Tuesday, March 23, 2010

‘American Idol 9′ – Top 11 performance recap

It’s Tuesday, and that means another American Idol performance show. This week’s guest mentor is Miley Cyrus (no comment) and the theme has been changed from Teen Idol week to Billboard No. 1 Hits (again)! Too bad, the teen idol theme could have been great fun. We’ll be live blogging the show starting at 8 p.m.

Scary lights again and the Idols are lined up behind Ryan. “Who will rise to the top? The pressure is on,” Ryan exclaims before proclaiming the show open.

The judges are introduced by Voiceover man and Ryan walks down the grand staircase grinning from ear to ear. We’re reminded that last week, we said goodbye to Lacey Brown. Someone in the audience says, “Awww.”

Randy says this is a big night because only the Top 10 makes the tour. We are reminded that voting is important. Ellen says you can’t complain if someone you like is gone if you don’t vote. Ryan asks Kara about Simon’s comments to her about song interpretation. She says that every song has a story and as a performer, you have to understand that story and have a connection to it. Simon apologizes. Ryan digs at Simon’s V-neck shirt. Oh, the frivolity.

Simon warns Ryan to stay away from him, so Ryan gives Ellen a little kiss. Simon says tonight is as if you need six numbers on a lottery ticket and you only have five. Yup, you lose out on all the moolah.

The Top 11 are introduced. Crystal and Megan have had major makeovers. Tonight, the Idols have to pick songs that were No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Then, the big surprise, as the Idols meet this week’s mentor, Miley Cyrus. They are surprised. I bet Crystal is totally thrilled.

Miley says people take her seriously because she takes herself seriously. She hopes to make the Idols feel comfortable. Miley’s in the house. Ryan asks her what she thought when she found out she was going to be the mentor. She wasn’t sure how to tell them how to do better when they were all doing great, but she did suggest that they connect a little better to the songs. She thinks this group is amazing.

Lee DeWyze – “The Letter” (Joe Cocker)

Miley thinks Lee has an amazing voice but is lacking a bit of stage presence. She suggests he do a few notes we’re not expecting. Lee’s got a lot of brass behind him and he’s singing the Joe Cocker version. I am so reminded of Gokey. It’s rather weird, actually. Lee’s voice is gravely and the song suits him well enough. He’s definitely stepped it up a bit and seems a whole lot less stiff. It’s a decent performance, not great, but good.

The audience appreciates the performance. Randy says it’s cool he chose a bluesy version of the song. “You knocked it out of the box,” he said. Ellen talks about having a favorite pen that starts running out of ink and how you try to make it work again. “My favorite pen is back,” she finishes.

Kara says Lee has raised the bar for himself and has made tremendous progress since he first hit the Idol stage. “Believe that you’re good,” she urges him. Simon wonders how many number on songs Lee had to choose from. “That to me was not a recording performance,” he said. Simon thinks it was a little corny and the performance didn’t define Lee as a recording artist.

Paige Miles -”Against All Odds” (Phil Collins)

Ryan tells us Idols have had 241 No. 1 hits since the show started in 2002. Someone’s given Paige a ring and she shows it off for Simon. She’s also wearing the highest heels she’s ever worn.

Paige meets with Miley. She says she was a bit star struck. Miley warns Paige to watch out for pitchiness. This is a song I think should be retired from Idol forever. As for Paige, she’s murdering it. She’s totally off key and her voice seems very strained. She doesn’t seem to be able to settle in anywhere in the song until about halfway through. But by then, it’s too little, too late. Bad song choice. Weak performance. Goodbye Paige.

Randy says, “That was honestly terrible.” Ellen says it was a good thing Paige didn’t fall down and compliments her hair, then turns it over to Kara. Chicken. Kara says Paige stopped competing and listening. She’s sorry to say it was the worst vocal she’s ever heard from Paige, and maybe even the entire season.

Simon asks Paige how she thinks she did. She says she struggled with her pitch and to find herself in the song. Well, why did you choose this turkey, Paige? “To be honest with you, it was like there were five of you singing that song and it got progressively worse each one.” He thinks she’s going to be in serious trouble. “It’s such a shame because you were so good weeks ago, but that song just killed you.” She is so cute, it’s such a shame.

