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Thursday
May052011

'American Idol's' Top Five Sing Songs Old and New

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- American Idol's top five performed Wednesday night under the watchful eye of Oscar-winner Sir Anthony Hopkins, who was spotted in the audience.

Kelly Preston was also in the crowd, sitting behind judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson.  The theme of the night was "Now and Then," with the contestants singing one recent song and one from back in the day.  Jimmy Iovine brought Sheryl Crow in to help mentor the contestants this week.

Here's what happened:

James Durbin kicked the night off with his current song, "Closer to the Edge" by 30 Seconds to Mars.  Tyler loved the way Durbin's audience reacted during the performance, and Lopez said America was feeling it.  Jackson thought this performance really showed where he could go in today's music world.  Jackson also said Durbin was "in it to win it."

Durbin sang Harry Nilsson's "Without You" for his second song.  Jackson called his performance "vocally perfect" and said the competition was his to lose.  Tyler said that the performance was as beautiful as it gets, even though it was "pitchy in a James Durbin kind of way."  Lopez called him a true artist who was serious about winning Idol.

Jacob Lusk started singing both parts of "No Air" by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown, but he never seemed to find his footing with the song.  Lopez thought this performance helped answer the question of what Lusk would record in his post-American Idol career.  Jackson didn't like that musical direction for him and thought the performance was corny.  He wanted to see Lusk be the new Luther Vandross.  Tyler didn't think Lusk had found himself musically yet, but he does love his voice.

For Lusk's second number, he went with "Love Hurts," a song made popular by The Everly Brothers and Nazareth. Tyler thought he got lost in the song a bit, but he loved the delivery.  Lopez said that vocal took her to another place, even though he had a hiccup in the middle of the song, and Jackson thought the performance redeemed Lusk from his first one.  He also thought Lusk took one of the notes to heights rivaled only by Mariah Carey.

Lauren Alaina was the first girl on stage Wednesday night, singing Carrie Underwood's up-tempo song "Flat on the Floor."  Jackson said that was the direction she should go after Idol, and thought her performance was amazing.  Tyler said her performance was as good as it gets, and Lopez bobbed her head during the performance, saying afterward that Alaina really brought it.

Alaina sang the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" for her second time on stage.  Lopez said it was a beautiful song sung beautifully.  Jackson said she could sing like a bird, and he was glad to see this side of her onstage.  Tyler said the song was perfect for her, and he could listen to her sing all night.

Scotty McCreery went with Montgomery Gentry's rocking country song "Gone."  Tyler said he danced with the devil on this performance, and Lopez said she loved the way he worked the stage.  Jackson thought it looked like he was putting on an actual concert, and also gave him the "in it to win it" seal of approval.

McCreery returned with "Always on My Mind," made popular by Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson.  Lopez thought it showed him to be a well-rounded performer.  Jackson called him the show's "youngest veteran."  He thinks America now knows who McCreery will be as a recording artist.  Tyler said he couldn't pick his performance apart, calling it "perfect."

Haley Reinhart got her hands on an unreleased Lady Gaga song for her first performance.  Iovine delivered it to Reinhart, and during a phone conversation, she actually got Gaga's blessing to sing it.  It's called "You and I" and will be included on Gaga's new album, Born This Way, coming out May 23, though Gaga has been performing it live on tour for months.  Lopez loved the way Reinhart sounded on "You and I," but she wasn't sure it was a good idea to do an unreleased song at this point in the competition.  Jackson wasn't sure about the song either, though Tyler thought she put all she had into the song.  He liked that she took a song that no one knew and made it work.

Reinhart's second song was The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun," and she kicked it off singing a capella.  All three judges gave her a standing ovation, along with the audience.  Jackson said it was the best performance of the night, and Tyler said she sold everybody with that one.  Lopez said that song had never been sung like that before.

Someone is going home on American Idol's results show Thursday night at 8:00 ET on Fox.  Judge Jennifer Lopez will perform "On the Floor" and give a sneak peek at her new video.  Lady Antebellum will also be on hand to deliver their brand-new single, "Just a Kiss."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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