American Idol – Episode 9-30 Review

Why did American Idol executive producer Ken Warwick confess to Entertainment Weekly that Adam Lambert is tonight’s mentor out of pity. “At the moment he’s not doing quite as well…,” the guy deflates last year’s runner up. Can’t these people understand the showbiz credo that you always lie up the silver lining? After spending months lying that this batch are the most talented Top 24 of all time, the producers ought to get used to fibbing to the press and viewing public.

In case you’re curious Afghan Pop, the documentary about the version of American Idol run on Afghanistan TV is running on HBO OnDemand. Those kids have to worry about death threats instead of merely barbs from Kabul’s answer to Simon. Oddly enough, not one of them sings a Whitney Houston song.

Ryan has the nine kids on the stairs. He lets us know that 2 of the contestants will get voted out tomorrow. Can Tim Urban survive the double homicide? Fans in the crowd have nasty signs about Simon and a sumo wrestler. Did I miss a scandal at a sushi bar? Tonight is only 90 minutes long. This means we won’t have to sit out the terminal fluff between the songs. Tonight’s theme is Elvis Presley! Did you know the guy who owns American Idol also owns Elvis’s likeness and runs Graceland? The 9 kids were sent to the Elvis show in Las Vegas. No Graceland trip? That stinks. But they got to push the new Cirque show. Ryan talks about how Adam Lambert is “fascinating” audiences around the world. Where did that word come from? Adam Lambert is in the crowd and sitting next to a girl. Jane Lynch from Glee is sitting behind him. They should have moved her up. Even in widescreen Jane’s kept out of the frame. The woman is an international superstar and deserves more respect. Adam wants more energy out of the kids.

Crystal Bowersox goes off the Clear Channel playlist with “Saved.” The song’s featured on his NBC Comeback Special. She’s picked wisely for a semi-obscure yet perfect for her style song. She gets into the gospel-blues tempo. The back up singers are providing pulpit notes. Crystal’s got the electric guitar going without it dominating. Looks more like something that gives hands work. Melissa Etheridge should steal this arrangement. Only fear is that coming out early might hurt her vote total. Randy swears she’s the second coming of Bonnie Raitt. Ellen wants to call out birthdays of audience members cause she’s a broken record in her praise. Kara feels she did good things. Simon relates to the lyrics about “lying and cheating.” Simon loves that she didn’t choose an obvious song and karaoke it up.

Andrew Garcia is all smiles even though he was second worst last week after being bulletproof for so long. In Vegas, he does “Hound Dog.” It bored the Glambert. He tries to punch it up, but it still sounds weak. After the horns, Andrew sings the opening lines. The energy is gone. He slowly walks around the stage holding the microphone. He goes around the back of the judges. He needs to keep walking out the door. It’s horrifically forgettable. Randy decrees it as not good karaoke. Ellen wishes he had more swagger, but swears he pulled it off. Kara calls the microphone a crunch. Simon dismisses it as lazy. Simon’s microphone sounds like it’s been turned down. Are we hearing him off Kara’s mic? Are they starting to sabotage him as revenge for his splitting to X Factor? Next week they’ll lower his chair.

Tim Urban better bring some swagger to the stage. He better prove he knows how to have fun. He’s going a little soft with “Can’t Help Falling In Love” from Blue Hawaii. Glambert calls it pretty, but wants him to go up on the ending notes. Tim is on the part of the stage behind the judges with his stool and acoustic guitar. He’s going for the lovelorn voice like Jeff Buckley. There’s like some guys up and dancing at the side of the stage. Glambert’s go high at the end advice works. This is frighteningly good. There’s no excuses or rating him on a Tim scale. He ruled. Randy actually liked it. Ellen compares him to taking shots of tequila. He’s improved. Kara declares it her favorite Tim performance. Simon sucks up by saying he went from zero to hero. Tim Urban isn’t merely back, he’s dominating. Andrew Garcia better get used to getting ready before Tim on the tour. Tim might be worth downloading from iTunes.

Lee DeWyze would have been cool doing “Little Less Conversation” a decade ago when it was a great lesser song. The JXL remix made it popular. Glambert wants him doing more when performing. DeWyze sounds like a protest singer with his acoustic guitar. The band brings up the beat. He’s doing better in making eye contract with the crowd, but he’s not in full rock star mode. He needs to look like he’s going to break a sweat. Randy confirms Lee is in the zone with good hair. Ellen says it felt like a new song. Kara wishes he was more playful. Simon doesn’t understand what playful means. Simon thinks he nailed the song.

