Last night on American Idol, the remaining 11 contestants treated us to a third helping of #1 Billboard Hits.
Before I talk about this week, I really have to comment on last week’s live musical guest. No, not Season 7 winner David Cook. His performance of the Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash was great and the contestants could have learned a thing or two from him.
No. I’m talking about that train wreck Kie$ha. About two chords into the song I wanted to jam giant swabs of cotton in my ears. By the time the horrendous chorus started, I was looking for giant screwdrivers with which to impale my eardrums. Oh, if it was Exec Producer Simon Fuller’s intention to say, “See, these contestants aren’t that bad.” Well, he succeeded, for that moment. There was not a single one of the Top 36, nay, the top 180, who were worse than this Kie$ha thing at any time so far this season.
OK. Now that’s off my chest.
Why, after doing this twice in the earlier rounds are the Idol producers hitting us with this again? Have they gotten that lazy that here we are, only in week 2 of the Top 12 and they’re already mailing it in?
And speaking of mailing it in, we saw that this week with a couple of our “performers” and I’m starting to use this word rather loosely in some cases.
At any rate, here are this week’s singers and how I saw them:
1.) Crystal Bowersox – I’ve been saying for weeks that Crystal reminds me of Janis Joplin, and she did not disappoint me in the slightest bit while singing a fantastic version of Me and Bobby McGee. She sounded like she was made to sing this song. Several weeks from now, we could be looking back on this week as her defining moment on this stage. She took it apart and put it back together and made it her own, and she seemed to know it. She seemed to enjoy singing this song more than any other song she has done in this competition. She continues to be the one to beat. She could record this song today.
2.) Siobhan Magnus – Siobhan gave another superb performance, going a completely different way this week than last week’s Paint it Black or House of the Rising Sun from the week before. This was a rousing, rocking rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. And she was every bit as good as Crystal was, plus she owned the stage, where Crystal tends to stay rooted in one place. It was a great song choice that really showed her range. The one big problem is that the glory note at the end culminated in a scream, which I’m sure was not her intent. Other than that, she maintained great control over her voice throughout the rest of the song. It was a very exciting ending to the show, as I’m sure is precisely what the producers hoped for when they put her there.
3.) Michael Lynche – I’m not going to lie, it was fun watching the big guy pick Miley up in a bear hug. Now, back to the show, this guy has one of the sweetest R&B voices this show has seen since Ruben Stoddard. And he showed it again last night singing Percey Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman. His power notes and runs are as smooth as melted butter over pancakes on a cold Sunday morning. He moves from upper to lower register with the ease of a seasoned pro. This guy is on his way to a very nice R & B career no matter what happens on this stage
4.) Lee Dewyze – Lee stared the show off with a bang singing The Letter by The Boxtops. It was a great song choice for his tone and pitch. He changed the arrangement a little, and it didn’t sound bad at all. I loved the horns in the background. This may be his best performance to date. He really stepped it up for this one. It was a great way to lead off the night and a real nice honor to Boxtops lead singer Alex Chilton who passed away last week.
5.) Aaron Kelly – We now know Aaron loves Miley Cyrus, and that’s a beautiful thing. That aside, very tough to sing Steven Tyler, but he nearly pulled it off singing Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing. His voice still has some maturing to do. It didn’t have the requisite raspiness that it needed for this song, but it was much better than his Lonestar version of I’m Already There a couple of weeks ago. He did have some trouble with some of the power notes, but in his defense, he has larangytis and some throat problems.
6.) Katie Stevens – You can’t say that Katie isn’t taking the judges advice. They told her to pick songs that are relevant and from today, and you don’t get anymore today than Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry. She even has the similar timber of her voice that Fergie has, so it wasn’t a horrible song choice. But, parts of the song fell flat and she was still somewhat disconnected. And a question to Simon: What the hell is Chalk and Cheese??? Can’t you just say it’s like apples and oranges like everyone else??
7.) Casey James – Huey Lewis’ The Power of Love was not Casey’s best song choice. But he enjoyed it. Ellen has some severe short term memory if she thinks that this was the best vocal of the night. Only a few songs earlier we heard Crystal blow the cover off of Bobby McGee. This was OK, at best. It actually sounded a little like Huey Lewis’ original version, which isn’t a bad thing. Casey just didn’t bring anything new to the table on this one.
8.) Andrew Garcia – Andrew sounded better than he has on several weeks taking on Marvin Gaye’s Heard it Through the Grapevine. He still wasn’t great, but he was in tune and more connected than any other performance since his Hollywood audition. He still showed limited range but where he did hit his notes he was respectable.
9.) Tim Urban – OK. This guy has taken leave of his senses. He doesn’t have the power, range, showmanship, or simple vocal ability to sing any Queen song. But that didn’t stop him from trying, and failing to sing Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Judge # 7, (daughter Tara) said it best about 10 seconds into it, “Just Stop”. The verses were awful, off the reservation awful, but the bridge was at least pretty good. And the chorus was on somewhat on track, but flat. Ellen said there were people who would hate it and people who would love it, I just don’t know anyone who knows anything about music (except the girl who yelled “I love you Tim!) who might love it.
10.) Didi Benini – Didi sang Linda Rondstadt’s You’re No Good, and it wasn’t. It was both out of tune and off key. It sounded like bad cabaret. So much so that I half expected her to start removing clothing at any moment. I don’t even know what she was thinking with all the excessive campiness. This just wasn’t the place. There were a thousand other songs she could have sung, she picked the wrong one this time by a mile, and it could be the end for her. Clearly, David Lee Roth showed that this song can be done different ways, but this Jessica Rabbit version surely wasn’t one of them.
11.) Paige Miles – Paige gave one of her worst performances this season with Phil Collins’ Against All Odds. She started off key and never recovered. To make it worse, she was very pitchy through the whole song. Simon was absolutely right; she seems to have given up this week.