American Idol Top 4 Performance Night: Who Did Best? Who's at Risk?

Watching the “judges” “performing” their “duties” tonight on American Idol brought to mind a classic Sesame Street ditty: “One of these things is not like the others. Which one is different, do you know? Can you tell which thing is not like the others? I’ll tell you if it is so.”

Yes, folks, it was another evening of watching Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson heap copious amounts of praise on anything and everything (and I do mean anything and everything) that came from the mouths of Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, and James Durbin, then suddenly summon the ability to give direct, pointed, and in some cases downright nasty criticism of Haley Reinhart. No, The Growler didn’t get a bucket of pig’s blood poured over her head, but if she somehow manages to survive to Top 3 week, then might I suggest Babe, Wilbur, and all their porcine buddies keep a close lookout for Nigel Lythgoe’s blade?

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This isn’t to say Haley was vocally flawless on her first performance this evening, but why is it that for several weeks running, she’s been held to a different standard than any of her competitors? It got so bad tonight that after the first round of performances (“Songs That Inspire You”), Ryan called the Top 4 back onto the stage and asked Randy who was his favorite. His answer? James, Scotty, and Lauren.

Like I said, one of these things is not like the others. Haley managed to get a Standing O from the judges for her second performance (during the “Leiber & Stoller Songbook” round), but they also heaped superaltives on Scott’s exceedingly clownish “Young Blood” and James’ pancake flat “Don’t Stop Believing.”

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Okay, deep breaths I’m not going to say another word about tonight’s telecast in this post — instead I’ll channel my rage into a full episode recap to post overnight right here at TVLine.com. [UPDATE: FULL RECAP IS NOW LIVE!] And so in the interim, I turn it over to you.

Sound off in our polls about tonight’s best and worst performances, head down to the comments to expound on said opinions, then scroll down for the latest three-part episode of the most important series on the Internet right now, Idoloonies. And for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Tonight’s Set List
James Durbin: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”
Haley Reinhart: Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”
Scotty McCreery: Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”
Lauren Alaina: Martina McBride’s “Anyway”
Haley Reinhart: Shirley Bassey’s “I (Who Have Nothing)”
Scotty McCreery: The Coasters’ “Young Blood”
Lauren Alaina: Elvis Presley’s “Trouble”
James Durbin: The Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9”

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