Tonight, the Top 11 take on Billboard No. 1 hits. I heard on the radio that it was supposed to be teen idol week (which would explain mentor Miley Cyrus), but then they expanded it. I don't have a source for that, but it sounds plausible.
But let's see how they do tonight.
The Hot 100 has been around since 1958, so the kids could choose from all sorts of songs.
Ryan sits down to talk with Miley in the audience about being a mentor, and hey -- Adam Shankman is sitting by her. She says that her goal was to help them connect better with their fans.
Lee DeWyze is singing "The Letter" by the Box Tops. Miley tells him he should give them a few notes they won't expect to mix things up a little. The arrangement is really jazzy, and at first, it doesn't really work for me, but as Lee settles into the song, it starts to work a bit more. The audience goes crazy over it. Randy Jackson says he knocked it out of the box. Ellen DeGeneres graces us with a very tortured comparison of Lee to a favorite pen. Kara DioGuardi says he just raised the bar for himself and that he's showed tremendous progress on the stage. Simon Cowell says he's shocked by the song choice because it was not "a recording performance," it was corny. He gets a lot of boos for that one.
Paige Miles tells Ryan things are getting quieter and more serious among the contestants. Her song choice is Phil Collins' "Against All Odds." Miley tells her she was being a little pitchy in her mid-range, and Paige says she felt the same thing while she was singing. She starts out quiet -- and pitchy barely begins to describe it. It sounds like bad karaoke when the person isn't familiar with the song. It gets a little better when she gets into the power notes ... for a while. But it's still rough. Randy: "Hi, how are you? Uh, yo, man, yo, wow, um ... That was honestly terrible." Like two people boo. Ellen: "I'm going to start with the positives; you didn't fall down." She talks about how great she looks and then says she is going to turn over the music critique to Kara and Simon. Kara says at some point, Paige stopped competing or listening to them. She says it was her worst vocal ever, and possibly the worst vocal of the season. Simon asks Paige how she thinks she did. She says she had trouble finding her pitch. Simon says it was like there were five of her singing the song, and it got progressively worse. He says she is going to be in serious trouble this week.
Tim Urban is taking on Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." Miley tells him to work it out at the end, and she gives him a hug because she doesn't think he's boring. He tries to show more personality, running all over the stage, but not so much with the song. He's on key, though, and that's saying something. Randy says this is a singing competition and they should be wowing them every single thing. "The vocals were SO boring," he says, comparing it to bad karaoke. Actually, I think it was like good karaoke. Ellen says it was like an audition for High School Musical. She thinks it was corny, but a large group of people who will love it, "and then there's me." Kara says little girls will love it, but he didn't do much with the song, and grabbing at the audience was a little ... premature. Simon says it was "completely and utterly pointless and silly." He says Tim has zero chance of winning right now.
Aaron Kelly talks to Ryan before his performance -- for some unknown reason, since he has laryngitis and possibly tonsillitis. He has an age-appropriate crush on Miley, and it's cute. He sings Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." He leaves out the word "babe" from the line, "I miss you, babe," and I'm not sure why. It's overall OK, I guess. Randy says thank goodness he came out singing because he saved them from the previous two, despite a few pitch issues. Ellen say she can tell he's not feeling great because he is usually pitch perfect and he wasn't tonight, but still, it was a great song for him. Kara says it was the perfect song choice for him. Weirdly, music starts playing while Kara is talking, like she's getting her Oscar speech shut down. Simon says Aaron's only problem is that he might be in danger of coming across as old-fashioned, which is the catalyst for some of the most uninspired booing ever, like just a couple of hoots from the audience. But he still thinks there is zero chance Aaron's going home.
Crystal Bowersox is singing "Me and Bobby McGee," which as someone else noted on Twitter, seems almost unfair because her plus Janis is so perfect. Miley wants her to start higher, but Crystal's worried she can't carry the whole song off at that range. But ... she does. It's like she's on a different, better show. Randy: "That is called what is being a star and a good singer." He says she sang what is in her heart, and he is so happy now. Ellen says there is nothing wrong with the performance, but she still feels like there is a little disconnect between her and the audience, and she needs to take it in and respond. Crystal says she has big plans for next week. Kara says she seemed like she let go more this week, but she wonders if Crystal has considered putting down the guitar, and Crystal repeats that she has big plans for next week, coyly. Simon says he wouldn't change a thing.
