The chances of correctly predicting the winner of American Idol this season are truly 50/50. Will the better performer from last night win it all, or will the other contestant’s fan base help to seal the victory? In all honesty, the outcome doesn’t really matter. Both young country artists will get record deals, and most likely each will record the original song that was written for them for the finale.
Perhaps last night’s finale was entertaining for country music fans. But for the rest of the country, this finale just fell flat. Despite the judges attempts to create excitement around the performances, there were no memorable moments from the show. Actually, there was one, but it had nothing to do with the show. The most exciting part of the show came when Fox broke in with a severe tornado warning in my area, forcing us to pause American Idol on the DVR and seek refuge in a closet.
Thankfully, we were able to fast-forward through most of the show, including parts of some of the performances, which surely would have had Simon rolling his eyes if he was still a judge.
Scotty McCreery won the coin toss, but elected to defer to Lauren Alaina, making the coin toss an exercise in futility. Alaina obviously chose to go second. This act of chivalry shows that the finale was not really a competition, but rather a country music television show which would have been more at home on CMT.
For their first song, the contestants got to choose their favorite performances of the season.
McCreery started the show off with “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry. No offense to McCreery, who is adored by millions, but I thought that he’d be “gone” long before most of the others in the Top 13. Those who love him probably loved the performance. Those who don’t were probably as bored as I was.
Alaina, fighting through a damaged vocal cord which caused rumors to spread that she would be replaced by Haley Reinhart, did a decent job with Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor.” Despite the setback, she looked very confident on stage, but it was evident that she was having difficulty hitting the big notes.
The second song was chosen by the Idols of the Idol contestants.
George Strait chose one of his own songs for McCreery to perform. His rendition of “Check Yes or No” was a snoozefest. Of course, I don’t know the original version, so it might have been great. Given the choice, I will check “no” for this performance.
Carrie Underwood chose “Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis for Alaina. She did a decent job with it, straining to overcome her injured vocal cord at times, but overall, it was better than McCreery.
Why the judges didn’t comment until each contestant performed twice is beyond me. I’d like to think that the producers made a wise decision in not forcing the viewing audience to listen to the same generic comments twice.
Jennifer Lopez told Scotty that she couldn’t think of a more explosive way to start the show. Really? Explosive? Was she watching the same show as the rest of us?
Randy Jackson, wearing the dumbest outfit that he has ever worn on the show, proclaimed that they were both “in it to win it.” You have to wonder at this point if he is somehow cashing in every time that he utters that idiotic catch phrase.
Steven Tyler, who has gone steadily downhill as a judge from the beginning of the season to the finale, spewed some gibberish before stating that Alaina won the first two rounds because “she’s prettier than Scotty.” When Tyler talks about how pretty these girls are, he always sounds like a dirty old man.
For their third and final song, each contestant performed an original song that was written specifically for them. It would be surprising if either song gets much airplay on pop radio as both songs are made for country radio.
McCreery performed a song called “I Love You This Big.” Clearly, many voters feel this way about Scotty. Anyone who has been reading my reviews of American Idol this season knows that I don’t feel this way. I think that he is good for what he is, but I am still shocked that he became this unstoppable force on the show.
Alaina performed a song called “Like My Mother Does.” It was a typical formulaic country song. Alaina did a decent job with the song, as she always does. Personally, I was just happy when the song ended, putting a cap on a very disappointing season of American Idol.
Actually, there was one more performance to end the evening. For reasons that no one but the American Idol producers will understand, David Cook ended the show with a cover version of “Don’t You Forget About Me.” The song was originally made popular in the 80’s by the band Simple Minds. The irony of the band name and this decision by the Idol producers was not lost on me.
Even the most diehard Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina fans will admit that this was the most boring finale ever if they are honest with themselves. There was not one standout performance, and no excitement. A season that once had great potential, went out in such boring fashion, that you have to wonder if the audience will shrink next year as better shows like The Voice and X-Factor threaten the American Idol empire.
