American Idol – Episode 9-22 Review

They might as well describe the finalists as the Dirty Dozen because they’re rather ragged performers. The shock of Lilly Scott’s elimination signals that this season won’t be dictated by actual talent. Forget hitting the high notes. It’s all about crying after the judges rightfully tear into your lifeless songs to inspire callers.

The twelve guys and gals are lined up with Ryan Seacrest walking between them. He seems to think this is what they’ve been struggling to accomplish. Top ten is what they need to achieve for serious summer cash. A bad announcer names the judges as they walk from behind the center stage set piece toward the table. Ryan walks down a staircase onto the stage. This is the big stage until they return to the Kodak for the finals. The set hopefully won’t claim any lives just dreams. The Top 12 step out. They’re all spruced up for the big show. Nobody looks like they did at Hollywood week. They’ve been given a major clothing budget. Tonight’s theme is the songs of the Rolling Stones. Ryan blathers on about how great the Stones recent tours have been. Their lives shows were best in the early ‘70s with Mick Taylor on the other guitar. Dig around to find their shows when Taylor unleashed on “Midnight Rambler” and “Brown Sugar.” The three best are a Leeds concert that aired on the BBC, a King Biscuit Flower Hour from Brussels and their concert film shot in Dallas called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones. Clips from the film are up at youtube.

Michael Lynche does “Miss You” with a soulful edge. He’s got an amazing arrangement. Sounds like what would be done for Aretha Franklin or Luther Vandross in the ‘80s. They got the slap bass at full tilt. I got tingles from him. Damn shame he can’t do the entire song. Randy declares he slayed it. Girls in the crowd yell that they love Ellen. She’s calls it amazing. She’s also wearing a scarf to hide her throat. Kara blathers about Mick Jaggers’ attitude until she mentions he was hot on stage. Simon thought Michael’s dancing was corny and he sang it well. Simon sums it up as desperate. Ryan gets in Simon’s face about giving real constructive criticism. There’s just a nasty vibe between the duo. There might be a knife fight later in the season. Either way, Michael took more heat from Simon than he deserved. The snippy Simon must have been scolded for conducting X Factor business on Idol time.

The undeserving Didi Benami gives us old photos of her childhood in Tennessee. Her choice of Stones is “Play with Fire.” She starts on the staircase. She does the walk on the high notes. It’s toned down so it sounds like a musical number. She flares her nostrils at the camera during the chorus. It’s not a good visual. She goes for the high note, but it flattens out fast. Randy shouts that Didi was on fire. Ellen notices she lost her way on the stage, but found herself. Kara enjoys the intensity at how she got darker. Simon agrees with what everyone has said. Simon has been a fan of hers for the last few weeks. Really?

Casey James takes us back to Cool, Texas. This town shouldn’t be confused to Boffo, Oklahoma. His choice is “All Over Now.” He’s gone electric for a honky tonk rendition. He really needs a band around him. He spends most of the song looking down. The end gets a little sloppy. The final part of the song is all about his guitar solo and not his vocals. My wife notices that Casey looks over at Kara and then smirks. What’s going on? Randy declares he’s back! Ellen thinks it was fantastic. Kara calls him a rock star. Simon disagrees. He felt it was audition performance that wasn’t pushed. Strange that nobody brought up how the guitar dominated his performance and made his vocals secondary.

Lacey Brown warbles “Ruby Tuesday” with a string section. She really sounds like an animated character. Why does everything she sings sounds like its an outtake from The Sundays? Her Texas twang slaps around a high note. My wife despises her outfit. She’s got two tops fighting. Randy was pleasantly surprised since she held it together. Ellen finds it a tiny bit sleepy. Kara rates it 50/50. Simon sizes her up as performing as an actress. He warns her of the danger of doing the same thing week after week. She doesn’t have any second act.

Andrew Garcia tackles the dark and earthy “Gimme Shelter.” After three straight lackluster performances, can he really handle such a big song? The music is mixed way down low. It’s slow. The background singers are rather sparse in the chorus. He sings most of the song while looking at the stage. He clings to the microphone like a battering ram. He gets up for the final notes, but it feel like a build. Randy can’t deal with the pitchy nature. Ellen thinks it was his best performance yet. Kara gets elements of tone from him, but doesn’t feel it. Simon blathers that Kara is wrong at wanting to feel more from the song. Simon reflects that he was better in rehearsals.

