Friday, April 30, 2010

Adam Lambert one of 'People's' Most Beautiful

Adam Lambert has been named one of  People Magazine's "Most Beautiful People." Watch as he describes his look in "ten words or less!"

'Idol' ratings take a tumble

Tuesday's American Idol performance show pulled the lowest number of viewers for a performance show since March 2003. According to Nielsen ratings released Thursday, 19.4 million viewers tuned in to see the Top 6 perform the music of Shania Twain. This season, the performance shows have been averaging 25.3 million viewers, down 5 percent from last year.

Wednesday's results show was up 3 percent over the previous week as 19.4 million viewers watched Siobhan Magnus' elimination.

All this is an indication of the lackluster group of contestants in this season's cast. Another factor may be that Shania Twain, who served as mentor, isn't quite the draw she used to be and had no new music to promote.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April 30: Idols on the charts

Carrie Underwood is the recipient of this week's Idol bump after her appearance on "Idol Gives Back." Play On moves up 17 spots to No. 21 on the Billboard 200 and Some Hearts reenters the chart at No. 197.

Here’s a look at where former Idols ended up on this week’s Billboard album and singles charts.

Billboard 200 (Albums)

21. Play On (Carrie Underwood): LW 38, 25 weeks on the charts - 1.467million copies sold
53. For Your Entertainment (Adam Lambert): LW 35, 22 weeks on the charts - 605,000 copies sold
73. Jason Castro (Jason Castro):  LW 17, 2 weeks on the charts
92. Leave This Town (Daughtry): LW 74, 41 weeks on the charts - 1.024 copies sold
132. My Best Days (Danny Gokey): LW 98, 8 weeks on the charts (sales numbers unavailable)
197. Some Hearts (Carrie Underwood): Reentry

Billboard Hot 100 (Singles)

13. “Whataya Want From Me” (Adam Lambert): LW 10
33. “Live Like We’re Dying” (Kris Allen): LW 30
61. “Temporary Home” (Carrie Underwood): LW 73
96. “All I Ever Wanted” Kelly Clarkson: LW 96

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 6 results show recap

Tuesday, the Top 6 performed music from Shania Twain's catalog. I predicted the bottom three would be Aaron, Siobhan, and Casey, with Casey going home. I'm wavering on that, but am sticking to my prediction. Not sure whether I'll change my pool, though, because I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to go a bit differently. But we'll soon find out!

Cold opening starts in the control room and a collection of clips from Tuesday's show. It's a mishmosh of images with a countdown to the live opener. There's no consistency with this show anymore! Ryan enters the studio via the stairs in the audience. He tells us 33 million votes came in Tuesday night. Shakira and Rascal Flatts are performing, along with Sons of Sylvia (formerly the Clark Brothers) and Lady Antebellum.

Ryan intros the judges. Rascal Flatts kicks things off with their new single, "Unstoppable." How I long for the days of the 30 minute results shows with the group medley, Ford commercial, maybe one performance from a former Idol and the results.

After Rascal Flatts performs, Ryan teases us by saying they will be performing with Shakira later in the show. That should be interesting.

After the break, we get some cutesy clips of the Top 6 preparing for their Ford video shoot. This week, they're all made up as vampires. Siobhan's makeup is particularly good. After the video, we see a clip of the Idols visiting the set of Shrek Forever After. They have a chance to do some voiceovers and fail miserably! After, they have a chance to attend a special screening of the movie. Ryan has three lines in this one, by the way.

Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas show up to plug the film. The movie will be released May 21 and it's the last of the Shrek series. Antonio gives us his best, "Dim the lights and here we go," and we're ready to start the eliminations.

Ryan is forming three groups of two. Siobhan is first. She says singing in front of Shania was a bit intimidating, but it was an honor and "wicked cool." Siobhan goes to the left of the stage. Aaron is next. He goes to the center of the stage.

Michael Lynche stands and goes to the right of the stage. Lee is next. He says it was hard to make such a well known song his own. He joins Siobhan. Casey stands up. Kara says Casey's buried his range week after week, but this week, he showed that he could make a song his own. He joins Michael.

Crystal is last. Ryan asks Ellen if she thinks Crystal is in danger. She doesn't. Crystal joins Aaron.Ryan walks Siobhan over to the Michael/Casey group and tells us this is the bottom three. The other three are safe, natch.

After the break, Ryan lets us know that next week, Harry Connick Jr. is the mentor and the theme is Frank Sinatra. Siobhan singing Sinatra ought to be interesting.

Carrie Underwood appears in a pre-taped clip introducing Sons of Sylvia. She tells us they've been making music together since she "walked off this stage." Sons of Sylvia used to be the Clark Brothers, and as such, were the winners of 2007's The Next Great American Band.  They've changed their vibe completely, and now sound more rock than country. I'm sick of Idol pimping these losers, quite honestly.

Back from another break, Ryan is sitting in the audience with one of the Kardashians. He introduces Lady Antebellum with their triple-platinum song "Need You Now." I actually like this song and find their harmonies quite nice. Someone on one of the Twitter feeds I'm reading wrote that the female singer tried out for Idol twice but didn't make it! Heh!

After Lady Antebellum sings, Ryan is up on the balcony with the bottom three. He lets us know that we'll find out whose journey will come to an end after... Rascal Flatts performs with Shakira. Goody.

The Shakira/Rascal Flatts number starts with Shakira playing harmonica. Gypsy-like dancers accompany Shakira as RF provides the musical accompaniment. Rascal Flatts' lead singer attempts to sing with her. It's a hot mess.

Ryan asks Shakira how the contestants should proceed. She quotes President Roosevelt. There's a whole lot of reverb on her mic. I am stunned by the stupidity of all of this.

Finally, the moment of truth. Ryan asks Michael how he feels. He says everyone had a good night and there's no shame in being in the bottom three. Ryan tells him he's safe! I gasp. Right before the show I changed my office pool and put all 20 points on Michael. Damn! I was in 7th place!

Finally, we get to the actual results. A construction worker and a glass blower. "The person who goes home tonight is Siobhan Magnus!" Wow. Didn't see that coming. The audience is on their feet. Crystal is about to dissolve.

Siobhan watches her funeral video, sings "Think," gives us one final shriek, hugs her family and the judges, and that's it.  No more Siobhan shrieking and no chance to hear her sing Sinatra.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 6 sing Shania Twain

Hard to believe, but we're down to six finalists, and this week, they'll be singing the songs of Shania Twain. In other words, it's country week, y'all!

The show opens with the Top 6 on the stage. Ryan identifies them as a student (Aaron), a glass blower (Siobhan), a mother (Crystal), and a father (Michael). I guess the former paint salesman and whatever Casey is don't count?

After the opening theme, Ryan lets us know "Idol Gives Back" raised over $45 million. He intros the judges and then tells us it's just over a month until the finale. The Top 6 wander out on the stage. Crystal whispers something to Lee.

Shania Twain is in the house. We see Shania's intro package. Remember Shania served as a guest judge in Chicago. She hopes the Idols don't hate her if they don't get into the next round after singing her songs! I'm not a huge fan, but I do respect that she writes all her own songs. She's concerned about guys singing her songs. At least she doesn't have to listen to Tim butcher one of them!

Lee DeWyze - "You're Still the One"

Shania thinks Lee has a fantastic style that doesn't need to be buried by his guitar. Lee changes up the song enough to avoid the karaoke trap. But it's too high for him and he screams a bit. He's also making some odd faces. I'm not wildly impressed by this one.

This is one of Randy's favorite Shania songs. He was a bit worried early on, but says that midway through, Lee found a way to make it his own. Ellen thinks did better than making it his own. "You couldn't look cuter, and I say, all aboard the Shania Twain." Heh!