This finale could have been the best ever if the voting during the season had gone a different way.
Pia Toscano had plenty of detractors, but she would have been a much better finale contestant. James Durbin would have walked away with this victory if he replaced either of the finale contestants because he would have made the show exciting. Since I don’t have the luxury of choosing the winner between the two best contestants, I have no choice but to pick who the winner of Country American Idol will be.
And the next American Idol is…
It defies all logic that a one-trick pony who has never delivered an over-the-top singing performance will win a singing competition. But the voters love him, and that is what matters most on American Idol. He and Alaina will probably both go on to have careers in country music. Alaina is the more deserving of the two, but that hasn’t mattered all season, so there is no reason for it to matter when crowing this season’s champion.
Perhaps the most telling moment of the finale was having someone other than the two finalists close the show with a song called “Don’t You Forget About Me.” Personally, I cannot make that promise to David Cook, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina or American Idol for that matter. This show may not have run its course for many, but for me, there is no reason to return.
The Top 11 American Idol contestants each had to perform a Motown song this week. For the most part, all of the contestants chose songs that they were capable of singing. Every week is important for the contestants, but with the exception of the finale, this week is the most critical as the contestant that gets voted off does not go on the American Idol tour.
If history is any indication, the contestant that gets voted off this week is not likely to be heard from again, and will be forgotten fairly quickly.
Because this week is so critical, the contestants who have built up a loyal following will likely make it into the Top 10, regardless of their performance or the judges’ comments. The only way that the judges would use their save this week is to protect someone who they feel is special or someone who is so unique that losing them would hurt the tour. This bodes well for some of the contestants, and not so well for others.
Each week, Television2Day will review American Idol and rank the contestants based on their performance for the week. After the rankings, a prediction of the bottom three will be made, along with a prediction of who will be voted off the show.
Here is the Top 11 Breakdown (in reverse order):
 Haley Reinhart – Performing “You Really Got a Hold on Me” by Smokey Robinson, Reinhart had her best performance since reaching the Top 13. Unfortunately for Reinhart, it was still nothing special, and there is no reason to believe that it will be enough to move her up in the rankings. Her overall look was better this week, but the decision to have someone who is not comfortable on stage walk down potentially hazardous stairs wearing stiletto heels was questionable. It’s very hard to focus on singing when you’re trying not to fall. Reinhart has talent, but screams at times when hitting the power notes and her lack of stage presence is detrimental when it comes to generating votes.
 Thia Megia – It is unfortunate that Megia cannot seem to deliver the kind of memorable performance that she did to make it into the Top 13. In an effort to listen to the judges’ advice, Megia stepped out of her ballad comfort zone with her performance of “Heatwave” by Martha and the Vandellas. It was good to see her loosening up a bit, but her performance felt a bit forced. The talent is there, but Megia seems to be overwhelmed by having to compete on the big stage.
 Paul McDonald – After stating his interview that he grew up on Motown music that “makes you move,” McDonald smartly chose not to showcase his frantic movements this week as he performed “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson with an acoustic guitar. If Rod Stewart didn’t exist, McDonald’s voice would be much more intriguing. But Rod Stewart does exist, and McDonald’s weekly performances merely serve as a reminder that there is a much better version of him out there. This was his best performance in the Top 13, but overall it was just more of the same old, same old that has become very predictable.
 Scotty McCreery – If there was one performer who was at a disadvantage with the Motown theme, it was absolutely McCreery. He did what he could to make Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life” his own, and for that he should be commended. But the fact of the matter is that the original song is powerful and emotional, and McCreery’s version, while original, did not even come close to capturing the essence of the song. Pushing himself beyond his deep register seemed to satisfy the judges to a degree, but this was his weakest performance yet in the Top 13.