Katie Stevens wants to put Connecticut on the map with her cover of “Wild Horses.” She’s blasted with white lights while perched on the stool. While soft, this isn’t the Gram Parson’s arrangement. She sounds like a singer on a talent show. She’s not getting under the lyrics. She does an annoying pause before repeating the song’s title about a dozen time. She better start crying now to get callers go. She does this horrible pose at the end to remind us that she’s a singer. Randy admits she corrected her pitch issues. Ellen insists Katie got into the song. Kara likes the variations on the melody. Simon commends her picking it. He chose this song for Susan Boyle to emotionally deflate. The judges are in the tank for Katie tonight.

Tim Urban grew up with 9 siblings and 1 shower. Guess mom must have hosed them off before school. With so much to pick from, why does he go for “Under My Thumb?” He breaks out the acoustic guitar to make it a Jason Mraz rendition with a reggae tinge. Sounds like something you’d hear played in the Caribbean on the dock used by cruise ships. It’s rather bland throughout. At least he didn’t forget the words. Randy didn’t like it. Ellen feels like it was resort oriented with no wow factor. Kara applauds him for doing something incredibly different. Simon calls it a boring song that didn’t work. He swears that Rolling Stones fans would be turning off their TVs after that song. Really? I can’t imagine hardcore Rolling Stones fans watching this show unless it’s all the warden allows on the TV.

Siobhan Magnus comes from a crafty kinda family which is proper for “Paint It Black.” She goes dark in her corset top black dress. It’s a theatrical version like Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Stones on Broadway. Her voice is pushing it. She goes for the big loud notes again. She holds this one long enough for Adam Lambert to walk beneath it. Randy unloads the hot praise. Ellen loves her look and sound. Kara dares to mention Adam Lambert. Simon calls it the stand out performance of the night. He says there’s a lot of people who will love and others that will hate it. Ryan makes her put on the glasses to geek her out. Siobhan was fun, but the judges pushed her hard.

Lee Dewyze chains down “Beast of Burden.” He takes it quiet and acoustic with his guitar and strings. He stumbles over a few words at the start. This is almost campfire entertainment if you’re looking to fall asleep outside the tent. His mumblecore vocals don’t add too much to the song. Randy thinks it’s dope. Ellen also believes it was great. Kara rates him as growing more than anyone else. Simon likes Lee as a person, but he doesn’t shine. Simon deludes us that Lee has an amazing voice. Is it? They’re hyping hard on him.

Paige Miles has been sick so combined with her inability to perform on stage, this is a trainwreck coming down the rails. Why was she given “Honky Tonk Woman?” Her voice is rough without the whiskey. She flips the genders and it just doesn’t cut it to hear “Honky Tonk Man.” This is just awkward and squirmy. She doesn’t completely fail in the vocals. Randy likes it. Ellen feels star quality on the stage. Kara applauds her hitting the big notes. Simon asks about what happened to her voice. She had laryngitis. He rates her higher because of that. Once more they score on a pity curve. At least she won’t cry and mention Michael Jackson.

Aaron Kelly can’t understand “Angie.” Is he really old enough to have the hots for David Bowie’s ex-wife? Maybe he could change the lyrics to “Miley.” He opens seated on the steps. He goes technical with his faux country vocals without going too emotional. He won’t be stealing anyone’s wife with this performance. Randy raps about the tender moments being hot. Ellen accuses him of stealing her hair style. She calls it a stand out performance. Kara admits he came back from last week. Simon goes on about how Aaron chose the right song.

Crystal Bowersox wraps up the night with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” She better rock out on this. Well the start is her acoustic guitar. Kinda gives me an Ani DiFranco vibe. She holds back on the vocal and leaps on the chorus. It’s nice, but doesn’t go out of control and recover at the end. It never gets ecstatic. Randy loves her and isn’t disappointed. Ellen enjoys her effortless singing. Kara agrees with Ellen. Simon observes she was beaten by Siobhan. Lily Scott is sort of on the show since Crystal has worked a feather from the eliminated contestant into her dreads.

The night was a rather ho-hum affair with the exception of Michael Lynche who might be in trouble since he got the opening slot. That never helps a contestant on the two hour show. There’s way too many contestants getting completely pimped by the judges without really putting out the goods. Here’s the breakdown:

Michael Lynche

Crystal Bowersox


Siobhan Magnus, Lee Dewyze, Aaron Kelly, Casey James, Katie Stevens & Didi Benami

Paige Davis

Lacey Brown, Andrew Garcia & Tim Urban

Andrew Garcia should be marked for elimination. He blew his load before it mattered. But at least Paula Abdul feels grateful for having her name mentioned each week.

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