13. Haley Reinhart, ''Fallin'''
Haley, if you’re gonna tackle one of the most over sung Idol songs ever, you need to bring more to the party than a throaty growl and a come-hither sneer.
12. Ashthon Jones, ''Love All Over Me''
And we are telling you, Ashthon, that you should consider toning down the unearned diva ‘tude if you ever hope to make it past March.
11. Paul McDonald, ''Maggie May''
Those bright white teeth and that throwback voice definitely make Paul stand out. But is this cat simply too hipster-indie-quirky for a national singing competition reality show (this season, anyway)?
10. Karen Rodriguez, ''Hero''
You take on Mariah Carey at your own peril on Idol, but instead of trying to out-sing her, Karen took a bilingual risk that paid off big time and had the studio audience swooning. Maybe not so much over the pageant gowns, though.
9. James Durbin, ''You've Got Another Thing Comin'''
He grated on many people’s nerves in his march to the main Idol stage, but it takes real chutzpah to sing Judas Priest on Idol, and real talent to pull it off.
8. Stefano Langone, ''Just the Way You Are''
His ”Just the Way You Are” was half good, half a pitch-y mess, but Stefano really made his best first impression while singing for his life with his wrenching, deeply felt rendition of the gospel song “I Need You Now.” Consistency for him will be key.
7. Naima Adedapo, ''Summertime''
She barely kept it together pouring her heart into Donny Hathaway’s ”For All We Know” for a wild card slot, and that’s pretty much why we love her. But is her style simply too old fashioned for Idol‘s tween voting base?
6. Thia Megia, ''Out Here on My Own''
You’ve got to give Idol‘s youngest-ever contestant some credit for her sense of drama, starting out a cappella like that. It still doesn’t help shake the feeling that she’s a girl trying too hard to play all grown up.
5. Scotty McCreery, ''Letters From Home''
This kid is such an old-school country natural, good golly gee, you better believe there are a few record execs in Nashville who are kicking themselves that they didn’t find him first.
4. Pia Toscano, ''I'll Stand by You''
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.
3. Jacob Lusk, ''A House Is Not a Home''
Yeah, there is a lot of Jacob going on all over the place, but he dialed it down to a 7 this week when you know he can go well past 20. And quick, name another male R&B contestant in Idol history who’s had a voice that rich with feeling, with as crazy-wide a range, and radiating that much personality.
2. Lauren Alaina, ''Turn on the Radio''
We know, we know, she’s been aggressively foreordained for Idol glory ever since she sang Aerosmith with Steven Tyler. But in her top 24 performance, 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.
1. Casey Abrams, ''I Put a Spell on You''
With his sexy growl, assured stage presence, curveball sense of humor, and commitment to giving something we’ve never seen before on Idol, well, he sure has put a spell on us.