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American Idols Live @ Nassau Coliseum, 8.23.11

"American Idol" cast members perform at the Nassau Coliseum. (Aug. 23, 2011) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The biggest surprise about last night's “American Idols Live” show at Nassau Coliseum was how “Glee”-like it's become. The competition aspect is almost completely removed and it's more like a showcase for the finalists' talent. Of course, it's still about a singing competition, though, right?

So here's the Top 6 performances from last night's show:

1. Casey Abrams, “Harder to Breathe”: Only Casey could take a Maroon 5 song and strip it down to a jazzy, acoustic core at the beginning, before turning it into some sort of screamo-metal demonic possession. Nothing short of amazing to watch. His jazzy version of Santana's “Smooth” was pretty great, too.

2. Jacob Lusk, “You're All I Need to Get By”: Jacob dedicated the song to its songwriter Nicholas Ashford, who died Monday night, and poured his soul into it, soaring to gospel-like highs at the end, while supported by Naima, Stefano and Pia. The passion played nicely off his Yacht-Rock outfit, complete with gold buttons on his blue blazer, and his smooth delivery of Luther Vandross' “Never Too Much” that came before it.

3. Scotty McCreery, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”: Scotty won “American Idol” with his laid-back cool and simple delivery and that hasn't changed. He was best with this sweet, inexperienced love song because, well, Scotty probably relates to it the best – no matter what the arched-eyebrows and “Baby, lock them doors”-loving teen would want you to believe.

4. Pia Toscano & Stefano Langone, “California King Bed”: It was almost shocking how good these two sounded together on Rihanna's love ballad. Their harmonies wound together well, each setting the other up for a chance to knock a solo run out of the park. Pia and Stefano were clearly the pair that improved the most since the show, delivering other high points like Pia's new single “This Time,” and Stefano's frenzy-inducing “DJ Got Us Falling in Love,” which concluded with him removing his shirt and my hearing perhaps being permanently damaged by the shrieks of teenage girls' approval.

5. Naima Adedapo, “On the Floor”: She was pretty much the MVP of the show's first half, flashily handling the toughest part of “Born This Way” and dominating the stage during “Tightrope.” But when Naima had the spotlight all to herself, she made the most of it, inserting an African dance break into the J.Lo hit, before sliding into splits and singing from the floor.

6. James Durbin, “Sweet Child o' Mine”: After Pia, James was clearly the crowd favorite, getting them revved up and on their feet with the Guns 'N Roses classic. He held them through most of Muse's “Uprising,” but the falsetto at the end was so off-key and so high that it was almost painful. That said, his fauxhawk was magnificent.

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SETLIST: Naima Adedapo, Lauren Alaina, Thia Megia, Haley Reinhart and Pia Toscano - Born This Way / Pia - Empire State of Mind (Part 2) / Pia & Stefano Langone – California King Bed / Paul McDonald - Maggie Mae / Thia Megia - Who Says / Naima, Thia, Haley & Pia – Tightrope / Stefano – Grenade / Stefano w/Naima, Thia, Haley & Pia - DJ Got Us Falling In Love / Casey Abrams, James Durbin, Jacob Lusk, Stefano & Paul – Animal / Naima - On The Floor / Pia – This Time / Casey – Smooth / Casey & Haley – Moanin' / Casey – Harder to Breathe / All (except Scotty McCreery) – Forget You/ INTERMISSION / Lauren - Flat on the Floor / Lauren - Like My Mother Does / Lauren w/Stefano, Thia & Haley – If I Die Young / James - Sweet Child o’ Mine / James – Uprising / Jacob – Never Too Much / Jacob w/Naima, Stefano & Pia – You're All I Need To Get By / Haley - House of the Rising Sun / Haley - Bennie and the Jets / Scotty McCreery – Your Man / Scotty - Are You Going to Kiss Me Or Not / Scotty - I Love You This Big / Scotty & Lauren - When You Say Nothing At All / Scotty w/Lauren, Thia, Haley & Pia – Gone / MEDLEY: Lauren & James - Here I Go Again / Casey, Paul & Haley – Faithfully / All – Walk This Way / All - Any Way You Want It/ Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'


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