Last week, we saw Ashthon Jones go home and nobody was surprised about it. Tonight the Top 12 are singing songs from the year(s) they were born, which means that we get to hear hits from the late 80’s and early 90’s!

I looked over the Billboard Top 100 from each year and made predictions, while also realizing that tonight is going to be so much fun because I love the best of 80’s, 90’s, and today. I’m actually, seriously excited. There were too many dance hits in those years for all twelve of them to sing ballads. And may American Idol never make me do math again.

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But wait, is this ‘Idol Gives Back’? Already? No, but the profits from tonight’s album downloads will go to help Japan, and tomorrow night you can text in donations. But enough about Japan, said shiny Ryan Seacrest, THIS is AMERICAN IDOL! And THAT is how you wear a translucent animal print dress. Steven looks like he’s going to try to sell us sand lizards at the local craft fair.

Idolgivesbackalittle.jpgCasey Abrams is back, and Paul McDonald doesn’t know which direction the cameras are in.

First up is Naima Adedapo, who was born in 1984 and is singing “What’s Love Got to Do With It”!! I didn’t predict this one, but I was really wanting someone to sing this song at some point because I love it. Unfortunately, they decided to make it “2011,” and we still don’t know what kind of artist Naima would be. It’s not great, but at least Naima managed to put on every single accessory in the American Idol closet. Is she wearing two pairs of shoes at once?

Naimaaccessorized.jpgWhile I did not think it was great, Steven loved it. Jennifer is starting to see that Naima is consistently pitchy, and it makes her worry (that she can’t be uplifting all the time in this competition). Randy said it was “all over the place” and “not good,” and the music cut him off before the audience could boo. Randy is my favorite person in the world and I’d like to go to Panda Express with him some time.

Paul McDonald is up next, and he was also born in 1984. I predicted that HE might sing an acoustic version of “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” but we can’t ALL sing that song! Instead, he will sing “That’s Why They Call it the Blues.” His pitch, and the sixteen-year-old backup singers, are back. I prefer the original but, to borrow from Randy, “he did his thing.” I predict that without access to Whitestrips, we will see Paul’s teeth get more and more normal-looking every week. Jennifer loved it, and Randy (in an amazing denim-leather, jacket-shirt combo) said Paul put his own spin on it but urged him to “get the notes right.” Does it really matter what Steven said?

Following the oldest contestants, one of the youngest is up next. Thia Megia was born in 1995 and was raised on Disney. So instead of singing something great, she’s singing “Colors of the Wind” from Vanessa Williams. Sometimes the snow comes down in June, though, so I hope she performs well in spite of the song. She’s dressed Pocahontas-y, which only added to the mediocrity of the whole thing.

ThiaPocahontas.jpgI like Thia a lot, I really like her voice, but she’s still not picking the best songs. It was sleepy for Randy and me, and it felt pageanty. Steven, who dresses with all the colors of the wind and may be the human incarnation of Grandmother Willow, liked it.

Some of the American Idol guys have formed a band. James Durbin is in that band. He is singing “I’ll Be There for You” by Bon Jovi from 1995. Also, disgustingly, a lot of the contestants are sick, according to Jimmy Iovine. At least James could blow his nose on that hankie he keeps on the back of his jeans (or the ones on his shoes). Maybe the disease taking people out in the mansion is responsible for all the pitch problems this week. The performance seemed a little pitchy and tired, and was my least favorite James performance so far. To be fair, though, he killed it the last few weeks. Steven warned him not to get too “poppy” or pop-like, and I would like to warn him not to get too cocky as he mentions what he wants to sing in the finale. Obnoxious. At least Randy noticed the pitch problems.

ObnoxiousJamesDurbin.jpgHaley Reinhart is singing Whitney Houston. Why? Haley was born in 1990, so WHY isn’t she singing “Black Velvet”?? She was raised as part of a family band, and her mom was SINGING “BLACK VELVET” in the band! I’m upset, but Haley’s performance didn’t bum me out as much as I thought it would. I still don’t think she really knows what kind of artist she is or wants to be, and I would not download this performance, but she did a good job. I like that song. She also did a good job getting lipstick on her teeth, chin, and microphone. Jennifer told her not to force anything (agreed!), and Randy was confused; as confused as his jacket.

Haleyredlipstickmassacre.jpgIt seems like no one chose good/smart songs this week, and Haley was the first one to be mostly on pitch. Can Stefano Langone turn this around? He was born in 1989, and he doesn’t seem to be feeling any of the year’s hits. He chose “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” and he wants to bring it into “this generation.” Does this generation not tuck in their dress shirts? Just saying, it’s the same length as his jacket and it looks like a tunic. The performance, while not the most thrilling thing ever, was solid. Has anyone counted Stefano’s teeth yet? He’s given us ample opportunity. Randy called it the best performance of the night so far, but that’s not saying a whole lot. Still, the judges loved it and went nuts accordingly.

