04.06.10 — Idol Thoughts

With 25 percent of the Top 12 gone, you’d think they could’ve taken care of business on American Idol last night in just 90 minutes. But nope. Two hours again.

I can’t help but notice they’ve been trying a bunch of new things on Idol this season. Kicking off the show last night from the control room. The backstage interviews with the contestant that just performed when the show returns from commercials. And a more casual exchange between Ryan Seacrest and the judges.

I welcome these tweaks. The show does feel looser and a little fresher. This is not a bad thing, considering the show’s nearing its tenth year. But these changes gave us a lot of filler last night. The guy whose been yelling loud from the audience all night? You’re bringing him up on stage and we get to see him? Oh, lucky us!!

So the theme was the Lennon/McCartney Songbook. The beauty of a night like this is the songs themselves. They’re some of the greatest written in the rock era. Beatles songs…at the very least, if you simply sing them as written, you have a decent chance of coming off good.

So, how did the Top 9 do? Here are my rankings of the performances:

1) Casey James – “Jealous Guy” – There’s always talk on Idol about having “a moment.” This was Casey’s. He connected with this John Lennon solo song in a way that was unmatched last night. Dressed in a white Bee Gees suit and black shirt, on acoustic guitar and accompanied by cello, Casey reached deep inside and brought out something believable and transcendent. Kudos on being the only contestant to pick a song from Lennon or McCartney’s solo material.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Come Together” – Crystal operates on a whole ‘nother level. Her vocals are so strong, which was evident again last night. This time around, she seemed more infused with energy and had a little more fun then usual, accompanied by a guy on the didgeridoo.

3) Katie Stevens – “Let It Be” – Yes. Katie Stevens. That’s right, the same Katie Stevens that’s been in the Bottom Three the last couple weeks. She sounded great last night. Of course, the song was “Let It Be,” and she wisely stayed true to the original, while offering just the right amount of her own vocal stamp. Her best. So far.

4) Siobhan Magnus – “Across The Universe” – It’s a compliment to Siobhan that…I wanted to like this a little more than I did. She’s set the bar high for herself, with some of her previous performances and her personal style, and now I expect a lot from her. I think she made a good move restraining herself last night. No big scream. Yikes. That would’ve been a disaster on this quiet and beautiful song–which I like a little better each time I hear it. I’m looking forward to next week when Siobhan meets Adam Lambert, who’s mentoring. The rest of this season’s very “earnest” cast of contestants could learn something about “pizazz” from these two.

5) Lee DeWyze – “Hey Jude” – Wow. For me, this was a step backwards for Lee. I’m a fan. But this came off as a little corny. And ironically, not because of the bagpipes. Lee took some heat from the judges for that. But that was the best thing about it! It’s interesting. Lee’s needed to come out of his shell. And last night he did. But once out, you have to know where you’re going. And I just didn’t but into the whole “sing-along” vibe he was putting out. I wish Lee had pulled a Casey James, and looked at the solo material. I think Lee could’ve slayed with something like Paul McCartney‘s “Maybe I’m Amazed.”

6) Andrew Garcia – “Can’t Buy Me Love” –  Simon called this performance “not relevant.” Maybe. But I’d rather listen to this one again then the ones listed below. And that’s why I’ve ranked Andrew’s swing take on this Beatles uptempo pop song here.

7) Micheal Lynche – Eleanor Rigby – So “Big Mike” made the boldest changes of the night to a song. I wasn’t a fan of this arrangement. But kudos on the commitment he made to it. And there wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with the vocal. It was what it was.

8 ) Tim Urban – “All My Loving” – Tim’s not going down without a fight. He changed up the song a little, and crooned his way through this. I think the song lost a little energy with the alterations; Tim could’ve probably performed this one as written–and better achieved his goal of “having fun.” The sneaky thing that happened last night is the judges all found ways to praise Tim. I can guarantee this is no accident. As he smiles through each flogging he gets from the panel, Tim has  become more and more of a martyr with voters. So now the judges are taking away the abuse. The idea being Tim will have to live or die on the merits of his performances. We’ll see how this plays out.

9) Aaron Kelly – “The Long And Winding Road” – It saddens me to list Aaron way down here. His is still one of my fave voices. But song choice, song choice, song choice! This was a bad idea. The arrangement was old-fashioned. I’m guessing it was old-fashioned even back when it first came out. His vocals didn’t carry the song. And again, thematically, a young guy singing about a long and winding road simply isn’t believable–nor true to his life experience. If I’d have been consulted, I would have steered Aaron in the direction of the Paul McCartney solo catalog.

This week’s a tough one to call. Nobody really screwed up last night. I say there’s four guys (yes, guys) who could land in the Bottom Three. In any normal universe, Tim Urban would be going home this week. But this is the Idol-verse. So here’s my prediction. The Bottom Three will be Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche and Tim Urban. Tim gets sent to safety. And between Little Aaron and Big Mike, Michael Lynche goes home.

What do you think?

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine


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