Welcome to the first night of solo performances for the Top 13.  Allegedly, the performers picked songs from their idols. Judging by the song selection, they seem to be using the term rather loosely.

Before we get to the performances, a few notes. What is up with all of S-Ty’s random crappy poetry? It’s like if he can’t think of something constructive to say,  he resorts to some weird iambic gibberish. He sounds like a meth-y Robert Frost.  And then only thing I can say about J-Lo is I’m pretty sure this is how she’s doing her make-up now:  

On to this week’s performances and my picks for who’s going home and who’s on top!

Lauren Alaina, “Any Man of Mine.” (Shania Twain) Oh dear. For someone who a lot of pundits are picking to land in the final two, this is NOT a way to start off.  It was a lousy song choice, and she seemed nervous, over compensating with a lot of big, Broadway-esque facial gestures.  She’s lucky America really likes her, and that she’s done much better in the past.  But she won’t skate like this for long.  As the field narrows, and performers get more and more comfortable on the Idol stage, it becomes impossible to hide behind past performances when you have a bad night like this.  Also, I’d really like to see her do something besides country. I think she could tackle a Mary J. Blige song and really blow everyone’s mind.

Casey Abrams, “With A Little Help From My Friends.” (Joe Coker) I am a Casey fan, but this just underwhelmed me.  I don’t think he’s in trouble…yet.

Ashthon Jones, “When You Tell Me That You Love Me.” (Diana Ross) The judges need to stop calling her “Diana Ross”.  This girl is NOT Diana Ross, OK?  Just become you frizz out your hair in a bad perm does not make you the “Queen of Motown”.  No one starts calling me Angelina Jolie because I talk about orphans and have a few tattoos. And believe me, I’ve tried to make this happen.

Paul McDonald, “Come Pick Me Up.” (Ryan Adams) OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.  RYAN ADAMS IS NOT YOUR “IDOL”, OK?  Give me a break.   Also, his dance moves are frightening.  That’s not the first time I’ve said this.  An average performance by someone is probably capable of better, although I personally haven’t seen a good enough reason for why he got this spot over some of the other guys.

Pia Toscano, “All By Myself.” (Celine Dion) Pia picked “Celine Dion” as her “idol”. (Really?) And then proceeded to perform an Eric Carmen song.  OK then.  There really is no hope for the Youngs.  Although I’m really not sure what miracles I expected from a crop of 20-somethings who up until two weeks ago were incapable of naming a single Beatles’ song.  Irregardless, she was really spectacular.  If she keeps this up, and early favorites like Lauren continue to under perform, look for Pia to sail into the top 3.

James Durbin, “Maybe I’m Amazed.”(Paul McCartney) I cannot stand anything about James Durbin when he opens his mouth to talk or when he is screaming for no reason in the middle of a perfectly good song.   He is like the strip-mall version of Adam Lambert; like one of those sad designer purse knockoffs you buy from a street vendor.  It looks great in the plastic when it’s only $20, but by the time you’ve worn it twice, it just looks like another cheap sack.  I think he’s going to ride the Adam Lambert coattails for awhile. Plus, he appeals to wider audience than Lambert (he’s straight, has a baby, has a million different crazy problems, etc.)  That’s going to keep him around for a long time.

Haley Reinhart, “Blue.”(Leann Rhimes) The good news about her painful warbling is at least it will keep stray packs of dogs from invading the neighborhood.  I want to like the girl with the weird voice, but she makes it impossible.  And if S-Ty makes one more reference to how he “knew” Leann when she was a “young girl”, I’m calling social services.

Jacob Lusk, “I Believe I Can Fly.” (R. Kelley) Jacob tells the audience that was deeply inspired by the film that this song is from…which was Space Jam.  Wait—SPACE JAM??    How do you take someone seriously that says they were “inspired” by a Bugs Bunny cartoon?   “This song is dedicated to everyone everywhere who should have taken that right turn at Albuqeurque!” And to top it off, he brings a giant choir which does not help distract us from the fact that he was pitchy and off key.  I chalk this up to nerves.  Or a deep seeded fear that Marvin The Martian could, at any moment, invade the Hollywood Bowl and force them into a game of basketball to decide the fate of the universe.

