American Idol 10 Top 11 – iTunes Performance Downloads!

Motown songs from the 60′s were some of the greatest records ever made. It’s tough to listen to them cheapened up by the paint-by-numbers quicky Idol production.  They just pale badly in comparison. Some of these tunes are produced better than others.  The worst are Thia and Stefano’s. The best–Casey, Lauren, and James.  Pia, Naima, Jacob and Lauren have the best vocals. Download the tracks below.

American Idol 10 Top 11 performance recordings are available to download from iTunes:

  • Download the Top 11 Performance Collection for $6.99iTunes
  • Casey Abrams – “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”  – The recorded version is not as growly and  a little jazzier. I like Casey’s phrasing when he’s got his vocals under control -  iTunes
  • Thia Megia – “Heatwave” – Sleepy and dull, just like her live performance.  The arrangement sounds like a K-tel knockoff. -  iTunes
  • Jacob Lusk – “You’re All I Need to Get By” – One thing that bugs me about Jacob’s voice is his vibrato, which sounds almost staccato at times.  Still, when he’s calmed down and restrained, he’s got a very unique and powerful voice. -  iTunes
  • Lauren Alaina – “You Keep Me Hanging On” - The live version had a country twang that’s barely discernible in the record.  Still, the vocal here is quite good.  She’s got pop/hac potential.  iTunes
  • Stefano Langone – “Hello” – The phrasing is even weirder on the record than it was live.  It’s like some wacky lounge tune. I’d assume it was a parody if I didn’t know better.  Stefano ends the recording with a spoken “I love you”. I laughed out loud. Yes. It’s that bad.  iTunes
  • Haley Reinhart – “You Really Got a Hold on Me” -  Haley’s got some soulful, growly vocals going on. I like parts of her performance. But I wish she would get down and dirty, rather than play the sex kitten -  iTunes
  • Scotty McCreery – “For Once in My Life”  – Maybe I was so focused on Scotty during his live performance, I didn’t notice the terrible arrangement. Scotty’s personality and confidence made this song work on the Idol stage.  Here, the clicky clacky backing track and tinkly piano does Scotty no favors. – iTunes
  • Pia Toscano – “All In Love Is Fair” – Pia’s vocals are perfect, she records beautifully. She’s a hit…if only it were 1992.  iTunes
  • Paul McDonald – “Tracks of My Tears” – Paul’s unique, folk inflected vocals need to be produced in an organic environment, rather than in the canned and souless world of UMG production.  That’s why I prefer his live performances (imperfect as they’ve been) and his pre-Idol music to these Idol recordings. –   iTunes
  • Naima Adedapo – “Dancing In the Streets” -  The first part of the song is straight-up Motown, and Naima’s vocals are sensational. The transition into the afro-pop deal is a little weird without the visuals. Actually, it was pretty weird WITH the visuals, but live, it was fun to watch. On record, the transition just seems strange. -  iTunes
  • James Durbin – “Living For the City” – I’m totally on the Durby train! Who woulda thunk it?  James’ vocals on the recorded version are full of rock and soul.  I like them even better than the live version. -  iTunes
  • cowboysfan

    How is “Living for the City” more contemporary than what Pia did? It isn’t 1973 either.

  • Susan

    I am in love with James’s track… maybe I should listen to one of the others now. I did like Casey’s live performance.

    Funny, I didn’t much like hair metal in the 80′s but I guess my brother desensitized me to it.

  • monleo1705

    I was long on the Durby train!! LOL! But I’m pretty sure more and more people will jump on soon! They will just see it – this guy has awesome showmanship and rockin vocals.The only listenable tracks were Pia’s, James and Lauren’s. The rest…….er. Pia really does record extremely well. But LOL at MJ’s 1992 comment!

  • GreenHippo

    Evey week I download at least one track and James’ is always the one, who I really like. :)
    Do the Idols make actually money off of the downloads? or does it all go to the Idol machine?

  • Dlynne

    I mostly hate UMG’s production and I agree that Paul’s recordings are best in an organic environment. With that said, this recording is still great. His vocals are pure Paul and I like the way he changed it up.

    I also really like James’ and Naima’s. The rest are meh.

  • Barbariba

    I only downloaded two of this week’s recordings, Paul’s and James’. I’ll be buying their albums when they release them as well. They’re the only two whose music I can see myself buying.

  • monleo1705

    I’m not sure if this has been asked or answered yet but…
    Does anyone know why this season we don’t seem to be getting any guest mentors?? What happened?? Are we going to be seeing Jimmy Iovine every week!?

    Gosh, one of the best parts of Idol were their guest mentors! Come on Nigel!

  • glamertitis

    I am so excited for James – this is a really modernized, metal leaning cover… I am really drawn to James and his originality, his growth and his confidence. The producers did a fantastic job this week – best so far

  • x57x

    The Idol producer team Jimmy Iovine gathered seriously needs a Country music producer in the bunch, because the Scotty McCreery download is terrible.

