No, no, no.
This reaction occurred far too often last night. The "Idol" producers threw the struggling Season 9 contestants a T-Rex-sized bone last night; it was Billboard No. 1's week. The cast could choose any song that ever reached No. 1. ANY. SONG. So why did so many of the aspiring 11 Idols left make such
poor asinine decisions? If it were Huey Lewis and the News Week (Oh, wait...), the disastrous returns could have been more understandable. But no, the song-selection list was vast, and still, there was no saving this wreck. Not even celebrity mentor Miley Cyrus (funny, strange, perplexing all at the same time) could get the party going.
Oh, well. Here's my weekly breakdown, from best to worst.
1. Crystal Bowersox. It was another safe choice for Crystal, taking on "Me and Bobby McGee" (made famous by Janis Joplin) but she rocked it in the amped-up, Lilith Fair-way she has all season. There was an interesting exchange between Kara and Simon afterward — should Crystal ditch the guitar and show some range (the dreadlocked singer hinted that next week she had some plans) or stick to what she's doing? I'd like to see her step away from the guitar and rug(?) once, because her brand of pop doesn't excite me at all. If she kills it, she's the obvious frontrunner. If not, she can ride her Martin acoustic guitar all the way until the finals. Last night's performance had the energy she needed, but it's all going to start blending in together very, very soon.
2. Siobhan Magnus. This was Siobhan's attempt at high-energy pop, and it went OK. Her voice, the competition's strongest, had no problem with pitch so that put her ahead of at least half of the contestants. Simon pointed out what many of us were thinking — we waited for Siobhan to deliver her Adam-Lambert-but-better screeching note at the end, and she did. Is it getting predictable? Yes, but when you have to sit through Tim Urban and other jokes, it's a welcomed caffeine jolt. I'm still liking Siobhan more than Crystal because she'll do a dramatic "Paint It Black" one week and then "Superstition" the next. She's the reason to watch, as in, what will Siobhan do this week? That means something.
3. Michael Lynche. It was a bad, bad night for the men, but Michael came out on top with a decent rendition of "When a Man Loves a Woman." Michael brought his soul to it (perhaps he's fully ditched the acoustic Maroon 5-lite schtick for good) and that went a long way last night. The arrangement was kind of shoddy, though. It was no where near as strong as Michael has shown he can be, but it will certainly keep him around next week.
4. Casey James. Yes, Casey did Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love" and no, it wasn't all that bad. Hey, at least he wasn't mugging on a stool or hiding behind his guitar (even if he did riff out). It was still a vocal performance, and he did his best to come alive (a problem he's been having). Simon said the performance was old fashioned (he called the original old fashioned, too, whatever that means) and he was only partially right. The chorus had a timeless swing to it that seems to endure, no matter the decade. Kudos to Casey for showing he's more than long hair, but still, out of all the Billboard No. 1's, you go with Huey Lewis and the News?
5. Lee Dewyze. First, RIP Alex Chilton (why no mention of the Box Tops/Big Star rock god's recent death?). Second, Lee should stick to his David Cook impression and lay off the soul-man impression. I cringed a couple times while he worked the stage during "The Letter." The vocals were pretty good — something I've come to expect from Lee — but this felt average. A missed opportunity from the one of the more polished contestants.
6. Katie Stevens. Finally, someone took advantage of the week's theme. Katie needed to feel more relevant for weeks, and chose a great (if not symbolic — hope that's not too heavy handed) song for her situation, "Big Girls Don't Cry." The issue was her singing: I have it in my head that Katie is a better singer than what she puts forth, and maybe this performance finally dispelled that. Her tone is nasally, and she's still very under pitch. It's weird to say, even with the vocal issues, but this was a step in the right direction for her.
7. Aaron Kelly. I've gone from Aaron Kelly-hater to viewing him as a fun dark horse to root for. Unfortunately, Aaron came down with laryngitis and had to take on the beast of a ballad "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (fantastic song, fantastic song choice). Aaron trekked through, keeping a safe distance from the microphone during the song's biggest moments. It was a gutsy performance — you could see his strain — and should keep him around. He won't win this thing, but I think his best performance is still to come.
8. Didi Benami. Best zing of the night? Simon telling Didi it was ironic she was singing "You're No Good." I thought the judges were a little tough on Didi for her vocals (I'd grade them a generous B-) but were accurate in their slaying of her performance-style. Her flirty interaction with the bass player felt like an audition for "Chicago" and that's never a good thing. She'll be safe because the performers ranked below her absolutely sucked.
9. Andrew Garcia. Imagine Andrew Garcia doing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Yup, it sounded like that. Andrew, a gimmicky singer who was oversold by a Paula Abdul cover, trying to take on Marvin Gaye should be a serious felony. He doesn't have the voice, presence or star-quality to come close to pulling this off. We will most likely be subjected to another Andrew abomination because he has too many fans. Simon hit it on the head: "You sucked the soul out of that song. You sucked it out and tortured it and ruined one of the great pop songs of all time."
10. Tim Urban. If it weren't for Paige Miles' horrific vocals, I'd have no problem putting Tim at the very bottom. I wanted to chuck my remote through the television during Tim's parody of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." It's maddening to watch a contestant completely pander to the young girls in the audience, with little regard for artistry or even self-respect. It's a joke to have Tim Urban still in a competition alongside Crystal, Siobhan and even Michael and Casey. Also: his voice is seriously terrible.
11. Paige Miles.
Paige cremated her chances last night with possibly the worst vocal performance of the season (which is an accomplishment when going against Tim Urban's "Apologize"). There were more wrong notes than right during "Against All Odds." Worst, there was no believable conviction in her voice. It was lifeless and almost sad. It was almost a coin toss between Tim and Paige for worst performances, but on second listen, Paige's bum notes were just too glaring.