Kara is amazed at how far Lee has come and thinks he did a good job. Simon agrees with everyone and thinks it was "absolutely the perfect song" from Shania's catalog. He notes Lee's weird faces early in the song.

Michael Lynche -"It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing"

Mike starts out sitting on the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. I don't know this song, so have no means of comparison. It actually works nicely for Michael, fitting right into his R&B vibe and not sounding "country" at all. A little falsetto at the end ala Maxwell. Shania is swaying along and seems to have tears in her eyes when he finishes. Good job.

Randy says Mike's found his zone of who he is. He hopes he keeps it in the future. Ellen says she was nervous, but it felt like Luther Vandross and thought it was beautiful. Kara says one of Shania's greatest gifts is how connected she is to the songs and she likes that about Michael. Simon says Ellen's comparison to Luther was "spot on," but that the performance was "wet" - i.e. a little bit girly? Okay.

Shania says it was very emotional and he really "got" her.

Casey James -"Don't"

Casey has a little stool time with Ryan and says this week, he says he's putting more into his performance. Shania thinks he's missing "inner confidence" and wants him to let it come out in his voice. This week, Casey isn't relying on his guitar playing to sell the song. Could be a mistake because his voice is generic and the vibrato is too much. Still, he sings it like he means it and the performance works for him.

Randy says this was one of the best Casey James' performances ever. Ellen says he sang that like that's where he really belongs. "I actually think it was your best performance that you've done to date." Kara says Casey didn't hide, and that he was vulnerable and raw. "If you keep doing that, you'll be at the front of this competition." Simon agrees with Randy and says it's Casey's best performance so far. "It didn't feel like somebody else's song." He suggests Casey come down and kiss Shania who is exuberant. "You nailed it," she says.

Crystal Bowersox - "No One Needs to Know"

Crystal also gets stool time with Ryan. Crystal says this song is a message to her boyfriend! The song is a plea for her man to marry her! She really means it. Crystal is great with country. Her vibe is right on the money and this performance makes me smile. Her vocals are lovely too and I like the arrangement. Wow! Crystal can sang country!

Randy says he loves the arrangement. It wasn't his favorite performance, but he's glad someone did country! Ellen says there's nothing Crystal can't do, but this wasn't her favorite. Kara agrees with the "guys?" She says it was believable, and while it wasn't Crystal's best, it was still amazing.

Simon says it's a shocker they didn't like Crystal this week. He says it was like when you're in a coffee shop and they hire a band to sing when you didn't want to hear them. He says the song was forgettable (apologies to Shania) and that she lacked conviction. Crystal says, "Lack of conviction, I don't think so, cuz he's sitting right there (points to boyfriend)." I liked it Crystal, if that means anything to you!

Aaron Kelly - "You've Got a Way"

Shania urges Aaron to end where he feels "safe and good." The song is a sleeper and I'm not sure it was the right pick. Too mature for a 17-year old. He slips off key a couple of times, and it's just awright for me. Shania seems to love it, though.

Randy says this is Aaron's wheel house and thinks he did a really good job. Ellen says this is gonna be tough because everybody is doing well. She can't get over he's 16 (Aaron corrects her, he's 17) and that he has the maturity to sing those lyrics. Kara agrees and says he felt the words. She is impressed that Aaron changed the "When we make love" lyric. Good, cuz he was singing it to his mom. Simon says Aaron has struggled the last two weeks. "Tonight, you were like a different artist." He says Aaron felt sincere and believable, and not that he was singing someone else's song.

Siobhan Magnus -  "Any Man of Mine"

Shania wants Siobhan to get into the character of the singer. Siobhan can sing this dreck, that's for sure. Problem is, she starts stomping around the studio, and can't quite sing and walk at the same time. It's like she's out of breath or something. She does the screech too. What a freakin' mess! Shania doesn't look happy.

Randy loves it. Ellen says, "Way to pull the Shania Twain into the station." Kara says, "Guess who's back, Siobhan." Simon says he really likes the song, but the screaming may have gone a little bit far. "It was almost like you were giving birth up there." He thinks it was fun and sassy!

Best and Worst

I actually liked Michael the best followed by Crystal and Lee. My bottom three is Casey, Aaron, and Siobhan. I think Casey's time has run out, actually, although I'd rather it be Aaron.

Monday, April 26, 2010

'Idol Gives Back' raises $45 million

The numbers are in, and while this year's "Idol Gives Back" fell short of the previous seasons' total, Idol viewers and sponsors gave generously last week, raising nearly $45 million for a variety of charities, including the Children's Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save the Children's U.S. Programs, and the United Nations Foundation.

The show, which featured performances by Carrie Underwood, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys and Sir Elton John, also featured pleas for donations from a variety of celebrities, including Jennifer Garner, David Arquette, Morgan Freeman and Annie Lennox.

The first edition of the fundraiser, held in 2007, raised $70 million. In 2008, the total raised topped $60 million. The 2010 totals are expected to increase once sales of Wednesday's performance songs and videos on iTunes are added in.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

April 24: Idols on the charts

There's a new Idol-related album on the charts this week. Jason Castro debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200, selling 20,000 copies in its first week.

Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment got a nice bump after his appearance on Idol two weeks ago. The album sold 13,000 copies, pushing his total sales to 605,000 and moving up from No. 77 to No. 35 on the Billboard 200. Adam's single, "Whataya Want From Me," also soared up the charts, moving into the Hot 100 Top 10 at No. 10.

Here’s a look at where former Idols ended up on this week’s Billboard album and singles charts.

Billboard 200 (Albums)

17. Jason Castro (Jason Castro): Debut - 20,000 copies sold
35. For Your Entertainment (Adam Lambert): LW 77, 21 weeks on the charts - 605,000 copies sold
38. Play On (Carrie Underwood): LW 35, 24 weeks on the charts - 1.467million copies sold
74. Leave This Town (Daughtry): LW 69, 40 weeks on the charts - 1.024 copies sold
98. My Best Days (Danny Gokey): LW 92, 7 weeks on the charts (sales numbers unavailable)

Billboard Hot 100 (Singles)

10. “Whataya Want From Me” (Adam Lambert): LW 23
30. “Live Like We’re Dying” (Kris Allen): LW 30
61. “Life After You” (Daughtry): LW 51
73. “Temporary Home” (Carrie Underwood): LW 55
96. “All I Ever Wanted” Kelly Clarkson: LW 99

Friday, April 23, 2010

'American Idol 9' - A Crystal vs. Lee finale appears to be taking shape

The other night my neighbor asked me what I though of this season's American Idol. I told her I was bored to death by it! She agreed, invoking the name of Chris Daughtry as a standard by which Idol should be measured. I countered with Adam Lambert! We both agreed that this season there is no one that even comes close to generating the kind of excitement and buzz that we've seen from contestants like Chris and Adam in past years.

Now, with the contestants pared down to six, it is becoming fairly obvious that the judges (and probably the producers) are envisioning a Crystal Bowersox/Lee DeWyze finale. And quite honestly, the judges incessant pimping of Lee is beginning to get on my nerves. Clearly, they are trying to tell us who they want in the finale, and while Lee isn't the worst contestant in the lot, I can't quite figure out why him.

I suppose this is where I point out the similarities between Lee and the last two winners, Kris Allen and David Cook. Okay, they are somewhat similar, and while neither Kris nor David has taken America by storm, they've sold reasonably well and their songs do get played on the radio. They've represented Idol well and seem like decent guys who just want to make good music.

To me, however, this is all beginning to feel a bit formulaic. We take an ordinary guy who plays acoustic guitar, mix well, and turn him into our next American Idol. What happened to diversity? Why not Michael Lynche, who is a much better performer than Lee, but for whatever reason has failed to connect with viewers. I'd be much happier seeing him in the finals.

