” was a rare one because no one was terrible. It’s getting harder for America to figure out what they want to do, so it’s time for some crazy eliminations to start happening. But before I get ahead of myself, let me get to the weekly performance reviews. As always, I’ll review each contestant’s performance and assign the letter grade I see fit.

In order of performance

*Jacob Lusk, “Man in the Mirror.” First of all, let me say that Jacob’s vocals were nice and controlled. I think it was one of his better performances. Our regular readers are probably surprised to hear that from me. I do, however, have a complaint. Did he really say he decided not to do “Let’s Get it On” because of the sexual reference? Really? Wow. I have so many things to say about that, but I’ll just bite my tongue and settle for a huge eyeroll. A

*Haley Reinhart, “Piece of My Heart.” Every week I seem to only accurately predict/pick one correct song choice and this week it was Haley’s. So I clearly agree with her song choice. And she was one of only a few of the contestants to pick a true rock song, so good for her. At times, Haley’s growls have annoyed me, but this song was perfect for her style. I enjoyed it and think it’s one of her best to date. A+

*Casey Abrams, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain.” So I like Jacob AND Casey in the same week. Madness! I thought this was Casey’s best performance. This is clearly the kind of music he should be making and that’s why even those who dislike him will respond well to this performance. Casey with the happy vibe is just far better than Casey with that pseudo angry vibe he put off the first several weeks. A+

*Lauren Alaina, “Natural Woman.” I’ve slowly been becoming a Lauren fan. And after last week I was pretty much there. But her performance this week kind of set her back a few steps in my eyes. I thought her vocals were good, but that song is so boring and overdone. It just never sounds fresh. Even if a 16-year-old girl sings it. B

*James Durbin, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I said I’d like for James to slow things down but was that the right song? Not in my opinion. I think it would’ve been more interesting to take a hardcore rock song and slow that down, David Cook style. While I didn’t love the performance, I still think it was a necessary one. It was nice for him to show more versatility. And before anyone complains about my grade for James, keep in mind his average here is A. But I just wasn’t feeling him this week. B-

*Scotty McCreery, “That’s Alright Mama.” I did suggest Scotty take on Elvis, just not this song. But that’s alright, because everyone on the show loved it. I like Scotty, but I didn’t really agree with the judges that he transformed into Rock n’ Roll Scotty. It sounded pretty country to me. I just didn’t agree that he stepped out of his comfort zone. I’m not saying that’s even a bad thing. I just don’t think we should get confused over what he actually gave us this week. B+

*Pia Toscano, “River Deep Mountain High.” Finally! She didn’t sing a ballad! The vocals were crazy good. But her stage presence was terrible. And that’s what Jennifer Lopez was trying to tell her without actually saying it. Pia is amazing, but she’s not a performer. She does need to work on that. A-

*Stefano Langone, “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Once again, a predictable choice. And not a very Rock n’ Roll one either. It was still very well-done, but I had hoped for something more fun like Prince. American probably would’ve responded better to that, too. B+

*Paul McDonald, “Folsom Prison Blues.” I never really imagined Paul taking on Johnny Cash, but I think it worked. Paul can’t be accused of whispering his lyrics this week. I think it was a pretty solid performance and a lot of fun to watch. And he had the pimp spot. He may have saved himself this week. B+

Now I’ll suggest what I think the outcome of America’s vote might be tomorrow (as always, this prediction is NOT based on MY opinions but simply what I think could happen tomorrow night based on America’s vote. It also doesn’t mean that’s what I want to happen).

100 Percent safe: Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Casey Abrams

Most Likely Safe: Pia Toscano, Lauren Alaina, Jacob Lusk

Probably the Bottom 3: Haley Reinhart, Stefano Langone, Paul McDonald

Possibly Going Home: Stefano Langone

This is another tough week to predict. While I think Paul being in the pimp spot tonight will keep him from going home, I still think he’ll be in the Bottom 3. I also think it’s possible for Jacob to land in the Bottom 3 this week. As for who is going home, I have a feeling it will be Stefano but could easily be Haley or Jacob. There’s no way of knowing who Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia voters will send their votes to. Things could get interesting.

What are your thoughts on tonight’s performances?