    The Idol producers added that clickity-clack horse galloping sound and terrible music in the background that overwhelmed Scotty’s voice. It sounds like an old Western movie sound effect, more than music.

    Does Iovine’s team have a Country music producer on the team? Because it sure doesn’t sound like it.

  • x57x

    I agree, Pia’s itunes sounds great, but dated. I am sure Simon would just loooooove it, but that is both a complement and a critique.

  • x57x

    Thia Megia needs to show more emotion, not only on her studio recordings, but in her live performances.

    Thia is is a good singer, but she just needs to add more emotion to her songs and performance to give it more umph.

  • Dlynne

    Does Iovine’s team have a Country music producer on the team? Because it sure doesn’t sound like it.

    Yes. Don Was worked with the kids Top 13 week. He was great. I have no idea if he produced anything last week or this week.

  • x57x

    Casey’s and some of the others recordings were good also, but many sounded like a copy cats.

    I will say one thing about David Cook and Kris Allen, they took a song and made it different. Sure it is great that they can sing the song perfectly, but that is only COPYING a song.Both David Cook and Kris Allen changed songs for the better while they were on Idol.

  • x57x

    Jacob is another one like Scotty. Jacob’s live performance was great, but didn’t translate to the itunes recording.

    On the studio recording Jacob is back to his SCREAMING, which has a sound of desperation and not smoothness.

  • x57x

    Yes. Don Was worked with the kids Top 13 week. He was great. I have no idea if he produced anything last week or this week.

    In that case then the Country producer should work with the Country singer and not shuffle them around. I don’t think a Country producer would be a right fit for singers like Jacob or Pia. It should be someone who knows the right sound and recordings for a certain contestant, and not shuffle them around.

  • crankypanky

    It would help if we could listen to the audio sampler from here. Perhaps MJ you could embed this complete video/audio sampler i found?

    your review is almost spot on except for two or three i beg to differ. Cheers! :)

  • abbysee

    I like James, but think his voice is a bit ‘thin’ for lack of a better word. Maybe it’s more ‘pop’ than I expect from a ‘rocker’. Still love his performance skills…except his rock ‘poses’. He’s an amazing live artist, that’s gonna be his draw. I didn’t purchase anything last week, downloading the entire cd right now. Love Motown, and I have a 7 hours road trip today, so I figure, why not how the soundtrack of my life playing.

    Producing on the fly must be tough. Not sure they are faring as well as past years, when they’ve gotten some great results.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    There were some good performances this week, but I didn’t like any of them enough to buy the song. James is performing well, but I agree with abbysee that his voice is a bit “thin” on recordings for the kind of music he wants to sing. Pia is very talented, but still very “pageanty”, and I wish that she would sing something more upbeat and try to sound current. Thia tried last night, but I still feel that she’s very bland and generic, although talented. I wonder if she may have been pushed into these competitions before she’s really ready? Lauren gave her best performance of the finals so far, even though I’m not a fan. I actually thought that Stefano’s studio recording was better than his live performance, because I thought that his performance was really cheesy, very lounge lizardy. I agree with MJ that Scotty’s studio recording sounded a lot worse than his live performance, but I didn’t like either. I don’t understand the appeal of Paul, as I think his voice is almost non-existent and his quirkiness just comes across as strange to me. I am also starting to see Casey as more of a novelty contestant, with his OTT performing, which takes away from the fact that he’s a really talented musician. Niama was OK and she was entertaining, but I think that her pitchiness is becoming a real problem and not just an occasional issue. Jacob was more restrained and better last night, but his style of singing may not be generally popular enough to take him far into the competition. Haley was better too, but I still have trouble remembering her performances.

    Bottom three: Haley, Niama, Jacob

    Going home: Haley

  • Listening

    GreenHippo, I could be wrong but I could have promised that the idols do get little something something from itunes sales. I say this b/c I believe I recall someone asking David Cook that question and he said he made a nice little amount or something like that he never revealed exactly how much though.

    I’m not sure if David Cook’s Itunes sales cut was mentioned in a television interview or radio interview or even an online chat. I’m starting to doubt this though does anyone recall him mentioning this? I just really don’t see myself imagining this whole DC conversation but a little confirmation never hurt anyone.

  • jamaica168

    I’m not sure if David Cook’s Itunes sales cut was mentioned in a television interview or radio interview or even an online chat.

    I’m not sure where it was mentioned either, but I remember it being mentioned as well. I think Kris mentioned that it was either 9 or 18 cents per download. Plus the copy of the Idol contract floating online had a figure of $1000 per song for recording plus royalties.

  • TwigLA

    crankypanky, thanks for that link to the full sampler. I think Casey, Naima, Pia, and Stephano sound the best on the recordings. I bought Naima’s.