I can't imagine Crystal not being in the finals. Of course, there is always the possibility of a "shocking boot" ala Chris Daughtry, who was eliminated in the Top 4 or Melinda Doolittle, the early Season 6 frontrunner who was tossed in the Top 3. I really don't see this happening to Crystal, but I can envision her not winning. Seriously.

All you have to do is think about last year. At this point last season, did anyone really think that Adam would not win? And while by the Top 7, Kris was beginning to attract some attention, I don't think too many people would have predicted he would actually win it all at that point.

The problem is that Idol is just getting old. There is a finite number of "types" that can be cast on the show, and after nine seasons, we've pretty much seen them all. Adam certainly broke the mold as does Crystal in her own way. But America, or at least the part of America that watches Idol and votes, is fairly conservative when it comes to its musical preference. A nice looking singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar is safe. And this year, Lee's that guy.

If you doubt me, listen to the judges closely for the next few weeks. Unless Lee falls flat on his butt, the fawning will continue and he'll sail through round by round. I have no idea who else will make the Top 3, but I guarantee you, Lee will be one of them.

Speaking of Idol history, my new book, This Week in Idol History, is now available for sale on in either paperback or download. The book offers a comprehensive look at the first eight seasons with performance show mini-recaps, a history of the show, a list of all finalists, and other information. It's a good way to get a little perspective on this season. Please check it out!  It will also be on in a month or so.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Welcome to Foxydonna on Idol!

Welcome to the new home of Foxydonna on Idol. I'm glad you found us and I hope you'll visit often! I promise, no more moves!

Incidentally, my new book, This Week in Idol History, is now available for sale on in either paperback or download. The book offers a comprehensive look at the first eight seasons with performance show mini-recaps, a history of the show, a list of all finalists, and other information. It's a good way to get a little perspective on this season. Please check it out! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 7 performance recap

It’s “Idol Gives Back” week on American Idol and the Top 7 will be performing songs that inspiring them. Let’s hope they inspire us as well. The good news is that Alicia Keys will be the guest mentor, so hopefully, the Idols will listen to what she has to say. Stay tuned for my live blog coming up at 8 p.m.

Ryan enters via the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. Didi and Lacey are in the house. Ryan intros the judges – no voiceover man tonight, we’re on a one hour schedule! The Top 7 come out to a rolicking applause.

There’s a video package on Alicia Keys. She’s won 12 Grammys and sold over 30 million albums worldwide. Alicia meets the Idols and tells us she tried to try and get the contestants to bring out the emotion in their songs. Alicai has also been a champion for people with AIDS. Alicia says “Idol Gives Back” is her favorite show. She hopes she can inspire the Idols to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Casey James – “Don’t Stop” (Fleetwood Mac)

Alicia wants Casey to connect with the song. She wants the audience to say they love Casey, not the song. Casey’s got a new “do.” He definitely puts a little more spark into it and gives us a nice guitar riff to boot. He’s relying on his vibrato a bit too much, but overall, it’s peppier than the normal Casey performance.

Girls in the audience have fake guitar signs with Casey’s name on it.

Randy says it was good, but not his best. He’s still looking for something more special and different. Ellen likes the guitar playing, but says she has to get tougher. She doesn’t think anyone will be talking about this tomorrow because it wasn’t great.

Kara says this was like jam band and not showing what makes Casey different. She’s frustrated. Simon is amazed he chose the song because it wasn’t “particularly inspiring.” He says there was no originality and that it was a “lazy song choice.” The audience boos.

Casey says he’s not surprised by the judges’ reactions. He says he loves the song and Fleetwood Mac. He’s got one of Linsey Buckingham’s guitars.

Lee DeWyze – “The Boxer” (Simon and Garfunkel)

Lee gets a little one-on-one with Ryan. He looks nervous. Ryan asks if Lee has been in touch with Andrew. He says he’s supporting whatever Andrew is doing. He says he chose this song because he listened to this music when he was a kid and this type of music got him into playing guitar.

Alicia has Lee speak the words and urges him to become the boxer. She says if Lee can bring people into him, he will make them feel something. The arrangement is a bit too fussy – strings and things. Might have worked better acoustically. He definitely is feelin’ it, but there are too many “La, la, las” in it and he goes completely off key during them. He knows it too!

Randy says he’s one of Lee’s biggest fans because this season is about artists (really?). He thinks Lee is ready to make records and have a great career. Ellen says this was a beautiful song choice, and Lee’s getting better and better.

Kara says this was Lee’s “moment.” She thinks this shows the difference between when someone connects to a song and when someone does not. Simon says the difference between Lee and Casey is “staggering.” He says Lee made the song sound as if it were written a week ago. “Brilliant.”

Am I missing something here? Lee wasn’t that much better than Casey, but from the judges’ reactions, you’d think Lee was the second coming of, well, Kris Allen, or something? Why the heavy Lee pimpage all of a sudden?

Captain Sully, the pilot who landed in the Hudson River, is in the house.

Tim Urban – “Better Days” (Goo Goo Dolls)

Alicia says this could be Tim’s own song and it feels really good. Tim’s voice sounds rather shaky to start. He talk/sings it and is completely off pitch. This is a dumb (I said it, dumb) song choice. He warbles, he wobbles, and crashes and burns in my estimation. Awful, simply awful.

Randy says this song was an interesting choice and it was just “OK, good karaoke.” Ellen says Tim is like the soup of the day – sometimes she likes it, sometimes not. Today she didn’t.

Kara says this is Tim’s “lane,” but it wasn’t his best performance. Simon says if this was the first time they’d seen him, they’d be very impressed. He’s having trouble believing it and thinks it might have been a step too high. “It was a little bit of a let down,” he says.

Aaron Kelly – “I Believe I Can Fly” (R. Kelly)

Aaron’s been singing this song since he was five. Alicia wants him to cry at the end! Another nasally start. The song is waaaay too big for Aaron. The swaybots like it, though. It’s very overdone and desperate. The song really shows how weak his vocals are. He tries to get to the big, huge ending, but comes across sounding like a kid singing at a school talent show.

Randy says Aaron picked a giant song, but that he did a good job. Ellen says there was a time in the 70s that she felt she could fly! She thinks he did a great job.

Kara says watching this was like watching something take off and he finally got there. Simon says this has to be judged in two parts – for his personality and the vocals. He says if he’d heard it on the radio, he would have turned it off in ten seconds.

Siobhan Magnus – “When You Believe” (Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston)

Alicia says Siobhan needs to “milk” her “money spot,” and urges her to pause and make it special. Another somewhat Broadway opening. Siobhan has weird fake butterflies pinned to her arms on vines or something. Her vocals are nice to start off, but then she kicks into the meat of the song, and loses it a bit. She does hit her “money note” and doesn’t scream. Simple and rather nice, but a bit drab.

Randy says Siobhan picked the hardest song of the night. It was just okay for him. Ellen disagrees and says this is more confirmation why Siobhan is still in the running.

Kara says this is not a musical, and every week, Siobhan seems to be showing that she’s someone they’d like to hang out with, not buy her records. Simon says this was not the right song and the “leaves” (the butterflies) were very distracting.

Siobhan tries to explain why she picked the song, and quite honestly, I have no idea what this girl is trying to say. She becomes more nonsensical every week. Plus the judges seem to be tiring of her as well.

Michael Lynche – “Hero” (Nickelback)

Big Mike gets some stool time. Ryan says Michael came into the show with a “play book” of 200 songs. He chose the song because it speaks to all of us to step up and be a hero. Alicia likes when someone takes a song and makes it their own. She wants Michael to take us on a ride. Michael wants the song to take flight.

