’Idol’ finalists attempt current and classic tunes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lauren Alaina was anything but flat on “American Idol.”

The soaring 16-year-old songstress of Rossville, Ga., impressed the Fox talent competition’s judges with both her performances on Wednesday’s serving of current and classic songs. An energized Alaina first strutted to Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor” before delivering a surprisingly elegant take on The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.”

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“This girl can sing like a bird,” proclaimed Randy Jackson.

James Durbin, the wailing 22-year-old rocker of Santa Cruz., Calif., who was proclaimed the contest’s front-runner last week, again wowed the panel with his choices. He blasted off at the beginning of the show with 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Closer to the Edge” and later landed an emotional rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You,” which brought him to tears.

“Every single week, I leave everything on this stage,” pleaded Durbin. “Everything.”

Scotty McCreery, the deep-voiced 17-year-old country crooner of Garner, N.C., also escaped receiving criticism from the panel after his gritty take on Montgomery Gentry’s Southern rock track “Gone” and subtle rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Always on My Mind.” The judges were wowed with his frenetic energy on “Gone,” which included a tiny lunge off the stage.

“I saw you dance with the devil tonight, and that’s a good thing for you,” said Steven Tyler.

The judges weren’t jumping for joy over Jacob Lusk’s daring attempt to tackle both parts of “No Air,” the pop duet of former “Idol” champion Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown. However, the booming 23-year-old vocalist from Compton, Calif., bounced back from that disaster with a tender take on “Love Hurts,” the classic made famous by Nazareth and Roy Orbison.

“That might’ve been the highest note ever sung on this stage,” said Jackson.

Haley Reinhart, the growling 20-year-old college student of Wheeling, Ill., also took a misstep. She confused the judges with her contemporary selection, Lady Gaga’s unreleased “You and I,” but impressed them with her well-known oldie, The Animals’ version of “The House of the Rising Sun,” which received a standing ovation from the panel and audience.

“That song has never been sung like that before,” Jennifer Lopez teased after her sultry performance.

One of the five finalists will be eliminated Thursday with the 10th season “Idol” scheduled to be selected on the May 26 finale.

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Online:

http://www.americanidol.com

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