Idol Thoughts — 03.23.10

I don’t have much to say about the night’s biggest story on American Idol. The “mentor” is Miley Cyrus? Just so you know, Crystal Bowersox, it’s not normally like this. I have to say that since Crystal apparently never watched the show in the past–and was a surprisingly good sport about the whole thing, even asking Miley to sign her guitar.

Hey, things could’ve been worse. The mentor could’ve been Miley’s dad!

So, once again I’ll attempt to rank the performances. Last night, they breakdown into two categories:


Crystal Bowersox – “Me And Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin – This performance had everything you’d want from a version of this song: vocal nuances ranging from the subtle to the explosive. Just fantastic, like she always is. It also had something I didn’t want: that guitar in her hands. This would’ve been the perfect song, with its quiet beginning and rocking end, to get out from behind that guitar, and open herself up to the audience, connecting even more. But it sounds like Crystal’s aware of the situation, and we can expect her to do that next week. Leave it to Kara DioGuardi to bring up ditching the guitar; it was really the only note I wrote down during Crystal’s performance.


2) Aaron Kelly – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith – I’m using the iPod test again to rank the performances (“Do I want this song on my iPod?”). I mean, the search on Idol is for the next big recording artist, right? So what they do on the show should make me wanna buy and listen to their music. Aaron’s got a very recordable voice, and he sounds good live, too. Yes, I think this song was a little “bigger” than his voice (mainly in the second half of the song). But he made this work.

3) Lee DeWyze – “The Letter” by the Box Tops – Simon Cowell said he was surprised Lee chose this song. Yet nobody mentioned the singer of the original, Alex Chilton, a hero to some in the musician world, died in the last week. I can’t confirm that’s the reason Lee picked it; but my guess is that it is. The re-arrangement of Lee’s funky-swing hybrid version didn’t impress me much. It was all over the place. And I actually would not iPod this one for that reason (last week’s “Beast Of Burden” is on there). But vocally, he was on point. And his performance had more energy and personality. He’s stepping up his game in that department–which he needs to.

4) Siobhan Magnus – “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder – Not her best vocal. And the “funk” felt a little forced. Then there was that big, screaming note at the end (again). Fun to hear and watch. But also getting predictable. So I’m suggesting Siobhan gets back to chalkboard and looks for some new ways to wow us. That said, based of her look (tonight sporting Sheena Easton’s 80’s hair), attitude, and vocal daredevil antics, she’s the one I’m starting to like the most. I always look forward to seeing what she’s up to.

5) Michael Lynche – “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge – If this song ended at 1:18, it would’ve been one of the Top 3 of the night. But it went a full two minutes, and those last 45 seconds were full of the over-indulgent riffing that the judges were right to spank him for. (By the way, spank “Big Mike” at your own risk!)

6) Casey James – “The Power Of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News – Casey continues to define himself as an artist. At the moment, I’m going to say the definition appears to be: a great blues-rock guitarist who can sing pretty well. Vocally, I’d say Casey turned in a 7 on his own scale of 10 last night. Maybe it was the song, but Casey didn’t hold any notes; they mostly felt short and choppy. Even so, there was something fun about his performance.

7) Didi Benami – “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt – Didi’s having a hard time getting used to the big stage and performing in general. I sense that she’s searching for something to do out there on stage. But I’m worried for her she’s heading in the wrong direction. What she did last night felt…uncomfortable. Kind of “Broadway”–the whole “acting out the song” thing. And she lost some of her unique sound “trying on” whatever this new persona was.

8 ) Katie Stevens – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie – Kudos for being the only one to pick a song from the last decade. But I’m feeling that there’s a ceiling for Katie. She just can’t seem to hit her notes. As likable as she is, without some sudden improvement, she’s on track to finish somewhere between 8th and 10th place.

9) Tim Urban – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen – I wish this song would stop popping up on Idol. There’s really nothing you can do with it–except look like the life of the party at karaoke night. Ironically, this was more in Tim’s vocal range and he sounded OK. But so what?

10) Andrew Garcia – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye – Not good. This guy has the judges all up inside his head so much he’s lost who he is. Also, having watched him sing without his guitar that last two weeks, I come to a conclusion. I don’t think he sings well without it. When he’s out there sans guitar, he does this odd thing with his vocals where he sings way too carefully, over-enunciating and “punching” certain words–never to the benefit of the performance, very unnatural sounding. He didn’t seem to have this problem with his guitar. Miley’s advice was to lose the guitar. I disagree.

11) Paige Miles – “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins – Great ballad. But she really screwed this one up. She was off-key and flat, and the judges roasted her. “Against All Odds” suddenly describes her situation!

So here’s what I’m thinking. The Bottom Three tonight will be: Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia and Paige Miles. Andrew gets sent to “safety.” And between Katie and Paige, Paige Miles is sent home.


Greg Valentine
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