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‘American Idol’ Recap: Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

American Idol Contestants
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Can you believe we’re down to only nine ‘American Idol‘ contestants? The herd is talented and it’s also thinning. On tonight’s episode, the vocalists were asked to sing songs that shaped rock ‘n’ roll. They had over 650 songs to choose from and some of the hopefuls chose wisely. Others went outside of their comfort zones, while the usually under-the-radar Paul McDonald exploded on stage, capturing our hearts.

Jacob Lusk: Lusk, sparkling and resplendent in all white ensemble, went tender with Michael Jackson‘s ‘Man in the Mirror.’ He worked the low-key verse before kicking into high gear, shaking his thang during the rhythmic chorus.

Haley Reinhart:
PopCrush’s editor had predicted that Reinhart would attempt a Janis Joplin song, and she did just that with a hellfire rendition of ‘Take a Little Piece of My Heart.’ Reinhart was victorious, with her raspy, larger-than-life voice. Jennifer Lopez even called her a “contender.”

Casey Abrams: Abrams‘ gritty vocals were a perfect match for Creedence Clearwater Revival’s maudlin ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain.’ Randy Jackson said Abrams is revolutionizing pop music by making the non-intrinsically instrument cool.

Lauren Alaina: Aretha Franklin is the queen of soul, and Lauren Alaina attempted to be the princess of soul tonight. She succeeded. The teenage girl sounded like a woman when she tore through ‘Natural Woman.’ Miss Lauren ain’t going anywhere.

James Durbin: The resident rocker, faux hawk and all, showed us his subdued and super sensitive side in the form of his vulnerable take on George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ It was a chance and we applaud Durbin for having the courage to go a different route.

Scotty McCreery: The country boy showed off a bit of rockabilly flavor with Elvis Presley‘s ‘That’s All Right,’ which was certainly one of the night’s most entertaining and energetic performances. We still can’t believe that Scotty is a teen. He’s such an old soul.

Pia Toscano:
Amen! Pia finally ditched her ballad ball and chain by going with Tina Turner’s ‘River Deep, Mountain High.’ Tyler called her a ‘murderer’ because, well, Pia killed it. It was a pleasure to see her do something big and uptempo (and unlike Celine Dion) for once.

Stefano Langone: Langone demonstrated a variety of ranges and the type of emotion you just can’t fake on his top-notch rendition of ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ by Percy Sledge. Langone won’t find himself in the bottom of the voting tomorrow, if America is paying any sort of attention.

Paul McDonald: It’s a bold move to play with Johnny Cash‘s iconic, uber-cool ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ but McDonald embraced the song, injecting it with energy we’ve yet to see from him. Hands down, this high octane was his best performance overall and one of the best of the evening.

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