Thia Megia, “Smile.” (Michael Jackson) Last week, Randy told Thia Megia that she reminded him a lot of Jackson, so this week…she chose an MJ song that’s actually a Nat King Cole song that was actually made famous by Charlie Chaplin.  In her interview, she calls him …“Charlie Chapman”.    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? CHARLIE CHAPMAN?  KILL ME. PLEASE JUST KILL ME.

Stefano Langone, “Lately.” I was not aware the amazing music of Stevie Wonder needed to be re-mixed like a bad MIA song.   Apparently, this makes it unique:

Karen Rodriguez, “I Could Fall in Love.” (Selena) THIS. WAS. AWFUL.

Scotty McCreery, “The River.” (Garth Brooks) I once had a well-known music critic explain to me that you don’t measure the a performer on whether or not you personally care for the songs or their type of music. You judge them on how the perform in front of a crowd, and how the audience reacts to them.  You can say what you want about Alfred E. Newman Scotty, but in my opinion, this was the best performance of the night, hands down. I hate country music, I hate Garth Brooks, but let’s face it, Scotty is about a million times better than Trace Adkins, and that guy has about a million albums out.  That being said, if sings “Baby Lock Them Doors” one more time, I’m going to jump out of a window.

Naima Adedapo, “Umbrella.” (Rhianna) Oh where to even begin with this mess.  Did she sing badly? Not really.  So how do you explain where this went wrong, exactly?  Imagine if Al Roker suddenly busted out into a routine from “Stomp” during the morning weather report.  That basically sums up this performance.  That being said, I really like Naima, and I wish she would do something that suits her, like some old school Billie Holiday or Lena Horne.  I bet in field with a bunch of half-hearted country music numbers that would stand out, because I’m sure she would nail that.

I saw a lot of nerves, a lot of stage jitters, a lot of performers not used to being in such a huge venue and I saw a lot of confused, shaky performances, from good singers who were probably thinking more about the millions of people watching.  There were a lot of performances from people who seemed like they were trying to play it safe, because at the very least, everyone wants to make the Top 10 (That’s who gets to go on the AI Tour).  Also, I’m convinced S-Ty and J-Lo are actually watching a completely different show than the rest of us.  Maybe when you’re really rich and famous, you can do that.  Like you can just go “Oh this boring, please send images of something better to amuse me so I don’t have to be tortured by this dreck.”  How else do you explain J-Lo’s goofy reaction to Jacob’s underwhelming performance, or the fact that S-Ty crowed about Haley’s boring rendition of Leann Rhimes?

Here are my predictions for who is safe and who is going home:

Lauren Alaina,Casey Abrams,  Jacob Lusk, James Durbin, Pia Toscano, Thia Megia, and Scotty McCreery are not going anywhere yet.

Paul McDonald, Stefano Langone and Naima Adedapo

Karen Rodriguez, Ashthon Jones, Haley Reinhart  (If I have any second thoughts about this, I might switch Haley with Naima, because it could close call. Also, I would not be blow away if Paul McDonald ends up here. ).

Ashthon Jones: On this show, when you’re a wild card pick you have to bring it when you perform.  Your fate is 100% in the audience’s hands at this point, and they’ve already said “Nah, we’ll pass.”   When the judges say “Whoa, America, we think you made a little oversight”, America tends to get pissed and say “Who are you calling stupid, Randy Jackson? Whatever.”  That’s why the wild card performer needs to prove to America that they deserve to be there in the first place.  Unfortunately, Ashthon’s performance did not have nearly the wow factor needed to give America good enough reason to admit they were wrong in the first place.  She’s probably going home because of it.

In my pool, I’m putting the bulk of my points on Ashthon, with a few going to Karen, my runner up for worst of the night. Good luck and we’ll see you tomorrow night for the results show!