The 23-year-old Compton, California, native stole the night with a stirring rendition of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1968 smash "You're All I Need to Get By," and lived up to the promise he showed earlier this season when, during Hollywood Week, he wowed judges and audiences with his take on "God Bless the Child." That earlier performance was immediately praised as one of the best in "Idol" history, and Lusk's performance Wednesday may earn that designation as well.
By no means a subtle singer — as his performances in past weeks have demonstrated — Lusk was able to control the song, never drowning it in over-the-top vocal gymnastics or "fireworks," as Jimmy Iovine described them in a video package on Wednesday's show. Instead, he showed total mastery of the tune, experimenting with his vocal phrasing and playing with his facial expressions like Jim Carrey at his most rubber-faced. With an assist on bass from Funk Brother Bob Babbitt, Lusk, looking dapper in a white sportcoat and jeans, was the most comfortable onstage he's been all season, and like Adam Lambert did during Motown week back in season eight, he pulled apart from the rest of the pack with his performance.
Steven Tyler was so moved he walked onstage and embraced Lusk just as he hit his final note. A pan of the audience showed Kirsten Dunst was on her feet and cheering Lusk, as well.
The judges, who gave Lusk a standing ovation, were effusive in their praise. Jennifer Lopez complimented the way Lusk held back in the song, saying he made the audience "beg" for the big notes. Referring to Motown's founder, Randy Jackson said, "the great Berry Gordy is somewhere saying, 'Oh my God!' " He went on to say Lusk commanded the song "like a true professional," before offering the following critique: "You know what was wrong with that performance, guys? Absolutely nothing!"
The judges weren't the only ones who were moved: Lusk's grandmother was in the audience, and the singer stepped off the stage to give her a big ol' hug. After that embrace, Ryan Seacrest made the unprecedented move to invite members of the audience onstage to wrap their arms around Lusk, and more than a dozen fans made their way onto the stage to offer their praise.
Prior to performing, Iovine said there was nobody in the competition more suited to sing Motown songs than Lusk. Lusk proved him right, and suddenly he's back to being in the "Idol" power position.
What did you think of Jacob Lusk's performance? Let us know in the comments!
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