There's a common complaint lobbied by "American Idol" junkies over the years, and it goes something like this: why, oh why, must the contestants often perform songs that were hits when our grandparents were in high school? Or in other words, not exactly what's hot on Top 40 radio today, dog? While things have skewed decidedly younger this season -- has anyone counted how many times the word "swag" has been uttered by the judges and Ryan Seacrest? -- tonight "Idol" went the extra mile, devoting an entire show to proving that it knows what the kids are listening to these days.
And so, "Music from the 21st Century" night brought us a little Ne-Yo, Adele, Sara Evans, and even Muse. How'd the top seven fare as they conquered songs they're actually familiar with (one can only hope)? Let's go to the videotape.
1) Lauren Alaina
Song: Sara Evans, "Born to Fly"
Steven said: "Anybody who doesn't know that they can fail is bound to win, and you're that person. You're so good naturally."
Jennifer said: "You do have such a special voice -- it's not everybody who has so much color in their voice when they sing."
Randy said: "You can sing anything. You think you can't sing those big notes…Dude, you can do it. You must believe."
We say: I've been fretting all season long about Lauren Alaina's lack of confidence, and this subplot was finally addressed tonight when 17-year-old was granted a long overdue, yet expecation-filled closing "pimp" spot on the show. The good news is, all the encouragement (coercion, really) from Jimmy Iovine behind the scenes paid off! Lauren got one step closer to embracing her inner Top 40 diva, and as she shimmied onstage and even worked up the nerve to make eyes at the camera a bit, I realized that she could, potentially, work up the confidence she needs just in time to win this whole shebang. Watch your back, perennial frontrunner Scotty McCreery -- Lauren's hot on your trail.