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'Idol' finalists brave birth-year tunes

'Idol' finalists brave birth-year tunes

March 17th, 2011 in News

LOS ANGELES (AP) - "American Idol" finalist Thia Megia could be gone with the wind come Thursday.

The breathy 16-year-old high school student from Mountain House, Calif., didn't dazzle the Fox talent competition's judges Wednesday with her rendition of Vanessa Williams' "Colors of the Wind" from Walt Disney's "Pocahontas."

Megia defended her choice on the evening of birth-year songs, but Steven Tyler questioned whether it defined her as an artist.

"I felt like I was at some pageant somewhere," blasted Randy Jackson.

Other wannabe divas also failed to impress. Jackson admitted he was still confused by Haley Reinhart, the 20-year-old college student from Wheeling, Ill., who pummeled Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Reinhart, a victim of a "lipstick massacre" during her performance, received her critique as "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest wiped a smudge off her chin.

"I feel like you're still a little tense in your body," Lopez told Reinhart.

The diva judge also advised bilingual 21-year-old college student Karen Rodriguez of New York to stop being nervous after taking on Taylor Dayne's "Love Will Lead You Back" in English and Spanish. She also wasn't in love with the version of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do with It" from Naima Adedapo, the 26-year-old dance instructor from Milwaukee.

"You're consistently pitchy," Lopez said. "That's hurting you, and it makes me worry."

Illness didn't stop several singers from pleasing the panel. After battling ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, in the hospital last week, Casey Abrams, the 20-year-old film camp counselor from Idyllwild, Calif., boldly tackled Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Jackson told Abrams he loved "that you're putting art first then commerce."

Lauren Alaina, the 16-year-old high school student from Rossville, Ga., battled through the flu to infuse Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One" with her country twang. Paul McDonald, the quirky 26-year-old singer-songwriter from Nashville, Tenn., also overcame his raspier-than-usual tone for Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues."

"You define a cool dude in a loose mood," Tyler told an ill McDonald.

Other performers were effectively consistent. James Durbin, the unemployed 22-year-old rocker from Santa Cruz, Calif., rocked his signature wail at the end of Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You," and Pia Toscano, the 22-year-old make-up artist from Howard Beach, N.Y., didn't break down with her up-tempo take on Whitney Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."

Scotty McCreery, the 17-year-old high school student from Garner, N.C., turned in another trusty country performance with Travis Tritt's "Can I Trust You With My Heart," while Jacob Lusk, the commanding 23-year-old spa concierge from Compton, Calif., pumped his gospel style into Heart's "Alone."

Jackson lauded Lusk's makeover of the classic rock song.

"This was a tough one for you because you did step out of your comfort zone," he said.

However, the most praise Wednesday was reserved for Stefano Langone, the unemployed 21-year-old crooner from Kent, Wash., who powered through "If You Don't Know Me by Now," the soulful ballad written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and covered by Simply Red in 1989. Jackson said Lagone "took a song with the highest degree of difficulty and slayed it."

One of the top 12 singers will face dismissal Thursday.

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