Last week on American Idol, during Billboards Top 100's where only one of our season 9 contestants picked a song from the past 10 years (and figures it was Katie Stevens) this show was labeled by many as the worst of the entire season and I have a hard time disagreeing them though I do remember that horrible Latin night where star singer LaToya London danced her way though "Rhythm is Going to Get You" or the infamous Broadway Night where some guys screeched out "Climb Every Mountain" and Carrie Underwood known for her emotional singing sang "Hello Young Lovers". I'm still in therapy over that one. Based on last week we also said goodbye to Paige Miles. I liked Paige but felt like many others that for so many weeks she was giving mediocre to abyssal performances. Come on her "Smile" almost left me in tears. I read on many sites that she said that was still suffering though laryngitis and was choosing songs that she could work around (I know,) but judging on her sing out where she belted the heck out of "All Right Now" and compared to Tim Urban. I wished she was able to perform healthy and at full vocal force and was able to stay at least another week.
Tonight's theme for the final ten (let's stop with calling them the Top 10 this season because we all know that's not true) is going to be Soul and R & B. This weeks guest mentor, who by the way also happens to have a product to sell, is Usher. Usher has a new disc out today called "Everybody Loves Raymond". Sorry, "Raymond Vrs. Raymond" So with all that said on to the final 10's "performances". Also a new thing this episode is the kids will be greeting the cameras after the show tonight. By the way I HATE this idea as I think nothing screams taking away from a performance like the kids acting like politicians.
Okay, after the judges, introduction with Usher, sit down with Usher, Usher having a press conference to introduce his new line of nighttime sun glasses. Okay maybe that last part didn't happen but this is a 2 hour show and I already feel like we've passed the 2 hour mark we are given the first singer.
Siobhan Magnus – "Through the Fire" by Chaka Khan – I laughed when Siobhan told Usher she was a big fan since she was 6 or 7. He probably wanted to kill her for that. I hate to start this off with this said but I think Siobhan looks great from the neck up tonight. As usual in the song I think she starts off flat and under pitch. She has this ability to sing the beginning of the song flat, then switch to the power of the song and make us forget the rest of the performance to where we are standing and applauding. I watched her "Think" back an it's all mumble, soft notes, off notes and then that big note and we're all standing and applauding. Tonight doesn't seem to be one of those performances for Siobhan. When she gets to the high belting parts she's really sharp and then she's throwing in the scream and this time it's a scream just for show and at places it doesn't fit which makes it weird. I'm waiting for the "Silent Night" version with scream. The problem she has is that Chaka is one of those singers who makes a hard song look so easy but more importantly she can control everything about her voice to handle it. Siobhan has the range, has the ability, but doesn't have the control at her age. Usually I defend her vocal style because I think if you got it use it but this was showboating and not being able to back it up.
Coming back from commercial we get the horrible look backstage and Siobhan looked like Dead Man Walking. All the others throwing faint praise and her looking understandably upset.
Casey James – "Hold On, I’m Coming" by Sam and Dave - Casey is always lucky when there's a close-up shot of his face. I noticed that they always do a lot for him. It's interesting that I hear him playing guitar but usually see him in the same pose with one hand on it. He's smart with the song choice but I don't really think it sounds vocally that special. It's one of those that the performance is better then the vocal because the vocal is secondary at best . I think with Casey he has a lot working for him especially his looks, which are his best asset. I just wished the voice stood out more then anything else. Also I think doing this song with this arrangement the week right after lasts "Power of Love" made it sound almost like it was the same performance he gave last week and was a mistake. I'm wondering if we're going to get the same bar performance that sounds better after a few drinks every single week until he has to do jazz or standards and that'll be the week he's eliminated.
Even after seeing someone praised I still HATE this interview after the performance. It's so in your face and doesn't add anything but filler. I really hope when they start getting pressed for time they decide to cut this bit right away.
Michael Lynche – "Ready for Love" by india.arie – Am I the only one who is really tired of him always being referred to as Big Mike? It's hard for me to take him serious as an artist with this tag name on him or all the shots of him walking in with the baby. I normally think of Mike as too much of a ham then as a singer but I thought this was an excellent performance for him tonight. He kept all the distractions in check and delivered an honest performance and I thought the vocal was excellent until the final note which was off but not as noticeable as it could have been. I thought he was smart picking an honest singer like india.aire that a lot of people might not now but writes with her emotions. This made me even consider him finally as a singer then just as Big Mike. I also LOVE that he choose an india.arie song to perform on Idol so I give him high marks on that.
