March 23, 2011 07:28 PM by Lisa Princ
Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Seacrest were back tonight as the top 11 took the stage on American Idol on FOX. Tonight, the finalists tackled Motown and we saw some unexpectedly great performances! Keep reading for all the exciting details of tonight’s episode!
American Idol on FOX returned tonight with the top 11 singing to the tune of Motown. And in the spirit of Motown we saw Otis Williams of The Temptations in the audience. But Otis wasn’t the only famous face in the audience, we also saw Chef Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. Then it was time to tackle the performances – what did your favorite perform and how did they do? Read on to see how your favorites fared this and then be sure to vote, vote vote!
Casey was first up tonight and wow did he look different. Tamed hair, suit, the whole nine yards – he looked great. He performed Marvin Gaye’s hit “Heard It Through The Grapevine” and it was definitely an original. He sang well, but it was more of the entertainment factor for me. Casey had the crowd going and he even made his way out to the crowd, stopping to sing for one lucky lady in the front row. As for the judges, they loved him as Jennifer told him there is no one out there like him. Steven called him the perfect entertainer and Randy told him that he loved that he takes chances, is a true original and said “Only you can do you”.
Our youngest finalist was up next on American Idol’s Motown week. Thia decided she would try her voice at “Heatwave” by Martha and The Vandellas. Her voice as always was beautiful and we finally got to see her open and dance around the stage a little. She looked adorable, but her rendition lacked originality. She did have Jennifer dancing in her seat – but then again Jennifer does that for almost everyone. The judges liked they she stepped it up performance-wise. Steven said he was good with it, while Randy loved that she took a chance. Jennifer told her she needed to dig deeper each week and implement more of the “acting” part of the performance.
Jacob chose to perform “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Marvin Gaye and once again Jacob did not cease to amaze as usual. This was definitely a strong performance for him, probably one of his best to date. The crowd loved him and the judges gave him a standing ovation. Steven walked up on stage after the performance and gave Jacob a hug. Randy told Jacob that even legendary Motown founder Barry Gordy would have been saying “Oh My God” and went on to gush that this was his best performance, he was a true professional and it was perfect. Steven said he loved how he held it back and it was a beautiful while Jennifer said Jacob made her beg for more of those notes.
Lauren Alaina was up next for Motown week on American Idol and she decided on The Supremes classic hit “You Keep Me Hanging On”. Lauren looked stunning tonight and her performance was just as stunning. For the first time she seemed to be very comfortable with the actual performance and she really got into it, working her way over to the crowd and stopping to sing to Randy. The judges were in awe of her, with Jennifer saying she has so much attitude in that performance that she brought it to life. Randy told Lauren she got her swagger on her high while Steven said he loved that she doesn’t listen to anyone and does her own thing.
Stefano was up next, but before he got the chance to perform, he dished about his mom stopped by the Idol house this week to bring a home cooked meal to the contestants. Oddly enough, later that evening we saw Ryan Seacrest give a taste to Gordon Ramsay who replied with “It’s a good thing he can sing” – yikes! I knew right off the bat, or as soon as I heard that Stefano would be performing “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie this performance was going to be a tough one for me. For anyone who does not remember, the last time this song was performed was in season seven by David Cook who blew it out of the water with his completely original version, and I am sorry to say Stefano did not live up that standard – it was boring and blah. Randy told him it had to be perfect to pull it off and it was not as there was no real connection between him and the song and both Steven and Jennifer agreed.
Haley was in the bottom three for a few weeks now so this week she really had to bring it. Haley chose to perform “You Really Got a Hold On Me” by Smokey Robinson and she did bring it this time around! She looked gorgeous and this performance was so much better than her performance last week. The judges liked it and were happy she chose this song. Randy said while it started a little rough, she came back roaring while Steven called it beautiful and was thrilled that she sang her heart out. Jennifer said she may have the most soulful voice in the competition….and she rethought that and said “of the girls” – how could she forget Jacob?
Our favorite country boy – okay our only country boy was up next and he chose “For Once In My Life” by Stevie Wonder. Prior to performing, Scotty was shown saying that he would put his own twist on it as he did not want to come out sounding like a lounge singer and boy oh boy did he do just the opposite. Scotty took this classic Motown hit and turned it into what could be a country hit today, he was incredible. The judges were thrilled with how the song turned out for Scotty as well as I don’t think they were expecting it to go as well as it did. Randy told Scotty when he hits that low note he is a “young lady killer” while Steven loved how he took a huge chance and ripped it. Jennifer called it a great version, and although he did not have the strongest vocals she loved that he made it his own.
Pia would be performing “All In Love Is Fair” by Stevie Wonder this week and as usual Pia had the perfect vocals, looked beautiful and came out shining, she is definitely the most consistent in the competition. However, in my opinion I am a little bored with the constant ballads and so were the judges. Randy told her he would love to see her do something mid or up tempo as she can’t live by ballads alone. Steve called her “the closest star in the Idol universe” and that she was all that. Jennifer told her she has amazing vocals but she needs to “own” the stage like Celine Dion does when she performs.
Paul was next on American Idol and for his Motown tune, he would be singing “Tracks Of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson.
I have to say this is one of my least favorite Motown songs, but Paul who came out with his guitar in tow made me love this song. He put his own unique spin on it and the crowd loved him as well as the judges. Randy told him he definitely has the husky, quirky thing going on, and despite his worry as it started he was thrilled that Paul took it to his own kind of Rod Stewart place. Steven compared Paul to Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson as he stated he loved it while Jennifer said she could feel the tear in his voice and told him he was the most well rounded contestant on the show and he had the whole package.
Naima chose “Dancing In The Streets” by Martha and The Vandellas and this was definitely a good choice for her. She looked adorable, and put her own twist on it complete with African drums. Naima owned the stage tonight during her performance and it almost looked as she could be on So You Think You Can Dance with all her moves! The judges praised her as Randy said all of her showed up and called it very smart. Steven in one of his Steven-isms called her performance from the E to the Z to the twiddlydee and then got serious by telling her that he saw the whole package once again. Jennifer claimed the Naima gave her goosebumps for the first time all night.
Up last on Motown week was resident rocker James Durbin, who would be performing his version of “Living For The City” by Stevie Wonder. He was incredible, he put his own twist on it and he had everyone rocking right there with him as he normally does. He has such an amazing voice that my guess is that he is going to be a huge star regardless of whether or not he wins this show. The judges loved him although Randy said it was rough when it started, Steven said it takes a little being crazy to make a difference in this world and that was James. Jennifer said he left her speechless and called him an “incredible thing to watch”.
Now, don’t forget to vote, vote, vote and then be sure to tune in tomorrow at 8 pm EST to find out who will be eliminated!
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Photo Credit: FOX