American Idol – Episode 9-24 Review

Tonight is the last night a contestant is truly sent home. The remaining 10 will mainly have to walk off the stage and return to the Idol apartment complex for numerous singing and dancing rehearsals for this summer’s arena tour. The key to a few of the performers is not to be the best, but make sure someone stinks worse than you. Judging from last week, there’s plenty of folks begging to be 10 and not 11.

There’s something fishy going on at Idol. At the end of last episode Ryan said this week’s theme was “Teen Idols.” This had the promise of kids reviving the finer moments of David Cassidy, New Kids on the Block and the Jonas Brothers. Word leaked out that Miley Cyrus was going to be the mentor. Will Miley teach the kiddies on the proper way to pole dance in Daisy Dukes at the Teen Choice Awards? In the middle of the weekend, an audible was called. The theme was changed to Billboard #1 hits. Why such a bland move? Were the kids that pathetic in picking and performing from the Tiger Beat cover icons? Or was switcheroo forced by Miley Cyrus’s people that don’t want her attached to the Teen Idol tag since she’s going to be a superstar performer for decades like Madonna and Kate Smith!

The show opens with the judges walk across the stage. They look so uncomfortable. Ryan comes down the stairs looking ready to give us a Jesse James update on E!. Ryan wishes Lacey Brown the best since her best chance at stardom involves a VH1 recovery show. Randy plugs the fact that the Top 10 make the tour. Ellen looks extra wrinkly under this lighting. This show makes her look like Betty White’s college roommate. Kara and Simon blather on about every song tells a story. You know what song had a great story? “Da’ Butt” by E.U. is a gripping story. The Top 11 come out one more time.

We flashback to the mentor moment as Miley Cyrus drives up in an SUV. How much autotune does she get? She’s sold 15 million albums and conquered all the corners of entertainment. Really? She’s done Broadway? People take Miley seriously because she takes herself seriously. Where’s the blond Hannah Montana girl from her show? Why must she steal all the glory in a two person series? Miley is in the theater, but not sitting with the judges or her dad. She over praises this year’s contestant. She’ll be performing tomorrow night. Set your VCRs.

Lee DeWyze is doing “The Letter” by the Boxtops. Miley thinks he lacks stage presence. There’s no talk about Boxtops’ lead singer Alex Chilton dying last Wednesday. Lee breaks out a horn section and a suit from the Night at the Roxbury brothers. He’s cleaner in his vocals than before. Wife thinks he’s channeling Taylor Hicks without a harmonica break. He still lacks going into emotional overdrive. The ending works well. It’s a short song so he didn’t have to just repeat the title 20 times like most folks do. Randy praises him for going bluesy. Ellen compares him to her favorite pen. Is it this going to be like a Bic Banana pen? He’s back for her. Kara declares he sounds better and feels comfortable. Simon doesn’t think it was a “recording performance.” Simon and Randy get snippy. Lee needs to mention the performance is a tribute to the great Alex Chilton. He doesn’t say a thing. Ryan also skips it. Alex Chilton died last Wednesday. His obituary was in all the papers. There was an all-star memorial performance at SXSW last weekend. And he gets no love from this punk? I saw Alex perform several times at small clubs. The man was the ultimate in cool on that stage. You might also know him as the guy who originally performed “In the Street” with his band Big Star before it was used as the theme to That ‘70s Show. He lasted five decades in this business and these music people can’t take a second to give him a momentary memorial shout out? Alex was 16 when he sang “The Letter.” He had more soul than any teenage putz that ever went on this show. I can’t support Lee since he disrespected Alex Chilton with his ignorance. Shame on all these fools.