Didi Benami – "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffiin – Is anyone else really tired of them dragging out the emotional card on Didi all the time. Another thing is why is Didi who sounds so good with simple arrangements pulling out the big belty cabaret turn for this song? Stick to what you know Didi. I have to say I think she looks gorgeous tonight. She reminds me of Michelle Pfeiffer in the Baker Boys movie. I love the simple start of the song and think that her voice works on that really well. Once it starts building and the band starts overpowering her it feels like she is trying to compete with them until the end where she's trying to give us a moment when the arrangement and her voice can't really give a moment for this. I love Didi and normally really like the original takes she give to the songs but didn't care for this as much as the other stuff. I really wish she would have done the Mandy Moore version of "Umbrella" which could have been a moment for her because it would have played up to everything in her wheelbarrow. I thought this could have put her in trouble tonight but couple with her fans worried about her and that interview afterwards I think she's going to be safe because of that. I also felt really uncomfortable with Ryan trying to get information out of her when she didn't want to answer him. Can't wait to see the backstage camera for this.
Tim Urban – "Sweet Love" by Anita Baker – When I heard that Tim was singing this song I was scared. This is a great song with a gorgeous rhythm that much like most of Anita's songs are just cool. She sounds cool singing them, they sound cool hearing them, and you even feel while listening to them. All things that I don't really apply to Tim Urban though he has nice teeth. Tim smartly starts the song as far away from the audience as possibly however the lighting makes him look like he's nautious, which is actually rather fitting since that's how he usually leaves us when he's done. Though the song the best I could say about it was that he got though it. I didn't think anything of it really to the point where I've forgotten it a few times. Let's face it Simon said what we're all thinking vocally Tim is tap water but as long as he has hair and smiles little girls and gay boys will vote for him.
All this backstage camera is teaching me is the boys can sell their personalities no matter what and the girls re all breaking down afterwards.
Andrew Garcia – "Forever" by Chris Brown – What "Straight Up" wasn't on the list. I was impressed that Usher took his shades up in the clip. Andrew who still looks like a stoned college kid at a coffee house and a youtube account surprised me by picking a Chris Brown song. I'm sure somewhere Chris is happy that someone remembers his name and will be begging for a chance to work with Andrew. I liked the acoustic arrangement however I thought it missed the dramatic build the song needed. I'm happy it didn't come across as the gimmick that it has been these past few weeks though I always snicker hearing the lines "double your pleasure, double your fun" knowing that this was used for a gum commercial. I thought Andrew's vocals were fine not as memorable as they could have been and were masked by the arrangement. I disagree with Simon on boring I think he comes across as very laid back. I do think what he needs to work on is his voice and putting more muscle into his vocals and his performing skills. His Mother scares me.
Katie Stevens – "Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin – When I heard they were doing this night I figured she would sing this song as I still have memories of Diana DeGarmo singing this. I can't get over why she decided to do the Snookie Poof? Is she hoping to get more votes from people thinking she's Snookie? I hate this choice for her as it's another song that has been done to death on Idol. It's funny that this is the first song so far that's been done on Idol before. I wonder if they're taking some heat for the comments about "Against All Odds" being done 7 times on Idol and are wanting them to be more creative when picking a song. I thought her voice was strong during the belting but not really memorable. There was no excitement in the performance of her delivery. It was a decent job on a song I've heard done better and I never feel any magic from her when she performs. I also hate her robotic movements when they're giving out her phone numbers.
Lee Dewyze – "Treat Her Like a Lady" – They must be pushing Lee big time. He gets a chat before the performance that concentrates on the him having a moment. Ryan also brings up him being sick which is something they generally don't before the performance. In Lee's interview he still looks scared to death talking and refuses to look at the camera. During the performance he must have had a drink. I love how his voice sounds on this song, he's bringing the "Creed" type of sound that really works for him but makes the song sound like something he would do. He's being smart by not stretching out the notes so we don't get the pitch problems though it seems he switching between singing and screaming when he sings but it works for this performance. He looks the most excited and into it then he has ever looked. Good job Lee.
After the commercials end we come back to these new face camera and the fist interview we get has Lee avoiding eye contact with the camera yet again. Showing after all these weeks he still hasn't gotten over his nerves.
Crystal Bowersox – "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips – I really hate how many times does Ryan have to bring up about the pressure being on for her right before her performance.