Tim Urban – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen)

Miley gives Tim some kind of BS advice. Tim tries to be pop idol boy, moving around the stage trying to woo the fangirls and even jumping into the pit with them. He slides across the stage and hams it up beyond description. As for the vocals, he’s practically monotone and does his sing-speak deal again. It’s totally ridiculous.

Randy wonders if Tim had a good time. He says that every time they hit the stage they’re supposed to be out there wowing everyone and he wasn’t wowed. “It was like bad karaoke.” Ellen says it felt like an audition for High School Musical, and says it was corny and pushed too hard. “I just didn’t get it.”

Kara says it was “Zac Efron and Hairspray or something.” She calls him out for acting like some kind of superstar and says he hasn’t gotten there yet. “You have a lot of work to do,” she says. Simon says the sliding around wasn’t the problem because it distracted from the song. “It was completely and utterly silly,” he declares. He doesn’t think Tim is really taking part in this and urges him to get his act together. Simon clearly can’t stand that Tim is still in the competition, which makes all this rather amusing, actually.

Aaron Kelly – “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (Aerosmith)

Aaron has laryngitis and tonsillitis. Bad timing, kid. He says he may have a little crush on Miley. She tells him she heard him sing “The Climb” during his audition. She says he’s got an incredible voice. Good feedback Miley.

Aaron gets the blue lighting and smoke factor. The video is all kinds of distorted, making him look bright red and crazed. Horrible lighting. As for the singing, well, he’s able to sing, actually. He’s flat as hell. Finally the lighting goes back to natural. It’s enough to get him to the Top 10.

Randy says it wasn’t a perfect performance, but says, “Thank God you came on the stage and started singing.” He’s a fan. Ellen says it was a perfect song choice. She says she could tell he was sick because he wasn’t quite on pitch. “What are you in third grade or something.”

Kara says this was the best song choice of the night. She says she can hear the country twang, but wants more stage presence. Simon says it was brave. He says for his age, Aaron is making himself old-fashioned. Simon says there is zero chance he’s going home and thinks Aaron should give Milely another hug. Ryan calls him David Archuleta. Heh!

Crystal Bowersox – “Me and Bobby McGee” (Janis Joplin)

Miley thinks Crystal should push herself a little more. She’s worried about hitting the big notes. Crystal has Miley sign her guitar.

Crystal looks amazing. She’s also got an oriental rug on the stage. She starts out acoustically, but then digs into it halfway through. Her voice is very similar to Joplin’s, but clearer. She’s putting a lot into this, maybe too much? It felt a little bit uncomfortable, though, almost like she was trying too hard or something.But it works for me.

Randy says, “America, that’s what is called being a star and a dope singer.” He’s happy now. Ellen says she heard this song on the radio and thought of Crystal. She still thinks Crystal still needs to connect a bit more. “Take it in, these people love you.”

Crystal says she has big plans for next week and that she’s getting it. Kara says she felt more this week. She wonders if Crystal has considered putting the guitar down. She wants to see Crystal let go completely. Simon says, “I wouldn’t change anything.” He says up until now, we’ve listened to a karaoke performance. He thinks Crystal’s version is better than Pink’s.

Ryan and Crystal sit down on her carpet!

Michael Lynche – “When a Man Loves a Woman” (Percy Sledge)

Michael calls Miley Hannah! He thinks she was cool. He sings the song to Miley and says she has really kind eyes. She has nothing bad to say. Mike wants to speak to the lovers with this song.

The arrangement is nice. He’s got a piano and strings It’s an old-fashioned song, but follows Mike’s string of personal song choices. Actually, he tears it up. No pitchiness from our man Mike. He makes it believable. He’s a man, not some kid singing about love. Oh, and he ends with a beautiful falsetto. Now that was good. His wife is in the house.

Randy isn’t sure this was the perfect song choice or his best vocal, but Mike knows what he is. He loved it. Ellen says it was a safe choice – like driving the speed limit. “This woman loves that man!” Kara says technically it was really good, but she felt it was boring and loungey at times. She says it was indulgent and she lost her connection.

Simon says it was like you want one scoop of ice cream and you got 11. He says he would have kept it more simple. Simon also thinks it was loungey. He says he’s glad they had a chance to have a conversation without interruptions.

