American Idol Episode 9-30 Recap

Last week was a weird one, as Michael Lynche ended up with the lowest number of votes and the judges got to use the Save as was intended to be used. I’m not saying that Matt Giraud was undeserving of getting the Save, but I doubt they would have used the Save had it not been it’s debut season. It would be like the Hidden Immunity Idol not being used by Gary on Survivor: Guatemala when it was the first time one had been available.

All of this of course means that we will have two people booted off this week, which should put fans of the better singers on notice to do what’s needed for them to stay. It also means that the singers should, in theory, sing better, but that doesn’t always happen.

This week’s mentor is last season’s runnerup, Adam Lambert. Presumably the mentorship will extend only to singing, and not dealing with the failure of not winning. Although he’s dealt with that rather well, thank you very much. The contestants were sent to Lost Wages, Nevada to meet with Adam on the set of “Viva Elvis”, as it’s apparently Elvis week. Adam is not in this production (since it’s a Cirque de Soleil thing. They’ve got six shows running simultaneously in Vegas.) but has gotten made up to look like a sparkly young Elvis. It works for him, actually. Regardless, Adam has proved to be a very good mentor, actually providing constructive criticism to the contestants beyond “hey, I never thought of that”. I don’t know why they haven’t done this before – going through the Idol machine gives people a unique perspective on things.

Regardless, singing Elvis is a very dangerous endeavour. It’s so easy to take a song and move it into cheesy-bad territory, so song selection is critical, as is what you’re going to do with a song. And if you can’t figure out what you want to do, I think it’s probably best just to do it straight. This is probably where Adam really helped the contestants out, because they largely did a good job with their performances, outside of one big fail.

Crystal Bowersox, “Saved”
Speaking of sparkly, Crystal’s guitar is beyond sparkly. It’s Crystal, it was a song done in her style, and it was great. The only thing Crystal fans should be concerned about is that she’s basically been annointed as the winner, and you’ve seen how well that worked out for Adam last season.

Andrew Garcia, “Hound Dog”
This was everything that Crystal’s performance wasn’t, in a bad way. This was Reggae or R&B or Luau or something else I haven’t been able to identify, and it really wasn’t good. I guess we should’ve said it before, but now it’s very evident that if you give Andrew a few months to come up with something he can do incredible things with a song. Give him less than two weeks and he can’t do a thing with a song. Adam seemed to try and put Andrew on the right track but it was a losing battle for the mentor. If Andrew’s not gone this week it will be unfortunate for whoever goes in his stead.

“Teflon” Tim Urban, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
So the key for Tim, it seems, is to not think to hard about the performances, because it’s actually quite good when he’s not trying to make a production out of things. Here, we didn’t get a reinvention like Crystal and Andrew (and with the UB40 cover out there, it would’ve been so easy to go Reggae with this), but simply a change in the melody. It’s kind of as if Tim did a descant to the original melody. Tim has almost got me thinking that he has a chance to win here. Almost.

Note: I believe this is the first time Kara’s used her “singer/songwriter” catchphrase since Didi was eliminated. I can’t say as I missed it.

Lee Dewyze, “A Little Less Conversation”
Thankfully, Lee’s performance did not look like this:

Not Jon Peter Lewis’ finest moment. But it was for Lee, and it was at this point where you could see that most of the contestants were really understanding what was needed to “reimagine” the Elvis songs, as we saw Crystal and Lee do great jobs with new arrangements, and Tim not toying with the arrangement but altering the melody. Lee is still in the zone, and now that he’s smiling he’s definitely a dark horse contender.

“Padawan” Aaron Kelly, “Blue Suede Shoes”
This is an example of where just doing the song would’ve sufficed, but Aaron did that Vegas thing in the middle and it just didn’t work. He did try to hit the notes harder but I really didn’t feel that it was enough to where I was feeling the song. But again (and I know I bring this point up a lot) being that young, I don’t feel that Aaron or Katie have the life experience to bring more than they already do. They can sing, but there’s a limit to what else they can bring to the table. I can’t fault Aaron for trying, but I think he’s hit the wall here.

Siobhan Magnus, “Suspicious Minds”
My personal favourite cover of “Suspicious Minds”:

This was the usual Siobhan mashup of control then big voice, but I don’t know how Kara sees her as having gone crazy at the end. It was actually still a lot of control, and it was Vegas without being TOO Vegas. It was changed up from what one would normally expect (Siobhan slowed down where people would natrually speed up the song) and I really felt it worked. But where I felt that Siobhan truly shined was when Simon and Kara were noting that they didn’t really know who Siobhan was as a singer, and Siobhan (without a trace of arrogance) noted that she was an amalgamation of different styles, so SHE didn’t even know who she was as a singer. Well put by the show’s resident “geek”.

Michael Lynche, “In the Ghetto”
This was the “Michael got saved so he goes back to what he does best” moment. An acoustic guitar, and a soft song to show that the big man is sensitive too. Hey, it worked for me. Last week’s scare should keep Michael safe, but we only have one season from which to deduce trends, so I have no idea if he will be.

Katie Stevens, “Baby, What Do You Want Me To Do”
If the intent here was for Katie to come off as angry, then this was a massive fail. A head bob makes you sassy perhaps, but does not convey anger. Perhaps Katie cannot truly convey anger – chalk it down (again) to the innocence of youth. I can’t really fault the singing – it was fine – but based on the session with Adam there could have been so much more, and (again) I just don’t think that there is much more that Katie can do with the song because of her youth.

Casey James, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”
Now in contrast to Aaron and Katie, Casey really should know better. He really needed to hit this song harder than he did, and it came off more like a Hot AC cover than Rock ‘n’ Roll. Compared to most everyone else, it just didn’t seem like enough for Casey to advance, but we shall see how he fares this week. I think he was a bottom three performer, and I’m predicting him to be in the bottom 3, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got enough votes to stay out of danger.

Before I wrap things up I have to say I enjoyed Ryan’s joke at Bryan Dunkelman’s expense. Although to be honest I’ve never figured out why they needed dual hosts in the first place. Yes, Pop Idol had Ant and Dec (or as my wife calls them, the Gits) as hosts, but they’d been announcing partners for years and so had the chemistry and experience to play off of each other. But other Idol shows felt the need to follow this pattern, and the end result was usually the dropping of one of the two. And say what you want about Seacrest, but he has grown a lot as a host since the early years, especially when you compare this season to this:

Yikes.

Kevin’s Rankings:
Lee
Crystal
Tim
Siobhan
Michael
Katie
Casey
Aaron
Andrew

Predicted Bottom 3
Aaron
Andrew
Casey

Predicted Eliminations:
Aaron
Andrew

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