At least Michael has kept to the theme… sorta. The arrangement is loaded with strings and extraneous crap, but his voice is strong enough to get over it all. Very dramatic, but interesting. He makes some strange faces when he sings, and ends up pointing to the sky like he’s in church, but actually, this was the best performance of the night so far.

Randy says he was worried about this one, but Michael held his own. Ellen thinks he did a great job. It wasn’t Kara’s favorite performance. His voice was all over and the song became unrecognizable. Simon says Michael sang it well, but mentions that the song is from Spiderman. He says this felt artificial and it didn’t quite gel for him. “I still think you’re going to be around next week.”

Jennifer Hudson Weight Watchers commercial – she looks amazing! Makes me ponder joining WW myself.

Crystal Bowersox – “People Get Ready”

Alicia thinks Crystal is special. Crystal says she picked the song because it reflects where she is right now. Alicia knows people are going to love this performance.

Crystal starts out a cappella. Her voice is definitely better. She’s wearing a gown. Crystal takes us to church on this one and I believe! She just sings it and means it, and in the end, she starts to cry. For real.

Randy gives her a standing O. Ellen says Crystal has never looked more beautiful and gets better and better. Kara thanks Crystal for taking a risk and putting her guitar down. “You just schooled all those contestants.” Simon says that was inspirational. He’s happy she showed some emotion. “For me, it was in a completely different class.” She tells us the mike stand is hers, the one she always uses.

Crystal says she cried because her dad is in the audience. Dad is totally cool with shades on. She blots her eyes with Ryan’s hankie, and continues to laugh/cry.

Best and Worst

This one is pretty easy – Crystal was the best of the night followed by Michael, Lee, and Casey. This leaves Siobhan, Aaron, and Tim as my bottom three. And, sadly, I think this will be the end of the road for Turban.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

‘American Idol 9′ – Top 9 become Top 7

The show opens with a black and white clip of Big Mike’s save. Then we cut to clips of the Idols in Vegas. Adam says, “Two people are going home this week. You gotta wake up.” More clips, this time of the contestants singing and the judges’ reactions, including Simon’s “You have gone from zero to hero” comment to Tim.

Ryan takes the stage via the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. He has great news. Over 34 million votes came in Tuesday, the highest so far. He tells us Brooke White and Justin Gaston are performing, along with “our mentor,” Adam Lambert.

Ryan intros the judges. He calls Simon, “Psycho.” The contestants hit the stage with a medley of Elvis songs. The girls start out “Burning Love” and try to do Elvis’ dance leg. Tim opens “Teddy Bear.” I hate that they lip synch these songs. They don’t even look like they’re trying to sing anymore! Crystal looks particularly odd. “Return to Sender” follows and they close with “Viva Las Vegas,” complete with spectacular pointy pose.

We return from the break just in time for the Ford music video. The Idols are planting trees in the middle of the street and singing “Follow the Day.” Time for the results. Ryan starts with Casey. He looks like he’s gotten hair extensions. Aaron and Andrew also stand up, and Ryan calls them to the center of the stage.

Ryan reads their cards. Ryan asks Andrew how it feels knowing two people are leaving. He says it’s been stressful. Ryan says it’s tough even for them to have to eliminate two people. Then bam. “Andrew, it’s the end of the road for you.” Andrew is out, and apparently, Casey and Aaron are safe. This does not bode well for Timmeh.

Andrew sings “You Give Me Something,” his best performance in the competition. After he sings, he thanks everyone. Classy farewell from Andrew.

Back from the commercial break. Ryan tells us Idol Gives Back is next week and there are still some great items up for bid. There’s a clip of Elliott Yamin and Kara on their trip to Africa. This is Elliott’s second trip to Angola (he went in 2008 with Fantasia). The nun who runs the place welcomes Elliott warmly. They are building a new dorm for the kids. We see the current dorm where 51 kids sleep and the new dorm, which will be malaria-proof. Elliott and Kara are there to distribute bed nets to help protect the kids from malaria. I love Elliott, but I’m not digging his deep v-neck tee shirt.

Elliott’s in the house tonight. Ryan tells us the Black Eye Peas, Annie Lennox, Sir Elton John, Carrie Underwood, Mary J. Blige, and more will perform on the show.

Brooke White and Justin Gaston perform “If I Can Dream.” Their harmonies are quite nice and Brooke doesn’t forget the lyrics. I have no idea who Justin is, although I think he used to be Miley Cyrus’ boyfriend. The remaining eight Idols look completely bored.

Back from the break and more results. Ryan invites the entire bottom row to join him on the stage (Tim, Crystal, Lee, Siobhan, Katie, and Mike). Someone shouts out, “Go Tim.” Ryan starts with Lee who says he feels like he’s playing a concert and is having more fun.

Siobhan is next, then Katie. Katie says she’s trying to show she’s learning and getting better. Big applause for Michael. He says the save made him extremely grateful for every moment. He loves the judges and the people. Ryan reads Crystal and Tim’s cards. Tim flashes a big small. “After 34 million votes, Crystal, you are safe,” Ryan says. She plays a little harmonica on her way back to the couches. Siobhan is also safe. Ryan reminds us that Chris Daughtry sang “Suspicious Minds” the week he was eliminated. Ryan walks Lee to the couches and sits down with him before telling him he is safe. Tim, Michael, and Katie are left. One of them will be going home after Adam Lambert performs. Oh, please don’t let it be Timmeh, please.

Back from the break. Ryan tells us next week, the contestants will sing inspirational songs and Alicia Keys will be the mentor.

Adam starts “Whataya Want From Me” in silhouette with greenish lighting, lasers, and what looks like a tornado over his head. He’s totally changed up the song and is singing live. Too much autotune and the lighting is horrible, but it’s a strong performance. Of course, compared to what we’re suffering through this season, he’s bound to look amazing in comparison. One thing for certain, whatever you think about Adam, there’s no one in this year’s competition who even comes close to performing the way he did.

Ryan asks Adam what he learned from ‘Idol.’ Adam says when you’re in the business, you’re working your butt off and he learned so much from being on the show. He thanks ‘Idol.’

Finally, we get to the moment of truth. Tim, Michael, and Katie are on the stage. Ryan sends Tim back to the couches of safety! TIMMEH!!! He tells us the person who is not going home was not even in the bottom three. “The person going home tonight is… Katie!” Siobhan’s face is crumpling.

Katie sings us out with “Let it Be.” No save for you, sweetie. Wonder if the judges regret saving Big Mike now? And, with her elimination, that leaves only two girls in the season that was supposed to be all about the girls. Ironic, isn’t it.

As Katie finishes up, Andrew toddles out for his funeral vid. Katie’s crying now. Hey, someone had to go, right? And we’re out.

Tim Urban defies the odds and makes it to the Top 7. Who’d a thunk he’d outlast little Katie, who appeared to be one of the “chosen ones” early on. Never underestimate the power of the people (VFTW). Never.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

‘American Idol 9′ – Top 9 (again) results show recap

We’ve reached what would normally be the Top 8, but because the judges saved Michael Lynche last week, this week we’ve got nine contestants performing for seven spots. That means, of course, that two people will be eliminated Wednesday and there’s no save to, well, save them.

This week, the Idols will be singing Elvis Presley songs and Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert is the guest mentor.

Ryan starts out on the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase (ALMS). He tells us that after the judges saved Michael Lynche, the pressure is on. He wants to know if we’re ready? Are we? I guess.

Voiceover man intros the judges. Ryan comes down the ALMS once again and greets the audience. Someone has a poster depicting Big Mike as a Sumo wrestler. Ryan reminds us of last week’s save. The nine finalists come out on stage. Ryan is between Mike and Casey and tells us we’re going to be drawing inspiration from one of music’s biggest icons, Elvis. His record sales have topped one billion, more than any other artist ever.

