American Idol – Episode 9-26 Review

Enough of the lies spewed by Simon Cowell. Every week he ends up whining to contestants that of the millions or at least thousands of songs they could have selected, why did they pick that one? Liar!!! There are a set number of songs that have been cleared by the producers for the contestants to pick through. The list isn’t nearly as extensive as Simon brags. For tonight’s R&B night, the 10 contestants merely have 122 selections available according to various AI fan sites. There’s five Usher songs to appease tonight’s mentor. But what fool will do Usher in front of Usher? There’s even two Chris Brown selections if a contestant wants to pay tribute to the guy who destroyed his career by punching out Rihanna. It’s a rather limited list of songs with the usual warhorses by Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. Looking a how unsoulful so many of the remaining contestants are, there’s going to be 121 songs happy they won’t get mangled by Andrew Garcia. Simon really needs to come clean about the mechanics of his little talent show.

The show opens backstage with the contestants and the judges in their holding space. Simon fake kisses Ellen at Ryan’s insistence. Ryan wants to build up tension, but there’s really none left. The 10 touring slots are locked. All that’s up for grabs is the first person to get their solo song on the big revue. There’s plenty of fine candidates to fill that extreme slot. Ryan panders to the crowd about how the competition is getting cranked up. Did he not watch last week’s show? These people might need crank as an excuse why they’re on the fringe of forgettable. The Top 10 come out with Crystal Bowersox in a red dress that looks like a baby doll corset. Ryan introduces Usher as the mentor. He’s busy releasing a new record, but found time to be with the kids. Really? Cause this is such a low profile show to promote fresh material. Usher wants them to own their moment. Right now too many are subleasing fame. Ryan puts on his sunglasses to have a conversation with Usher. How cute. They have a lot of time to kill with only 10 performances over two hours. They could have had Prog Rock night. Casey James ought to do all of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Tarkus. Usher pimps his new album about his dichotomy.

Siobahan Magnus is wicked nervous meeting Usher. This interaction between the two goes on for what seems like an infomercial minus the Pro-active bottle. Her choice is “Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan. The microphone gives off feedback. Her weird lace up boots are distracting me. This is clunker note city on the chorus. My ears hurt as she turns pleading notes into noises normally heard by kidnap victims over a cellphone in Taken 2. She does the big note, but it can’t salvage the missteps. If this was the Apollo, the Sandman would just club her with the broom. Randy has pitch issues and praises her courageousness and conviction. Ellen nails her for getting lost, but loves her. Kara thinks she got nervous. She gives her a pass for having an off night. What a boot licker. Simon swears it sounded like she was singing after running a marathon. He doesn’t like her wardrobe. He swears it will sound worse when they hear it back. He’s bored of her screaming. Ryan points out that Simon has run a marathon. Ryan burns more time asking why she chose the song. Ellen thought she’d kill it. When will they cut to a commercial? The judges keep blathering about a forgettable performance. Hopefully other kids will stink it up so our punky goddess can survive for ‘80s night.

They show Siobhan walking into the green room. She’s a zombie as she walks past the other contestants towards the snack table. Big Mike gives her a hug.

Casey James arrives with his electric guitar to riff with Usher. The shirtless wonder shall plug into “Hold On I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave. He talks about how this is the roots of rock and roll. Why not do some Howlin’ Wolf? Ryan mentions the song has never been abused on the Idol stage. Casey has this frightening smile between singing verses. The song does play to his limited rage. The guitar plays more of role in the performance than his vocals. Remember when this was a singing competition show? It was rousing, but not even close to the Blues Brothers version let alone the original. Randy calls it a hot night for Casey. Ellen notes his consistency in voice and tone. She nails him as generic and the audience boos. Kara swears he has more range in his voice. Simon wants to be honest with him. This was Casey’s strongest week says the man with the hairy chest. Casey promises an acoustic song next week.