 Stefano Langone – One of the bigger surprises of the Top 13 so far has been Langone’s ability to show off his vocal range. That being said, this week’s performance was a big drop off from last week, and Langone continued to struggle with keeping his eyes open and connecting with the audience. His choice of “Hello” by Lionel Richie was bizarre for a few reasons. First of all, the song was recorded in 1984, which is not exactly Motown’s heyday. But more importantly, Langone admitted that he didn’t really know the song, which makes it a very questionable choice. This is especially true given the fact that he said that he grew up listening to Motown. Langone shined at times, but he spent too much time with his eyes closed, and the condensed version of the song was awkwardly arranged. It wouldn’t come as a complete shock if the judges’ comments end up pushing Langone into the bottom three.
 Casey Abrams – There was nowhere to go but up from last week’s Nirvana performance. Aside from the fact that his cleaned up look was reminiscent of Zach Galifianakis in “The Hangover,” Abrams delivered a solid performance of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Abrams knows how to work the stage and the crowd, and his sound is definitely unique, and thought this performance was not even close to his best, it was more than enough to push him into the Top 10.
 Naima Adedapo – More than any other contestant, Adedapo needs to deliver memorable stage performances because she simply is not a strong enough vocalist to compete with the best singers in the Top 11. Two weeks ago, her performance of “Umbrella” by Rhianna turned heads, even though the vocals were not outstanding. Last week, her subdued performance of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to do With It” landed her in the bottom three. With a spot in the Top 10 on the line, Adedapo delivered her best overall performance to date with “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas. Her look was spot-on, her vocals were very solid, and her stage show was very entertaining. Adedapo will never be one of the top vocalists, but her command of the stage gives her a chance to be a successful entertainer.
 Pia Toscano – Vocally, the only one who can compete with Toscano on a regular basis is James Durbin. Once again, her singing of “All in Love is Fair” by Stevie Wonder was incredible. But from an entertainment perspective, it just didn’t measure up to some of the other contestants. Toscano is a beautiful girl with an amazing voice, and she doesn’t need to do much to stay in the competition at this point. But as the competition moves forward, she is going to have to deliver more than just great vocals if she wants to make it to the finale. Because her vocals are so perfect, she has some room to turn it down a notch and focus on connecting with the audience.
 Jacob Lusk – If there was a contestant who was made for Motown week, Lusk is it. His performance of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need to Get By” was his shining moment in the Top 13. He always delivers the big notes, but doesn’t always do it with style. This week he did. Even though it was a Marvin Gaye song, Lusk’s performance was much more reminiscent of Luther Vandross (which is not a bad thing). He worked very well with the background singers, and you could see that his comfort level was higher than it has been in weeks.
 Lauren Alaina – On the heels of her admirable performance of Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One” last week, Alaina delivered her best performance to date with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes. For the first time since reaching the Top 13, Alaina showed why she was considered to be one of the early favorites in the competition. This was her best look by far, and her confidence was at an all-time high. Her singing and performance this week launched Alaina right back to the top of the competition.
 James Durbin – During the Season 10 tryouts, Durbin stood out early on because of his great voice and the challenge of overcoming Tourette’s and Asperger’s Syndrome. Since making it into the Top 13, Durbin has proven that he not only belongs, but he has a very real possibility of winning it all. More than any other contestant, Durbin continues to choose songs that are ideally suited for his voice, and with each passing week, his confidence seems to grow. His performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” this week was flawless. No one has shown the combination of amazing vocals and engaging stage presence like Durbin. He hits every note almost effortlessly as he commands the stage and works the crowd. At this point, the only one who can stop Durbin from reaching the finale is Durbin himself.
BOTTOM THREE PREDICTION:
WHO GOES HOME?
