On last night's American Idol, Jacob Lusk finally tackled material by the one man he's been compared to all season long: Luther Vandross, on what would have been the legendary R&B singer's 60th birthday. (He died of a heart attack in 2005.) But it seems Lusk has a deep personal connection to the Vandross song he chose to sing, "Dance With My Father." Lusk's father passed away when the 23-year-old was just 12.
As you can imagine, there was a lot of emotion behind the moment for Lusk, and that certainly seemed to carry through in his performance. Perhaps he was so emotional that it prevented the performance from being utterly flawless. He did seem to struggle to keep it together at times, as he sat on a stool in the middle of the stage. But you know ... I'd rather see an artist bring their heart to a song (you know, without going all diva overboard) and flub a little than deliver it coldly and without a hitch.
The judges, on the other hand, seemed to want Lusk to find the middle ground. Randy praised him, calling him "Luther Lusk!" and saying, "You remind me all the time the reason I love music. Your daddy was up there listening to you." Wow, if I were Jacob, I would have lost it right there. Very touching.
J.Lo offered constructive criticism:
It's hard to perform when a song means that much to you. You want to bare your soul, but at the same time you have to have enough control to find the notes.
And Randy agreed, noting that the vocals didn't make him want to "jump up and down," and he needed the return of the "old Jacob" who will "go through the roof."
I think it's important to note, though, that it doesn't seem like the problem was entirely Lusk losing control. As you can see at the beginning of the performance, he tries to adjust his earpiece. Later he told Ryan and the judges that there was a problem with the mix in his in-ear monitor. I believe it! That totally stinks if that's really the only reason he didn't completely nail the performance.
But, really, it doesn't matter. By paying tribute to both the late Luther Vandross and his father, Jacob likely inspired tons of idol viewers. As far as landmark performances go, he delivered.
Here's the performance if you missed it last night. If you close your eyes and just listen, for the most part -- it could be Luther. It's wild.
What did you think about Lusk's rendition of "Dance With My Father"?
Image via FOX