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‘American Idol’ Motown Week: Top 11 Songs

American Idol Contestants
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

American Idol‘ contestants were dispatched with the task of singing Motown classics this week. Many of the contestants did Motown founder, Berry Gordy, proud, while a few stumbled. Regardless of individual performances, Motown week was one of the most entertaining theme weeks of the season. Tomorrow night we will find out who is staying and who is going!

Here is our breakdown of who sang what and how.

Casey Abrams: Abrams‘ (who isn’t pictured above as he was being hospitalized at the time) rendition of ‘Heard it Through the Grapevine’ invoked Marvin Gaye with a little blued-eyed soul, but was still a little too harsh as he vacillated between overly gruff and screechy.

Thia Megia: Accused of being a one-note and snoozy ballad clinger, Megia took a left turn and went up-tempo with ‘Heat Wave’ by Martha & the Vandellas. She strutted her stuff on stage and showed us something new, but her voice didn’t carry the song.

Jacob Lusk:
‘You’re All I Need to Get By’ by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell was a wise choice for the overly dramatic Lusk, who expressed uncharacteristic restraint while still injecting the song with his signature over-the-top flair. He performed as though the song was written for him.

Lauren Alaina: Alaina turned the Supremes’ ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ into a bit of ballad before turning on her usual sass. It was not her best performance, but she does have a sexy, smoky voice and should move on. Steven Tyler definitely digs her, so maybe that will help her chances!

Stefano Langone: Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ was Langone‘s choice, and he hit a lot of the right notes when tackling Richie’s somber, maudlin ballad. Despite this, it was not his best performance either. He needs to connect in order to keep going in the competition, so say the judges.

Haley Reinhart:
Her bluesy attitude asserted itself midway through the Miracles’ ‘You Really Got a Hold on Me’ in a voice that sounds seasoned by life experience! Reinhart has the Janis Joplin thing going on and should be back for another round next week.

Scotty McCreery: The country crooner opted for Stevie Wonder’s ‘For Once in My Life’ and took a risk that should pay off the proper dividend; he stayed true to the song’s spirit while glazing it with his signature country drawl and twang. McCreery’s a safe bet to see next week.

Pia Toscano:
Pretty Pia also elected to go the Stevie Wonder route with ‘All Is Fair in Love,’ and we’ve seen this style before. She starts out slow, then belts those high notes as if she was pledging the Mariah/Celine/Cher single-name sorority. It’s the Pia formula, and it’s predictable now. She doesn’t own the stage a la Celine Dion, but damn, girl can sing. But as Randy Jackson said, “You can’t live on ballads alone.”

Paul McDonald:
McDonald brought out his acoustic guitar for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ ‘Tracks of My Tears,’ which he modernized and retooled in a Jason Mraz sorta way. His breathy, husky voice gave the song a new texture and he got all tender, turning in the night’s most unique performance.

Naima Adedapo: Her take on Martha and the Vandellas ‘Dancing in the Streets’ allowed her to showcase her moves alongside her big voice. She sang and danced, which is not as easy as you’d think. Notice many of the performers were somewhat stationary this evening, but not Adedapo.

James Durbin:
Durbin is the boy wonder of ‘Idol.’ He chose Stevie Wonder’s ‘Livin’ For the City’ and fully engaged the crowd. We liked watching him dancing a lil’ two-step and dropping to his knees. He is such a firecracker and obviously loves being on that stage. We’ll definitely be seeing him again.

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