"American Idol" is officially back -- 13 finalists sang tonight, and we saw more great performances than we did maybe all past season.
Whether you loved Jacob Lusk's compelling voice and ownership of the stage, were yelling as Pia Toscano nailed another big song, couldn't wait to see what James Durbin sings next, or reveled in the purity of Thia Megia's voice, just about all of the favorites gave us something to talk about.
Plus Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler weren't out-of-control like they were like week. Maybe at some point they'll trust them enough to go back to live performances?!
Below is how I ranked everyone. Put your own thoughts in the comments:
1) Jacob Lusk used his urgent, compelling voice and some gospel to turn in a memorable "I Believe I Can Fly." As Steven and J.Lo said, he's so good it's like there's no point in judging him.
2) James Durbin's creative performance of "Maybe I'm Amazed" had me listening hard; like J.Lo I love the "melodic quality" to his voice, and the wide variety of songs he tries.
3) Pia Toscano and her shimmery gold dress did "All By Myself." justice, knocking it out of the park. I'm with Randy -- "always excited when you come up to sing."
4) We all wished Thia Megia had sung "Smile" straight all the way through, but I'm telling you, it's her courage in trying things that will keep us loving her.
5) Naima Adedapo had the unique performance of the night with "Umbrella." Once she learns how to mix singing and dancing she's gonna be a force.
6) Paul McDonald smiled and lurched his way through "Come Pick Me Up." I have no idea why, but I really like listening to him and watching him. As J.Lo said, he makes everyone smile.
7) Scotty McCreery sang "The River" the way he always does. Not sure it'll be enough in the long run, but enjoyable tonight.
8) Haley Reinhart had her voice bending on "Blue." I wish she had more energy, but along with J.Lo like the "special things" she does with her voice.
9) Stefano Langone wasn't bad on "Lately." The "dance remix" version, as J.Lo put it, at least kept me listening.
10) Karen Rodriguez's version of "I Could Fall in Love" stirred nothing, until her run at the end. Not sure if we'll be seeing more of her.
11) Lauren Alaina was boring on "Any Man of Mine" -- as Randy said she needs to shine again, and soon. She can only get so far based on rep.
12) Casey Abrams as usual worked hard on "Little Help From My Friends" but, unlike the judges, I didn't see anything original or even that enjoyable. He was a fave coming in, now not so sure.
13) Ashthon Jones tried to go Diana Ross on "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" but I didn't feel any real connection. Not sure America is going to be loving her on results night.