Big Mike Lynche dwarfs Usher. The advice deals with him projecting the energy from “Ready for Love” by india.arie . He’s seated with the acoustic guitar behind the judges so he’s closer to the audience. How are the judges supposed to rate him with their backs to the guy? Is it fair to rate him off the monitors in the table? He goes soft on the vocals. He’s rather poignant. He’s got the teddy bear going. He does a run at the end that once more overdoes it. He needs to just not worry about the tricks. Randy likes the guitar and sensitive nature of the song. Randy’s loving every performance. Ellen didn’t like him singing behind her back, but declares it beautiful. Kara praises it as an incredible job. Simon can take him seriously as an artist. This performance made him believe the performance and not write him off as Karaoke. Is it fair that they didn’t watch Mike with their own eyes? They got to enjoy him from the editing and camera angle. Not that he didn’t deliver, but it does give him an advantage.

Didi Benami cries after singing “What Becomes of a Broken Heart” by Jimmy Ruffin. Usher has to get her to suck up the tears. Now she fears the song might make her too emotional on the stage. Drama has been set! Why does this woman remind me too much of Jessica Simpson? The song starts very light to the point where it sounds like an easy listening station from 1978. There’s no real emotional range in her voice. It’s just not clicking. For someone who thought she’d break down, it’s a non-event. Randy nails it as flatlined. Ellen pre-boos herself. She thinks it was way too dramatic. Kara writes her off as overdone. Who is Didi since she’s not a singer-songwriter? Simon blathers that it is so old fashioned. He writes her off as one of the singers on Dancing with the Stars. Can Kate and Buzz clog through this? Ryan wants her to tell the secret of what makes it so moving. She won’t just link it to a tragedy. She’s not wanting to get the pity calls. Is she nuts? Go for the waterworks. Was this a favorite song for her dead friend that made her audition for the show?

Tim Urban is back and ready to spread the mediocrity. He loves having fun on stage and being the Vote For the Worst candidate. He’s licking up “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker. Usher wants him to imagine him as the love of his life and sing the song right. This is going to be a disaster of Shemp proportions. To sell the emotion, Tim’s sitting on the stairs. He’s got psycho eyes, the wife screams. His voice is so lukewarm when he finds a note. Vote for this man to win. He’s the perfect send off for Simon’s career. He’s got the vocal range of a roadie for a Reno lounge act. He ought to be singing through the drive up speaker at Sonic. Randy calls him a singing waiter. Randy swears he was mostly in tune, but with no swag. Ellen mentions an “adorable” drinking game, but doesn’t see him coming back next week. She sees him as sneaking into a bedroom. Kara can’t decide if it was Broadway or Vegas. Simon doesn’t think it makes a difference what they say about Tim. Simon swears the kid will be back next week. They get unnerved by Tim smiling as they rip into him. The kid wants to look nice on TV for his relatives.

Andrew Garcia has really been getting tons of callers while dishing out the blah soup. He hasn’t even been bottom three like Teflon Tim. How can this be? He picks dangerously with Chris Brown’s “Forever.” Female back up singers might not want to get too close if the spirit of the song possesses his right hand. He’s on a stool with his acoustic guitar looking sincere. They’ve piled on tons of strings to help keep it extra light. This song really rips off the Wrigley’s Doublemint slogan for the chorus? It’s not a trainwreck because there’s narrow range to his vocal. This is his best performance with callers involved. But it’s far from starmaking exceptional. Randy declares Andrew is back. Ellen thinks he found the song to go beyond the Paula Abdul moment. Kara leaves it as one giant leap. Simon thinks it is miles better. His only problem is Andrew as a person comes off as boring especially compared to Tim Urban. Simon gets upset when Ryan comes near the judge’s table. Simon swears personality is important. But Andrew hasn’t been in the bottom three like Tim Urban. Has Simon no memory of the scoreboard? Andrew’s mom gets playfully nasty with Simon’s boring snipe at her son.

