'American Idol' Recap: Top 10 Plus One Sing Elton John
'American Idol' Recap: Top 10 Plus One Sing Elton John
This week the Top 11 are singing songs from the Elton John catalog. I'm glad Casey Abrams is still in it, and I hope he's not one of the two people going home this week. I predict that this will be a pivotal week for Casey and another good week for James. Paul McDonald has done a song by Elton John before and it didn't go well, so this could be an interesting night for him.

I'd love to see some of the underdogs come out of the woodwork, and I'm interested to see what ballad powerhouses Jacob and Pia will do tonight. But that's a lot of expectation to place on one episode of American Idol. I just hope it's not boring. Maybe tonight we'll solve the mystery of Scotty's true age? Or the mystery of who keeps styling Pia Toscano like a 40-year-old?

Caseysofterside.jpgI don't usually like the dramatic rehashing of the previous week, but I did love the stills of the judges' reactions to Casey's near elimination. You know I love a great Randy moment. "Hope has been renewed," Idol declares. I wonder if they know what they're doing and it's a joke now, or if they really take it that seriously. Jennifer and Steven look great tonight, and Randy is just like, wearing a T-shirt. Ryan parted his hair to the side and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Seacrestsnewdo.jpgPaul is wearing that G.D. mariachi roses suit again, but more on that later. In case you didn't know, Elton John is a well-loved legend and a loud dresser. Tonight is the first time I've noticed how frequently Jimmy Iovine blinks.

First up is my man Scotty McCreery. Leave it to Scotty to find the one country song Elton John ever sang. What is Scotty looking at off to the side there? He's a man of mystery. Shout out to Scotty's grandma! I think with this performance of "Country Comforts," Scotty is back on track. I really liked it and I loved that super low note he ended on. He knew we would love it! Jennifer praises his instincts, and Randy says he felt like we're at Scotty's concert. Good job, Scotty!

Naima Adedapo is giving us "a reggae twist on a classic," of course. I love "I'm Still Standing," but can it transfer to reggae? Why are we doing this to Elton? Still, I like Naima for always trying something new and different. I think it worked but seemed a little affected. But I'm not a reggae expert, so at face value I think I enjoyed it. She did what Carmen Carrera on RuPaul's Drag Race couldn't. Jennifer didn't think the song was meant to be flipped ("Did it maybe sound better in your head before this all happened?"). Randy loves reggae but thought it came off corny. I'll agree with that. I'm just waiting for the moment when they play that American Idol "that's the feedback!" sound effect before Steven even says anything.

Stillstandingreggae.jpgUGH, what is going on with this Coca-Cola "you write the song" product placement? I'm already dreading the finale. Was anyone else surprised that Taio Cruz is British? I'm more surprised by that than by Paul's story about living in a van with a bunch of dudes just bein' dudes together.

Paul McDonald is singing "Rocket Man." Jimmy Iovine suggested singing it like it's his encore, because if anything, the world is clamoring for MORE Paul McDonald. Aww, that was mean. He's not usually my cup of tea, but I think he's improving in the performance rounds, hitting more and more identifiable notes. I really liked it until he got to the chorus, and then it felt like it came unhinged. And I just can't stand the way he looks right into the camera and bows a little bit on the final phrase of all his performances. Maybe he just reminds me of a guy I dated who was super annoying?

The judges wonder if Paul might be holding back, and he responded by laughing. Steven noticed the extra flowers on Paul's suit. Steven gets a gold star.

Pia Toscano is just stunning, isn't she, Entertainment Weekly? The jumpsuits have to stop, though. Despite criticism for always choosing ballads, Pia is singing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." She half-promises us an up-tempo song next week. Her dress reminds me of Britney's nude-illusion "Toxic" outfit. Pia's pulling a Stefano/Fear Factor contestant tonight, and showing us there is no food left in her mouth. She sings it perfectly, of course. But this time I'm not bored! Jennifer is feeling Pia and got goose bumps from it, and Randy says she was great once again. It digresses into judge chatter.