Michael Lynche sings "When a Man Loves a Woman," and Miley says, after half a line, that she is falling in love with him. She says he sang the whole thing to her, which is nerve-wracking for singers. He sings, and it's lovely, but it doesn't necessarily move me. Randy say he's not sure it was the perfect song choice or his best vocal, but Mike knows who he is and sang the heck out of the song. Ellen says it was a little safe, like driving the speed limit, but still: great voice. Kara says technically it was good, but it was a bit boring and loungey and overindulgent. Simon says it was like you wanted one scoop of ice cream, but you got 11. He says he didn't really make this old-school song very current, but he has charisma, a good voice and people like him.
Andrew Garcia has decided to sing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and he forgets some of the lyrics while singing with Miley. She wants him to try it without the guitar, and he agrees to take the risk. During his performance, I just kind of lose it for a minute: How many times have the judges told the contestants in the past few weeks that they are trying to prove their currency and relevance as recording artists? And they could pick any No. 1 from 1958 until what, last week? I just don't get the song choices -- or these arrangements, either. I mean, he's on key, mostly, but it's just frustrating! Not like I want everyone to sing Ke$ha or something, but ... COME ON, people, get with the program. OK, end rant. Randy: "Aww, dawg, man. It wasn't good, man. ... It was the wrong song choice because this is not the kind of vocalist you are." Ellen says she loves him and hopes his fans bring him through because this wasn't going to get a lot of people on board to vote for him. Kara says he is chasing that moment from earlier (you know the one), and it's messing with his head. Heck, maybe he should have sung Ke$ha! Simon says the arrangement was bad and, "You sucked [pause] the soul out of the song."
Katie Stevens meets Miley, and they are actually the same age. Dude. She is going to sing "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie, and Miley tells her to "edge it up" and be herself. She definitely "youths it up," with a big peace sign T-shirt and pink suspenders -- it's like she got another makeover. She sings, and she's on key -- and somewhat current! -- but she is kind of nasal, and this song doesn't do much to disguise that. Randy likes that she is listening to them. Ellen says this was her best performance so far and that she sounded great and she's growing and changing. Kara asks whether she is still country, and he doesn't answer. Kara says she moved like she felt the song, and this is her vibe, but, "you've still got mad pitch issues." Simon says her meeting Miley was probably the best thing that could have happened to her, though he isn't 100 percent sure she is believable as an R&Bish singer. But, overall, it was a good performance.
Casey James chooses Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love." She tells him to work on his eye contact with the audience, and he agrees. Me, I'm having Back to the Future flashbacks. His performance is good and energetic and kind of refreshing this evening. Randy says he wasn't a fan of the song choice, but he did it well and believed him. Ellen says it was the best vocal of the night even though it was a weird song choice. Kara says he's on a different level and ready to make an album. She says he is in a zone. Simon says this song was old-fashioned 25 years ago when it came out. He compares it to an '80s cover band performance.
Didi Benami goes with "You're No Good," and Miley likes it. (She really likes it.) Didi says she's going to sing the song to her nerves tonight. Her performance is also a very jazzy rendition of the song -- kind of a theme tonight. But I think Didi taking this out on her nerves was a good move because she shows more emotion than she has all season, and she sounds fantastic. Randy says he loved the idea, but he thought it was pitchy and all over the place. Huh. I didn't hear that at all. Ellen says she doesn't get the song choices tonight, and though she loves her voice, she doesn't get it. Kara says it seems like she was playing a character and not like it was her. "It just left me confused," she says. I thought she was showing what they wanted to see -- personality! So Kara isn't the only one who is confused. Simon says there was a certain irony in her "screeching out 'You're No Good' over and over again." Well, it always happens at some point during the season that I feel like I'm in Opposite Land from the judges. I didn't love the arrangement, but I still think she was good and that when they watch this episode back, they will disagree with what they just said. Am I crazy?
Siobham Magnus is closing the show tonight with Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." I like most of it, but I do think she needs to not have a scream in every performance. Also, she's really smiley, which makes me feel like she's not really understanding what she is singing about. But her voice sounds good, and tonight, we will take what we can get. Randy says she is exciting because she is fearless and he thought it was great. Ellen says she just wants to see more of her and she loves her. Kara says she expresses herself so much and that she is probably more comfortable on stage than anywhere else in life. That is probably true. Simon says maybe she needs to switch up the screaming, maybe doing it at the beginning, and also that she didn't hit the notes as well this time. Tonight, overall, not just Siobhan, it was not a good night for him.
Personally, I'm just glad it's over! What do you think about this weird night of Idol?