There is nothing quite like the dread one feels in the hours leading up to Lennon/McCartney night on American Idol . The potential for disaster is practically unlimited. It’s hard to imagine you’ll be in for anything other than two hours of tasteless, infuriatingly lame amateurs fucking with some of the best songs ever written, while four tasteless, infuriatingly lame, know-nothing judges tell them how great they are. But honestly? I found myself enjoying the shit out of last night’s episode. Once I got past Aaron Kelly, anyway.
Aaron Kelly: “The Long and Winding Road”
“The Long and Winding Road” is pretty fucking boring to begin with, so you can only imagine how painful it was when this kid got a hold of it. And to make matters worse, he seemed to be holding back vocally the whole time, doing this super embarrassing faux-raspy thing that just totally was not working. Randy was so bored he wanted to kill himself, Ellen said the word boring but was then so bored she didn’t finish her sentence, Kara thinks it’s the same shit over and over again, and Simon rolled his eyes when Aaron said that he chose the song because American Idol has been, duh, a long and winding road.
Katie Stevens: “Let It Be”
There’s a really tricky thing with Beatles covers, where you have to either re-imagine it completely or do it exactly the way it was originally recorded. Katie stuck pretty closely to the original, but she added some R&B runs throughout, basically just making the whole thing a tiny bit shittier. She sounded fine, though, and the judges went fucking crazy for it for some reason.
Andrew Garcia: “Can’t Buy Me Love”
I don’t know what to say about this, really. I thought it was a pretty nice (if admittedly forgettable) performance, but then the judges and my wife all agreed that it was mad corny. I was under the impression, though, that a certain amount of corniness was a given on Idol, and throwing it out there as an insult seems a little cheap to me, you know?
Mike Lynche: “Eleanor Rigby”
About 15 seconds into this performance, I said out loud, “The judges are gonna shit themselves over this.” They did, of course, and they were right to: Mike sang this ass off here, making substantial changes to the vocal melody while keeping the original string arrangement intact. Randy, Ellen and Kara loved it, but Simon was a little concerned that it was too Broadway-ish and old-fashioned. Then everyone started talking about Glee, all while there was an ad for Glee at the bottom of the screen.
Crystal Bowersox “Come Together”
I don’t really have much to say about the didjeridoo thing—she’s bringing dopey dorm-room hippie bullshit to the mainstream, and the judges insist that it is important and impressive. It’s not. And neither, for the most part, was her version of “Come Together” — it was fine, of course, in exactly the same way everything she does is always fine, but it seemed careless and formulaic, just more of the same. The judges thought it was amazing, current, slinky, sexy and great, but it was none of those things.
Tim Urban “All My Lovin”
Here’s my secret for the week: I think Tim Urban is awesome. Watching him last night was like watching the Monkees—it’s not at all current, but what’s current in the teen-pop genre he obviously wants to break into is complete and total bullshit, so good for him, I say. He has basically no range to speak of, but he also never fucks up. He hit a few nice notes, and there were some enjoyable volume changes. It was, I think, the best performance he’s capable of. The judges were impressed, and apologetic, even, for fucking with him so much over the past few weeks.
Casey James “Jealous Guy”
This was, without question, the best performance of the night. It was nicely arranged, and sung surprisingly beautifully. I would go so far as to say it was one of the best things I’ve ever seen on the show, and the judges agreed: Simon even acknowledged that it was better than his precious Bowersox.
Siobhan Magnus — Across the Universe
Did anyone else notice that Siohban was wearing so much lip gloss that she looked like she’d jumped head-first into a bucket of KFC? So gross. Anyway, she sat on a stool last night, which is always a bummer, and she didn’t do anything super crazy with her voice, which was also a bummer. She didn’t fuck it up royally like she did last week, though, so that’s good. In fact, it was basically flawless—which in itself is a bit of a problem: With Siobhan, it’s more enjoyable when she’s on the brink of disaster, then has to do something completely bananas at the end to redeem herself. The judges agreed that it was better than last week, but Kara correctly pegged it as “too polite.”
Lee Dewyze: “Hey Jude”
I can’t figure out if the stupid fake accent Lee uses when he sings is borrowed from bone-headed alt-rock he’s clearly so fond of, or the bone-headed singer-songwriter bullshit he also seems to enjoy, but whatever it is, it’s got to stop. I feel bad saying this about Lee, because he seems so nice, and because he’s struggled so much with his confidence, but dude seemed almost too confident last night. He was so pleased with himself that he let his vocals get sloppy—which no one noticed because it was impossible to pay attention to anything but the weirdo bagpipe player. It was a mess all around.
So who’s going home? Easy: Andrew. (Or Katie, of course, but I’m gonna stick with Andrew.)