Stefanosteeth.jpgLet’s find out more about Pia Toscano! She was born in 1988 and has been a diva ever since. Her package made me like her even more, and of course she’s singing “Where Broken Hearts Go” by Whitney Houston. I wonder what watching this show is like for Whitney Houston … Anyway, Pia is wearing a white jumpsuit, so there’s that. I think the wardrobe people are confusing “theme” with “costume party.” I don’t think I should complain that Pia always sings the same type of song, because at least she knows what she wants to do and at least it wasn’t a ballad. The judges loved it, naturally, and Randy kept shouting her praises over the music like a crazy person. I like when Randy goes crazy.

RandygoescrazyforPia.jpgScotty McCreery is, in my opinion, the most hilarious contestant. He will never NOT lean over and look winkingly into the camera. If there is something he can prop his elbow on to hold the microphone, he will do it. He’s like a cartoon cowboy.

Scottyleans.jpgAnyway, it’s time for us to solve the mystery of Scotty McCreery’s existence. He was “born in 1993” and he’s singing another country song. Jimmy Iovine told him to stay country, but continue to get better. Nothing was said about the constant leaning and eyebrow seduction. I liked his performance tonight, I think he changed it up and showed us something different still within the country genre. The judges liked it. I would have preferred something from the Ace of Base song collection.

Hey, Karen Rodriguez, how do you like being born in 1989? Karen’s mom is awesome, and I want her to give commentary on everything. While her dress said Star Trek: The Original Series, her voice was still singing a ballad. I don’t mind “Love Will Lead You Back,” but I do mind Karen always singing a ballad in Spanglish, and looking crazy. She didn’t have any pitch problems this week, though!

KarenStarTrek.jpgCasey Abrams is finally bringing an instrument to the table, (he’s so smart about this competition) and singing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”! Casey’s parents had him in their 40’s and it totally makes sense, that’s why Casey is jazzy and mature and hip. No one has ever done a Nirvana song on Idol before! I like that Casey is willing to take risks, like wearing those long plaid shorts to meet with Jimmy Iovine. For his risk, Casey gets special lighting.

CaseyNirvana.jpgIt was definitely a risk, but I love that he’s playing an instrument and getting into the song and he finally woke us up. American Idol is no longer a pageant. J. Lo tried to be cute when she called it “screamy screechy” but Randy made up for it by applauding Casey for being fearless and “putting art first, ahead of commerce.” Oh, hey!

Lauren Alaina looks cowgirl and fringe-y, so that’s promising. To be cute (because she’s always being “cute”), she got Ryan a surgical mask to protect him from her flu. Lauren’s parents confirm that Lauren loves attention. Her mom is dressed like a 13-year old on the Disney Channel. Hey, I got one prediction right! I predicted that Lauren Alaina would/should sing “I’m the Only One” by Melissa Etheridge. I hope she kills it, because I love that song. You can tell she’s sick, I think, but it was still good and her song choice helped her along the way a lot. The judges loved it, even Randy!

Jacob Lusk was born in 1987. I love watching Jacob Lusk, and his mother was equally fun to watch. Jacob’s singing Heart! I’m pretty glad he’s not singing Whitney Houston, actually, because this show was a bit of a snooze until Casey. You may recognize this song from one of the Kristin Chenoweth episodes of Glee. I love Jacob for his personality, but this performance was verging on over-sung. So much vibrato, so much emotion, maybe too much. Not my favorite Jacob performance, or performance of the night. Randy liked it, even though Jacob faltered a little, and said it was “genius” when Jacob “caressed” the ending.

Lusksingingheart.jpgSo, overall, the performances got better and better as the night went on, and the review at the end proved that. Also, a lot of people opened their mouths very wide. I was pretty disappointed in a lot of the song choices, but I think a few people finally stood out for better or worse.

What do you think? Who was the best tonight?

(images courtesy of FOX)

Carla Patton

Writer, BuddyTV

Originally from Seattle, Carla recently took a husband and moved to Austin, Texas, where she is finally using her television “problem” to her advantage. It’s sort of like Dexter, but boring and less murdering. Carla’s favorite shows include 30 RockThe Amazing RaceProject RunwayModern Family, anything with murder, and pretty much anything gross and weird (CSIThe BachelorToddlers & Tiaras, etc.). Favorite canceled shows include: Arrested DevelopmentVeronica Mars and Average Joe. In her spare time, Carla leads tours of downtown Austin on a Segway (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!), blogs about Netflix Instant, and visits elementary schools telling children they don’t need math to succeed (just kidding, stay in school, kids).