Last night on American Idol, we got to see, for the first time, the Top Ten. These, ladies and gentleman, are who you voted for, to go on the annual Summer Tour. You left behind Katelyn Epperly and Lilly Scott. And you somehow decided to keep the quite underwhelming Tim Urban, the somewhat inconsistent Didi Benami, and the questionably talented Andrew Garcia. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.
Last night’s theme was Soul and R&B. As expected, some of the contestants were great. Others we saw glaring weaknesses.
Interestingly, the top couple of performers could almost be interchangeable, and the same can very nearly be said for the bottom two performers. The six in the middle could all be in almost any order.
1 – Crystal Bowersox – This week, we get to see Crystal sans guitar for the first time as she sings Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips on the piano. Whaaaat???? This girl has some mad hidden talents. Ok, so she was a little nervous on the keys and she’s certainly more comfortable holding the acoustic guitar, but still. It was a nice surprise. One word for her performance: Awesome. Didn’t have the “WOW” factor that last week’s Me and Bobby McGee had, but it was damn close, and that ain’t easy two weeks in a row on this show. She is always on point, and in pitch, and in tune. She is just great to listen to. I don’t know if there is anyone in this competition who is better right now.
2- Lee Dewyze – The Cornelius Brothers’ Treat Her like a Lady was the fastest paced song that Lee has sung in this competition and it was long, long overdue. I’ve been saying for weeks that Lee needs to do something different, and he finally did. This was his best performance in weeks. He started off a little whiney, but he recovered right away and was so into it, it the rough beginning was quickly forgotten.
3- Casey James – Casey went straight-up, old school soul with Sam and Dave’s Hold On. I’m Comin’, and right from the beginning, he was into it. This wasn’t really a far cry from the bluesy rock that he seems to love so much and you could see how much he enjoyed singing it. He was flat in some places, but this was right in his wheelhouse. Great song choice.
4- Aaron Kelly – Aaron ended the show with Bill Wither’s Ain’t No Sunshine. This kid is getting better every week. He has great tone to his voice and he’s even starting to lose that stupid country twang that he had in the beginning. Love the Kris Allen twist he threw on it toward the end (which, by the way, might be the best cover of this song I’ve ever heard). Nice touch. Made it more acoustic than the original. On the downside, it took some of the soul out of it. Still, one of the top performances of the night.
5- Katie Stevens – Katie has the deep, soulful voice that can carry Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools with no problem, and that’s exactly what she does. Although she does have some pitch problems in some spots, overall it’s very good. It’s very hard to remember sometimes that this girl is only 17.
6- Michael Lynche – Michael was as soulful as anything he has sung to date singing Indie Arie’s Ready for Love . Rich and resonating, he hit the mark again, touching the heartstrings. One thing about this guy, and I said this last week, he is the best R&B, soul singer that has hit the Idol stage in many seasons. This theme night was perfect for him, and he came through. He was on key, in pitch, and sounded as it should sound. He was pretty much in the zone.
7- Siobhan Magnus – OK. So R&B is clearly not Siobhan’s type of music, and we found that out in about the first line of Chaka Khan’s Through the Fire. It was pitchy and all over the place. I wasn’t sure where she was really going with it, and neither did she. One of her most uncomfortable performances, nice run toward the end. Her upper range was still spectacular and on right on target.
8- Andrew Garcia – Before Andrew started Chris Brown’s Forever, Judge #7 (Daughter Tara) said that this was going to bring Andrew back into contention because Chris Brown is a great lyricist and it was a perfect song to make acoustic and he could ride that carpet right into the Top 5. Well, she hit it. It was easily his best performance in weeks. He was fully engaged and knew exactly what he was doing, turning it into an acoustic number and slowing it down. He made it his own, something he has tried to do with several other songs and failed, and it sounded great. Let’s just hope he doesn’t suck for the next few weeks like he did after his awesome Hollywood Week performance.
9- Didi Benami – First, before Didi even starts singing: Can she even get through What Becomes of The Brokenhearted by Jimmy Ruffin without breaking down? Technically, she was off-key in some areas, and pitchy in others. In some areas it was simply painful. One of her worst performances to date. She ran out of breath at one point. She didn’t cry, but I thought I might.
On another note, Ryan, who I have also liked, and have even found to be amusing, was being a real tool doing whatever he could to get Didi to say that she was emotional because she had lost her best friend shortly before auditioning for the show and that was who she had auditioned for.
Yeah, way to go out of your way to make a chick cry, Seacrest. Real classy. What was your next move if that didn’t work? Kick her in the ankle off camera? Whisper in her ear that her dog just died?
10- Tim Urban – Last week, young, foolish Tim took on Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and destroyed it. This week he assaulted Anita Baker’s rich, soulful Sweet Love. Why does this guy keep singing songs that he cannot connect with and has absolutely no chance of singing at all well. This was brutal. It was in key, but that’s really all you can say about it. It wasn’t even good karaoke. It had no soul and no feeling. Simon hit it on the head: No matter what the judges say, he’s going to smile and the voters are going to keep voting for him. I only hope that some point soon the voters wake up and stop voting for him. Too many better singers will go home in his place if they don’t.