'American Idol' - 'Nine Finalists Compete' Recap

by Kona Gallagher, posted Apr 7th 2010 12:28AM
american idol top 9
We're finally into the single digits tonight, but we're still going for two hours. It's Lennon/McCartney night, and Seacrest starts out by saying they have the most recognizable songs in the world. Would you agree with that? Do you think that they or Elvis were more popular worldwide? In any case, Paul McCartney gave his blessing to these contestants, so here's hoping they don't screw it up. Of course, just based on Siobhan's outfit alone, I'm a little nervous going into it.

Turns out, though, I have nothing to be nervous about. Overall, this is my favorite episode of 'Idol' so far this season. There were several performances that I enjoyed, and many that took me by surprise. Plus, 'Idol' instituted a new thing that I actually like: the interviews in which the contestants talk about each other. It was cool to hear how people are perceived in the house, but more than that, Crystal's comment about how she loves the fact that Andrew and Lee can get married and have lots of "little Danny Gokey babies" is still cracking me up.

Aaron Kelly is singing 'Long and Winding Road.' My main problem with Aaron is also why I think he'll have a decent career: he sounds like a wedding singer. He can make an album of schmaltzy tunes that will be played at weddings for the next decade or so, and he'll make a nice living off of the royalties. With that said, even though this performance had a few pitch issues, he did an admirable job of not making it a sound-alike version. Randy, however, doesn't think that he changed it up enough, while Ellen tells him that while she loves him, it sounded like "a long and winding song." Kara wants to see him move a little bit onstage, while Simon calls him old-fashioned and gets booed hardcore.

Katie Stevens is tackling 'Let it Be,' which is a big song to take on. I have to say, though, while it's not the most innovative version I've ever heard, it's certainly one of her better performances. I've never been a huge fan of Katie's, because she has a tendency to sing out of her nasal cavity, but she has a nice tone throughout this performance. She also hits some big notes without going over the top, which I enjoy. Randy says it was her best performance ever, while Ellen calls it a perfect example of changing it just enough to make it her own. Kara tells her that she's blossoming onstage, and Simon tells her that it worked because it was country, which Kara and Randy find very confusing.

Andrew Garcia is singing 'Can't Buy Me Love,' which sounds like it's a great choice for him, but I can already imagine how Simon is going to destroy him. I'm an Andrew fan, so maybe I'm biased, but I really enjoy his version. He can definitely do the rockabilly thing, and that's what he does with this song. He changes it up, and makes a fun version that you can bop along to. Randy says it was a little corny at times, but that it was a strong performance. Ellen says that it was a perfect song choice and that she loved it. Kara rains on the parade by telling him that she's not sure that she's seen anything new from him, and Simon tells him that the band overpowered the arrangement, making it old-fashioned and irrelevant.

Michael Lynche chose 'Eleanor Rigby' because he and his family band, The ahem, 'Lynche Mob,' performed this when he was a kid. Big Mike's version is soulful, but he also takes it to kind of a dark and scary place, which I find utterly fascinating. This is what I love about Mike: you can't put him in a box. He keeps all of his performances fresh and interesting. You never know what to expect with him -- but in a very good way. Randy wasn't sure that he loved all of the performance, but he does love the fact that Mike has made it to the point where he can basically do whatever he wants. Ellen thought he took a huge risk, but that it was incredible. Kara thought his vocals were amazing, and that the performance was "fire." Simon wasn't as huge of a fan of it, because he thinks it sounded like it was from a musical.

Crystal Bowersox has chosen 'Come Together,' which worries me a little bit just because of how often it's covered. I would have hoped that Crystal would have found a more interesting song to sing, but I'm sure she'll do great things with it, as always. Overall, it's a really strong, bluesy rendition, but I felt really uncomfortable during most of it. Maybe it was just me, but it felt like she was about to forget the words at any second. She gets through it just fine, but I swear she looks relieved at the end of it. Randy doesn't think it was her best performance, but he says that it worked. Ellen thinks she did an amazing job, and Kara tells her that it was one of her favorite performances that she's done. Simon even adds to the praise and tells her that he can see this song on her album.

Tim Urban is doing the very cute, 'All my Lovin,' which I'm afraid the judges are going to say is hopelessly corny. A lot of people wonder why he's still on the show, but this performance really shows the reason: he's pretty damn charming. While he didn't do anything terribly interesting with the song, he sounded great and he was adorable while doing it. Randy tells him that it was the best performance he's had in the past couple of weeks, and that it was "a good Tim performance." Ellen says it was his best performance since 'Hallelujah,' and Kara commends him for taking some of their past criticisms to heart. Simon tells Tim that he doesn't think it's fair to judge him based on his own scale, and that taking everything into consideration, it was a really good performance.

Casey James chose 'Jealous Guy,' which I'm very excited to hear. What's funny is that after watching him, I realize that I wasn't excited enough. That was amazing. Not only was that hands-down the best performance of the night, but it was certainly Casey's best performance to date. He went so far beyond making it his own and putting an interesting spin on it, that I honestly don't know what to say. He was absolutely captivating. I've always thought he was decent, but I've never been overly impressed by him. This, however, was an A+. Randy loves the fact that he set himself apart with this performance, and Ellen agrees with me that it was his best performance so far. Kara loves the vulnerability that he showed and his depth. Simon calls him Goldilocks and tells him that it was the best performance of the night, and loves the improvement that he's made from week to week.

Siobhan Magnus is singing 'Across the Universe,' which is a really interesting choice for her. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work for me. She has some nice moments, but it just strikes me as somehow simultaneously theatrical and boring. The pacing seems off, and it's it's just a weird performance to me. Randy thought it was a little sleepy, but he loved the tender side she showed in this performance. Ellen loves the fact that she marches to the beat of her own drummer, while Kara is a little confused. Simon thinks she had a disastrous week last week, but came back much stronger this week.

