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'American Idol' singers tackle their own idols

'American Idol' singers tackle their own idols

March 10th, 2011 by DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer in News

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Casey Abrams didn't need any help from his friends to shine on "American Idol."

The quirky 20-year-old film camp counselor from Idyllwild, Calif., wowed the judges with his energetic take on Joe Cocker's rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends" during the Fox talent competition's first round of finals Wednesday. "Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez said Abrams' stellar performance made her forget where she was for a moment.

"You are a rainbow of talent," Steven Tyler added.

Abrams wasn't alone in earning praise on the idol-centric episode. The judges were also pleased with Pia Toscano, the 22-year-old make-up artist from Howard Beach, N.Y., who soared with Celine Dion's "All By Myself," as well as Jacob Lusk, the 23-year-old spa concierge from Compton, Calif., who infused R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" with his own gospel style.

"It's anybody's game," said Lopez. "That's how good everybody is this year."

Stefano Langone, the 21-year-old unemployed singer from Kent, Wash., was lauded for his bold decision to put a new spin on Stevie Wonder's "Lately," while Scotty McCreery, the 17-year-old high school student from Garner, N.C., was praised for staying true to his country roots with Garth Brooks' "The River." Tyler told him he "did the Garth justice."

Some singers remained in the middle of the pack. Ashthon Jones, the 24-year-old retail manager from Nashville, Tenn., was called "safe" by Randy Jackson for choosing Diana Ross' "When You Tell Me That You Love Me." Lopez wanted more energy from Lauren Alaina, the 16-year-old high school student from Rossville, Ga., who sang Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine."

"This is it," Lopez warned. "The competition starts today."

Jackson described two of the night's performances as sleepy: the growling take on LeAnn Rimes' "Blue" by 20-year-old college student Haley Reinhart of Wheeling, Ill., and the breathy rendition of Selena's "I Could Fall In Love" from 21-year-old college student Karen Rodriguez of New York. Jackson told Rodriguez it felt like she was "fighting the song."

This season's two oldest crooners used dance moves to try to win over the judges. Paul McDonald, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter from Nashville, Tenn., trotted around the stage during Ryan Adams' "Come Pick Me Up," and Naima Adedapo, the 26-year-old dance instructor from Milwaukee, broke out into choreography for her take on Rihanna's "Umbrella."

"You got fire, girl," exclaimed Lopez.

Thia Megia, the 16-year-old high school student from Mountain House, Calif., didn't earn many smiles for her jazzy version of Michael Jackson's "Smile," but James Durbin, the unemployed 22-year-old wailer from Santa Cruz, Calif., amazed the panel with his softer side on Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed." The top 13 singers will face dismissal Thursday.


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