'Idol's' Top 12 hit the stage
March 16th, 2011
08:01 PM ET

'Idol's' Top 12 hit the stage

9:50 p.m. – Whenever I hear Heart's "Alone," I am always reminded of Carrie Underwood's performance a few seasons ago, which was amazing. Utterly amazing.

Jacob attacks this 1987 song like his life depended on it. He has been so consistent so far and I was really feeling it. My husband said he reminds him of a male version of Jennifer Hudson and I can see that. Big voice, emotion and range. Love!

He definitely put some "Lusky stank" on it. Do your thing Jacob!

9:39 p.m. – Oh no, Lauren has the flu!

She hands Seacrest a face mask. I'm worried. Meanwhile, her mom looks like her sister and her daddy cries when offering his support. All together now: Awwwwwwww!

Lauren performs Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One" from 1994 and she starts off a little rough before trying to nail it toward the end. She's still got that raspy thing happening, but I wasn't as blown away as the judges seem to be.

9:30 p.m. – I have been Team Casey from day one, but I was not on board for this one.

He selected the 1991 Nirvana song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and even though he played the guitar and grunged it up, it sounded off to me. More yelling than singing. He gets some points for taking a risk, though.

The judges agreed with me.

9:20 p.m. – I loved Taylor Dane's "Love Will Lead You Back" in 1989. But even more, I adored the emotion Karen's mama has for her baby. She called Karen her "Oscar" and her "prize."

Her mother had a right to be proud of her daughter, who sang well and worked it out again in Spanish. The more I see of her, the more I see J.Lo 2.0. The look, the spunk and the Latin pride. Jennifer tells her to never expose her weaknesses – that is if she can't hit a note, don't go there.

Listen to her Mamacita cause J-Lo knows of what she speaks.

9:10 p.m. – Scotty was a "bit of a chunky monkey" when he was born in 1993, according to his mama.

A young Scotty was a big Elvis fan and I can totally see that. His dad thinks he gets his deep voice from him, and I got a kick out of watching Scotty's parents sing "Baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low." That was pretty cute.

Scotty sings the Travis Tritt song "Can I Trust You With My Heart." Way to stay in your lane baby.

Despite being barely out of diapers, he is so believable singing this love song. He could release an album today and make some serious loot, I think.

9:00 p.m. – Too bad YouTube wasn't around when Pia was a little girl because she was tearing up "I Will Always Love You."

She does a slightly faster version of the 1988 Whitney Houston tune "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and she is soooooo on point. Her voice is so fully formed that I wonder how she is going to grow during this competition. Is there such a thing as being too good?

"You are why this show is called 'American Idol,' " Tyler says.

8:53 p.m. – Stefano is so mad cool.

That kid has swagger – and I can call him a kid 'cause he was born in 1989. His song choice is the Simply Red version of "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and it gives him the opportunity to display not only his chops, but also the passion he has for music.

He wrings every bit of emotion out of those notes and you can see Jennifer falling more and more in love. She's been a fan since day one and it is so warranted. Don't sleep on Stefano 'cause for me, the show just started!

Awww, he went and hugged his mama!

8:43 p.m. – Haley's parents are in a band, so that's kind of cool.

She was born in 1990 and selects Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight," and the one time I expected her to be sultry, she wasn't. She definitely puts her own touch on it and makes it a little bit more jazzy. Hmmmm, I dunno.

I'm not sure if she knows how to control her instrument. And I'm trying to figure out how she managed to get her lipstick smeared on her face. Ryan ends up trying to spit clean her. Watch that, Seacrest!

8:31 p.m. – Why is Kate Hudson sitting way in the back of the audience clutching bags of Cheetos?


James selects from 1989 the Bon Jovi song "I'll Be There For You" and he is working the stage like a seasoned rock star. Apparently he and some of the other "Idol" guys have formed a band in the mansion, so maybe he's been practicing.

James gets a little cocky by saying he doesn't want to spoil the Aerosmith until the finale. Steven says if James sings it, he'll join him and they shake on it. Oh snap! It's on like popcorn and the deal even leads Steven to curse. Not that getting Steven Tyler to curse is difficult.

8:21 p.m. – I think Thia might be reading this site.

