American Idol – Episode 9-20 Review

Last night’s womens night was another lackluster affair. Even the one-two punch of Crystal Bowersox and Lilly Scott didn’t completely impress me. This crop of kids should be competing on your local Gimme the Mic. Will somebody turn up the heat? Last week’s Guys round was a play it safe marathon as nobody dared to wow the audience. They just wanted to not make mistakes. I’m fearing that the remaining 8 guys will spend tonight serving up the mild.

Ryan has the eight remaining guys standing in a row. He walks down and calls out their name in their face as if this is boot camp. They should have hired R. Lee Ermey to put the fear in their shoes. Luckily tonight doesn’t open with Ellen on Simon’s lap. Ryan does want to know why Simon and Kara leaning into each other. She blames it on separation anxiety with the finace. Ryan points out how tonight’s cut is the toughest since this will decided the Top 12. But that’s a lie. Only the Top 10 go on the big tour.

Lee Dewyze goes now with “Fireflies” by Owl City. It’s more of his Dave Matthews tones except without the range in the woe. For a new song this sounds like goofy hippie stuff that would have bored us back in the ‘70s. Randy calls it a strange song choice, but he made it his own. It worked for him. Ellen likes that he made it rock. But there were pitch problems. Kara feels confidence from him. She swears he made it a better song. Simon gets it right by saying there’s nothing to rave about. Although he still thinks Lee has improved over the last three weeks.

Alex Lambert will once more drag out “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne. He sounds like a kid singing the song. His voice is weird because at certain times he has the tone, but he lacks the depth of the notes. It’s like it’s a 33 being played at 45. I don’t feel any trouble from this guy except in begging for callers. Mediocre at best. Randy didn’t feel wowed, but he liked it. He felt it was too fast. Ellen calls him a ripening banana. He’s getting better. Kara declares the only thing in the way of Alex winning is Alex. He’s not in the moment on the stage. Simon agrees. He’s never seen him relaxing and having a good time. He gives a strange idea of imaging Randy in a Bikini. How about just letting the kid have a couple shots of Jack Daniels before hitting the stage? Worked for Frank Sinatra, why not the mullet?

Tim Urban is also dragging out an abused title: “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen as arranged by Jeff Buckley. He’s got pitch issues. There’s a moment he almost gets the chill factor and then undercuts it by taking down his notes. With his acoustic guitar, he sounds like a kid in a dorm stairwell. Randy thinks he did a pretty good job. Ellen fears she’s been too hard on him every week. She runs onto the stage and gives him a hug. It’s fantastic for her. Kara suggests he’s in it to win. She felt the honesty of the song. Simon brags about being responsible for boosting his confidence. Simon compares it to the finest performance he’s done so far.

Andrew Garcia finally reworks another pop tart’s hit with Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.” Guess he heard enough talk about his Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.” Ryan has to pester Andrew about the song in the red room. More mentions of Paula. The version works without the pop tart inflections. It sounds like a demo for a Gypsy Kings album minus the rest of the guitars. He almost gets to the point of getting beneath the song, but too much of it comes off as cheese. Randy didn’t feel it working for him. Lots of pitch problems and no range. Ellen prefers the end of the song. Kara declares he peaked so early. It wasn’t great. Simon is with Kara. He smells desperation. “You’re just going backwards,” Simon summarizes.

Casey James goes country with Keith Urban’s “You’ll Think of Me.” This starts out so sluggish. It’s like Bob Seager on valium. Even the intense chorus is quiet. There is so little range that the crowd’s clapping almost over shadows Casey’s vocals. They have to tweak up his microphone. It’s not sad enough to make you want to cry. Randy calls it a safe choice. Ellen pumps up the crowd by calling him great. Kara is kinda back on the Casey train. He’s somehow more honest to her with this song. Simon doesn’t think we’ll be raving about this in 24 hours. But he sounds great. Hmmmm.

Aaron Kelly also wants to take it Nashville style with Lonestar’s “I’m Already There.” At least he’s not playing guitar. He at least has a big note moment on the chorus. Somehow from his mouth this comes off as a Disney ballad. His countryfied accent varies with part of the song. He gives a cheesy smile with the head waggle to sell it. He wants to be adopted by the Jonas Brothers. Randy wants him to work on the lower notes. Ellen loves him. She doesn’t think it was that terrific. Kara also loves him. She doesn’t think the song was relevant to his life since it’s about a guy calling home to talk to his kids. Simon rubbishes her. He thinks it was a nice song even if he hit a few bad notes.

Todrick Hall goes all out with Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” He does high Michael Jackson notes at the opening. It’s very theatrical in his slight reworking. Even in the high moments, he looks restrained. This isn’t over the top entertaining. He goes up for the final big note. But it’s just not overwhelming. Randy shouts that Todrick is back. Best male vocal so far. Ellen calls him a brave, brave man. She wishes he’d done it more as a gospel song. Kara drops it as a Godspell in moments. Simon splits it up as good in parts. He slaps him with the Broadway singer slur. But admits the guy wasn’t safe like others.

Big Mike Lynche takes us Maxwell with “This Woman’s Work.” His work is all in the falsetto. Wait, this is a Kate Bush song. The opening lyrics are very light and not mixed right. He gets emotional in the middle. He holds a big note. The best of the night, but that’s not much competition. Wish the song had been mixed better. Randy gives him a “really?” Ellen declares him the one to beat. Kara is in tears. She’s crying and relates it to Big Mike’s wife and baby. Simon hugs her. Simon swears this was so needed.

The phone number montage really gives Alex Lambert a bad note time. Big Mike’s big note gets the replay. The man is the winner. And who are the losers?

Michael Lynche

Todrick Hall, Aaron Kelly, Casey James, Lee Dewyze & Tim Urban

Andrew Garcia & Alex Lambert

As of this episode, Michael Lynche is front runner in either gender.

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