The Idols went to Vegas where they experienced Cirque Du Soleil’s Elvis show. Little video package on Adam. He says it’s an honor to be mentoring and loves Elvis. His mission is to be completely honest, but constructive.

Adam’s in the house. Ryan sits with him for a sec. Adam’s got an Elvis-like do going on. He is the first former Idol to be called back as a mentor. He says they are all special people, but they need to “wake up a little bit.” Adam says he’d do the song Tim’s doing (“Can’t Help Falling in Love”). See, even Adam loves Timmy!

Crystal Bowersox – “Saved”

Adam says Crystal has an authentic voice. He thinks she should go with an electric guitar. He tells her he tried to do something different every week.

Crystal still is a bit congested. But she is putting a whole lot more energy into this performance than usual. She’s got a good gospel vibe going on and I like the electric guitar. Girl’s got talent, that’s for sure. Good performance once again.

Randy says that’s the way to come out. “You’ve got this whole blues vibe going on… I loved it.” Ellen says she’s tired of telling Crystal how great she is and wonders if it’s anyone’s birthday! Kara says it’s another great performance. “I think you did some really good things tonight.” Simon says it was a lyric he could relate to. He says she chose something that suited her and didn’t fall into the karaoke trap. “Original, sounded great, and congratulations once again.”

Andrew Garcia – “Hound Dog”

Andrew gets stool time with Ryan. He’s also performing second, the death spot. Clearly, they want him to go home. Ryan wants to know what Andrew was thinking last week when Michael was singing for his life. He says he was encouraged by seeing Mike perform as if everything was on the line. Ryan wonders if Andrew can break his own “ceiling.”

Adam tells Andrew the arrangement is boring and encourages him to give it some more “punch.” Adam says Andrew has the potential to be great, but he needs to put a twist on it.

Apparently, Andrew didn’t really take Adam’s advice too seriously. It’s still boring. He does walk around a bit, carrying the microphone stand. The vocals are okay, but overall, it’s not enough to save him.

Randy says Simon predicted that was not good karaoke. He didn’t get it at all. Ellen wishes he’d put a little more swagger into it, but thinks he pulled it off. Kara says, “It’s Elvis, you gotta own it… he owned the stage. I thought you used the mike as a crutch.” Simon calls the performance “lazy and unpredictable.” He says it’s was like the part in a musical that no one wants to hear. He thinks all of Andrew’s coolness has been sucked out of him.

Ryan asks Ellen how she saw something so different from Simon. She reiterates that she just liked it. Andrew, you are going home, buddy.

Tim Urban – “Can’t Help Falling in Love”

Tim’s got the second death spot tonight. Think they want to get rid of him too? Adam likes Tim’s voice and “pretty” guitar work. He urges Tim to push the ending in his pretty falsetto.

Ryan calls him “Turban!” The arrangement starts out acoustically. The swaybots are waving their arms in adoration. Tim’s a bit flat and enunciates weirdly, but his delivery is straight-forward and sincere. It’s actually quite nice. Ryan is slow-dancing with someone, Randy perhaps? The little girls will love this. Awww, Timmeh! How sweet. I bet Adam’s even teary-eyed!

Randy says “This may surprise you. I actually liked it.” Ellen says the first time she took a shot of tequila she didn’t think she’d like it, but she took another and another. She feels the same way about Tim.

Kara says this is her favorite Tim performance ever. “Well done.” Simon comments on Ryan’s dancing. “You have managed to go from zero to hero in two weeks,” he tells Timmy. He says Tim has taken the advice really well. Tim is like a bright, shining star.

Ryan was actually dancing with Michael Sarver! All this is just too much to take!

Lee DeWyze – “A Little Less Conversation”

Adam urges Lee to “perform” it and be playful. He thinks if Lee connects and smiles more, he has a chance to do really well.

Lee’s on acoustic guitar. And he gets it. The arrangement is cool, good bass riff from Rickey Minor. Lee’s vocals are right on the money and I think this is his best performance to date.

Randy says Lee is definitely in the zone and loved it. Ellen says Lee made the song current and that he is showing more confidence. “You get better and better.” Kara says she’s never seen him go for it vocally before. “The vocal was fire.” She wants more playfulness, though. Simon wonders if she wants kittens or what? Lee says he’s having fun. Simon says it was “on the money, full stop.”

Lee says talking to Adam helped a lot and realized that he really needs to smile more. Adam is digging this.

Aaron Kelly – “Blue Suede Shoes”

Adam says he underestimated Aaron’s voice. He coaches Aaron to “grab it.” Adam says Aaron doesn’t quite believe in himself yet and needs to commit a bit. “It might be wrong in every possible way. But I’m gonna go out there and have some fun.” Aaron says.

Aaron sort of takes Adam’s advice. He moves around the stage and shows a bit more attitude than we’ve seen from him so far. He looks pretty ridiculous doing this, however. The background singers sound sickly! Vocally, he’s good, but the song was, well, weird. Adam applauds weakly.

Randy wonders why Aaron didn’t think it was the right song. He liked the second half. Ellen thinks it was a big song to take on and that he did a really good job. She doesn’t think he got all the way there, though.

Kara says Aaron is out of his comfort zone and liked it. She says it felt current and young. Simon says it did the opposite. “It was kind of what it was, like someone at a high school doing a concert.” He’s frustrated that Aaron didn’t make it young and thinks it was karaoke. Someone in the audience shouts out “No way.” Aaron could be in danger, but we’ll have to see what Katie does.

Siobhan Magnus – “Suspicious Minds”

Siobhan’s getting stool time too. She’s got her hair did. She tells Ryan she’s a true Elvis fan and did a report on him in the sixth grade. She says the most fascinating thing about Elvis is that he came from practically nothing.

Adam says it feels a little sleepy and suggests she speed it up. He thinks this gives her more oomph. She says it’s an honor to meet Adam and that she’s been compared to him.

Siobhan does take Adam’s advice and speeds it up a bit. She’s even on the staircase. To me, it sounds loungey, or even worse, Broadway. She digs in towards the end and manages to get a scream or two in there. It’s like Elvis meets Celine meets Whitney. I didn’t like it, but Adam clearly did.

Randy says he kinda liked the Supreme-ish kind of opening. He liked the big vocals in the middle. Ellen says she liked the second half better (the screaming half). Kara says Randy and Ellen are picking up on Siobhan’s “two voices.” She’s confused. Simon says it was like Siobhan was put into a time machine and came back as someone he didn’t recognize. He says it sounded erratic and screechy, and that she’s lost who she was two weeks ago.

Ryan asks what Simon would like to see her do. He says the song wasn’t her in the real world. Siobhan says she can’t pinpoint exactly who she is. She doesn’t think it’s necessary to be labeled. “I just love to sing.”

Michael Lynche – “In the Ghetto”

Adam wants Michael to bring the actor out, but Mike says he doesn’t want to irritate Simon. Adam thinks if Michael connects he can redeem himself.

Michael is playing acoustic guitar. It’s a softer version of the song, and Michael does put himself into it and sells it nicely. He totally makes the song his own and it’s really nice. He seems overcome at the end.

Randy says the song was sleepy, but the vocals were hot. Ellen says she’s glad they saved him. Kara says, “It’s a beautiful song.” Simon says it was a million, billion times better than last week, the perfect song, and a terrific performance. Clearly, they’re running out of time here. Gotta get this done so Glee can start at 9:28 on the dot!

Katie Stevens – “Baby What You Want Me to Do?”

Adam wants Katie to show anger. She’s frustrated about the judges and wants to let them know that. He wants her to sell it.

Katie’s voice is way too weak for this song, but she does exhibit a bit of attitude. Like the little chicken neck moves too. It’s a stupid song choice, though. She addresses the line, “Well baby, what you want me to do” to the judges. All in all, it’s pretentious and overdone. You could be in trouble, girly girl.