Haley Reinhart – After ending up in the bottom three each of the last two weeks, Reinhart had to deliver the performance of her life to make it into the Top 10 and go on tour. She improved, but not nearly enough to compel Idol fans to pick up the phone and start voting for her this week. Many of this year’s contestants bring something unique to the table. Reinhart does not. She is merely a good singer who needs a lot of work on her stage presence. The fans that have put her into the bottom three for the past two weeks are the same fans who buy tickets to see the American Idol tour. It would be very surprising to see anyone other than Reinhart going home this week, but then again, Idol voters are often times unpredictable.
WILL THE JUDGES USE THEIR SAVE?
Highly unlikely. Unless one of their unanimous favorites somehow ends up with the lowest amount of votes, it would be very surprising to see the judges do anything to give someone another crack at making it into the Top 10.
The Top 12 American Idol contestants were given a wide variety of songs to choose from this week as they each performed songs from their birth year. Once again, the song choices were not always great, and though the judges seemed to be pleased overall with this week’s show, it was actually a huge disappointment, and a big step down from last week’s performances.
As the weeks progress, it is becoming clear that the contestants fall into a handful of different categories. There are those who are loved by the judges, those who are loved by the voting public, those who are loved by both, and those who are likely to be leaving the show sooner rather than later.
The contestants who are loved by the judges and the fans have the liberty of taking big risks, knowing full well that they are unlikely to go home in the next few weeks.
Each week, Television2Day will review American Idol and rank the contestants based on their performance for the week. After the rankings, a prediction of the bottom three will be made, along with a prediction of who will be voted off the show.
Here is the Top 12 Breakdown (in reverse order):
 Paul McDonald – A favorite of the judges and of many fans, but it’s hard to understand why. His vocals are unique for American Idol, but they are nothing more than a poor man’s version of Rod Stewart. His stage presence continues to border on absurd. Although it was partly due to being under the weather, his version of Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” simply was not very good.
 Casey Abrams – As one of the favorites of the fans and the judges, Abrams was able to take a huge risk by performing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. His performances to date have been stellar, so he’ll get a pass on this week’s performance, but it was not good at all from a singing standpoint. The bass playing was cool, but American Idol is not a competition to find the best musician. Hopefully Casey will return to form next week.
 Haley Reinhart – This far into the competition, contestants should have carved out an identity, but Reinhart has not. Performing “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston was not a smart decision. Her voice is too weak in the lower register and she screams to hit the high notes. As usual, her performance was nothing special. If you had to compare her to another contestant, the closest one would be Lauren Alaina who consistently outshines Reinhart, so there is nothing to make her stand out in the crowd.
 Karen Rodriguez – If not for the fact that fans never seemed to like Ashthon Jones on a personal level, Rodriguez would very likely have gone home last week. Her saving grace is that she has positioned herself as the Spanish singing contestant, so she has a niche audience of voters to help keep her around. It was a mistake to try and tackle “Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne because her voice is far too weak to do the song justice. Once again, Rodriguez awkwardly crammed Spanish singing into a song that didn’t need it. Aside from appealing to JLo and Spanish-speaking fans, Rodriguez does not do anything to inspire the average Idol fan to pick up the phone and vote for her.
 Naima Adedapo – Last week, Adedapo’s stage presence was so good that you were able to give her a pass when the vocals fell short at times. This week, the stage presence was no better than average, and neither was her version of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” Adedapo cannot compete vocally with the top girls, so she must rely on delivering memorable stage performances if she plans on sticking around in the competition. Simon Cowell surely would have called this week’s performance “forgettable.”
 Jacob Lusk – Once again, Lusk’s passion keeps the judges firmly in his corner, but his risky choice of “Alone” by Heart did not pay off. It almost doesn’t matter what Lusk sings now because he’ll get votes based on his personality and the judges’ praise. While his performance this week had its moments, objectively speaking, it was no better than average.
 Thia Megia – With one of the best voices in the competition, Megia should be soaring, but her consistent bad song choices are keeping her from putting her best foot forward. At some point, when there are less contestants, Megia is going to have to step up and showcase her talents with the right song choice, or find herself leaving the competition while singers that don’t have her talent remain.