I'm sorry. It shows my true love for Mama Sox that, I love that she's talking about stepping out of her box and do something wild for her and then all she does is play the piano!! I'm not complaining but she did look scared and out of her element I would have preferred her doing this song with her guitar if that's what works for Mama. When I heard that Mama Sox was doing a song about Georgia, originally I thought she was doing "Georgia on my Mind" She starts out and I can tell right away this was her makeover episode. I loved parts of this performance and I thought parts had problems. I loved the piano and the slowed down beginning. It made it sound original, and the sound of her voice had some wonderfully honest gospel belting complete with a gorgeous tone though out the song. The high note was amazing for her even though it was a little off but it really gives you hope that she's capable of a lot more then I think we really give her credit for. It actually makes me even more excited for what's in store for us after some time and when she's finally letting go in a song. The things I did hate about this was you could tell she was nervous about playing the piano and she wasn't able to get into the song as much as she should have. Like Simon I did not care for the three singers up close at the piano adding support. You only do that when you've got Mariah, Shaina, Celine, and Gloria as your backup otherwise it distracted from her. I think she brings the gospel, church, sound into her singing I would love for her to do that with her performance style, almost like Fantasia does. Also one side note I thought the outfit looked great she really needs to hide from the hair and makeup people because they're turning her into a guest star on a nondescript UPN show. She looks like she could be campus hippie #4 in whatever college dorm show that lasts a week.
Aaron Kelly – "Ain’t No Sunshine" by Bill Withers – It's like if a goat was sick and sounded like he has a nasal cold he would sound very similar to our youngest contestant. Cute little asexual Aaron who has not come out of the closest yet but someday will have a corner of People magazine. You take a Soul sound and you layer it on several loafs of White Bread and you get Aaron Kelly singing this. I thought the hair was very Ellen mixed in with a rooster. The clothes looked like an ad for Kid Gap, he needs to come out of the closet soon. The big problem is that its hard to take Aaron seriously but with people like Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers we might have to because that's a popular group of guys and their fans must be voting for Aaron. I don't think he was a train wreck like a Tim or even Siobhan but at least with Siobhan and to a small point Tim takes chances that Aaron really doesn't. I think he's trying to put the country spin on everything because that's what the judges told him would work but I think if he worked on his voice and performance style he could be a good vocalist and attack songs with a strong voice. If he had just let loose I think Sunshine would have been great or if he could have brought "something" to it. I still remember Christina Christian doing a memorable sexy "Sade" version of that song. Not saying Aaron should have done that but he could have created something vocally out of all those I Know that would have been special. I know he's going to do semi well but I don't think he adds anything to the show at all. In face the week after he's gone no one is going to miss him.
At this point in the season surprisingly there still are some really bad performances. I think Tim Urban has now officially become Sanjaya and I wonder if they'll keep him around for "Idol Gives Back." Actually I think they should auction Tim Urban off to the highest bidder and watch him sweat when he realizes its a guy who bought him for the night. There have been some decent performances, some or maybe one or two that are spectacular, though usually it's only one spectacular one almost spectacular but sadly its all in the hands if the American Public. Who has brought us Nikkie McKibben, Carmen Rasmussen, John Stevens, Scott Soval, Taylor Hicks, Sanjaya, Jason Castro, most of eight season, and now nine season. So my guess for the bottom two will be Tim Urban, Aaron Kelly, and either Katie Stevens or Andrew Garcia. I hoping it's Andrew Garcia and since Snookie is popular Katie might have a shot. I do think that possibly Tim Urbans time has ran up and if not I hope that even though he had a decent performance. People will worry that by letting him stay they're afraid that the performance of "Forever" will be brought up to Andrew Garcia after every horrible follow-up performance he will give. I think Tim might go home tomorrow night since the judges weren't so mean that the it would spurn his fan base to vote for him and some might have already forgotten him.
I think that Crystal, Lee, Michael, Casey, Andrew, Didi, Siobhan will all sound good to great on the studio records once they're cleaned up. I think without the nerves of being in front of the judges, and the audience Siobhan is going to kill that song in the studio.
Also I've decided that each week I will also post a photo of who I thought gave the performance of the week and it will hang at the end of this blog like digital art for all the see. Until next week where the next winner will hang at the end. I felt there were two singers tonight who earned the title without me having to blink an eye. I would have given the first photo to Crystal as I think that she had one of the best performances of the night however as I feel she will be here many more times this season I'm putting who I thought gave the other best performance this week was:
Congratulations Lee. I have to confess I still have my issues with you vocally, on and off stage but I thought this week you were great. You went above the limit and surprised me with your vocals, with your performance and especially on R&B/Soul Night. I can see that your working on several issues and trying to improve. I think you picked a great song and kept yourself intact during a theme week. A feat that judging by some of the others not an easy thing to do. I know you should be pleased, your fans will be pleased, and I know my sisters who drool over any husky voice pseudo rock singer are please with your performance this week. Here hoping to see you here more often.