On an evening American Idol paid homage to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the remaining nine contestants all delivered spectacular performances on Wednesday’s edition of the Fox hit, as the competition in the show’s 10th season heats up to a fever pitch.
The singers picked their songs from the cream of the crop on Wednesday’s episode, having to select tracks from artists who’ve been enshrined in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. All of them stepped up their game, impressing the judges and viewers with one knockout routine after the next.
While the judges got on Pia Toscano a bit for her dance moves (or lack thereof), the New Yorker rocked the house with a sterling rendition of Tina Turner‘s River Deep – Mountain High, prompting judge Steven Tyler to tell the pretty songstress, “You killed it!”
North Carolina native Scotty McCreery was a hunka hunka burning talent with his performance of Elvis Presley‘s That’s All Right, leaving judge Randy Jackson impressed, claiming he’d seen “a new Scotty.”
Santa Cruz singer James Durbin, who’s been diagnosed with both Tourette syndrome and Asperger’s, channeled his passion into a reverberating, steady interpretation of George Harrison‘s classic, While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
“It’s good to see that not only did your guitar gently weep, but so did you,” Tyler told the screeching singer.
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Compton native Jacob Lusk — who Tyler’s nicknamed “Baby Luther,” in honor of late R&B legend Luther Vandross — showed his immense talent with a performance of Michael Jackson‘s Man in the Mirror that judge Jennifer Lopez dubbed “perfect.”
“Dude, there were Jacob moments all over that,” judge Randy Jackson told Lusk. “That was hot.'”
Stefano Langone, singing a sugary sweet version of Percy Sledge‘s When a Man Loves a Woman, evoked an emotional response from Lopez.
“Baby, baby, baby! I knew you had it in you!” Lopez told Langone. “It was amazing, magic — very beautiful.”
Young Georgia native Lauren Alaina‘s rendition of Aretha Franklin‘s Natural Woman had Jackson buzzing, as he said Alaina “only took a very difficult song and did a good job.”
Wheeling, Illinois resident Haley Reinhart took a risk trying to tackle Janis Joplin‘s classic Piece of My Heart, and it paid off immensely, as she received huge praise from the panel.
“You came in a little girl and now you’re a natural woman,” Tyler said.
Nashville’s Paul McDonald walked on the right side of the line with an up-tempo cover of Johnny Cash‘s Folsom Prison Blues, which Tyler said “rocked the house.”
And there was Casey Abrams, the doughy, bearded curiosity from Idyllwild, California, who was bailed out by the judges a few weeks back, who sang Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Have You Ever Seen the Rain? — and it paid off big time with the panel.
“You definitely did John Fogerty justice and you did Creedence Clearwater Revival proud: It was revolutionary,” Jackson told him.
Other highlights of the episode included Will.I.Am, Gwen Stefani, Christian Slater, and Todd Rundgren making cameo appearances on the night full of Excalibur moments. Host Ryan Seacrest promises there will be “a lot of surprises” when American Idol returns Thursday on Fox at 8/7c.