Stefano Langone: Are we over him? He was in the bottom two last week. He's singing "Tiny Dancer," and I don't know if it will be the thing to save him. He's working on keeping his eyes open longer. Oh, it's a struggle, though. I think it's good, but I just love the original so much, and this was a little lounge-y. Per Jennifer's previous requests, he ends the song reaching out to her from two feet away. Randy's like, "Joke!" and grabs Stefano's hand, making everyone a little uncomfortable.

Stefanoopeneyes.jpgHowie Mandel is talking about Mobbed. I think I hate flash mobs. But should I pretend like I WON'T watch it?

ewtwoHowies.jpgLauren Alaina is singing "Candle in the Wind" and has decided not to stray too far away from it. Are we still dealing with Lauren's "confidence issues?" Like a candle in the wind, Lauren Alaina's popularity has sort of flickered on Idol. I think her existing fans will love this performance, but it might not win anyone over. She's a great singer; can we acknowledge that? It's great, but it doesn't give me chills or anything. Randy loves it, though, calling it one of the greatest Lauren Alaina performances (not one of the greatest performances ever, like Jacob Lusk has accomplished). Steven Tyler saus something hilarious about Lauren Alaina affording the rest of her dress some day, proving that he is, in fact, aware of his surroundings sometimes.

James Durbin is singing "Saturday Night's Alright" and will not let Jimmy Iovine change it. Jimmy seems skeptical, but James is confident as ever. The mohawk is back to prove it. I think he did well, but the backup singers were almost overpowering. My favorite part was when James fist-bumped an older man in the audience. It was so rock 'n' roll.

It wasn't my favorite James performance, but it wasn't boring. To borrow from Randy, he did his thing. I liked Steven's advice: "Don't be up there too long" (vocally). Randy applauds James for enjoying himself, and he likes the fire (the literal fire, not the performing fire). I wasn't turned off by James's personality this week, so there's that!

Jamesinthecrowd.jpgThia Megia is still in this, singing "Daniel." Jimmy suggests getting away from dramatics and "high school plays." I love Jimmy. And you know what? I am loving Thia tonight! This is the voice I remember hearing during the audition rounds. I also like how she is dressed like sparkly, Fashion Jesus. I agree with Jennifer, it was beautiful. Randy thinks it was a little safe. I'm just glad she didn't sing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Thia's brother's name rhymes with hers and their last name. Someone's having fun with baby names!

Thiafashionjesus.jpgCasey Abrams, recipient of the Save, was forced by Jimmy Iovine to watch his performance from last week. He's singing "Your Song," humbly and without screaming and stomping. Rodney told him to trim his beard, and it became a thing. Back to singing stuff, we're seeing a completely different side of Casey this week. He's sitting on a stool and closing his eyes and surrounded by lighting stars.

Caseysofterside.jpgIt was a delightful change of pace. He still got to do some signature style moves toward the end, but it wasn't overkill. A few pitch issues, but I definitely think it will keep him in the competition and the ending was spot on. Randy says it was brilliant, then "so nice and so tender," and then trails off because he starts thinking about the steak the South Beach Diet does not allow him to eat.

I wish Jacob Lusk and I were friends. I feel like he'd be really fun to hang out with. So Jacob Lusk is singing a song that Mary J. Blige covered, and then Mary J. Blige just, like, shows up! Everyone is stopping by Idol these days! Jacob was so awesome last week, and this week I feel like he's back to erring on the side of "over the top." Still, that last note was killer. Can you be very critical of someone who sings a song to a pulp? Randy advises him to find the "Jacob spot."

Last but not least, it's Haley Reinhart in the pimp spot! They're throwing her a bone, or maybe she'll be awesome. Who really knows anymore? She's singing/growling "Benny and the Jets." Can Haley bring all her different personalities together? I am already captivated because she is dressed EXACTLY like Jesse Spano in the Palm Springs wedding episodes of Saved by the Bell. The performance was great, too; I think it was her best yet. I love that she was sitting on the piano, and the whole thing made Jennifer make a weird constipated face. But in a good way!

Jenniferconstipatedface.jpgI haven't always been a Haley fan, more of a fan of what I think she could be, but tonight she won me over. The judges loved it, and Steven thought it was sexy. Of course he did.

So, who turned it out tonight? Who was boring? Which two people are going home? I think we saw some game-changers tonight!

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(Images courtesy of FOX)