Paige Davis shows off a ring. Ryan teases Simon about buying a rock that size since Simon’s supposed to get married soon. Miley gives lame tips about Paige’s version of “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins. Paige opens the song on the rear steps. This sounds like it was recorded by Phil Collins as performed by the guys from South Park. She’s avoiding burping. She goes loud in the middle to cover up the disaster. I really can’t look at her without feeling sad. Is she still sick? Randy calls it terrible and uses the word “honestly” about 40 times. Ellen points out that she didn’t fall down. She focuses on how Paige looks and avoids saying anything about the music. Kara writes her off as no longer competing. Worst vocal of the season is her declaration. Simon asks her how she did? She admits it was a mess with her pitch. He fears the song has killed her. Really? There’s 9 other people who can hit the skids.

Tim Urban gets nailed by Miley for the rumors that he has no personality and is boring. Miley gives him a hug cause she thinks they’re lies. She wants the Vote For the Worst poster boy to make the tour. Tim will have a lot of fun with Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” He sounds so college glee club. Pat Boone couldn’t suck more fun out of this song. He slides across the stage to make us not worry about the blandness. He’s like a cruise ship performer except on a non-English speaking cruise ship. Randy asks if he had a good time. Randy wants to be wowed. He’s bored by the vocals. He calls it bad karaoke. Ellen talks about his huge number of fans yet calls him corny. Kara thinks little girls will love it. Girls scream they love Tim. Simon admits it was silly and pointless. So is he worse off than Paige? Let me get this right – Ryan says this is the greatest season ever for talent and already two of the three contestants are ruled as pathetic messes by the judges. Where is the top to bottom greatness?

Aaron Kelly has been toughed up with a denim jacket. Turns out that Aaron has laryngitis and tonsillitis. Ryan wrote something on a clipboard, but we can’t see it. Aaron has a crush on Miley. She liked his audition of her “The Climb.” Miley didn’t realize how good he was. What’s up with her wearing the booty shorts around a minor? He gives us Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing.” It’s rather rough, but at least the kid has the voice issues. He’s poured a little country flavor on the tune from Armageddon. Sounds like Kenny Chesney would rip this version off for a CMT special. There’s not much power to his weak voice. He’ll get through to the next round on pity. Randy points out pitch issues, but writes it off with the throat issues. Ellen believes it is a perfect song for him. Kara agrees with Ellen. Simon calls him brave, but old fashioned. Does he expect this kid to perform with a jet pack and Kanye glasses? Ryan reminds us we can vote for David Archuleta.

Crystal Bowersox is loved by Miley for her gospel notes. She wants her to go more gospel. Crystal gets Miley to sign her acoustic guitar. Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” She doesn’t mimic Janis. Once more this sounds like Ani DiFranco territory. She’s got the gospel element rolling. Even though she doesn’t move around the stage, she looks active during the peak of the song. This segment sounds more Janis. She even turns toward the band to do the final strum. A classy move on a show where the band is tucked away. Randy calls her a star and a folk singer. He’s happy. Ellen wants a bit more personality from her during prime moments. Kara feels more personality, but wants her to put her guitar down for one performance. Simon doesn’t want her to change a thing. He compares her to Pink’s cover.

Michael Lynche looks like he should be Miley’s bodyguard. He stares in her eyes and oozes out “When a Man Loves A Woman.” He wants to speak to the lovers with this song. He’s got the piano and strings on the stage. He goes for that light soulful touch. He’s giving a good show of range without sounding like he’s grasping at straws. He goes falsetto for the finale. It’s soft as cotton. Randy loves that he knows he’s an R&B soul guy. Ellen explains it was a safe choice. Kara found it boring and loungy with too many riffs. Simon sums it up as too much. He says this audition could have taken place 30, 20 or 10 years ago, but somehow it’s not contemporary. What is this contemporary song that Simon imagines?