I included her in a gallery of contestants to watch this season and I mentioned that she reminded me of a little Disney princess. So Thia goes and picks "Colors of the Wind" by Vanessa Williams from the 1995 animated film "Pocahontas."

She has a pretty voice, but Randy says he was bored. It was a little sleepy, but still she's very talented. What I am seeing is what I worried about with the younger contestants – a lack of connecting with the song's emotion.

I think she will still be safe this week. And there in the audience is Thia's old friend Peggy Blue, the vocal coach who showed no mercy during the auditions.

8:13 p.m. – Paul was so cute as a kid!

He, too, was born in 1984 and he selects Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues." Again, he has such an interesting performance style. The song didn't thrill me, but Paul is just so chill.

He's got that crazy little Rod Stewart voice and that Kenny Loggins look. It's just all peace and love when it comes to this dude.

"Pitchy" appears to be the word du jour tonight.

8:07 p.m. – Here is where I start to feel old.

Tonight's theme is songs from the year the contestant was born and Naima was born in 1984. She's a baby, but she cries over having to be away from her babies who are only 1 and 3 years old. Naima's mama sheds some tears over her baby as she is so proud of her. I love the legacy as both mother and daughter are singers.

Naima selects Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It." Sadly, I didn't love it – but I love her. She's so unique and cool, but Jennifer calls her pitchy and Randy says her vocals "were all over the place." On another season she may have gotten a pass. Actually, only last season she would have gotten a pass. But this year she has to bring it.

There is just so much talent this time around that the weaker contestants are going to have a more difficult time Sanjaying it I believe.

8:05 p.m. – I love me some Ryan Seacrest.

There's just something about his little spikey 'do which sets my heart racing.

Tyler looks like he is rocking some Mardi Gras beads with that necklace and I ain't even mad at him. It's always a party for Steven Tyler.

8:00 p.m. – It's time to get it popping Idol-ators.

The judges start us off with the announcement that profits from tonight's downloads  will be going to the Red Cross relief efforts to help Japan.

Well done "Idol."

soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Mel

    Jacob is so over-rated. I cannot listen to him sing. He butchers everything.

    March 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Benny Vee

    Hey Check out our IDOL BLOG on Masslive.com!!!! Feel free to leave comments on the page!!!


    March 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pam Matthews

    Disney needs to pay attention and scoop up Thia. I always thought that she is a good role model for little ones and she did a beautiful job on last night's song. American Idol maybe not but she could have an amazing future!

    March 17, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • The Truth


      Yours is the single best comment on this entire thread. Great thinking. She should totally be a Disney Diva.

      March 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      I agree! They should scoop up Thia and David Archuleta both for a show!

      March 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. peacsktr

    Pia is awesome , Stefano is awesome, James is awesome, Scott is Awesome, Karen is awesome, Lauren is awesome, I use awesome alot.

    And this is the best season so far of american idol.........thank god simon left.

    March 17, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. Allie

    Unfortunately the best voice doesn't guarantee a win (remember Adam Lambert), but Pia definitely gets my vote! She has all the makings of an American Idol.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lytlebritches

    Yeah, Jacob IS NOT Barry White, NOR Luther Vandross, or whoever it is that those whacked out judges once compared him to. When I hear him sing, or watch him sing, it's almost as if his tongue is too big for his mouth and he's not enuciating the words.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. dogs rule

    OK, here are the best: Pia, James and Stefano!! But the hillbilly is just the same ol' same old. Does anyone else recognize Scotty from the cover of "MAD" magazine?? Alfred E. Neumann is his alter-ego. Anyway, this is AMERICAN Idol, not Country Idol. One should be able to sing anything! He can't.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Tammy

      funny you should mention that! CMT use to have something along those lines, wonder if they still have that show? As far as the "Mad" magazine reference, I'm not even sure Scotty Boy is even old enough to know who Alfred E. Neumann is.... maybe Ryan will have an old magazine lying around the house and will bring it tonight and show this younger generation who you're talking about, or do they still print "Mad" with Alfred on the cover?

      March 17, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. Grayson

    Last night was downright boring at times. James, Scotty, and Pia made it watchable. Casey has potential, but he mostly screamed last night and it wasn't impressive. There could possibly be another all female bottom three.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. morgan

    I would like to see more rock-alt/indie/classic vs disney whitney mariah,christina wannabees. Casey is my fav! Karen annoys me, scotty looks like a scary mannaquin(kid from mad magazine) though he's got the country voice for sure.

