James Durbin literally lit up the "American Idol" stage.
The flashy 22-year-old rocker from Santa Cruz, Calif., was accompanied by a flaming piano for "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" during an evening of Elton John classics on the Fox talent competition Wednesday. Jennifer Lopez told Durbin that she forgot it was a contest while he was wailing atop the red piano before it was set ablaze.
"The one thing I was worried about was having a Pepsi moment," a hairsprayed Durbin revealed afterward, referencing Michael Jackson's noggin infamously catching on fire during the filming of a 1984 Pepsi commercial.
Casey Abrams, the 20-year-old film camp counselor from Idyllwild, Calif., who was saved from elimination by the panel last week, impressed the judges with a tender rendition of "Your Song." Lopez told Abrams that she didn't lose any sleep over voting to use the one-time-only power to overturn viewers' votes, forcing two singers to be dismissed this week.
"You sing different every time, and I love that about you because that shows you're a true artist," Steven Tyler said.
A pair of singers gratified with their signature growls. Randy Jackson declared Scotty McCreery, the 17-year-old high school student from Garner, N.C., was "in the zone" following "Country Comfort," and proclaimed Haley Reinhart, the 20-year-old college student from Wheeling, Ill., had the night's best performance after closing with "Bennie and the Jets."
"You sing sexy," Tyler told Reinhart.
Jacob Lusk, the 23-year-old spa concierge from Compton, Calif., and Pia Toscano, the 22-year-old make-up artist from Howard Beach, N.Y., both received positive feedback from the judges despite respectively turning in yet another slow-tempo routine. Lusk gleamed with "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," and Toscano shined on "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."
"The notes take us to an otherworldly place," Lopez told Toscano.
Naima Adedapo, the funky 26-year-old dance instructor from Milwaukee, didn't have Lopez or Jackson on her side for her reggae rendition of "I'm Still Standing." Lopez said she wasn't sure if that was the right song for Adeapo, while Jackson was more blunt in his assessment: He called it "kinda corny." Adedapo didn't seem fazed by their criticism.
"What's for you is for you, and what's for me is for me," Adedapo responded.
Jackson also wasn't raving about 16-year-old high school student Thia Megia of Mountain House, Calif., or 26-year-old singer-songwriter Paul McDonald of Nashville, Tenn. He proclaimed Megia's take on "Daniel" was "once again very safe," and cautioned McDonald to "allow yourself to go all the way" after the smiley singer performed a mellow "Rocket Man."
Stefano Langone, the 21-year-old crooner from Kent, Wash., earned praise from the panel for connecting with the crowd on "Tiny Dancer," though Tyler noted that Langone often comes off as "Broadway." The Aerosmith frontman was kinder to Lauren Alaina, the 16-year-old high school student from Rossville, Ga., who was on fire with "Candle in the Wind."
"You keep singing like that, and you'll be able to afford the rest of that dress," Tyler teased Alaina, who was sporting a glamorous cut-off gown.
Two of the 11 finalists are scheduled to be eliminated Thursday.
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