‘American Idol’ 10 Recap – Handicapping the 2011 Top 4

American Idol 10 started out the finals with a lopsided male to female ratio, as the girls were all being quickly eliminated. Yet now after Jacob Lusk’s elimination Thursday night, the final four now stands with an even ratio of two guys and two girls. After a dismissal of five of the girls, there has now been four guys eliminated in quick succession.

This week could have easily gone either way with either a guy or girl leaving. Each of the top five had at least one great performance, and some had two. Yet what this week spelled out with the now and then theme was that Jacob didn’t do well with contemporary. He didn’t want to have to do a ballad every week, but when he tried not to, he chose a style of music that he wants to be, instead of who he is.

american idol 10,final 4To go along with the “now and then” theme, here’s how they compared after their first performance at the beginning of the top 13 and how they compare now at top 4:

1. Lauren Alaina, 16, of Rossville, Georgia.

Then – She was once thought of as one of the better females in the group, and was compared to both Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, while Kelly herself compared her to Kellie Pickler. She then picked a song that didn’t come close to her capabilities. Her cute personality kept her safe, but will only carry her so far. She needs to bounce back next week.

Now – She sang Unchained Melody this week, because she knew it was one she could pull off, as she sang it twice in Hollywood, and the judges apparently liked it. Is it the only song from the 60s she knows? She ended up in the bottom two this week, but she and Haley have both been up and down. She could very well make the final three with a very strong showing next week. It’s not going to be her confidence that brings her down, though. It’s going to be that she made such a big deal about her confidence; that’s all people look for now.

2. James Durbin, 22, unemployed from Santa Cruz, California.

Then – He’s gotten a lot of coverage so far by being compared to Adam Lambert because of his scream. However, that range is true. Like Randy Jackson pointed out this week, it’s not a falsetto, but a full range. He didn’t go into the scream this week much and showed a very strong voice that has been overlooked. He’s another frontrunner who could easily go all the way.

Now – Jimmy Iovine seems to have a bigger problem with James than the judges and fans do. Could it be because James doesn’t always listen to his advice? James knows who he is as a performer and knows his own voice. He isn’t always everyone’s absolute favorite, but people who don’t like him are rare. That will be what brings him to the finals. He’s likable and knows exactly who he is.

3. Scotty McCreery, 17, from Garner, North Carolina.

Then – Scotty has a very good shot at making it very far in the competition. He already sounds very polished and knows who he is as a performer. Song choice is never a problem for him. The judges think he could put out a record right now.

Now – Scotty is proving to be much more than a one-trick pony. He’s not just the guy who can only sing country. He stepped out of that last week, and now this week is back to country, but showing more with it than he has before as he sang both tenderly in one song and put on quite a performance with the other. The key to him making it to final 2 will be a combination of the right performances and if his teenage fanbase is real or engineered by the producers.

4. Haley Reinhart, 20, from Wheeling, Illinois.

Then – She gets flak from the judges for her song choices and on top of that was in the bottom three this week. She really needs to bring it next week.

Now – Again, Jimmy doesn’t like his advice called into question. Not only does he seem to have it out for James for not following his advice, he also had some stern words for Jennifer Lopez for disagreeing with him. The newsflash for Jimmy is that judging the singers’ performances and song choices is Jennifer’s job. Singing You and I was a huge risk for Haley, and she didn’t do that fantastic with it. What saved her was a phenomenal performance on House of the Rising Sun and going last, so that it stuck in everyone’s minds. She needs to pick smart choices next week or will be back on the bubble again, with or without Jimmy’s “help.”

The last few years American Idol has done duets at final four, but that was already done last week at final six. If they’re trying to keep the show at 90 minutes, each of the final four will need to sing two songs again. No matter what they do, we should get a chance to see the Idols sing at least two songs, and to make it through the week, they’ll have to be near perfection on both songs.

For more on American Idol 10, see SirLinksalot.

American Idol 10 pictures used with permission of Fox.

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