'American Idol': Saluting the Top 11!
Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Jacob Lusk, Pia Toscano, Lauren Alaina, Thia Megia, Paul McDonald, Haley Reinhart, Casey Abrams, Stefano Langone, and Naima Adedapo
Idol's Top 11 were all so bright and shiny when we shot them for the magazine. Here are some things we've had to say about the contestants since then.
From her first Top 11 Power List, Annie Barrett had Scotty pegged as the winner: ''I don't know, dawg. People like him! Babies 'round the nation are locking dem doors and putting the lights of their parents' phones down low in order to vote for him in secret.''
After Lauren performed ''Turn on the Radio'' during Girls Night, Annie had this to say: ''We know, we know, she's been aggressively foreordained for Idol glory ever since she sang Aerosmith with Steven Tyler. But last night Lauren delivered on all that breathless pimping, taking to the Idol stage like a natural and effortlessly performing her song without any of the vocal-cord gymnastics that dominated so much of the evening.''
For a while it really seemed like the judges didn't get Haley, which led Annie to speculate on the reasons: ''Is it because she doesn't really have a genre?... now that Haley, whose primary gift is her voice, is left with 'simple' country singer Scotty, Martina McBride-wannabe Lauren, and rocker James, is her pop-blues vibe just too much for [the judges] to process?''
Annie said: ''...personally, I've enjoyed the Durbs' quieter performances more than his all-out spectacles. (See: 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.')''
At the start of the Top 11 heat, Adam B. Vary declared himself ''Team Jacob all the way. I keep reading in the comment boards and hearing from my colleagues that he's simply just too much — to which I reply, too much emotional connection with his song? Too much vocal virtuosity? Too much joy for life and living? And when was there ever too much of anything on American Idol? I've still got Jacob's ''You're All I Need to Get By'' racing through my head, something I cannot say about any other performance given in this most excellent season.''
Annie said: ''After a growlin' and howlin' rendition of Marvin Gaye's 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine,' Casey earned the lowest number of votes...and then the judges SAVED him!''
When the young singer was eliminated, Annie wrote: ''I'm not surprised at America's choice, but this lil' wild card had been improving and was just a funny kid to have around. I liked how he couldn't stop wobbling back and forth with emotion during his Idol journey clip show. What I liked even more was that after all that and despite his utter disappointment, Stefano could not wait to sing.''
According to Annie: ''After the boy with the cougar pin took on a folk-rock version of the Miracles' 'Tracks of My Tears,' even Randy was gushing. 'Dude, when you sing tender at the very end, oh my God, dude. Definitely got the husky thing going on.' Randy actually says these things. Constantly!''
Pia's performance of ''I'll Stand by You'' caused Annie to say: ''The song choice wasn't exactly groundbreaking, but it didn't need to be. Those final high notes announced to her other 23 competitors that the heretofore under-the-radar Pia is playing for keeps.''
The night the colorful contestant was eliminated, Annie said: ''The freewheeling Naima offered up a bunch of different [personalities], including an African dancer with clownish pants and a spirited business lady from Jamaica. I'd picked Thia and Stefano to go home, but Naima makes sense, too. You either dug her or you didn't; she could only skate by for so long.''
Annie said: ''Beautiful voice, beautiful face, unbelievable hair. Excellent bells and whistles for any robot! But one more drippy ballad and Thia Ruxpin could be gone.''