The second hour of last night’s “American Idol” was full of dramatic pauses and sweaty palms, as Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez began deciding who was going into the Top 24. Fortunately, the first hour of the episode let the contestants stretch out their vocal talents a bit by showcasing some classic Beatles songs, and a few singers (Paul McDonald, Naima Adedapo) won us over with killer performances before making the final cut. Tell us how you would rank last night’s most memorable performances, and check out the videos of last night’s highlights below.
1) Paul McDonald and Kendra Chantelle
We say: Before Paul punched his ticket into the top 24, the Nashville native showed off his buttery-smooth voice in this duet with Kendra, who has a more overstated approach to “Blackbird” but nonetheless holds her own. “The power of a soft, beautiful tone — there’s nothing like it,” Jennifer told Paul. This wasn’t the flashiest Beatles interpretation of the night, but it just might have been the strongest.
2) Haley Reinhart, Naima Adedapo and Jacob Lusk
Song: “The Long and Winding Road”
We say: Sure, this group ignored Jimmy Iovine’s advice to avoid oversinging, but that doesn’t mean they sounded bad. All three judges loved the way that nothing was held back from the trio, especially Jacob, who effortlessly gave “Long and Winding Road” a radiant gospel feel.
3) Casey Abrams and Chris Medina
Song: “A Hard Day’s Night”
We say: In a quickly shown performance that could have been subtitled “boy will be boys,” Casey and Chris leap around on a bed while rocking out with acoustic guitars to “A Hard Day’s Night.” Steven calls the pair “freaks,” but we wished the memorably raucous performance had featured some freaking vocal talent; that last note, punctuated by Casey and Chris collapsing on the bed in back of them, was especially off-key.
4) Tim Halperin and Julie Zorrilla
We say: “Love him,” Jennifer told Steven as Tim dove into a restrained yet emotional rendition of “Something” alongside Julie, and we can’t help but agree: with performances like these, the 23-year-old Texas native appears to possess the whole package. Julie also sounded strong as she played the keyboard opposite Tim before joining him center stage to cap off the spirited duet.
5) Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery and Denise Jackson
Song: “Hello Goodbye”
We say: The threesome had a little trouble preparing for this performance, and the reliance on physical hijinks (the trio ended up chasing each other around a telephone booth) made the song a little scattershot. For as much trouble as Lauren, Scotty and Denise had finding the right presentation for a difficult number, each singer’s talent shone through: Scotty proved he can register at a (very slightly) higher octave, and Lauren continued to showcase her charm in the song’s nuances.