American Idol: to cha ching or not to cha ching

Last night before the 11 hopefuls took the stage on American Idol,” judge Simon Cowell told Ryan Seacrest and all of us who cared to listen that he thought it was a critical night for the singers. That’s because the one that goes home this week will miss out on the American Idol summer tour. Only the Top 10 go (I’ve never quite figured out why the 12 finalists don’t all go), which means the 11th place finisher may miss out on all that tour dough. Seriously, that’s huge…and I’m glad Simon pointed it out. However, not too many of the contestants sounded like they were singing for their lives last night. Again. Oh yeah, and Miley Cyrus was the “mentor” this week, and I think we have to use “mentor” in very loose terms here. Here is the recap….

THE REALLY GOOD

Crystal Bowersox is the only one who fits into this category. Of course, her spot on version of “Me and Bobby McGee” followed three mostly sucky performances by Paige, Tim and Aaron. I didn’t write much in the way of notes on Crystal because I was watching her and paying attention, but did manage to scribble the words “effortless” and “awesome.” Randy said “That’s what being an American Idol is all about!”….Ellen said it was great but that she wants to see more of Crystal’s personality….Kara said Crystal was more engaged this week with the audience….and Simon said he wouldn’t change a thing, that he saw Pink do an amazing version of that song and that Crystal’s version was as good as that. Well, that says it all, doesn’t it?

THE GOOD

Lee Dewyze kicked things off with a subtle tribute to the recently departed Alex Chilton, by singing the old Box Tops’ hit, “The Letter.” It was a good choice, on key and with good emotion. It may have seemed a bit repetitive in spots though. Randy said he wasn’t sure about the song choice but that Lee knocked it out of the box….Ellen made some silly reference about her favorite pen not running out of ink and that Lee was that pen. Um, okay…..Kara said Lee has raised the bar for himself and has made great strides in progressing….and Simon disagreed with all of us, saying he was surprised at the choice and it came off as kind of corny. Sorry Simon, not with you on this one.

Siobhan Magnus closed the night with another Stevie Wonder song, “Superstitious.” You might remember she worked her way into the Top 24 with a powerful version of “Livin’ For the City.” It wasn’t her best showing, but still much better than almost everyone but Crystal last night. She has to stop those Adam Lambert screams, though. We really don’t care, Siobhan! Randy loved it and said she showed conviction….Ellen said “You are so good!”…..Kara said she expresses herself so well but it wasn’t Siobhan’s best showing…and Simon said some folks will like it and some will hate it, and that there definitely is too much screaming in her repertoire. He then said that as a whole, all of the contestants need to start making better song choices.

THE IN-BETWEEN

Aaron Kelly took on the one #1 hit Aerosmith had, “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” and it wasn’t horrible considering a) he was dealing with laryngitis, and b) he followed Paige and Tim. Aaron also admitted to having a crush on Miley. I would say, “dude, you can do better than that” but then again, he probably can’t. It was nice how he changed up the melody a little but still pitchy in spots. Randy said it was not perfect but that he was better than, you guessed it, Paige and Tim…..Ellen said she thinks he’s so talented at such a young age….Kara said it was the best song choice so far (Aaron went 4th) but that the vocals were not perfect…and Simon said it was a bit old-fashioned, but that Aaron has zero chance of going home tonight.

Michael Lynche did a super-cheesy version of Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” but unfortunately for him, it looked twice as cheesy because he followed Crystal. Randy said it wasn’t the perfect song choice, and wasn’t Michael’s best performance…Ellen said it was a safe choice…Kara said it was good technically but kind of boring…and Simon said it was “too much” and didn’t make the song relevant, and also that it was a bit over-indulgent. Hence, the cheese factor.

Katie Stevens took on Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and it was pitchy in spots and kind of karaoke-ish. Add to this that I can’t stand the fact that Katie sings like she has a piece of candy stuck in her throat. But the judges like her and I have a feeling lots of young boys like her, too. And it really wasn’t horrible, not compared to, yep, Paige and Tim! Randy said it wasn’t Katie’s best showing but he liked the song choice for her….Ellen said she thought it was Katie’s best so far….Kara said it’s a good genre for Katie but that there were pitch issues…and Simon said it was good but that Katie is not exactly “believable” yet.

Casey James went with an odd song choice, Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love.” Really, dude? It was a decent vocal, and once again he played guitar like a man possessed, but it was too safe for me. Randy said he wasn’t a fan of the song choice but that Casey did okay with it…..Ellen agreed with Randy and thought it was the best vocal of the night so far (Casey went 9th). Yeah, um, no, Ellen…..Kara said Casey is on “another level”…and Simon said he disagreed with Kara, that it was not current sounding, and sounded too much like the original to the point of it being like a cheesy ’80’s cover band version. I am leaning more toward Simon here.

Didi Benami sang Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” and I thought it was not bad, kind of a hip loungy version of it. Randy loved the idea of it but that it was too pitchy and didn’t connect for him….Ellen said she didn’t get the song choice…Kara said it was like Didi was playing a character and not really her….Simon said it was ironic that Didi kept screeching “You’re no good!” when it wasn’t very good. I think the judges were quite harsh, but not completely wrong. Bottom line? There were a few worse than Didi last night.

THE PRETTY BAD

Tim Urban took on Queen’s “Crazy LittleThing Called Love” and did everything to hide his mundane vocal ability including a slide across the stage and high-fiving the crowd. It was on pitch, but really, any schmuck can sing that song. It was very boring, safe and corny. Randy said it was boring and like karaoke….Ellen said it felt like an audition but that she knows Tim has fans…Kara said Tim didn’t do enough with the song…and Simon said it was pointless and silly and an odd choice, and that Tim has “zero chance to win.” Wow. But quite correct.

Andrew Garcia, where have you gone? He did Marvin Gaye’s “Heard it through the Grapevine” and the poor guy was trying way too hard. It was boring and as Mrs. Mike so correctly pointed out, Andrew has lost his artistry. Randy said it wasn’t good, was the wrong song choice and it didn’t show Andrew’s vocal ability well….Ellen said it won’t be enough to get votes….Kara said Andrew is still chasing that “moment” he had in Hollywood week and that it’s messing with his head…and Simon said that maybe that “moment” was overrated, that Andrew sucked the soul out of the song last night. Ouch, but not incorrect. Sorry dude, you’re not going to last much longer.

THE REALLY BAD

Paige Miles had the strangest song choice, maybe of the season so far…Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds.” It was weak all around, amateurish and pitchy like crazy. I wasn’t exactly sure it was as bad as I thought, but the judges confirmed it for me. Randy said it was “honestly terrible”….Ellen complimented that Paige wore high heels without falling down and that she looked good, then deferred to Kara and Simon on the music critique. Nice cop-out, Ellen…..Kara said it was Paige’s worst vocal so far, and that she almost seems to have stopped competing…Simon agreed with Randy and Kara, saying it was “all over the place.” I don’t think there is any way Paige makes the touring Top 10, which sucks because I think we all know she has more talent than Tim Urban does.

So that’s it….I’d put down a lot of money on Paige going home tonight, if I was a betting man. Tim and Andrew are not quite safe either and will probably join Paige in the Bottom 3. We’ll be treated (loosely, of course) to Miley Cyrus, Joe Jonas and some other Disney star who I’m not hip to yet…sorry, I’m showing my age here!

So, who do you think is going home?

  

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