Randy likes the vocals and attitude. Ellen says it was a very “horny” song – lot of horns in it. Randy is cracking up. Kara says Katie showed the judges. Simon says he found it loud and annoying. He didn’t like the song. Kara argues with him.

The cast of Glee is in the audience!

Casey James – “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”

Adam wants Casey to give it a bit more of an arc. He thinks Casey will do well if he gives the song more “shape.”

This is a super choice for Casey’s rather limited range, but bluesy vibe. He doesn’t really give it the kind of shape Adam wanted, but works it okay. With so many songs to pick, why this one? Didn’t really work for me.

Randy says Casey is in the zone and calls the performance solid. Ellen loves his voice, but it wasn’t exciting as she wanted. Kara says it fell short of the kind of brilliance he’s capable of. Simon thinks it was a wasted opportunity. Casey looks shook.

Best and Worst

Once again, Crystal ruled the night. I’m just sorry her performance was so early in the show. She should have had the pimp spot. I liked Michael and Lee. That was about it. Casey – meh! This leaves me with five in the bottom – Katie, Aaron, Andrew, Siobhan, and Tim. I’m putting Aaron, Tim, and Andrew in the bottom three, with Andrew and Aaron going home.

Breaking news! TMZ is reporting that Rickey Minor will be taking over Kevin Eubank’s spot as music director on Jay Leno’s show. The announcement is supposed to be made officially Wednesday. Kevin is leaving at the end of May right around the time Idol ends. Hmmm.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Should the judges have saved Big Mike?

After the ‘Idol’ judges spared Michael Lynche from being eliminated Wednesday night, the Internet blew up with articles, Tweets, and blog entries talking about this dramatic turn of events. A lot of people feel the judges should have waited to use the save on someone with a better chance of winning, while others felt Michael was save-worthy.

I’m not even going to pretend to be objective when it comes to Michael Lynche. I think he’s been consistent throughout the competition and has had a string of solid performances. He has a great voice, good stage presence, and seems to be a nice guy. I like his neo-soul R&B vibe and the way he is able to change up the material to suit his personal style.

I was not surprised that he ended up with the least amount of votes this week, but I was disappointed. Historically, African-American men have not done very well on the show. Sure, Ruben Studdard won Season 2, but the next best finisher was George Huff, who was fifth on Season 3. Every other black male ‘Idol’ finalist has been 7th or less. This is particularly puzzling in that black male artists are what’s happening when it comes to pop music.

A lot of this has to do with demographics. Apparently, people who enjoy artists like Usher, Chris Brown, Maxwell, and even Kara’s protege Jason Derulo are not watching (or at least not voting). Michael Lynche is at least as good as Derulo.

Obviously, then, I think the judges were correct in saving Michael this week.

But even if you aren’t a fan of Big Mike, saving him this week was good strategy. Let’s assume that Michael had gone home. That would leave only three more weeks where the judges could use the save. There are at least three contestants (Aaron, Andrew, and Tim) who should be going home over the next three weeks. Whether they saved Mike this week or not, Andrew is going home next week. You can bank on that. If they hadn’t saved Mike, they certainly wouldn’t have saved Andrew.

The next week most likely would have been the end of Tim Urban. Now you know they wouldn’t have saved him! That would leave Aaron or possibly Katie as the person eliminated in the Top 6. They might have used the save on either of them, but to what end? So they can go home the next week?

All this is pure speculation, of course. As we have seen in seasons past, anything can happen. It’s all part of the ‘Idol’ game. Still, I doubt we’ll see Crystal, Casey, Lee, or Siobhan as the bootee anytime soon, and really, they are the only ones left who might be considered save-worthy.

This week, the Idols travel to Las Vegas where they’ll meet guest mentor Adam Lambert. There’s no word yet as to what the theme will be, some say Elvis, others world music. There’s also a rumor that a former Idol contestant will sing an Elvis song on the results show. No idea on that one either.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

‘American Idol 9′ – Top 9 results show recap

On Tuesday, the Top 9 of American Idol 9 performed music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was a pretty good night, and even “Teflon” Tim Urban managed to get praise from the judges. Andrew Garcia was the only Idol to get harsh criticism and I predict he’ll be the one to go. Will this be the end of the “bromance” between he and Lee DeWyze? Let’s watch and find out, shall we?

Lots of video clips open the show tonight. We’re getting all kinds of creative this year with the video cam, aren’t we! Ryan takes the stage the normal way (no stairway entrance). He says there are “shocking” results coming tonight. Ohhhh? Shocking? Aaron? He lets us know Rhianna, Jason somebody-or-other-that-I’ve-never-heard-of-before, and David Archuleta will perform for us tonight.

Ryan plugs “Idol Gives Back,” which is in two weeks. The judges will be donating to the cause. Simon is donating a chance for someone to make a record and Ellen some tennis shoes and VIP tickets to the show.

Plug for the sponsors and then we bring out the Top 9 for a medley of an assortment of Lennon/McCartney hits. Lee starts “Here, There, and Everywhere.” “Got to Get You Into My Life” follows.” They’re all wearing black and white and the girls are wearing white go-go boots. Crystal leads off on “Fool on the Hill.” She’s wearing what looks like a 1960s short prom dress. “She Loves You” follows. They close with a dramatic verse of “The End” and an astoundingly awesome pointy pose! Cheese at its absolute finest!

Back from the break, we see this week’s Ford music video, a soulless rendition of “Go Round in Circles” where the Idols are all in a kaleidoscope. Back for the eliminations. Casey says he’s ready and Tim says they just got to sing some of the best songs in the world. Katie says she’s a little nervous, but is keeping the hope alive. They are all wearing different clothes so I guess the medley was pre-taped.

Ryan starts with Siobhan. Ryan wonders what confused Kara about Siobhan’s song. She says it was restrained and dramatic, but after Siobhan explained it came from the heart, that’s all that matters. Ryan brings Siobhan to the center of the stage. Crystal is next. She joins Siobhan who looks confused by all this.

Katie stands. Ryan asks her who she was thinking about. She was singing it for her grandmother (remember, the one with Alzheimer’s). She joins Siobhan and Crystal. Ryan asks Randy if he thinks one of these girls should be heading home. He does not think so. The audience agrees. Ryan tells Crystal she is safe. She hugs the other two. Ryan then says he can tell them that one of them is safe and so is the other! So tricky.That was just cruel. And stupid.

Ryan tells us Adam Lambert will be next week’s guest mentor? Really? Katie looks surprised. I guess she didn’t know.

Jason Derulo (I looked up his name), who is signed with Kara’s label, performs “In My Head,” his hit single. Okay, I’ve heard this on the radio, but didn’t know who sang it. Jason has on an “Adam Lamberty” jacket with spikey things coming out of the shoulders. Guess he missed his week. Jason does some neat Michael Jackon-ish dance moves. The screen goes to black and white. There are pyrotechnics. He does a full split. No wonder his voice is so high.

Ryan asks a beaming Kara what she saw in Jason when she first met him. She says he’s an incredible songwriter and dancer, and she’s so proud of him. Simon says it was great.

We come back from the break with David Archuleta singing “Imagine.” He’s playing piano. Are you paying attention Aaron? The swaying arms aren’t anywhere near close to being on the beat. Now they are clapping off beat. As for Archie, he sounds pretty good. He has a lot more control and his phrasing is much better. It’s a nice performance and makes me all sorts of nostalgic for Season 7. Good times.

David joins Ryan. He says the finale performance was more intense. He says he always feels like you’re going to be judged. Archie is working on his next album, writing and recording.

Back to the results. We’re still looking for the bottom three. We’ll form two groups. Lee is first. Ryan asks Lee if there’s self-doubt. He says he needs to show more confidence, and that he feels like he’s got it. Randy shouts out, “Own it baby.” Lee heads to the far side of the stage.