    The performances I thought were the best last night (I watched twice) were James and Naima with Lauren (not a fan) pulling up the rear.

    Pia is an incredible singer, but she’s as boring as paint drying. She’d be Stephen Foster’s darling. I think she is a sweet girl. I just happen to not like that type of singing.

    For me the bottom from last night would be Stephano, Thia, Haley. Scotty was just weird all around, and I’d put him in the bottom but I know he won’t get there.

  • TwigLA

    On the ‘do they get a cut’ question. I remember Kris saying in an interview with Michael Slezak saying ‘thanks for my 8 cents’ when Michael said he bought a particular song.

  • sr4mjc

    I like James, but think his voice is a bit ‘thin’ for lack of a better word.

    Yep, he closes around his vocal chords and it pinches the notes. He needs to open up his throat, I’m surprised the vocal coaches haven’t work with him on this. It’s the difference between a singer like Steve Perry or Mercury and the lead singer from Slaughter. Sound wise, James’s tone is very much like the mid to late asshole rock 80s sound. Ooh, It’s Warrant!

    Going by 90 second previews

    Pia- I’m trying so hard to root for you. Your voice is so pretty recorded. But please please get out of where you are stuck. James is stuck in 1987 and you are stuck in 1992.

    Casey actually sounds pretty good. Don’t like the background vocals, but maybe he’s better heard than seen.

    Naima sounds great recorded! She has every week.

    I liked Paul live, but the recording not so much.

  • bridgette12

    The only two recordings I like and will buy is Jacob and James.

  • BootStar

    The production on these songs is GHASTLY and RUINED several of the tracks. Now I get whey they used the original Motown studio recordings with the S8 contestants. Yeah, it was “karaoke” in the truest sense, but at least the production didn’t take away from the contestants’ singing. I bought several from that season and I wouldn’t buy any of these.

  • leome

    I was listening to Stefano’s and then I started listening what seemed like another music playing and I thought it was from some tab I had opened but it’s actually from his Hello version. It’s some background sound that is impossible awful. Stefano is one of the most Karaoke ones they’ve ever had, but adding this production to the song makes it all so much more cheesy.

    This week is probably my least favorite Scotty one, but still something I enjoy.
    Quite liked Paul, Haley, James, Pia and Casey’s… but this week there’s nothing awesome to keep on the ipod tbh.

  • Grammie Kari

    I don’t understand the appeal of Paul, as I think his voice is almost non-existent and his quirkiness just comes across as strange to me. I am also starting to see Casey as more of a novelty contestant, with his OTT performing, which takes away from the fact that he’s a really talented musician.

    I liked Paul in the beginning, but his last three performances have been painful for me to watch. I do like Casey as an entertainer, but last night his vocals were strained. This was the night that Pia and Stefano needed to move far, far away from a ballad. I was not pleased with their choices, but Pia did well. I would hate to see Srefano in the bottom three and hope his fans got out there and voted. Ending the show with Naima and James was brillant. I loved their performances! I think the Motown theme was successful over all.

  • bridgette12

    BootStar says:03/24/2011 at 10:21 amThe production on these songs is GHASTLY and RUINED several of the tracks. Now I get whey they used the original Motown studio recordings with the S8 contestants. Yeah, it was “karaoke” in the truest sense, but at least the production didn’t take away from the contestants’ singing. I bought several from that season and I wouldn’t buy any of these.

    I understand what the Producers are trying to do, but I do agree with you they are failing miserably. I do think they should have stuck with the original Motown studio recordings and it would have turned out better recording. Jacob and James are the only ones I have bought this season, because they are were produced by Don Was and is the closest to the live performance. Overall, the studio version are shoddy recordings and not worth the money spent on them.

  • http://youtube.com/user/ConcertCameraCat Sparkles

    I thought your review was really funny & it actually made me want to check out the songs on iTunes.

    I’m totally on the Durby train!

    A few weeks ago I was totally surprised to find myself on the Durby train. I just know he will be a highlight on the tour. I can’t wait to see the cool lights!

  • SpenserJ

    Pia- I’m trying so hard to root for you. Your voice is so pretty recorded. But please please get out of where you are stuck. James is stuck in 1987 and you are stuck in 1992.

    1987 was a good year :). That must be why I’ve jumped on the Durby train too. I’m with you on the Pia thing. Girl’s got all the gifts – now she needs to show us why we should love her more than the other gorgeous girls with great voices in the world. Make it interesting for us Pia!

    Also – with regard to the contestants getting paid for their iTunes downloads: didn’t Adam & Kris address this in that Larry King interview? I’m remembering them saying that yes, they got paid for the downloads – although I don’t think they mentioned an amount. I’m fairly certain it was one of them who answered, but I cannot remember which one (or both?). Mostly because they were sitting next to each other, and cracking me up throughout that show, so I’ve probably intermingled all of their responses.