 Scotty McCreery – The judges seemed to think that McCreery pushed himself beyond his comfort zone this week, but in actuality, it was just more of what is expected from him every time that he takes the stage. It made perfect sense for McCreery to sing Travis Tritt’s “Can I Trust You With My Heart?” because it is right in his wheelhouse. As usual, McCreery was solid but not spectacular. He may very well be the most middle-of-the-road performer in the show’s history. He never has the kind of performance that blows you away, but also never does a bad job. He’ll stick around until he has to face the top singers.
 Lauren Alaina – Another contestant who performed under adverse conditions with the flu. However, aside from some weak spots in the lower register, Alaina did an admirable job with Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m The Only One.” After weeks of choosing questionable songs, she finally got it right this time. It would have been interesting to see how well she would have sang the song if she were healthy, but it was one of her best despite the challenge of singing with the flu.
 James Durbin – One of the biggest problems with American Idol is that contestants must condense songs into a very narrow window so that there is time for useless banter. As usual, Durbin did a great job with song selection, singing “I’ll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi, but it seemed a bit awkward because he started in the middle of the song. However, he is looking more and more comfortable on stage each week. And though this was not even close to his best performance, he definitely remains one of the favorites to win it all.
 Stefano Langone – Although he still has not carved out a niche for himself, Langone delivered one of the best performances of the week with Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” His voice is always very solid, and he has moments of greatness. His stage presence is fine, but he needs to learn how to deliver the big notes while keeping his eyes open and connecting with the audience. Langone is definitely a sleeper who can be there at the end as long as he remains consistent.
 Pia Toscano – Arguably the most powerful female vocalist in American Idol history, Toscano continues to impress with her performances. It is clear that there isn’t another girl in the competition who can come close to her, as evidenced by her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” Toscano is the total package, which makes her wardrobe choice this week particularly puzzling. One can’t help but wonder who came up with the idea to have Toscano dressed like Latka Gravas of Taxi. Was it done on purpose to help level the playing field for the other girls? Maybe, maybe not. But the fact remains that no one has delivered as many memorable vocal performances as Toscano, and unless she slips up along the way, she should cruise into the finale.
BOTTOM THREE PREDICTION:
WHO GOES HOME?
Naima Adedapo – She is the best of the bottom three, but she doesn’t seem to have enough of a dedicated fan base to carry her when her performance isn’t great. It wouldn’t be a shock to see any of the three go home this week, however, Rodriguez appears to be the safest based on supportive comments by the judges and the connection to the Spanish community.
Season 11 of American Idol is already drastically different from previous seasons, and not just because of changes to the judging panel. In a smart strategic move, Idol didn’t belabor the process of getting down to the Top 12 (or Top 13 as the case may be). Instead, they gave each of the 24 contestants the opportunity to perform one song to impress the American public to secure their place in the Top 13.
Although the performances seem to have gotten fairly good reviews, the truth of the matter is that most of the contestants fell far short of their potential. Perhaps nerves got the best of them on the big stage, but it was a little surprising given that they were not restricted to the type of songs that they were allowed to sing. You would think that each one would have picked a song to allow them to shine, but most didn’t.
While there were no terrible performances from any of the 24 contestants, only a few really delivered memorable vocal performances.
Based on their performances this week, and their performances leading up to this week, I have ranked each contestant and their chances to become the next American Idol.
PIA TOSCANO – Pia Toscano is the total package. Her vocal performance was significantly more impressive than almost every other contestant. She has a good personality, and a great look. If she can continue to perform at a high level, American Idol may very well have the most marketable winner in the show’s history.
THIA MEGIA – At the age of 15, Thia Megia wouldn’t have even been allowed to audition in any of the previous seasons. Idol producers should commend themselves for lowering the age minimum, as the move has already paid off. Unless she stumbles, Megia will likely stick around for a long time.
