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'American Idol' 10: Top 9 power rankings (Rock Hall Week)

Jacob Lusk brought emotion and a creative twist

Jacob Lusk brought emotion and a creative twist to Elton John's "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word." (March 30, 2011) Credit: Fox

I miss Simon Cowell.

He would poke holes in all the puffery that has become this season of “American Idol.”
He would make people cry. He would actually be helpful.

Instead, we get crazy talk like “Casey is revolutionary!” when Randy Jackson he raved about the upright bass in pop music. (Um, Sting?) We hear compliments for the growly Haley Reinhart, even though she had tempo problems all throughout “Piece of My Heart.” We hear praise for Lauren Alaina's disjointed and weird “Natural Woman,” even after she leaves phrases unfinished in the verses and then oversells the chorus. And, oh Lord, Stefano Langone somehow manages to sound tentative and shouty at the same time during “When a Man Loves a Woman” and Jennifer Lopez says it gives her goose bumps.

They desperately need a voice of reason.

Without one, their praise of Jacob Lusk's marvelous “Man in the Mirror” isn't any different from their odd love of Stefano. Their praise of Paul McDonald becomes meaningless. Who are voters supposed to support? Well, if you go by their praise, apparently Scotty McCreery and Haley.

Even stranger is how their only real criticism is of Pia Toscano, who has a great voice and an OK stage presence. Her “River Deep, Mountain High” was too tame, but she handles the stage better than Lauren or Stefano, yet she is the only one called out on it.

Jimmy Iovine can actually see the problem with how this season is shaking out. He told both Pia and Paul that they needed to sing like they were out of their minds. He was right, because without that extra push the entire cast – Jacob excepted – is playing things too safe. Scotty and James Durbin are good, but their approaches will almost always remain within their comfort zone. Without someone else stepping up, casual fans of the show will be able to check out for a few weeks without missing anything.

Simon Cowell wouldn't allow that.

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So who's going home? I'm gonna guess Paul, even though he had a pretty good night. His exit is just going to make the show even more sleepy, but maybe it will be a wake-up call for the judges.

THE RANKINGS

Jacob Lusk, “Man in the Mirror”
Paul McDonald, “Folsom Prison Blues”
James Durbin, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Scotty McCreery, “That's All Right, Mama”
Casey Abrams, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”
Pia Toscano, “River Deep, Mountain High”
Lauren Alaina, “Natural Woman”
Haley Reinhart, “Piece of My Heart”
Stefano Langone, “When a Man Loves a Woman”

BOTTOM THREE: Stefano, Paul, Lauren
WILL BE ELIMINATED: Paul
SHOULD BE ELIMINATED: Haley
ACTUALLY ELIMINATED: Pia

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