AI's Top 13 Debut

Ryan tells us the crowd is ready, and then the cameras show the crowd doing the wave.  Time to get the party started!

The contestants get to sing a song from their personal idols tonight.  This is the first time they'll be working with in-house mentor, Jimmy Iovine, the chairman of Interscope, along with "his team of Grammy Award-winning record producers."

Lauren's up first.  Her idol is Shania Twain, and she'll be singing Any Man of Mine.  She's cute and does a good job, but needs to work on her stage presence--I think she needs a little more energy.  Steven wishes it had been a little more "kick ass."  (I think Steven's saying the same thing I did.)  JLo says Lauren always sounds so amazing, but we need to feel her kicking it into high gear.  Randy echoed the other two, and said they want to see her "shine beyond belief," and he's not sure that song did it for her.  Lauren said she understands the judges, but didn't want to do a ballad because that's what everyone does.

Casey's next.  Singing Joe Cocker's With a Little Help From My Friends, which he first heard when it was the theme of the Wonder Years.  He said Joe Cocker inspired Casey's look--funny!  Casey says when Joe Cocker sings, he feels the music through his whole body, so the audience doesn't just hear him, they feel him.  Casey wants to be felt.  I LOVE Casey!  He's backed by a little choir and sounds amazing.  I'm definitely downloading this on iTunes.  (I assume they're doing that again this year.)  Casey tore it up!!  JLo said he blew her away.   Randy loved it.  Steven said he's a "rainbow of talent" and a "plethora of talent."

Ashton's  singing Diana Ross' When You Tell Me That You Love Me.  Oh gosh...she sings the first line and sounds terrible.  Very weak.  I didn't care for her performance.  She was saved last week by the judges and I think they made a bad decision.  [Note:  here's my sister's theory: "I think the judges purposely put people in who suck to save the top folks and guarantee them a spot - particularly so they have them on their tour."]  Randy says he liked it, but I think he's just kissing up to Barry Gordy, who's in the audience.  Steven liked it too?  And JLo said she's amazing.  Hmm...I'm not feeling it.

Paul's next, singing Ryan Adams' Come Pick Me Up.  Uh-oh.  I think Paul's singing too low...it doesn't sound good.  No Paul!  I like you.  Why'd you do this song?  Well, it got better toward the end.  He's got such a unique voice, but this song didn't do it for me.  Steven said it was a little pitchy, but he loves his voice.  JLo said "there's just something about you" and you moved the crowd.  She said, "I hope America gets it--I don't know Ryan Adams, or that song...."  Paul tells her she should.  Randy knows Ryan Adams and said he loves him too, then he dropped all his knowledge about Ryan Adams, Wilco, Whiskey Town, Don (the producer Paul worked with), and the Traveling Willburies, to show he does get Paul.

Pia's taking on Celine Dion's version of All By Myself.  [Uh-oh...when I hear that song, I have to watch Bridget Jones' Diary within a few days.  [Here's why--sorry, embedding was disabled, so you have to link to YouTube.) Now I know one thing I'll be doing this weekend.]   Wow...Pia's a really beautiful girl and she handled the song beautifully.  I got chills when she hit the high note, though she probably could've held it just a second longer.  JLo said people were wondering what she'd do to top last week, and there it is.  Randy mentioned how over the past 10 years they've advise girls not to tackle Mariah, Whitney and Celine if they can't do them, but Pia has the quality to hit the notes dead-on without even thinking about it.  Randy it was a very "hot, dope, cool performance."  Steven said she slammed it, and that it was beautiful.

James' idol is Paul McCartney, and he'll be singing Maybe I'm Amazed.  Very nicely done.  He sounded so good--and actually sang the song without getting too loud or heavy.  Randy said he slayed it, showed he has a sensitive side, and "this man can sing!"  JLo said he has a melodic quality to his voice.

Haley sings Blue by LeAnn Rimes, which she's been singing since she was a little girl.  She sounded good.  Steven said it was beautiful.  JLo said she does really special things with her voice.  Randy thought it was "a little sleepy, and a little boring."

Jacob's idol is R. Kelly.  Oh Jacob...you gotta find a different idol.  R. Kelly is not someone to idolize.  He's singing I Believe I Can Fly.  I'll try to get through this.  I really like Jacob, but I hate this song.  Here comes the choir again, this time in blue robes.  Wow....Jacob does an amazing job with the song.  What a voice.  Made me forget about R. Kelly.  Steven said Jacob's so good that he can't even judge him.  JLo agreed that it's hard to judge him.  Randy said he has a signature sound, and he's excited every time Jacob hits the stage.

Thia's idol is Michael Jackson...how convenient since Randy told her she reminds him of Michael.  She's singing Smile.  Great song.   How does this tiny little body have such a big voice?  Gorgeous.  It was a little weird when the song picked up tempo in the middle, but she sounded good.  Randy loved her intro, when she was singing by herself with the guitar.  He didn't love the jazzy arrangement, but overall it was good.  Steven agreed.  Also, I'm pretty sure he called her "Pia."  JLo said the arrangement was interesting, but was glad to see her move a little bit.

Stefano's idol is Stevie Wonder and he'll be singing Lately.  Great song.  Uh-oh...what's this?  A techno-disco version of the song?  No, no, no....  His voice was good, but I did not like that arrangement.  JLo seemed to be enjoying it--she was dancing along.  Steven and JLo liked it.  Randy said it started off rocky, but he slayed it.  Really?  Ohhh-kayyyyy.  Debbie and I were waiting for someone to mention that he sounded like a wedding singer.

Karen's doing Selena's I Could Fall in Love.  Mmm....she's okay.  Not as good as last week...a little pitchy.  Jimmy Iovine told her not to talk on the phone...wondering if she's having voice problems.  JLo said she could tell Karen was uncomfortable with some of the notes in the low and high notes.  Randy said it didn't quite come off for him tonight.  Steven agreed.

Scotty's idol is Garth Brooks, and he'll be singing The River.  He's got a nice soothing voice.  Good job.  Randy loved it.  Steven said he did Garth justice.  JLo enjoyed seeing him opening up as a performer and embracing the audience.

Naima's performing Umbrella by Rihanna.  Hmmm....she threw some reggae into the middle of the song.  It was a weird transition, but I guess that was her showing who she is.  Then there was some thunder and lightning and she did a few dance moves, and then finished the song.  I dunno--there was too much going on there.  It was a bit of a mess, and her voice was just okay.  Steven said she was pitchy, but she brought flavor, like no one else has done, and he adores her for that.  JLo didn't care about the pitch because she's got fire.  Said she needs to work on the control of dancing and singing.  Randy gave his little chuckle and then said he does care about the pitchiness, but it was more that she was cutting off notes because she was trying to catch her breath.  He loved the reggae and said she should've done a whole reggae version of the song.  Interesting that Naima's phone number is 1 866 IDOLS 36.  They went with 36 so no one would have to use the unlucky 13 as their phone number.  That's nice.

Do I dare try to rank these?  I think I'll just do Top 3 and Bottom 3.

Bottom:  Stefano, Ashton, and Karen
Top:  CASEY!, Pia, and James

Tune in tomorrow.  We'll see who's cut.

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