Andrew Garcia – “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” (Marvin Gaye)

Miley suggests that Andrew lose the guitar. He does, but also loses the words. I hate his huge glasses. The performance is beyond terrible. Why are they picking these old songs? Why is Andrew talking rather than singing? Why is he marching around the stage like a robot? Why does he look like he’s 40-years old? He’s even got the wallet chain going on. That was just awful. Miley knows it too!

Randy says “It wasn’t good.” He says it was the wrong song choice. Ellen says she hopes Andrew’s fans will vote for him. They all love each other. Kara says she feels bad for him because his quest for a “moment” is messing with his head. She says it didn’t even feel like Andrew.

Simon thinks they might have overrated the “Straight Up” moment. He says Andrew’s had enough time to find himself and calls the arrangement horrific. “You sucked the soul out of that song,” he says. But he isn’t finished ripping Andrew apart. He calls the song corny and chastises Andrew for picking the wrong song.

Katie Stevens – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (Fergie)

More BS advice from Miley. I try to listen, but seem to keep tuning her out. It seems we have a new, grownup Katie. Well, finally someone picks a song that isn’t 30 years old or more. Katie doesn’t have quite the sass to pull this off and it comes across as very karaoke to me. The vocals aren’t bad, but overall, it’s too copycat.

Randy says he’s happy Katie listened to the judges and picked a younger song. Ellen says this was Katie’s best performance so far. “You’re evolving and changing – like the Dakota Fanning of American Idol.” Kara says this is the lane for Katie – pop with R&B leanings. She says Katie’s got “mad pitch issues, but this is where you belong.”

Simon says meeting Miley Cyrus was the best thing that could have happened to Katie. He likes that she is dressing younger. He still thinks she could take the country route.

Casey James - “The Power of Love” (Huey Lewis and the News)

Casey tells Miley he’s a big fan of her dad’s! Miley tells him to make eye contact with people in the audience. She says people freak out when she does it. I know I would!

Casey sounds exactly like Huey Lewis, but of course, most people watching probably haven’t ever even heard this song, so they’ll think it’s all original! He told Miley he was going to move around more, but he doesn’t really. At least the performance isn’t totally boring.

Randy says he thinks Casey is the best musician they’ve had on the show, but didn’t like the song choice. Ellen isn’t a fan of the song either, but says was the best vocals of the night. Kara says it’s all there and that Casey is in a zone. Simon says he doesn’t know what Kara is listening too. He says it was an identical version to Huey Lewis. “It was like listening to an ’80s cover band.”

Didi Benami – “You’re No Good” (Linda Ronstadt)

Didi makes horrible faces when she sings. The arrangement is dull and the verses repetitive. It sounds exactly the same as the song she sang last week. No, wait, her voice sounds like Lacey’s! Weird. Very odd performance.

Randy says he loves the idea of it, but the pitches were off. Ellen doesn’t get the song choice. Kara says it felt like Didi was playing a character. “It left me confused.” Simon said there was a certain irony in her “screeching” out “You’re no good” over and over. He says she’s moved over into Lacey’s (whose name he can’t remember) place!

Siobhan Magnus – “Superstition” (Steve Wonder)

Miley tells Siobhan her voice has a swagger. Siobhan thinks that’s “wicked cool.” Siobhan sings the traditional arrangement. It almost feels like she’s lip synching it. She skats, she screams, and she manages to get a thumbs up from Miley who’s chomping gum!

Randy says he’s always excited to see her because she’s fearless. She didn’t think Siobhan would sing that song, but he’s glad she did. “More please,” says Ellen. She loves her. Kara says Siobhan expresses herself so well on stage. She loves the end note. Simon says some people will like it and a lot of people won’t. Simon thinks she should watch her screaming as the notes weren’t as good this week as they were last week. “You’ve got to start making yourselves relevant,” he says. Amen to that.

Best and Worst

What a complete crapfest. I’ll say what the judges have been saying. With hundreds, if not thousands of songs to choose from, why did almost everyone pick songs that are older than they are? I think this was one of the worst Top 11 performance shows ever. Looking back, last year was country night and Adam broke out “Ring of Fire.” Nothing close to that with this group.

Crystal wins the night, followed by Michael, and Casey. Lee would be next. Yup, Lee. Siobhan was passable. Aaron and Katie fall in my mid-range, and everyone else in the bottom. Worst of the night vocally had to be Paige, but Tim and Andrew were just ridiculous. Who’s going home? Paige.

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