Andrew Garcia forgets the words while performing for Miley. She gives him the advice to drop the acoustic guitar to keep from looking stiff. What will he do with his hands during Marvin Gaye’s “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” He keeps pointing at the audience with his free hand. Singing wise, he is doing all he can with his hands and moondance to distract the crowd. The wife declares he’s the goofy host that sings between the creepy pageant moments on Toddlers & Tiaras. This is karaoke in motion. Randy sums it as “For me, it wasn’t good.” Ellen hopes the fans vote for him cause it wasn’t fantastic. Kara once more brings up the “Straight Up” song since he can’t find a second act. Simon admits he overrated the “Straight Up” moment. “You sucked the soul out of that song,” Simon says. Isn’t that the point of this show? Simon attacks him for not having an idea what he is as an artist. Andrew disagrees. The kid hasn’t a clue outside of just getting a rush from the audience going nuts when he finishes a song. He’s like a trained seal. He does a trick and gets a treat. This isn’t artistry. If he avoided the ax last week as at least 4th from the bottom, he’ll be back to live for another clapping moment.

Katie Stevens is as old as Miley yet doesn’t look so worn out. Not much mentoring takes place. Katie has chosen Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” The audience is rather noisy at the start. She goes for the powerful notes in the middle. The she toughens up the notes that should be soft. She’s playing bold and loud. She hits a clunker note and goes soft for the end. Randy brushes over her being sharp and pitchy. He likes she went younger. Ellen views it as her best performance so far. Kara declares pop is her lane – not country like Simon said last week. Simon doesn’t believe her as believable in pop. She must go country. He wants her to make Kelly Pickler money.

Casey James must push himself this night. Casey is a big fan of Miley’s dad. His choice is Huey Lewis and the News’ “Power of Love.” He’s going electric. It’s just lacking. What’s the point of him having the guitar? It’s karaoke even with the large horn section on the balcony. It almost obscures his vocals. There’s very little to him in this song. Here’s the news – this is not a winning performance. Randy calls him the best musician on the show. Ellen’s not a fan of the song choice, but says it’s the best vocal. Kara thinks he’s getting better and is in a zone. She’s in a cougar zone. Simon goes after Kara since it was an ‘80s cover band. The crowd gets nasty. Simon finally earns a little money after three judges gave this way too much praise. There was no power to Casey’s love.

Didi Benami gets complimented on her vocal vibrato by Miley. Ryan screws up her last name in the introduction. Didi’s pick is Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.” She’s gone jazzy with an acoustic guitar and bass in the opening. She’s not doing too good singing that “you’re no good.” This looks like a Vegas floorshow with her flirting with the stand up bass player. Hard to take the song serious. Miley looks stunned. Randy loves the idea, but it was pitchy all over. Ellen doesn’t get the song choice. Kara’s left confused. Simon noted the irony of her yelling, “You’re no good.” He compares it to the bad part of a musical. Didi just wanted to have fun on stage. Well then why didn’t she do Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun?”

Siobhan Magnus looks extra punky. Miley loves her voice. She should have been Hannah Montana’s friend on the show. Siobhan drops the “wicked cool” line. She’s going to give us the high notes on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” She moves too cautions in the heels as she roams the stage. She’s not quite down in the groove. She sounds like she ought to be the star of a Disney Tween series. She does the big loud yelps at the end. Miley gives her a thumbs up. Why does the audience go nuts for the big note? Randy finds her fearless. He loves her going for it. Ellen wants more. Kara loves how she expresses herself on the stage. She’s amazed by Siobhan’s end notes. Simon doesn’t like the screaming at the end. He wants her and the others (outside of Crystal) to push themselves. He wasn’t impressed by the episode.

Maybe this would have been a better night if they’d stuck with a Teen Idol theme instead of having them break out the usual songs. At least it would have been fun.

Who should get left off the tour? Must they really only boot one person to the curb? There are way too many stinkers at the bottom of the pack. You really want to pay top dollar to sit through two hours of Paige, Andrew, Didi and Tim? They should only take the Top 6. Here’s how this last chance at arena stardom played out:

Crystal Bowersox & Michael Lynche

Aaron Kelly, Katie Stevens, Siobham Magnus & Casey James

Lee DeWyze

Tim Urban

Paige Miles, Andrew Garcia, Didi Benami

It’s a three-way tie for last. Garcia and Didi survived last week without being bottom three. They should be safe. Paige Miles should be searching for a summer job tomorrow night.

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