CASEY ABRAMS – Unlike the other favorites, Casey Abrams is not what you expect an American Idol to look like. He is a bit odd, and definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer, but his voice is unique and his musicianship is better than any other contestant in the show’s history. It remains to be seen whether the voting audience will embrace Abrams’ unique style.
JAMES DURBIN – It’s easy to root for James Durbin because he has an incredible voice to go along with an inspiring personal story. Overcoming Tourette’s and Asperberger Syndromes to perform on stage is nothing short of amazing. However, unless he gets votes for his story, his chances of becoming the next American Idol may be slim. He’s not quite as good as Adam Lambert, and Lambert was only a runner-up.
JACOB LUSK – There has never been a funnier celebration than Jacob Lusk’s upon finding out that he was in the Top 24. His performance to get him there was brilliant, maybe one of the best ever on American Idol. With an incredible range and likeable personality, Lusk has the chance to go very far in the competition. However, vocal gymnastics won’t always do the trick if the song choices aren’t good.
LAUREN ALAINA – The 16-yr old singer was one of the early favorites amongst the judges, and easily made it through into the Top 13. However, if Lauren Alaina is going to win the competition, she is going to have to deliver vocal performances that show off her abilities. This week’s country sound did not do her justice, and her performance fell far short of both Pia Toscano and Thia Megia.
ASHTON JONES – The only explanation for Ashton Jones not getting voted in by the American public is that they are not connecting with her personally. Perhaps they see her confidence as arrogance. Although her performance this week wasn’t one of her best, it was certainly good enough to be amongst the top girls. Unless she can find a way to connect with the audience, Jones will have a hard time rising to the top, despite her talent.
STEFANO LANGONE – It’s not his fault, but Stefano Langone is too similar to other people to stand out in a crowd of good singers. His wildcard performance was much better than his performance earlier in the week, but it was also very similar to that of Jovany Barreto, who didn’t make it through to the Top 13. He is better than Kris Allen, so there is always hope, but in this group, Langone is going to have a hard time getting noticed.
NAIMA ADEDAPO – If American Idol was being filmed inside of a smoky jazz club, Naima Adedapo would likely be the favorite to win it all. However, she may just be too much of an “old soul” to capture the hearts of the American Idol audience. Her voice is as good as most, but her image and song choices make her a long shot to become the next American Idol.
KAREN RODRIGUEZ – There was nothing spectacular about Karen Rodriguez’s performance, so it was surprising to see her get more votes than Ashton and Naima. Her interjection of Spanish verses just seemed awkward, but it impressed Jennifer Lopez enough to help sway Idol voters. Unless she can capture a large Hispanic vote by singing in Spanish on a regular basis, Rodriguez’s stay on American Idol will likely be relatively short.
HALEY REINHART – As stated previously, all 24 contestants this season have singing ability. Haley Reinhart’s singing was a little bit above average, but her clear discomfort on stage is going to make it difficult for her to surpass those that are just as talented and much more polished.
PAUL McDONALD – Seeing Paul McDonald getting the audience vote was very surprising. His Rod Stewart interpretation was decent, but his stage presence borders on bizarre. At times, he looked like a marionette being controlled by wires in the rafters, and he somehow managed to make real singing look like lip-synching from a low-budget karate film.
SCOTTY McCREERY – Middle America must have been jamming the phone lines to push Scotty McCreery ahead of singers like Stefano Langone, Jovany Barreto and Robbie Rosen (who was the most surprising omission from the Top 13). The deep-voiced, country crooner is a one-trick-pony whose act is going to grow old quickly for those that aren’t diehard country music fans. He also looked lost on the big stage, sitting so awkwardly in his chair, that you couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to fall over as he sang.
PREDICTION: Things change from week-to-week every season on American Idol, and this year may not be any different. However, based on all of the performances to date, I predict that Pia Toscano will defeat Thia Megia in the finale and become the next American Idol.