    March 17, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Lytlebritches

      Last night was about the year they were born, those kids were born in the 90's and guess what? Whitney, Mariah, & Disney were all still popular in the 90's..... not so much now, but then....

      March 17, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Betsy

      haha! you nailed it!! he is Alfred E. Neuman!!!!!

      March 17, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. Shawn

    This really is the worst set of prospects the show has ever had. There is obviously too much politics in how the real selections are made vs. the ones they show on TV. This season only has maybe four people who should have even been selected to go to hollywood. But the absolute worst part of this season is the JUDGES. Talk about a bunch of kiss-azzes. There's no point in them even being there. You can sound like a cat with a throat infection and they will tell you how wonderful you look and how much they have always liked you. Where is Simon when you need him most.

    March 17, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Ricky

      Before last night I'd have disagreed with you. Last night changed my mind.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. heidi-ho

    I dont understand all the hype over Lauren and Stephano. They are bland beyond description. Scott will make it in Nashville whether he wins or not. Cant stand Naima. Just plain gaudy. And cannot dance at all. I die laughing everytime I see her perform. Karen is ok but ruins every song by turning it spanish. Enough already. Jacob was good at first but all he does is yell. Thank god Simon is gone. This yearsbwinner will be James with Casey running a close 2nd. Just shave the beard. Anyone not mentioned is bad

    March 17, 2011 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  12. Robert in LA

    Good Heavens, so much negativity here, if you don't like the show then do not watch it! I thought they all did well, but as in life, some did it better than others. But what many here do not seem to realize is that the entire country gets to vote, so my own pick is Scott. It will be close, but this country is sold almost solidly on county music, so he has a built in audience. Besides which he sounds lot like all the better male country singers in that he has that incredible (and manly sounding) low voice. Elvis had it, and Johnny Cash had it in spades! Besides, he has a career regardless!!

    March 17, 2011 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Tammy

      Unfortunately you are right. Here's my prediction though.... he'll have a one hit wonder and then *POOF* he'll be gone! Everyone has heard him sing other artists songs, he can emulate well, as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. There is a HUGE country music fan base out there, Carrie has proven that. However, Scotty has already proven, as in Hollywood week, he's a follower and not a leader, his ethics and morals are weak, he ain't gonna make it out there in the real world. Yes, he'll be picked up real quick, but he'll be dumped real quick too. Watch and see, he'll prove me right.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. tilly

    I ove cheetos now i want me some d amn it

    March 17, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. Robert in Austin

    I'm calling it right now... the final will be Lauren vs James and I am predicting that James will win. not sure what the judges are seeing in Stefano – he emotes too hard and enuciates too much... hard to watch him sing. I like Casey but he screamed his version of Nirvana by only picking the screaming parts of the song and not the melodic singing parts – I was very disappointed. Everyone else was eehhh.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. Indy

    Jacob had me standing up and cheering at the end of that performance. He's fantastic.

    March 17, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  16. Ed

    Casey rocked! The guy is so amazingly talented! There were a lot of "just ok" performances tonight. Naima, Haley & Karen would be my bottom three guesses. I like Jacob, but I really didn't care for his version of Alone. Singing one phrase then all chorus as loud as he can twice, before singing the first line of the chorus again was horrible.

    March 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  17. JoJoBee

    Stefano slayed it, hands down.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  18. juliejet

    Pia and Jacob were terrific. I can't wait for Scotty to surprise us with something totally different, to hush the nay sayers.
    I am enjoying this season so much better than the last; even without Simon!

    March 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Hart

    Only Karen can get away with failing songs and then getting away with it because she panders to Latinos with her Spanish.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spanglish

      You're absolutely right!!! Maybe there's a Mexican or Puerto Rican idol she can try out for..

      March 17, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      What do you mean "panders"? Isn't the whole point of the show to see who can gain the most followers who are moved enough to vote for you. In that sense aren't they all pandering to a particular base? Are you upset because her base presumably includes many spanish speaking people? If so, why is that a problem?