Michael is next. He’s bursting out of his vest. Michael doesn’t think it was too theatrical and if you want the studio version, “check me out on iTunes.” Mike starts a new group.

Casey stands. He joins Lee. I hate this crap. Just call out the bottom three already. Aaron stands up. Ryan asks Simon if Aaron has a good enough vocal to stay in the competition. Simon says Aaron’s problem is that he’s trying to sound too much like the original artist. Aaron joins Michael.

Tim stands. Girls scream. Tim smiles. He joins Lee and Casey (OMG, Aaron and Michael have to be the bottom three). Andrew, of course, joins Mike and Aaron. Ryan tells us one of the groups is safe and the other is the bottom three. He asks Ellen to guess which group is the bottom three. She says she hates this part and chooses Mike, Aaron, and Andrew. She’s right. Aaron, Andrew, and Mike are the bottom three. That means Tim is safe! Again! And not even the bottom three. VFTW crashes as Worsters celebrate!

Ryan sends Aaron back to safety. The Kelly family celebrates. It’s either going to be Andrew or Michael who will face the judges and sing for his life. It’s gotta be Andrew, right? If it’s Mike, the judges will definitely use the save. No question about it.

But before we find out who has the lowest number of votes, we have to sit through Rhianna singing “Rock Star 101,” her new single. She uses the Adam Lambert stairway to enter. She’s wearing a skin tight black leather catsuit with big shoulders. I love her hair, though. The lyrics are repetitive and boring. She fakes playing an electric guitar. This is what pop music has been reduced to?

Okay, finally, with four minutes to go, we get to the results. “Two fathers, both trying to make a better life for their families… The person who will perform next week and is safe is… Andrew.” OMG. No way. Crystal is ready to cry. I am not happy.

Michael sings “This Woman’s Work” again. Good choice. His wife is crying. I am chanting “Save him.” He does an incredible job on the song. No way should he go home. I can’t believe I’m this emotional over a stupid Idol elimination. The entire audience is chanting, “Save him, save him.”

Simon says they all wish Michael did something like this yesterday. “We only have one save in the competition. This is unanimous. We have decided we are going to see you next week. The judges hug. Kara jumps up and down. Even the band is excited. That was pretty cool. I hate the idea of the judges’ save, but I totally love it when they use it.

So, Michael will be back next week, but shouldn’t relax because two people will bite the dust next week to make up for the save. That’s okay. Adam Lambert will save the day and inspire the Idols to reach heights previously unimagined. Or not!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

‘American Idol 9′ – Top 9 performance recap

It’s time for another Idol performance show and this week, the Top 9 take on music from the Lennon/McCartney songbook. This is slightly different from the Beatles’ theme from Season 7 (remember, they did Beatles two weeks in a row), eliminating anything not written by the pair. Still, there are hundreds of songs from which to choose and it will be interesting to see who sings what and if they are any better than the Season 7 performances.

We’ll be live blogging starting at 8 p.m. (EDT), so check back once the show starts for my impressions and the judges’ comments.

The show opens with Ryan in the control room. He shows us the judges and contestants ready and waiting for the show to start. “This is the Top 9 of Season 9, and this is American Idol!” Voiceover man introduces the judges, and as has become the custom this season, Ryan enters via the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase (ALMS). Lacey Brown is in the house tonight. Must not have anything else to do.

Ryan reminds us that last week we said goodbye to Didi Benami. One person in the audience says, “Aw.” He then introduces the contestants. A video package on John Lennon and Paul McCartney follows. Paul McCartney sends his best wishes via video. “Get out there, go for it, and enjoy yourselves. Good luck,” says Sir Paul.

Randy says there should be big highs and big lows this week. “Come one, bring it,” he says. Ellen likes “Blackbird,” “Come Together,” “Across the Universe,” etc. Kara says the songs remain timeless because they are as meaningful today as they were when they came out. Simon agrees. He says certain songs shouldn’t be changed, while others can be. He wants to hear something a little different from the original.

Tonight the Top 9 will describe each other. I’ll try to condense this as much as possible!

Aaron Kelly – “The Long and Winding Road”

Katie says their nickname for Aaron is Yoda and they all mimic his mimicry of Yoda. Aaron is like everyone’s little brother. Yeah, we get it. Aaron’s voice isn’t quite strong enough for this song and it breaks a few times. Thing is, he seems to be feeling it, which is a good thing. The arrangement is pretty close to the original and it’s a bit of a snoozefest. As usual, I am totally annoyed by the swaying hands. He flubs the lyrics at one point and the background vocals are horrendous. Not terrible, but not amazing either. Think David Archuleta lite.

Randy likes Aaron’s voice but thinks the arrangement is sleepy. He says it laid still. Ellen thinks this is a big song and that it felt like a “long and winding song.” Kara says when it comes together for Aaron, it works. She says every week feels like the same performance. Aaron says he has something faster planned for next week if he’s still there.

Simon wonders why Aaron chose the song. Aaron says the whole journey has been a long and winding road. He stuck with the arrangement because it’s a great song. Simon says the song was old-fashioned and boring (boos erupt from the Kelly family). Simon takes umbrage to this and asks if he can continue. He wants Aaron to become young and relevant, and take some risks.

Aaron says he definitely believed the song this week. Backstage he tells us he’s still fairly confident and won’t be disappointed.

Katie Stevens – “Let it Be”

Katie gets stool time with Ryan. It’s prom season and Katie’s had five offers for dates from guys who are watching. She says they should send her their phone bills and whoever has voted for her the most will “win” the date.

The Idols all lurve Katie. Andrew says Katie does the “Single Ladies” dance. Siobhan is jealous.

Katie is also sticking with the original arrangement. She sings this like she is soloing with the church choir. Her voice is shrill and her phrasing a bit off, but once she gets to the bridge and digs in, she relaxes and things come together. Not bad, actually.

Randy says, “To me, this is your best performance ever.” Ellen says this is a perfect example of changing it enough to make it your own. “That was amazing.” Kara says, “You’re blossoming on that stage, your attitude, you are confident considering you’ve been beat up for two weeks. I’m proud of you.”

Simon says when you’re in the bottom three consistently, you’re doing something wrong. “Tonight, you got it right. You were absolutely leaning in the direction I hinted at, that’s more country.” He says it felt as though she was singing it about somebody rather than being robotic.

During the break, there’s a commercial for a new “Mom Idol” contest.

Backstage, Katie says she wanted to come out with a bang and is pleased with the judges’ reactions. She gets lot of hugs from the other contestants.

Andrew Garcia – “Can’t Buy Me Love”

Andrew cracks everyone up. He’s Michael’s PIC (partner in crime). He’s also become one of Lee’s best friends.

The arrangement has too much brass and is very cabaret. Andrew’s hardly playing the guitar. I am totally reminded of Bobby Bennett here. Andrew even looks like him. I’m not really getting this, and the fact that he’s singing on the platform behind the judges doesn’t help him sell it to them. Andrew could be in danger.

Randy thinks it was a solid performance with an interesting arrangement, but a little corny at times. “It was OK.” Ellen says, “First of all, you can buy love, right Simon? Perfect song choice for you, I loved it.” Kara says she wanted to love it but she doesn’t think she’s heard anything new from Andrew. She thinks he should have done more with the interpretation, but liked the breakdown. Simon thinks the band overpowered the arrangement and made it irrelevant. “You and the band got it wrong tonight.”

Michael Lynche – “Eleanor Rigby”

Katie was on the same plane with Michael and told her mom he was the “Incredible Hulk.” Casey says Mike snores really loud. They all mock this strange sound Mike makes. Mike comes from a performing family (the Lynche Mob). He picked “Eleanor Rigby” because they performed it on the road and he loves the strings.

