Last week I had lunch with a friend, and the topic of American Idol came up. Like so many of my readers and people I know, she has been greatly disappointed by Season 9 of American Idol, and we spent close to half an hour debating whether Season 9 just sucked or if it was the suckiest season of American Idol ever. (The verdict is still out -- and will be until we see who makes it into the Top 5 -- though as of this writing "suckiest season ever" is in the lead.)
"Why don't the judges just pick the songs for them?" she opined. Which is an excellent question -- and why Simon Cowell's wildly successful UK singing competition, The X Factor, should do much better than Idol when it debuts on this side of the Pond in 2011.
But getting back to tonight's American Idol, featuring the euphemistically named Top 10 contestants... is Usher, like Miley Cyrus, really that hard up for money and/or fame? Really? (Apparently, according to this New York Times article, he is, sort of.) Has American Idol become this decade's American Bandstand, helping stars re-launch their careers?
Getting back to the contestants, I think most of the "Top" 10 will do better ("better" being a relative term) job tonight with R&B (which stands for "Rhythm and Blues," not "Retch and Barf," at least at this point) than they did with Billboard #1s. Seriously, it couldn't get much worse. Though Tim Urban hasn't sung yet.
Btw, I'm watching tonight's R&B performances through the magic of TiVo (due to a family obligation). On the plus side, if tonight's performances suck, I will have wasted less than an hour instead of two. On the down side, I'm going to be even crankier tomorrow morning for having stayed up late.
Now on with the show...
Siobhan Magnus: I love Siobhan, but WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THE CLOWN GLASSES?! I haven't seen glasses that big since the 1980s. Also, why are the stylists treating Siobhan (particularly her hair) as though she were American Idol Barbie? (Btw, I'm pretty sure I saw that outfit on the original Star Trek.) But getting back to her song choice, "Through the Fire," I'm sorry to say she got seriously burned by that song. And OMG can we please put an end to "that scream"?! Siobhan should live to see another week (more), and even if America doesn't give her the votes, the judges will save her. The grade for Siobhan Magnus: C+
Casey James: Yeah, Casey has a tool... and a guitar. And he knows how to use both of them. (You know what I'm talkin' bout, Kara.) And "Hold On," the boy can also sing, though his performance could still use some work (too stiff). While I found all the smiling a bit disconcerting, the boy can play and like Simon said, it was Casey's best week so far. The grade for Casey James (aka "Hawt Boy"): A-
Michael Lynche: I don't know if I'd consider "Ready for Love" R&B, but whatever. Michael Lynche has a nice voice, but this song -- and performance -- are doing nothing for me. I can't decide if he's sleepwalking through the song or shouting it. In either case, not my favorite Michael Lynche performance, and I think Big Mike's become rather boring (as one of my commenters noted), despite what the judges have to say. (Thank GOD Kara didn't have another breakdown.) The grade for Michael Lynche: B-
Didi Benami: While I think Didi's better, I keep being reminded of Megan Joy from last season every time I hear/see her, and not in a good way. "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted"? I think we may find out tomorrow, when Didi is in the bottom three -- and quite possibly voted off. Not good, dawg. Another pitchy performance, and I just didn't connect with her or the song. Also, seriously, American Idol needs new/different stylists, at least for the female contestants. Didi looked like a sausage stuffed into a sequined casing. The grade for Didi Benami: C
[Slightly O/T: Anyone know how much Kris Allen makes from those Ford commercials?]
Tim Urban [aka "Teflon Tim"]: Let's just get this out of the way, shall we: If Tim Urban looked like a troll, he would have been gone WEEKS ago. But thanks to the "Sweet Love" of thousands of teenage girls, this Jonas Brother wannabe is in the Top 10. Ugh. I can barely stand to listen to him, even though he is not the worst singer to ever grace the American Idol stage, and at least you feel he is actually trying (unlike, say, Sanjaya). Still, if there is any justice, Tim will go away after tomorrow (PLEEEEEEEAAAASE). The grade for Tim Urban: D+
Andrew Garcia: It feels like "Forever" since Andrew Garcia sang Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" doesn't it? And things have only gone downhill for Andrew since then. And tonight's performance, while better than some recent weeks, was to use a Simon-ism, "utterly forgettable," despite what Randy and the rest of the judges just said. Yeah, it wasn't bad, but it was like something you'd hear in your dentist's office. The grade for Andrew Garcia: B
Katie Stevens: "Chain of Fools" is a great song. It could also be used to describe most of this season's American Idol contestants. As for Katie's performance... sigh. What can I say, other than "pitchy"? I still think Katie has a great voice -- good tone and power -- but hasn't learned how to control and really use it, and this performance was OK, albeit too High School Talent Show. As the judges have noted before, I think Katie doesn't know who she is, as an artist, and that's hurting her. The grade for Katie Stevens: B
Lee Dewyze: Walking pneumonia? Not good, especially as Lee doesn't have a lot of energy on stage to begin with. But man, I do love Lee's voice. "Treat Her Like a Lady" was a solid song choice, and he is definitely connecting better with the audience -- or at least the cameras -- tonight. (You all know I'm pulling for Lee, right? But I can still be tough.) I'm with Randy: "That was the bomb. Best performance in weeks" -- and, like Ellen said, "Best performance of the night," at least so far. The grade for Lee Dewyze: A- (Go Lee!)
Crystal Bowersox: I love contestants who can actually play an instrument as well as sing -- and major props to Crystal for playing an instrument (the piano) she hasn't played in years. That takes guts. And, woohoo, that girl can blow! I was right on "That Midnight Train to Georgia" with Crystal. Another great performance (as Randy also said). The grade for Crystal Bowersox: A-
Aaron Kelly: "There Will Be No Sunshine" if Aaron is voted off this week. Yeah, he's not my favorite, but the kid can sing -- way better than Teflon Tim Urban (though he's nowhere near as cute). Another solid performance from Aaron, though not his best. The grade for Aaron Kelly: B+
That's it for tonight, kids. Back tomorrow with the results.
UPDATED: Teflon Tim Urban lives to sing another week (sadly); Didi Benami does not. And then there were nine...
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