Lee Dewyze is really going for it with 'Hey Jude.' There isn't much to say about this other than, "dude. Bagpipes." He had bagpipes in the song! That really tickles me for some reason. It's a decent performance all around, but again, nothing that's setting my world on fire. So, you know, it's pretty much like any other Lee performance. Randy loved the bagpipes and tells him that it was another hot performance. Ellen thought he did a great job, while Kara likes how he seems more comfortable up on stage. She also tells him that she can hear him on the radio. Simon is also tickled by the bagpipe, but tells Lee that he wouldn't have done that. Simon, does, however, seem impressed that the bagpipe was 100% Lee's idea.

Who of the Top 9 performed the best?
Aaron Kelly11 (1.3%)
Katie Stevens50 (5.9%)
Andrew Garcia7 (0.8%)
Michael Lynche32 (3.8%)
Crystal Bowersox184 (21.6%)
Tim Urban28 (3.3%)
Casey James425 (49.9%)
Siobhan Magnus31 (3.6%)
Lee Dewyze84 (9.9%)

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I agree that this was my favorite AI episode thus far. Not only the classic songs from the Lennon-McCartney but also the opinons the contestants had toward each other. (BTW, was it just me or did the contestants happen to perform better without the help of "mentors"?)

April 07 2010 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nchamlong2's comment

Maybe it was the quality of the music they were singing, but yes they did very well without the mentoring.

April 07 2010 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Best of the night was Casey, then Bowersox, Lynche, Lee, Katie, Tim, Siobahn, Aaron and Andrew.

Casey was just pure and raw. I too was riveted. Loved Crystal, Big Mike's Eleanor Rigby was great, Lee's Hey Jude was great, didnt care for the bagpipe, I think it could of worked better if he started with the bagpipe at the beginning of the song. Katie's choice of song was perfect for her voice. I Like Tim version tonight, I thought it was nice of Simon to say that he has taken the beating from the judges like a man. Siobhan was herself without the scream at the end. Aaron was ok, I think he would of chosen a different tune tho. Andrew's was hokey, ( I know that some liked it) But the Rockabilly vibe was not Brian Setzer it did not work for me. I loved Crystal's comment on the bro-love that Andrew and Lee have for each other. That was great. And yes I too want to make out with Casey. The cougar in me has been unleashed again. If I was only Twenty + years younger. I'd would be all over him.

April 07 2010 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just goes to show what an amazing songbook can do for some pretty average singers. I've always loved Crystal, and I still do. She's great and honest. I've never been a huge Casey fan but hell, he was amazing. Seriously, one to watch. Lee sounded karaoke, but maybe that's because 'Hey Jude' has become exactly that over the years. I really liked Tim, and of course I don't want him to win, but there are people I'd prefer to see go, like Aaron and Katy. He plain bores me and she's generally really sharp (granted, tonight she was pretty good). No one else really stood out, but no one killed the songs either. Overall, quite impressed, but then it's hard not to be when you've got the genius of Lennon and McCartney at your disposal.

April 07 2010 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm an American grandmother and I will ask please that you not disrespect Elvis. I know all of you are too young to remember this but people came from every country to Las Vegas to see and hear Elvis. The Beatles were great but Elvis was greater. As for the kids singing Hound Dog, that is only one song in Elvis' body of work. Can we not like one entertainer without dissing another?

April 07 2010 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My predictions for American Idol tonight is that Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia will be the bottom 2 and Andrew is going home.

April 07 2010 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite performances from last night was Casey, Big Mike, and actual Tim. This week was the 1st time Tim didn't seem corny to me. I still think Tim should go home but he did ok last night. Lee, Crystal, Katie, and Andrew was ok to me last night. Siobhan performance was boring to me and I didn't like Aaron performance.

I think Tim will last another week and the bottom 3 will be Andrew, Aaron, and either Siobhan or Katie. I think this judges may have to use the save this week because Aaron and Siobhan maybe on the chopping block. I was afraid that Tim will do ok one week and a better contestant will go home. Once the judges uses their save I think one of the top performers (Crystal, Lee, Casey, Big Mike, and Siobhan) will be in major jeopardy of getting sent home early because of Tim.

April 07 2010 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think last night's episode was probably the strongest of the competition thus far. Almost everyone seemed to improve over last week, and there were few moments I felt the need to mute my television (a rarity this season). I thought Casey, Lee, and Katie were especially good. While I've normally tuned Katie out...I was intrigued by last night. Could she be someone to start watching out for? http://thesmogger.com/2010/04/07/idol-hangover-the-top-9-perform/

April 07 2010 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Crystal: Rather than forgetting the words, to me it seemed liked at any moment she would forgot how to play it on the guitar. So I felt uncomfortable and distracted watching her as well. Despite that, it was still a good performance.

April 07 2010 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You worried that Crystal might forget her lyrics, but you didn't even notice how badly Aaron actually mangled the lyrics to Long and Winding Road? I was surprised the judges didn't notice either. He kept mixing and matches bits of two different phrases into new ones that made no sense at all.

April 07 2010 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the Lennon / McCarthy tunes are more timeless than Elvis, and thus a better theme for A.I. Do you really want to watch these kids do "Hound Dog"?

Anyway, my favorites of the night were Casey, Katie (What!?) & Crystal (in that order). Katie really surprised me this week, and thought she did a great job with the song.

The ones I think will be in the bottom are Tim, Andrew & Aaron. (I'm hoping Katie can escape the Bottom 3 based on her performance last night!). And I hope the judges' reverse psychology worked on America in regards to Tim. But if it didn't, I think it will be Andrew that's packing his bags...


April 07 2010 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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