      March 17, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  20. JJ

    Sorry, but, I'm appalled at the number of typos and grammatical errors that the writers on CNN's site make daily. Who the hell is hiring these people? They should be embarrassed.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Erinn

    Ugh. Ok, so Lauren and James sing just fine, but when they aren't singing, they are just insufferable. I can't stand them.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  22. petsRfun

    Where is Lauren....actual talent needed, now!

    March 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Francesca

    Most of the contestants tonight are terrible. I can't believe this. I have seen two performances that I have liked, and to me Pia is one of the only ones who can truly sing. I wish these people would cut out the showmance, dancing and expensive outfits and just sing. Why didn't contestants like Kendra make it from the wild card show? We need Simon back to do some real judging!!

    March 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derek of the Dominoes

      I agree with you overall and am REALLY suprised at what's going on tonight. Up until this show I thought this was the most talented Idol group ever, and maybe it is, but sure sounds like most of them took a step down this week.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • watcher in sc

      Most of them were sick tonight... flu/ cold, etc... I think it was a tough night overall... will get better! Talent's there....

      March 16, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Derek of the Dominoes

    Casey started slow and I wondered if he could handle Cobain, but when he got into it.....well, he really got into it. That guy has a LOT of talent.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  25. petsRfun

    Stefano – tries too hard to be Stevie Wonder, same inflections, same wail on the high notes.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  26. juliejet

    JJ- lay off Lisa. She's a GREAT addition to the Idol watching experience

    March 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Derek of the Dominoes

    Pia really nailed it and looks fabulous.

    Scotty can't win – too narrow in range – but he WILL get a big country contract and following.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  28. JJ

    "A chunky MONEY"? Really. The writers' typos on so many websites are just laughable these days.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crys

      Yeah, and I'd love to see you do play by play blogging on the fly without a single typo.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Respers France, CNN.com writer

      JJ, it happens when you are typing, watching and singing along all at the same time. Thanks for pointing it out.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Tammy

    figures that Scotty would pick a country song, kid can't sing anything but. He should be voted off any week now. Since I DVR the shows I pass right by him, he has no range of being able to sing any other genre and the judges should point that out instead of praising him, they are quick to criticize the other contestants, but not him and Lauren, wonder why?

    March 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • BJ

      Scotty and the judges and everyone else knows that he is a TRUE country singer.....why would he try to prove anything else. HE's good and regardless of when he gets kicked off, he will have a contract before the credits roll on the show!!

      March 17, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrea

      Well said BJ! Plus, he did prove that he can sing other genres of music when he sang during Beatles week.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      I don't like most country music. Notwithstanding my personal preference, I recognize that it's a valid genre enjoyed by millions. For example, we need only look to Carrie Underwood to see that an Idol contestant can be a commercial success as a country singer, far bigger than most prior winners in the rock and pop categories.

      March 17, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  30. Angel

    As an important school teacher i think all of you are homers. gaaaaaayyyy homers. I teach 8th grade in new york. only people from new york know anything. you loosers are astuupid.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Tammy

    uhm, has anyone else noticed that Casey is not in the group picture? Why is he not there and why is Pia holding a pic of him instead? Did anyone else notice that Naima totally BUTCHERED Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To With It" song? If the first few acts are any indication of how tonight is going to go, why even bother watching?

    March 16, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Respers France, CNN.com writer

      Casey was sick and in the hospital when the photo was taken.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tammy

      D"OH. I hadn't heard about that. What happened? I always DVR the show so that I can FWD through the commercials. He of course will be performing tonight, won't he?

      March 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa Respers France, CNN.com writer

      Tammy, he is scheduled to perform tonight.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Linda

    so far only James has been any good....he just is naturally talented.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Trina

    Haley Reinheart does NOT equal Whitney Houston!!! WHYYYYYYY would she set herself UP like that by singing one of her SONGS?!?!?!

    March 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  34. petsRfun

    I see. Pregnant- must eat Cheeto's on American Idol! LOL

    March 16, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  35. juliejet

    Because she's pregnant and her little son is with her~

    March 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Lonimus

    That dude can hit some high notes

    March 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  37. petsRfun

    @melissa It is very sleepy isn't it. they are saving the 'big guns' - Casey, Pia, and Lauren - for later in the show

    March 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  38. melissa

    These kids r boring me out of my mind. Thia has a beautiful voice but im falling asleep over here. And what was that mess paul made out of a beautiful song? Im waiting for someone to wake me up!

    March 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |

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