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'American Idol' 10: Top 8 power rankings (Movie Music Week)

Jacob Lusk performs

Jacob Lusk performs "Man in the Mirror" in front of the judges on "American Idol." (April 6, 2011) Photo Credit: Fox

Isn't it funny how the judges still pretend that “American Idol” is a singing contest and not a popularity contest?

Popularity wise, Scotty McCreery is so far ahead of the field that he's practically unstoppable. His version of “I Cross My Heart” was good and he's so talented and so natural that you can tell he barely broke a sweat doing it.

The rest of the guys? Man, were they sweating.

Aside from Paul McDonald, who also played it sorta safe with “Old Time Rock 'n' Roll,” they all took pretty massive risks. Jacob Lusk took mentor Jimmy Iovine's advice and sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” capping it with a final run so marvelous that he should shoot to the top of a singing competition. He is not at the top of “American Idol.”

Stefano Langone fought to stay on the show with a surprisingly powerful version of Boyz II Men's “End of the Road,” causing the "Most Beautiful Woman in the World" to swear! He may have sang to the best of his ability, but that might not be enough.

“Give metal a chance!” said James Durbin, tackling “Heavy Metal” with the help of guitarist Zakk Wylde, against Iovine's wishes. It was a crazy risk, but Durbin still handled the song well.

Casey Abrams took an even bigger risk, with a subdued, gorgeous version of Nat King Cole's “Nature Boy,” also against Iovine's wishes. Casey was thrilling, but because this is not a singing competition, he will definitely be in the bottom three and probably go home. The judges can give him a standing ovation, but jazz (and subtlety) does not play well with young “Idol” voters.

There will be hand-wringing again, but this vote should make it clear to the judges and the show: This is about popularity, not singing. The voters do not trust your judgment and they certainly won't follow your will.

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“Everybody wants us to be tough with you guys, but the truth is all of you are so damn good,” Jennifer Lopez tells Scotty.

Of course, that's not really true. Haley Reinhart was awful once again, though Lopez said she didn't want to criticize another female contestant because so many females have been eliminated. Well, Reinhart's erratic “Call Me” was the night's worst by far, swinging for big notes and whiffing each time. Real judges – like, say Simon Cowell – would tell her and America that she's simply not good enough. It's hard to believe anything they say if they don't say that.

The same goes for Lauren Alaina. After slamming Miley Cyrus and her voice, Iovine tells Lauren to go steal Pia Toscano's fans, which will.i.am disputes and tells her to invite them instead.

“Semantics!” says Iovine, who may be crass, but certainly understands the game.

Lauren really didn't do either with Cyrus' “The Climb.” When the guitar solo is the best part, something has gone wrong. But in this popularity contest, she should be just fine.
Tearful Casey, unfortunately, cannot feel the same way.

THE RANKINGS

Jacob Lusk, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
Casey Abrams, “Nature Boy”
Stefano Langone, “End of the Road”
James Durbin, “Heavy Metal”
Scotty McCreery, “I Cross My Heart”
Paul McDonald, “Old Time Rock 'n' Roll”
Lauren Alaina, “The Climb”
Haley Reinhart, “Call Me”

BOTTOM THREE: Paul, Casey, Haley
WILL BE ELIMINATED: Casey
SHOULD BE ELIMINATED: Haley 

ACTUALLY ELIMINATED: Paul

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