Katie Stevens ran into Usher at EPCOT. They remember the good times at the most neglected place on Earth. He wants her to personalize Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” Does she really have the big voice for this? Horns move to the front of stage. She’s keeps things popping although her head bobbing is distracting. It would probably be a better vocal if she didn’t have to measure up against Aretha. Randy finds it the best vocal performance of the night and gives her the young Christina nod in places. She still needs to make it one big performance. Ellen wishes the song was a little more current. Kara calls it her best vocal performance, but needs to go back to being young and commercial. Simon thinks Randy is off with the Christina comparison. He dismisses her as robotic. He even slams Star Search. Is he fearful the revival will rival his upcoming X Factor?

Lee DeWyze gets grilled by Ryan about creating a moment. Turns out Lee had walking pneumonia. Usher views his version of “Treat Her Like a Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose as a treat. He goes with just the acoustic lady for the opening. The band kicks in for the chorus. His vocals get louder, but there’s no real upper range. He’s still got that Dave Matthews sound-alike quality in overdrive. At least he works it well enough that it doesn’t get painful. Randy drops the bomb with the raves. Ellen calls it best of the night. Kara wants the song on his first record. Simon reminds him that he always believed in Lee and this is the night his life changed.

Crystal Bowersox has broken out a pair of stilettos. She really doesn’t look coffeeshop cool. Will this style change her reception? Usher asks if she’ll play the piano instead of the guitar. This turns out to be her secret in performing “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips. She supposedly hasn’t played piano in years. Is this the right time to take it back? Nothing like being glammed up and shaking the rust off her fingers to impress her devoted callers. She keeps her piano playing simple with her voice taking the soulful range. She gets up from the keys on the chorus. The song seems over way too soon. With all the time on the night, it just needed a little more. Randy is working with Gladys Knight and thinks she’d love it. Ellen says she’s in it to win it. Kara appreciates the risk. Simon thinks it was great, but he doesn’t want her changed by the process. He thinks the piano took away from her focus. The backing singers make it old fashioned. Once more Bowersox has made the night matter for her career.

Jane Lynch of Glee is in the crowd. She actually has a night off? How can that be? She’s in everything on TV in the last decade. She might be in your wedding video. She’s the Colm Meaney of America.

Aaron Kelly is smaller than Usher. Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” gets picked over by the Grammy winner. The competitor gets tutored on the “I know” refrain about making it build. Aaron hits the stage and keeps the range tight. It’s like there’s a limiter on the microphone. He doesn’t sell the “I knows” like instructed by Usher. Was it that hard to remember? It’s soft vocal karaoke from Aaron. Randy notes it started rough, but didn’t get soulful enough. Ellen gives him a good job bone. Kara merely likes it. She notes the lack of energy and register. Simon dismisses as a cupcake that wasn’t as brilliant as other versions. It’s just OK. Ryan talks of how people like cupcakes. We like fresh cupcakes.

The show has really gotten predictable on the talent front. Nobody wants to get out of their extreme safe zones. Even Michael Lynche and Crystal Bowersox aren’t truly changing up their routines. By now they know how much is at stake. Nobody wants to go beyond for fear of tumbling. Tonight was R&B night and everyone played it as soft pop, acoustic rock or electric rock. Nobody dared to get rhythm for fear of seeing the blues tomorrow night. How did the show breakdown?

Michael Lynche & Crystal Bowersox

Casey James, Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens, Lee DeWyze & Aaron Kelly

Siobhan Magnus, Didi Benami & Tim Urban

If it plays out right, Siobhan is safe since she’s America’s sweetheart. Tim Urban should squeak through with his Vote for the Worst status. Didi should be heading back to the compound to practice group numbers for the tour. The only twist could be if Simon has Tim Urban axed out of spite. However the producers would be very foolish since the ratings dipped after Sanjaya was dropped.

Next week promises even more filler moments since there will be 9 singers and 2 hours.

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