'American Idol' Recap: The Top 5 Are In It To Win It
'American Idol' Recap: The Top 5 Are In It To Win It
This week on American Idol, the theme is "Then and Now," or "Now and Then." It's a relevant theme because we can look back on "Then," when this competition started, and see how much older and more frustrated we are "Now" that American Idol still has five contestants left. I'm still not totally used to Casey Abrams being gone, and I sort of forgot Jacob Lusk was still here. As long as the theme isn't "Sometimes" or "Now and Later," I'm good.

This week Jimmy Iovine must face the music, both literally and in terms of facing the contestants after he weighed in on their performances last week in the results show. Iovine must pay! I approve of the sign declaring a fan's love of Ryan Seacrest's side part. I love it, too.

Ryan tells us that tonight is "one of the most important nights of the season." Why is that, Randy? Because tonight Randy will see/declare "who is in it to win it," unlike every other week. So, it's not REALLY that important. What is important is that Sheryl Crow will be mentoring with Jimmy this week. She tells us that tonight will be the most interesting show, but I'm still skeptical.

Up first is James Durbin's contemporary choice, a song by Thirty Seconds to Mars. Everyone is excited about it, and I think it would have lived up to the hype if James had been a little more into it. He seemed kind of tired as he walked through the crowd in his studded leather vest. Even Jennifer looked like she was just phoning in her enthusiasm for her obligatory reaction shot. It was good, but not his most exciting performance. He seemed to think it was stellar, though. It's tough to be the warm-up act.

James30seconds.jpgJacob Lusk is singing "No Air" from Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown. Jacob will be singing in his upper register tonight (and lower register as he sings both parts of this duet?). He should wear a half and half suit like in Victor/Victoria. It was just OK for me. Am I tired or are the contestants tired? Are we all tired? Jennifer stressed the importance of choosing songs that can help cultivate "who Jacob is," and Randy Jackson disagreed? He doesn't think anyone should be marketing themselves as a solo duet singer. I'm with you, Randy.

JacobNoAir.jpgLauren Alaina is finally singing a song by Carrie Underwood! She's taking on "Flat On the Floor," and Sheryl Crow urges Lauren to keep her feet flat on the floor. Lauren is so emotional about all of this, and apparently it's going over well with the voters. She looks pretty cute this time, pushing that fiddler away from her like he's stealing her spotlight. J. Lo got her constipated face on, so that's always a good sign. The fiddler was so distracting, but I think the performance was good. "Lauren is in it, y'all!" Randy proclaims.

Why does Ryan keep calling Scotty McCreery "Scotty the Body"? It's getting weird. Scotty is singing something with a lot of range this week. He starts out in his classic Baritone, and he is actually holding the microphone almost like a normal person would. I'm really enjoying it, partly because it seems like Scotty was just goofing around and having a good time too. Jennifer Lopez pretty much crapped a brick at the end (in delight). Jennifer confessed to losing it, and said, "That is some American Idol stuff right there." Let me guess, Randy, Scotty is in it to win it? Yes.

ScottyGone.jpgIs Haley Reinhart in it to win it as well? Or is she just kind of hanging out, not thinking about the competition? Haley is singing Gaga -- unreleased Gaga! How will we know what to think of it? If Gaga's cool with it, we HAVE to be. Haley has to work twice as hard with a song most of us have never heard. She sounds great on the song, though, and I think her physical awkwardness is improving (even though she started out laying mermaid-style on the stairs). Go Haley! Jennifer Lopez wasn't sure it was the best song choice "with Scotty and James coming out doing what they're doing." J. Lo knows where it's out. Randy didn't think it was great, either, mostly because of Jimmy Iovine's song choice for her. Jimmy must be out to get Haley.

Halfway point! Steven is actually making some sense tonight! ROUND TWO -- FIGHT!

James Durbin is making himself cry again. This guy is tired. We're all tired, James. Taking it down several notches (and sans leather fringe vest), James proves again that he can sing notes without screaming if the need arises. This is an "interesting" choice for James, but he's making it his own and not ruining it or anything. He started to cry again at the end, and it makes me wish that every vote he gets would donate ten cents to his family so they can eat something besides Top Ramen. Randy, also scaling it back, tells James it is "yours to lose." But is he in it to win it?

Jamescriesagain.jpgJacob Lusk will be singing "Love Hurts," after Jimmy Iovine told him to. Jacob listens to Jimmy. Saxophone lady is noticeably absent from this episode. YOU GO, HARP LADY! Uh-oh, after seeing that awesome harpist I won't be able to think about Jacob's performance, I'll just be thinking about what her life might be like. Oh, except Jacob is performing the song well enough to hold my attention. It was exciting, even if there were some pitch issues. The judges liked it well enough, and Randy is still over-hyping the night in general.

YouGoHarpLady.jpgLauren Alaina is singing "Unchained Melody," so prepare yourself. I get that it's her parents' song, but it's also the song belonging to the pottery scene in Ghost and Lauren is 16. Also, EVERYONE on American Idol has sung this song at some point, right? It used to be Simon Cowell's favorite. Speaking of Ghost, Lauren looks like one in that long floaty pageant dress.

Laurenisaghost.jpgIn all seriousness, though, this is the Lauren Alaina I remember from the audition rounds. This may be my favorite performance of hers yet. Jennifer had "nothing to judge, nothing to say," but Randy had PLENTY to say. "You got your country thing but you got this other vibe too ..." and onward he went.

Scotty McCreery is singing Elvis Presley again. Crusty, grumpy Jimmy Iovine has had just about enough of this "be yourself, but stretch" baloney. He encourages Scotty in his choice to sing "You Were Always On My Mind," and I'm with Jimmy. We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore! Let Scotty sing his damn country song and we will LOVE it. It was really nice -- a classic Scotty joint. The judges concur once more that Scotty is "in it to win it." But did you know that Scotty McCreery is one quarter Puerto Rican?! Awesome.

Haley Reinhart bags the last performance of the night. Hold onto your hats, she's singing "House of the Rising Sun" from The Animals. This makes me remember Siobhan Magnus (fondly). For fun, the sound editors have turned the reverb all the way up for Haley's acapella opening (and they added smoke). I really liked it, I thought she had a few moments in particular that were just stellar. The judges gave her a standing ovation! After all that nonsense after her first performance. They like her, they really like her! Randy called it the best performance of the night. Does it mean anything coming from Randy anymore? But it was great.

Haleysmokeeffects.jpgWell, the results are in: EVERYONE IS IN IT TO WIN IT! This is a real competition now! Game changers! Definitive performances! That's what I'm talking about! Ad infinitum.

(Images courtesy of FOX)