'American Idol' - '11 Finalists Perform' Recap
by Kona Gallagher, posted Mar 24th 2010 1:20AM
Thank God 'American Idol' is still two hours long. If it weren't, we would have had to cut down the horrendously awkward intro in which Ryan chats with all of the judges. Between Ryan commenting on Simon's v-neck shirt, and his kissing Ellen, I half expect them to just go ahead and get naked. Luckily, they managed to control themselves, and we were actually able to see some performances.
The mentoring thing is always a little weird on this show, but Miley Cyrus? That's certainly an interesting choice. I understand that she's highly successful and good at what she does, but how much guidance can she really give to these contestants? I have a feeling that a lot of their mentoring sessions consisted of them nodding politely at her and then doing whatever they were going to do in the first place. Fortunately, even though she's the mentor, it's not Miley Cyrus night. Instead, the contestants just have to pick a song that was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Lee DeWyze is up first, and he's going for a throwback. He's singing 'The Letter,' and he's kind of reminding me of a super-hyper Tom Jones. I commend him for trying something different with the song, but he's hunched over the entire time, and it just looks like he's trying so hard, that I just want to give him a towel and a glass of water. It's distracting. Ellen loved his performance, however, equating him to her favorite pen, who she ... licks? Kara also thinks that he's improved drastically. Simon disagrees, saying that although he sounded good, it was "quite corny." He didn't have a "moment."
Paige Miles is singing Phil Collins' 'Against All Odds,' which is a great song and a really interesting choice for her. I'm rooting for her, but unfortunately, it starts off really weak. She is beyond pitchy during the intro -- she's all over the place. Once she starts belting it out, she gets more in the groove, but she starts to lose it again. I love this song, but this doesn't work at all. It keeps sounding like it's about to get better, but then it never does. Randy straight-up calls it terrible. He can't even think of anything good to say about it. You wouldn't think it was possible, but it only gets worse from there. Ellen talks about how great Paige looks, but won't even critique her performance at all, while Kara says that she thinks Paige stopped competing somewhere along the way. She also says that it was the worst vocal she's ever heard from her. Simon tells her that she's going to be in serious trouble.
Tim Urban is singing 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love,' which is a fantastic song choice for him. While he's still not near the top of the pack talent-wise, he's better than I've ever seen him tonight. He's on pitch, he's having fun, and he looks like he actually belongs up there. Randy, however, disagrees with me and calls it "bad karaoke." Even Ellen says that it was corny and felt like an audition for 'High School Musical.' Kara further piles on and calls him Zac Efron. Simon calls it "pointless and silly," and doesn't understand why he sang that song. Harsh reviews all around.
Aaron Kelly is fighting both laryngitis and tonsillitis. Ryan tries to make things easy on him by writing out, "are you ready?" But Aaron can still hear, so I'm not sure what good Ryan not talking is doing, but that's 'American Idol' science, I guess. He's singing 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing,' and I have a couple of problems with this right off the bat: 1) it's way too old for him, and 2) it's such a cheesy wedding song at this point, and Aaron really needs to stay away from that, which is hard, because it's where he naturally gravitates. He does a perfectly nice job with the song, but he didn't go up to that crazy note that Steven Tyler hit, which was disappointing. I don't understand why the judges love him so much, but they give him absolutely glowing reviews. Ellen tells him that he was amazing, Kara says that it was the best song choice of the night. Simon has the only semi-negative comment when he calls Aaron a bit old-fashioned. However, after that, Ryan calls him David Archuleta, which is awesome (and true).
Crystal Bowersox probably has no idea who Miley Cyrus is. However, she has her sign her guitar anyway. Crystal fascinates me. Janis Joplin may be a pretty predictable choice for her, but come on. There have been rumors of a Janis Joplin biopic for over a decade, and I could see her in it if it ever actually happened. What's interesting about this performance, is that she sounds a lot like Melissa Etheridge, and she shows once again how easy it is for her to just let herself go on stage. Randy says her performance is what the show is about. Ellen loved it as well, but still feels like Crystal needs to connect a little bit more with the audience. Kara echos Ellen's sentiments, while Simon says that he wouldn't change anything. He calls her performance as good as Pink's version of that song.
