On "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Night" on "American Idol" on Wednesday, April 6, James Durbin showed his sensitive side, Pia Toscano took it up a notch and country boy Scotty McCreery channeled Elvis Presley.
Durbin, who is proving to be a frontrunner, became teary-eyed while crooning the The Beatles' 1968 ballad "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," which appeared to impress the judges. He ended his performance with his signature wail and wiped his eyes with a cloth as he waited for their critiques.
"We see you running around all the time, doing your rock n' roll thing, and to see that side ... that other thing that lives so deeply inside of you, that thing, that pain, whatever it is, for you," judge Jennifer Lopez said. "It's so special to watch. It's so special that you're vulnerable enough to share it with us. I loved it. I thought it was a great choice for you."
Toscano, another frontrunner, performed the up-tempo "River Deep, Mountain High," a 1968 song by Tina and Ike Turner. The "American Idol" hopeful had previously performed ballads during the voting part of the singing contest series and was gently criticized for it by judge Randy Jackson two weeks ago.
"What you showed me is what I already knew you could definitely deliver," Jackson told Toscano on Wednesday's show. "All you need to do now is work on the movement. Pia's in it to win it!"
Scotty McCreery, a country singer who has been praised for his deep vocals and who has also mainly stuck to ballads, took it up a notch with "That's All Right (Mama)," a song Elvis Presley made famous in 1954. Following his performance, a group of screaming girls was allowed to go on stage to hug him.
"You're funny and that's what entertainment is," Lopez said. "It should be fun. I know you're a country guy, but do you watch rap or hip hop or anything like that, because I feel a little bit of flavor in there! I'm just saying."
Haley Reinhart, who has received mixed reviews from the judges over the past few weeks, sang "Piece of My Heart," a song made famous by rock singer Janis Joplin in 1968. She impressed judge Steven Tyler, who is the lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith.
"I couldn't find nuthin' wrong with that," he said. "Janis gave the voice to rock n' roll back in '68 and you did it again tonight."
The judges did not appear to agree on their verdict regarding Stefano Langone's rendition of Percy Sledge's 1966 song "When a Man Loves a Woman."
"The first part felt a little jerky to me," Jackson said, to which Lopez replied: "You're crazy. A crazy person."
The other remaining contestants are Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina (who donned a teased hairstyle similar to singer Gwen Stefani's on Wednesday's show), Jacob Lusk and Paul McDonald.
Last week, Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia were axed from the series after landing in the bottom three with McDonald. On Thursday's show, another contestant is expected to be eliminated.
The episode is also set to feature a performance by "American Idol" alum Constantine Maroulis, who is currently touring with the musical "Rock of Ages," which earned him a Tony nomination.