Aaron Kelly goes Carl Perkins with “Blue Suede Shoes.” Sure Elvis did it, but it’s Carl’s song. It’s like paying tribute to Pat Boone with Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” Aaron is on the stairs for the opening. He sounds like a kid in a high school production of Grease. The tempo slows down so he can explore and sustain a few notes. It’s a nice long note at the end. Randy prefers the second half with the blues break. Ellen somehow calls it iconic of Elvis. No. It’s Carl Perkins! Kara likes her out of his comfort zone. Simon feels it is karaoke and unoriginal. He’s hatin’ on the kid. A bit of strange trivia: the flipside of Elvis’s cover of “Blue Suede Shoes” was Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruitti.”

Siobhan Magnus grew up an Elvis fan. There is a reason to like her. She pulls out “Suspicious Minds” for Glambert. He sense it is sleepy. He peps it up. The duo bond. She starts her song with the back to the audience. She glows like a Mandrell sister on a TV special. She’s got lightning bolts on her outfit. Is she taking care of business in a flash? She picks the right moment to go with her big notes and it’s less like a car alarm. She does a softer high night at the end. She should have done both in the soft tone. Randy feels the song came alive during the quiet part. Ellen also enjoys the second half with the big notes. Kara gets confused by Siobhan’s two voice. Simon confuses me with a time travel tale. He hates it and can’t figure her out as an artist. Siobhan goes after Simon by declaring that she can’t pinpoint herself. She’s not going to be stuck in a cartoon character persona like Simon. This little volley should help her as much as tears with callers. Let’s face it, Simon can be mimicked without much talent involved. A t-shirt, a buzz cut and a rude quip is all you need to be Simon for Halloween.

Ryan tells us that next week is Idol Gives Back. He plugs show and the return of Brian Dunkleman. His first season co-host will return? Psyche! It’s Queen Latifah. That is a cold move. Seacrest needs to send Brian some make up muffins.

Michael Lynche will sing once more for his life with “In the Ghetto.” Has he ever heard Sammy Davis Jr.’s version? He should have done “Saved.” He sits on the edge of the stage with his acoustic guitar. It’s way slow. This is like a telethon performance. Should we be donating when calling his phone number? He doesn’t do too many vocal tricks this time. He plays it heartfelt and sober. The song just ends without a major rise. Randy says it’s sleepy, but hot vocals. Ellen, Kara and Simon like his slow take.

Katie Stevens chooses “Baby What You Want Me to Do” to express her anger at how the judges confuse her. Wife swears she looks like an ‘80s star. She’s going soulful with the Jerry Reed penned tune. Ever seen the Scooby-Doo starring Jerry Reed? Katie packs on the sass with a lot of head wagging. She doesn’t let the vocals get too emotional. Randy suggests he was entertained. Ellen calls it a “very horny song.” Working blue around the kids. Kara thinks Katie showed the judges. Simon scoffs it as loud and annoying.

Casey James is kept apart from Glambert. No need to start rumors. He’s going obscure Elvis with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” He does it with a bit of Southern rock flavor. Somehow his vocals seem a bit tapered while he keeps looking down at his fingers on the acoustic guitar. He’s kept off to the side of the stage so he can’t stare at Kara and give his goofy grin. Randy gives a half hearted compliment of it being a solid performance. Ellen calls it not exciting, but good. Kara is letdown. Simon thinks the vocal was good, but the song was forgettable.

Adam Lambert did a fine job as a mentor to the kids. Shame the producers are being so pathetic in their hyping the guy. Maybe he did go over the top, but it’s better to crash and burn on your own terms. Who would expect Tim Urban stealing the show? There’s no need to call the Memphis Mafia to figure out the bottom three.

VIVA LAS VEGAS
Tim Urban, Crystal Bowersox & Michael Lynche

SPINOUT
Lee DeWyze, Siobhan Magnus & Katie Stevens

HEARTBREAK HOTEL
Aaron Kelly, Andrew Garcia & Casey James

What two members will be playing double dutch this week in the rehearsal space? Andrew Garcia and Casey James are my picks for the double stuffed send off.

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