Michael Lynche made Miley all gooey, and it was pretty adorable. He's singing 'When a Man Loves a Woman,' which is another brilliant song choice. The trick here for Big Mike is to avoid falling into the wedding singer trap. I don't even know how he manages it, but somehow he does, in fact, manage to avoid that trap -- he's just that good. He takes a song we've heard a million different times, a million different ways, and makes it interesting. Very few people can do that. Randy doesn't think it was his best performance, but he still loves it, as does Ellen. Kara tells him that while it was technically very good, it was a bit boring and over-indulgent. Simon tells him that he should have stripped it down, but that he has a lot of talent.
Andrew Garcia is singing 'Heard it Through the Grapevine,' and Miley made him put down the guitar, which will be an interesting change. He comes out and is all full of energy and has an attitude that we really haven't seen before. Could it be that Miley Cyrus actually gave him a good suggestion? Weird. I really enjoyed it, but Randy did not like it at all. Ellen loves Andrew, but says it wasn't fantastic. Kara says that he's chasing that moment from the auditions, and he doesn't know what he's doing anymore. Simon even goes so far as to say that he sucked the soul out of the song and ruined it. It's pretty harsh, to say the least.
Katie Stevens is singing Fergie's 'Big Girls Don't Cry,' and she starts off really strong, but honestly, I don't have high hopes. She hits the notes for the most part, but I can't stand the back-of-the-throat tone her voice is taking in this song. I keep on wanting to give her a decongestant or a neti pot in hopes that she can get whatever is going on with her sinuses cleared up. Randy likes that she's been listening to them, while Ellen calls it her best performance yet. Kara thinks that pop with R&B leanings is where she should be heading. Simon, however, thinks she should still go the Country route.
Casey James is singing 'The Power of Love,' and there's something that I love about him singing Huey Lewis and the News. If one thing comes out of this season of 'Idol,' I would love for it to be a Huey Lewis and the News revival. Seriously; it's about time 'Idol' gives back. He does a good job with the song, and he's clearly having fun, but I'm worried that the judges are going to tell him that he didn't make it his own enough. Randy tells him that he's probably the best musician guitar player that they have, and Ellen says that it was the best vocal of the night. Kara tells him that he's ready to make an album, while Simon says that he made an identical version to the Huey Lewis version, and then chalks up his dislike of the performance to the fact that he's English. That makes sense.
Didi Benami (or Benimi, as Ryan says), is singing 'You're No Good.' She's trying to get all sassy with it, and I like it. It's not her strongest performance, but it shows a little bit of a different side to her. She has a confidence that we haven't really seen up to this point, and it's refreshing. Randy tells her that she was pitchy, and Ellen doesn't like the song choice. Kara felt like Didi was playing a character, while Simon says it was like the bad part of a musical.
Siobhan Magnus is closing the show with a big song: 'Superstition,' by Stevie Wonder. If she can pull this off, I'll take back every bad thing I ever said about her, because this is tough. She starts off really well, and while she hits all the notes, she seems to lose her ability to enunciate, and it's hard to make out the lyrics. She also does her crazy scream thing which is good, but she's beginning to rely on it a bit too heavily. Overall, though, it was a strong performance. Randy thinks it was great and loves her conviction, while Ellen wants more from her. Kara doesn't think it was her best performance, but also loves her. Simon tells her that she needs to start pushing herself, and that it wasn't her night overall.
|Lee Dewyze||32 (2.5%)|
|Paige Miles||11 (0.9%)|
|Tim Urban||18 (1.4%)|
|Aaron Kelly||30 (2.4%)|
|Crystal Bowersox||911 (71.9%)|
|MIchael Lynche||29 (2.3%)|
|Andrew Garcia||4 (0.3%)|
|Katie Stevens||23 (1.8%)|
|Casey James||68 (5.4%)|
|Didi Benami||26 (2.1%)|
|Siobhan Magnus||115 (9.1%)|