He’s got the full strings behind him. It’s a rather “Lutherish” arrangement if that makes any sense. The phrasing is choppy, but his vocals are really, really nice. I never have an issue with Mike’s vocals. He brings a lot of drama to the song and it works nicely. Interesting in that this was David Cook’s standout moment Season 7 and Mike’s wasn’t anything like it at all.

Randy is loving the fact that Michael has learned he can do whatever he wants. “That could be a joint on your album.” He loves seeing the artist in Mike blosson. Ellen says there are so many sides of Michael. She says it was incredible and she loved it.

Kara says it was fire. “Those vocals were amazing.” She loves the way it build and how he sold the story. She says he made that song commercial and relevant. “That’s what this show is about.” Simon didn’t love it as much as the other three. He thinks it was the kind of thing you hear in musicals. He’s not a fan of musicals. He doesn’t think the song made Michael contemporary at all and in fact, thinks he went backwards. He’s slightly confused about who Michael wants to be as an artist.

Crystal Bowersox – “Come Together”

Crystal is getting stool time with Ryan. She’s got a little cold. She tells there’s finally a sign in Elliston, Ohio (“Home of Crystal Bowersox”). The contestants call Crystal “Mamasox.” Tim thinks she’s an awesome individual. Andrew calls her a wonderful mother. Crystal mothers all the Idols. Siobhan says Crystal sincerely cares about them. Lee met her in Chicago at the auditions. Crystal says she’s continuing to stay true to herself. She chose the song because it’s fun to do.

We’ve got a guy playing a didgeridoo on this one. Now that’s different. Crystal’s blueses it up a little. You can hear the congestion in her nasal passage, but that doesn’t deter her at all. It’s a very cool arrangement, but retains the vibe of the original. I think she’s sung better, but I really love her energy on this one, sick or not. She sneezes when it’s over.

Randy says, “Another solid performance… I don’t know if it was your best.” He thought the didgeridoo was a bit distracting. Ellen loved the didgeridoo. She says she worries about finding a new way to tell Crystal how great she is. Crystal said she was worried about finding a new way to cover this song that’s been done so many times before.

Kara says this is one of her favorite performances from Crystal. She likes where she took the melody. “It was playful and sexy… you were more accessible.” Simon says, “That’s a performance I could hear on the radio.” Simon says the reason Crystal is working is that Crystal remains true to herself. They bring the didgeridoo player (Ernie Fields, Jr.) out again. He’s a freelance musician who just learned to play this giant instrument. Simon says it was quirky and loves the way she worked with Ernie. “Much better than last week.”

Tim Urban – “All My Lovin”

Siobhan says Tim is always smiling. Casey says Tim goes from zero to one hundred. Tim says he wants to brighten everyone’s day. Siobhan says it would be cool if Tim’s teeth could sparkle.

Tim’s playing an electric guitar. He’s got the Beatles haircut going on. He plays like three chords. Finally, the band breaks in. I like Randy’s term from last week – pedestrian. Tim is an average singer in a bizarre situation. He does no better or worse than usual. Thing is, Tim actually sounds a little like the Beatles on this.

Randy says Tim is in his own category. He says he’ll judge them based on Tim’s previous performances. Randy says he’s rockin’ a Beatles’ do. “It was a good Tim performance.” Ellen thinks it was his second best performance after “Hallelujah.”

Kara says Tim’s best performances are when he plays guitar. She likes that he came out and took some of their criticism. “You’re to be commended for that.” Simon isn’t going to judge him on a “Tim” performance. He likes it. “It suited your voice… it sounds very current.” He likes that Tim takes the criticism like a man. “This is a short cut to fame and you’ve handled yourself very well. I’m proud of you,” Simon says.

Hmmm… are the judges using reverse psychology here in order to lull voters into a sense of false security? Weird they all changed their tunes so drastically.

Casey James – “Jealous Guy”

The other Idols call Casey a playboy. They make up romance novel names for him like Fabio. They also comment on his booming laugh and flowing locks. Andrew says Casey’s hair glows on stage.

I love, love, love this song. Casey’s playing acoustic guitar tonight and is accompanied by a cello. I don’t love his vibrato, but I do like the simplicity of the arrangement. Of all the Idols this season, Casey uses his guitar the best to supplement his vocals. He’s not the best vocalist, but you tend to overlook it because of the overall effect. I think Casey had a moment up in here! Very nice.

Randy loves the acoustic guitar and the sensitive vibe. He says he was really impressed that Casey took this leap. He likes that Casey set himself apart. “I love that you did this.” He says he really felt it. Ellen says it felt like it was about someone and thinks it was Casey’s best performance to date. She says she felt him pour himself into the song.

Kara says Casey showed vulnerability that’s been lacking previously. She thinks the arrangement was tasteful and Casey showed depth. She says he showed that he knows his voice. But she thinks he can still push himself more. Simon says this was the best performance of the night so far. He says the difference between week on week with Casey has been “ginormous.” He is very, very impressed.

Casey says he was thinking about being a jealous guy when he was singing.

Siobhan Magnus – “Across the Universe”

Everyone calls Siobhan weird! They also comment on her “crazy notes.”

Siobhan is wearing a floaty white skirt and sitting on a stool. The performance feels like a Broadway solo, but her vocals are absolutely stunning. Siobhan puts so much emotion into this, I am moved to tears. That says it all.

Randy says he loves to see what Siobhan is going to do and wear. He thought it was sleepy but he loves seeing the tender side. Ellen says she is a big fan of people who march to the beat of their own drum. “You are special… you are really talented… always remember that.” She is happy Siobhan “cooled it” on the high notes.

Kara says on a vocal level it was great, but it was restrained and polite. She isn’t sure the performance was commercial enough. Simon wonders what Siobhan was connecting personally. She says it was the lyric “Nothing’s gonna change my world.” She’s here for her baby sisters and nothings gonna change that. She gets emotional.

Simon says they aren’t going to take that away from her and that she came back much stronger. He likes that she is unpredictable. “You were much, much, much better than last week.” Some guy hollers out and they make him stand up.

Ryan brings the hollering guy, Earl, up on the stage to hug Siobhan.

Lee DeWyze – “Hey Jude”

They all call Lee the “resident worrywart!” Every week, he thinks he’s going home and they bet him money that he won’t go home. Crystal is happy Lee and Andrew can “get together, get married, and have lots of little Danny Gokey babies!” Heh!

Lee’s on acoustic guitar. I like the gruffness in his voice. He invites the audience to sing along and all of a sudden, a bagpiper comes down the Adam Lambert staircase. It’s quite the production. It’s fun! It’s fresh! It’s a winner!

Randy says the bagpiper was funny! He loves that Lee relaxes when it’s over. “It was another hot one for you… please believe!” Ellen says the confidence Lee showed was cool. She wonders if the bagpiper got separated from a parade! “Great job, I loved it.”

Kara says there were some good moments and some off moments, and she can hear him on the radio. “It’s hot, it really is.” Simon wonders what “you lot” are drinking in the house (regarding the weird accompaniment). He says the bagpiper seemed like he turned up on the wrong show!

Best and worst

I’ve been particularly critical of this year’s Idols, but to be fair, I think they all really brought it this week – to the best of their abilities anyway. I can’t even decide who I liked the best, but based on my reaction, I’d say Siobhan, followed by Michael, Crystal, Casey, and Lee. I liked Katie this week too. Bottom three then would be Aaron, Andrew, and of course, Tim.

I don’t think Aaron has anything to worry about, yet anyway. Tim has VFTW and one other Idol fan site voting for him now, so I think he’ll make it through once again. This would leave Andrew as the odd Idol out this week. His performance wasn’t bad, just the least interesting, which is really saying something!