What I wanted was for the Top 12 last night to come out and show us that they actually deserved to be there, but as the song goes, you can’t always get what you want, and last night was no exception.
By the end of the night I was left wondering, this is really the Top 12? This is the best that was left? America turned away Lilly Scott and Katelyn Epperly for a couple of the people tonight? Hmm. Interesting, to say the least. I think it would have been a much more compelling competition with those two still in it. The producers need to rethink the rule that forces them to put an even number of males and females in the Final 12 and just put in the 12 most talented.
For the most part, the performances were alright. Admittedly, it’s difficult when compared to one of the greatest stage bands in rock history. But even with that, a couple of the contestants still managed to pull it off. And a couple should have been pulled off. The rest we’ll keep around for another week or two to see how they pan out.
Here’s how I saw them in order:
Siobhan Magnus – Siobhan gave the same dramatic twist to Paint it Black this week that she gave to House of the Rising Sun last week, and it was every bit as good. Easily the best performance of the night. Very strong vocals slid into and out of keys and up and down octaves with no problem. With her strong powerful notes she once again showed that she has the strongest voice in the competition. After two great performances in a row, she’s starting to give Crystal a run for her money as the girl to beat.
Didi Benami – Didi had her best performance in several weeks with a deep and soulful rendition of Play with Fire. Her voice was clear and strong throughout. It was the first time since auditions week that she’s shown how good her voice really is.
Crystal Bowersox – Crystal took the 40-year old You Can’t Always Get What You Want and brought it right up to today. She made it her own and it was great. For the first time, she didn’t sound like Janis Joplin, and as good as that comparison is, that was a good thing this week. She changed up the arrangement and somehow made it better. She gave it a nice, jazzy, bluesy sound. You can easily hear this song on the radio today. OH, and extra props for Crystal to recognize that Siobhan had a amazing performance during the judges’ critiques.
Aaron Kelly – For the first time since this season started, Aaron somehow managed not to turn his rendition of a song into a Garth Brooks ditty or a joke from the Blue Comedy Tour. He actually sounded pretty good singing Angie, although he did start a couple of notes early, but he recovered very quickly and didn’t misstep again. To be honest, this may have been a better song choice for Didi, but it actually was a good song choice for Aaron after all because it allowed him to stay in his somewhat limited range.
Casey James – Casey was clearly in his zone singing It’s All Over Now, and he added a nice blues touch to it. Overall, it was a very good song choice for him. It got a little pitchy in the chorus, but it really seems to be his strongest genre.
Katie Stevens – After several weeks of very poor song choices, Katie finally hit on a pretty decent one with Wild Horses. While she did add a little country thing to it, it allowed her to show off her lower register where she is the most comfortable and be herself. She has a very strong voice and when she shows it, it can be quite moving. She picked just the right emotional song to allow that to happen.
Lee DeWyze – No matter what this guy sings, it sounds like it’s coming off a Counting Crows album (thanks for the reminder, Ed). This week, it was Adam Duritz sings Beast of Burden. But, even with that, he has a great voice, and it’s different than anyone else in this competition. The only problem with it is that he has shown incredibly limited range, like about the width of the yellow strip going down the highway. He has got to show us something a little different and like I said last week, the guy has to take a risk.
Paige Miles –– Considering that she had laryngitis, she actually did great. She hit some serious, big notes during her rendition of Honkey Tonk Woman. While I’m not crazy about the country juke she put into it, you gotta give her props for putting it out there. It was probably her best performance in a few weeks. No one ever said the girl couldn’t sing, and she showed it again last night. She’s great on the power notes, she just doesn’t give herself the opportunity to hit them enough.
Michael Lynche – Big Mike started Miss You a bit off-key and then seemed to be all over the place. What worked for him last week with A Woman’s Work, trying to R&B it up, the climbing falsettos falling back into the chorus, just didn’t work for him this week. Plus, maybe it was me, but he sounded very out of breath throughout the whole song. Strangely enough, the judges loved him. I thought it one of his worst songs in several weeks. Lucky for him there were a few that were much worse, and he’s had so much better to fall back on.
Lacey Brown – Nice violin accompaniment during Ruby Tuesday but that was it in the first verse. Her voice is just too quiet and mousy. She really picked up the pace by the second chorus and she started to get into it, but her voice is still very quiet and not very strong. She’s not all bad. She does hit some notes that have some nice sounds. There’s just no power behind them.
Andrew Garcia – Andrew turned in his best performance in a few weeks with his unplugged version of Gimme Shelter, but it still wasn’t great. His pitch was all over the place but his general tone that I like so much was there. Kara’s point about not connecting with the song was a good one. The fact that it was a song about being war ravaged in the middle of the Vietnam War is valid, despite Simon mocking her and asking if he needs to put a tank up there. If Andrew isn’t feeling the song, he’s not going to connect while he’s singing it, and that seemed to be the case. There is clearly a difference between singing a song and just going up there and putting some words to some music, and Andrew was doing the latter, and as a songwriter, Kara knew it. Musically, it was still a step in the right direction for Andrew because it was better than what he’s been doing the past few weeks. And, Tim was so bad, that everyone else should be safe.
Tim Urban – Dude, what the hell was that? I know you were trying to make the song your own, and I guess you get props for that, but c’mon. Was that the Jason Mraz version of Under My Thumb? In a word, awful. For the record, and for all future contestants, you cannot Jason Mraz (yes, I just made his name into a verb) every song. But I loved the reggae beat at the end.
TIM URBAN (even Ellen didn’t think he was “adorable” this week)