‘Idol’ finalists brave birth-year tunes

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - “American Idol” finalist Thia Megia could be gone with the wind come Thursday.

The breathy 16-year-old high school student from Mountain House, Calif., didn’t dazzle the Fox talent competition’s judges Wednesday with her rendition of Vanessa Williams’ “Colors of the Wind” from Walt Disney’s “Pocahontas.”

Megia defended her choice on the evening of birth-year songs, but Steven Tyler questioned whether it defined her as an artist.

“I felt like I was at some pageant somewhere,” blasted Randy Jackson.

Other wannabe divas also failed to impress. Jackson admitted he was still confused by Haley Reinhart, the 20-year-old college student from Wheeling, Ill., who pummeled Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Reinhart, a victim of a “lipstick massacre” during her performance, received her critique as “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest wiped a smudge off her chin.

“I feel like you’re still a little tense in your body,” Lopez told Reinhart.

The diva judge also advised bilingual 21-year-old college student Karen Rodriguez of New York to stop being nervous after taking on Taylor Dayne’s “Love Will Lead You Back” in English and Spanish. She also wasn’t in love with the version of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It” from Naima Adedapo, the 26-year-old dance instructor from Milwaukee.

“You’re consistently pitchy,” Lopez said. “That’s hurting you, and it makes me worry.”

Illness didn’t stop several singers from pleasing the panel. After battling ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, in the hospital last week, Casey Abrams, the 20-year-old film camp counselor from Idyllwild, Calif., boldly tackled Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Jackson told Abrams he loved “that you’re putting art first then commerce.”

Lauren Alaina, the 16-year-old high school student from Rossville, Ga., battled through the flu to infuse Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m The Only One” with her country twang. Paul McDonald, the quirky 26-year-old singer-songwriter from Nashville, Tenn., also overcame his raspier-than-usual tone for Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.”

“You define a cool dude in a loose mood,” Tyler told an ill McDonald.

Other performers were effectively consistent. James Durbin, the unemployed 22-year-old rocker from Santa Cruz, Calif., rocked his signature wail at the end of Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You,” and Pia Toscano, the 22-year-old make-up artist from Howard Beach, N.Y., didn’t break down with her up-tempo take on Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.”

Scotty McCreery, the 17-year-old high school student from Garner, N.C., turned in another trusty country performance with Travis Tritt’s “Can I Trust You With My Heart,” while Jacob Lusk, the commanding 23-year-old spa concierge from Compton, Calif., pumped his gospel style into Heart’s “Alone.”

Jackson lauded Lusk’s makeover of the classic rock song.

“This was a tough one for you because you did step out of your comfort zone,” he said.

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