American Idol recap: Let's Hear It for the '90s

The contestants choose "songs from their idols" for the Top 13 performance night
Ep. 16 | Aired Mar 9, 2011

THE GREAT DION'D Pia Toscano attempted one of Idol's Big Three (Celine, Whitney, Mariah) all by herself

Ray Mickshaw/Fox

Ashthon Jones sang terribly as her 15 coats of silver eye shadow struggled to find a distinct voice against her silver Statue of Liberty gown. As Randy learned this week, when you tell Ashthon that you love how she sounds like Diana Ross, Ashthon will decide that Diana Ross is her idol and sing "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" by Diana Ross. The 1991 hit was the perfect song choice for this 2011 singing competition. Not! It was so bad. Even worse, the judges refused to say anything negative about Ashthon's performance. Randy claimed she "grew as a singer" when she went sharp or flat. What?! Just say she was sharp and flat the whole time and never hit a note correctly. "You kept your composure and you did it," raved J. Lo. Yeah, in spite of how awful it was, she finished the song! Excellent. "I think there's a lot more in there than you're showing us, and you're going to," said Steven. Judges: Look alive! The day is today. Please, for the love of Ryan Seacrest, say something about what just happened.

Paul McDonald is completely lost without his guitar and has decided to just full-on imitate Coldplay's Chris Martin, live in concert. This week, Paul and his imaginary turtle came out to take a one-footed hop around the stage while Paul whispered an almost unrecognizable version of Ryan-with-an-R Adams' "Come Pick Me Up." Paul really kept us guessing by refusing to use the consonants in complicated words like "letter" and "again." (Not to mention this safe-for-TV edit: from F--- me up/ Steal my records/ Screw all my friends/ They're all full of s--- to .... Mess me up/ Steal my records/ I lose all my friends/ They're all full of it.) I like Paul's fashion sense and the quality of his raspy voice, but let's face it, last night he looked and sounded like the drunk guy groovin' by himself in the corner at someone's wedding. Your friend's drunk uncle, maybe. I shall call him Drunkle Paul. He's fun! But a few more watered-down White Russians and enough is enough.

Pia Toscano, who endearingly reminds me of Modern Family's middle child Alex when she wears her glasses, stepped it up with Celine Dion's 1996 version of Eric Carmen's 1975 power ballad "All by Myself." I liked it and thought she hit all the notes, but wonder if her performances will start to seem a bit too scientific for me. You know what I mean? Power! Pull back. Power! Pull back. Now do the runs. Power! And so on. We'll see. For now, she's one of the few consistent performers with a pleasant personality, and that's more than good enough for me on week 2. Randy was a bit more enthused than I was. "You have such a natural gift that, dude, I love it," he said. "Every time I'm like, Yo, what's she gonna sing now. Very hot, dope, cool performance." Yikes! Now, now, Randy. Just keep rehearsing. Follow Pia's advice, stick with your study group, and you can build something great. I just know it.

NEXT: The emperor has no tail

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