American Idol Episode 9-13 Recap

This review is dedicated to my grandfather who passed away over the weekend.

OK, so we’ve completed the Hollywood round and determined the Top 24. We’re going back to the “Pop Hits” well to give the singers as much of a choice as possible to make the final stage. As we’ve seen time and time again, song choice is critical. Choose something too easy and you’ll probably get flak from the judges for not taking chances. Choose something too difficult and you’re in danger of not getting votes because you went beyond your abilities. And most importantly, don’t choose something because “you like like that song”. I think most of the major fails during the first elimination rounds come because people decide that they’ll sing Maroon 5 because they like Maroon 5. If you’re not choosing something that you know you can sing from the heart, you’ll be getting an early ticket home.

With that said, let’s get to the singers.

Paige Miles, “All Right Now” (Free)
OK start to the show. Bringing an R&B flavour to the song was the right way to go given that the bar for this song was set by David Cook. I expected the pitchiness given that she was the first “live” singer of the season, but her voice will probably carry her through to the next round.

Ashley Rodriguez, “Happy” (Leona Lewis)
Ashley does love her reality singing winners, doesn’t she? This was, to say the least, not good. Ashley was off key for most of the song, and probably you shouldn’t be going for a “diva” song at this stage. And for goodness sake, don’t sing a song by Simon’s “girl” if you can’t kill it.

Janell Wheeler, “What About Love” (Heart)
Here’s another unwritten Idol rule – don’t sing Heart unless you can kill the song. This was not killed – this was more of a gentle bruising of the song. Janell moves well, so that’s a plus, but really, it didn’t sound good, it didn’t rock out, and it’s putting Janell in the bottom.

Lilly Scott, “Fixin’ a Hole” (The Beatles)
For some reason Lilly’s voice reminds me of the (old) lead singer of Sneaker Pimps. Seriously, it’s the first thing that popped into my head. Definitely a curious choice, but as Simon noted, she chose the song because it fit her and didn’t stray from who she was, and that is a good thing. I think her status as a kinda-sorta real-life Phoebe Buffay will carry her through this round, at least.

Katelyn Epperly, “Oh Darling” (The Beatles)
This song was some serious type of old-fashioned, yet Katelyn seemed to work it well. She seems to be Simon’s token Blonde Pet Project for the year, so that’s good news for her. Not sure about the look though – she went from Margo Timmins to 60’s torch singer, and I’m can’t say that’s a good thing. I think she gave a good account of herself though, and she’s probably safe.

Haeley Vaughn, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (The Beatles)
Have I mentioned that I hate having the 16/just turned 17-year old singers in this competition? I really feel that this is way too young to be competing on Idol or any other competition show. On Idol, the ability gap between a 16-year old and a 24-year old is usually very apparent. Yes, you get the occasional Really Good Singer, but you have so many others that crash and burn. In a way, it’s akin to the former NBA practice of drafting high-school players. For every Kobe or Lebron, you have busts or journeymen players such as Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, Louis Williams or Ricky Sánchez.

Regardless, Haeley may very well be in the Lebron category. This version was brilliant. I really don’t have anything else to say about it, except, ENOUGH WITH THE BEATLES ALREADY (unless you’re singing “Eleanor Rigby”, for which the bar was again set by David Cook). She’s probably safe until the pressures of being 16 and on Idol get to her.

Lacey Brown, “Landslide”, (Fleetwood Mac)
This was alternately good and bad, as Lacey seemed to cycle through the original version PLUS the Smashing Pumpkins and Dixie Chicks covers throughout the performance. This is probably an easier song to pull off and you really have to nail the easy songs to earn praise from the judges. The universal panning probably means that Lacey is as good as gone.

Michelle Delamor, “Fallin” (Alicia Keys)
Started off poor, smoothed out in the middle, ended poor. This was not good, but luckily for Michelle there’s enough girls singing poorly that she’ll get lost in the crowd. With respect to singing Alicia Keys, see the Heart comment. Or better yet, don’t do it.

Didi Benami, “The Way I Am” (Ingrid Michaelson)
This was the strangest song choice of the night. It seemed to work for who Didi is, but singing a song that maybe only Mathan’s heard of doesn’t really help. This was not memorable, and she’s gonna need to step it up if she’s back next week.

Siobhan Magnus, “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak)
I thought that this performance was a pretty good rendition of a song that really doesn’t seem like an “Idol” song, but with Siobhan it worked because she worked with the dark and moody vibe. The problem is that given that this song doesn’t really “show you off” all the way through it’s more a round 2 song and probably doing something more upbeat would make her more memorable.

Crystal Bowersox, “Hand in My Pocket” (Alanis Morissette)
As much as I enjoyed the performance, it was probably too much busker and too little Idol. The judges probably hit it on the head in that with Crystal, it’s not really about the song and more about how she puts herself out there. Hopefully she sticks around, but I don’t know that she’ll get the chance to.

Katie Stevens, “Feelin’ Good” (Michael Bublé)
This sounded like an “alternative” strip club song, and once again it’s indicative of poor song selection from a younger singer. The voice was there, but the problem is that it’s not a good song to sing in competition – unless it’s Bublé week. I’m sorry, she shouldn’t be here at all. The producers should really let singers like Katie mature before throwing them into the fire like this.

Recaps, a preview of So You Think You Can’t Dance the guys, and we’re out.



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