'American Idol' Recap: The Top 9 Rock, Roll, and Step It Up
'American Idol' Recap: The Top 9 Rock, Roll, and Step It Up
Hey Idol fans! Or are you no longer a fan since they (we) eliminated Thia and Naima? Either way, you know you can't just quit this show. No one can. You are powerless to stop watching, as I am powerless to stop looking at this picture of Steven Tyler and Wax Steven Tyler, who looks as though he is rocking the grown-out version of "The Rachel."

Here's what I know about tonight: the Top 9 are performing songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and, if I'm reading Nigel Lythgoe's tweets correctly, Will.I.Am is picking the songs for the contestants, and Gwen Stefani is dressing them in L.A.M.B. (or at least, the girls). What Will.I.Am has to do with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I may never know, but I'm starting to wonder if he just crashes on Jimmy Iovine's couch, penning a Rio spin-off featuring his character.

Well, this episode started off weird. All the contestants were like, sass-walking out. I guess because it's Rock and Roll week? Or because Marc Anthony told them to? I don't know, but after a week I've decided that I like Ryan's new hair.

The scary picture of Steven Tyler with his wax likeness is finally explained! He's introducing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, by showing us outfits of famous rockers and his wax bust, which he kissed. Are you allowed to do that? Oh, like Steven Tyler can't do whatever he wants. It was cute, and it made me feel positive about tonight's episode.

Even though they've already sass-walked onto the stage, the Top 9 are re-introduced. Jacob Lusk is up first, singing "Man in the Mirror" in favor of "Let's Get it On." But, but, but, "Let's Get it On" sounded so good! Jacob Lusk threatens us for votes, saying that if he's in the bottom three it will be because "America wasn't ready to look at themselves in the mirror." A challenge! Jacob, and Naima From the Future, sang the song beautifully and with control. Good job, Jacob! Oh, it turns out the woman singing with Jacob is not Naima From the Future, but the woman who co-wrote "Man in the Mirror."

NaimafromtheFuture.jpgThe judges liked it, of course, and Randy likes that Jacob went with his "moral conviction."

Haley Reinhart is up next, singing Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," because EVERYONE wants it. Will.I.Am tells Haley to pretend the camera is her ex-boyfriend, which will change the way I see his performances from now on. Haley is wearing pants this week! The performance, and the red lipstick were under control tonight (although Haley may have maxed out on her growling). Overall, I liked it and I think Haley could be the sleeper hit of this competition. Jennifer told Haley that she proved to be a real contender, and for a while I couldn't tell whether or not Randy liked it but his words said he did.

HaleyJoplin.jpgUp next, it's Casey Abrams! He was going to sing "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic," but it was too snappy and rumba-y so he's singing some more CCR and taking on "Have You Ever Seen the Rain." He's got his bass! In spite of the cheesy "rain drops" lighting effect, the performance was quite good and Casey managed not to lose control again. So far, I think Will.I.Am is a good mentor, as it seems like these performances are more thoughtful than weeks past. This performance wasn't mind-blowing, but it was really pleasant. Randy is jealous that Casey made the upright bass cool. Will Schuester is jealous that Casey made the vest cool.

CaseyCCR.jpgOh boy, Lauren Alaina is giving "Natural Woman" a country twist. Will.I.Am invented "countroul," which is when soul meets country and I'm such a fan at this point that I am going with it. It was great, and I think it put Lauren back on the map, but I can't stop remembering when Kelly Clarkson sang this song in Season 1 and pretty much won the competition. I don't think I really heard the country coming out, but I'm okay with it. Randy was also vaguely remembering Kelly Clarkson, but he told Lauren that she did a good job. Everyone gets a trophy!

James Durbin is slowing it down and singing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Interesting choice! I think we were all expecting great things from James in "Rock and Roll" week, so this is the perfect week for him to change it up. I really hate the way his mohawk is all flattened and limp on his forehead.

Jamesgentlyweeps.jpgJames is really sounding like Adam Lambert this week, but with a few pitch problems. I appreciate James changing it up, but I don't think it took him to the next level as a performer like he may have wanted it to. The judges loved it, though. If we don't vote for him does it mean we're against his family?

Yes, yes, yes, Scotty McCreery is singing Elvis! He's taking away Country Scotty, and giving us something new, as he slides forth on the stairs. While his song isn't country, that double denim sure is. Scotty is particularly cheesy this week, still holding the microphone off to the side and moving his eyebrows all over the stage. Girls rushed the stage at the end and I think it was part of the act? If that's the case, it was very cute. Oh, and the performance was great. The judges loved it and thought it was good fun. We're all a little high on Scotty these days.

ScottydoesElvis.jpgPia Toscano is "taking a walk on the wild side" this week, and also dressed like she's from a Sci-Fi movie/Raja on RuPaul's Drag Race. Pia, as promised, is singing "River Deep, Mountain High," and I'm hoping she'll be as "out of her mind" as Jimmy Iovine promised us Tina Turner was. We all want her to SLAY it like Mercedes and Santana on Glee or better. The jumpsuit is back, and here to stay, apparently. J. Lo was bouncing in her seat like a little baby strapped into one of those bouncer things. So Pia totally killed it, and she is leagues ahead in this competition, but I would have liked to see her lose control and get into it a little more. Like, really go insane. Jennifer told Pia to research performers of the past to bring her to the next level. Randy wants her to move a little more when she goes up-tempo, like the great, "out-of-her-mind" Tina Turner.

Piariverdeep.jpgI pretty much almost forgot about Stefano Langone. I think the producers may have taken pity on him and Paul and put them in the last two spots. Or maybe they'll be spectacular! While a lot of other contestants are mixing it up this week, Stefano is singing "When a Man Loves a Woman." Will.I.Am was particularly funny/charming during Stefano's clip package. Stefano sounded a little different in the opening of the song, maybe less nasal, more light and throaty? So, this performance was great, maybe one of Stefano's best, but I'm just sort of feeling over him. His performances are good, but not particularly memorable, and they lack variety.
Jennifer was like, "it was perfect!" but Randy said it sounded a little jerky, which made Randy sound a little jerky (you know?).

Last but not least (or maybe least), is Paul McDonald. He's singing "Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash. Jimmy Iovine wanted Paul to sing it like he, like Johnny Cash Tina Turner, is out of his mind. Paul is going to do it "as crazy as possible" but still keep it "him." If he were to go REALLY crazy, he'd end it with a creepy whisper like last week. Paul is surprisingly on pitch when he's doing it "crazy," and he looked very comfortable with other musicians next to him. I actually liked it, until the end when he sang, "blues," and it sounded like "blooooooooooooiiizzzzzz," (with teeth). But Randy "LOVED IT!" and Jennifer said he was in his lane.

This was really a good week for everyone, overall. It's all in America's hands once again, and it may come down to personality this week. What do you think?

(images courtesy of FOX)