American Idol Recap: In Which the Judges Concede That Siobhan Was Better Than Crystal

03/17/2010 11:28 AM |

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Well, what do you know? Rolling Stones night turned out to be a really terrible idea, pretty much all around. I found myself somewhat disappointed that really no one, except for Paige Miles of all people, tried to capture the energy—the swagger—of the original songs, most everyone choosing instead to slow things down. It was far more boring than it should have been, but there was one important turn of events: Simon told Bowersox she got beat. That wasn’t until the very end, though, so… from the beginning:

Michael Lynche: “Miss You”
Big Mike got his schmaltzy Vegas act started right quick tonight, opening his performance with his arms spread wide, pulling out all his most melodramatic facial ticks and super uncomfortable dance moves. His falsetto was embarrassing, but the rest of it was solid enough, not insofar as it’s actually solid, but insofar as people obviously like what he does, and it’s hard to imagine this performance, lame as it was, changing any of that. Simon told him it looked desperate, though, which… I mean, obviously.

Didi Benamo: “Play With Fire”
This was a really strange performance, through and through. For the first 30 seconds or so, Did stared directly into the camera, and it was wickedly unsettling at first, then just sad: clearly, she was trying to “connect.” And her voice sounded ok for the most part, and really impressive during the first chorus. Then she got confused and either forgot the words or didn’t come in on time, and sort of fell apart. Weirdly, though, the judges were impressed, barely mentioning the screw-ups.

Casey James: “It’s All Over Now”
Because I am a rockist, basically, I was super impressed and giddy that Casey actually used an open guitar tuning just like Keith Richards has been doing all these years, allowing him to do the awesome thing where you can strum without using your left hand for anything. Anyway, he sounded good, I thought. A little stiff, still, but assured and direct. And his guitar playing was actually pretty impressive too. Randy then said the sentence “you could make a great artist career like this,” and although very few of those words go together, I think he’s right.

Lacey Brown: “Ruby Tuesday”
I’ll say it right now: I think Lacey’s going home. And if she does, it’ll be hard to argue with, if also a bit unfortunate. When all is said and done, I just don’t think she has a big enough voice to go far: she’s rarely impressive in a traditional sense, but only in the sense that she displays a level of restraint that’s rarely been seen on Idol. I thought she did a really good job last night—the string quartet was a nice choice, and her vocals seemed perfectly placed. Randy was pleasantly surprised, Ellen smiled and said adorable or something, Kara thinks she can do better, and Simon thinks she’s too rehearsed.

Andrew Garcia: “Gimme Shelter”
If Lacey doesn’t go home, it will likely be because Andrew does. He ditched his guitar again, which just isn’t a good idea. It calls too much attention to his largely mediocre vocals, which aren’t really a problem for a guitar-toting artist we know he’d be if he were to win, but a huge problem for the type of person who holds the mic stand the way he did last night. The best part of the night was when Kara said she didn’t feel a connection, since the song was about Vietnam and he didn’t seem to be too taking it seriously, and Simon responded, “Do you want him to come onstage with a tank or something?”

Katie Stevens: “Wild Horses”
This is maybe not nice, but Katie’s lighting situation was a mess last night: the awkward silhouette of her dress was rendered impossible to ignore; her hair looked all scraggly, and is it me, or did she seem to be spitting, like, a lot? Regardless, her voice actually sounded ok, I thought. Doesn’t mean she’s not a characterless robot who should have gone home last week or anything, but, hmm. Not so bad.

Tim Urban: “Under My Thumb”
Man, this was some bullshit. He just straight up Jason Mraz’d it, and it was bordering on sacrilege. It doesn’t matter, of course, because he’s not going anywhere, but the judges finally came back to Earth and let him know it was terrible. He remained incredibly likable, though, when he told Ryan he thought it’d be stupid to try doing the Stone like the Stones, because he just doesn’t have it in him.

Siobhan Magnus: “Paint It Black”
By all accounts, this was the performance of the night, even if it wasn’t actually her best ever. It started out great, with her sitting comfortably inside the song while still managing to flip some notes around in a really impressive way. Then it got a little uncomfortable toward the middle, as she did sort of a weird, forced 80s-ish dance around the stage. Then she did the crazy notes at the end again, and about half of them hit just right, with the others bordering on screeching. Randy said “That was hot! Come on, that was hot!,” which is one of my favorite things Randy ever says. The others agreed.

Lee Dewyze: “Beast of Burden”
God, poor Lee Dewyze—so shy, so unsure of himself, always on the verge of tears. He was one of the night’s biggest disappointments for me, with his mush-mouthed, acoustic version of a Stones song that just isn’t big enough for his voice to hit its sweet spots. He tried, though, and he came close a few times, but overall, his performance was ruined by the mumbly alt-rock thing he did through the verses.

Paige Miles: “Honky Tonk Woman”
Well, what can I say? I owe Paige an apology. Aside from Siobhan and Crystal, this was my favorite performance of the night. She showed signs of an actual personality, she was comfortable with the camera, her voice sounded really, really big, and more than anyone else, she understood the intended spirit of the night. The judges weren’t quite as pleased as I was, but they granted that she was far better than she’d been in the past. Good for you, Paige. Keep it up, I say.

Aaron Kelly: “Angie”
So Aaron got a much-needed trip to the hairstylist, and while it’s nice that he no longer looked like a 5th-grader you want to shove in a locker, it was less nice that he looked like… I don’t know. A complete douchebag. And he was wearing what appeared to be a leather shirt? Fine vocals, the judges loved it. I don’t know how many more weeks I can put up with this.

Crystal Bowersox: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
For the first time this season, I was as impressed by Crystal as the judges have been. She looked more comfortable than usual, she was a bit more playful, and she did some really interesting things with the melody—making it more dynamic as opposed to less dynamic, which is what everyone else did last night. The judges liked it, of course, but they thought it was a bit too straightforward, lacking drama. And then Simon said the night belonged to Siobhan, which I think is maybe a big deal.

So who’s going home? I’m gonna say Lacey, officially. But my second guess is Andrew.

One Comment

  • Magnus has some traits that mark her as a great performer.

    1. Magnus is captivating on Stage
    2. She can miss technically but it does not diminish from the performance
    3. The audience is pulled along with her emotionally. This is no small thing and not many of the other performers can do this.

    I agree with you about her ending, the middle of the song was actually pretty much dead on, but I think Magnus – the emotive performer that she is – got caught up in the performance and it caused her to struggle a bit with her big note at the end. A flourish she really did not need to sell the song.