Thought “Idol” couldn’t get any more dramatic than last week’s Judges’ Save? Well, you thought wrong, my friends, because this week marked the return of the Master of Melodrama himself!
That’s right, last year’s runner-up, Adam Lambert, came back to mentor the Season 9 hopefuls. No the theme wasn’t pyrotechnics or dramatic entrances. As I speculated last week, the Idols did, in fact, tackle the songs of Elvis Presley. (Just call me Miss Cleo!)
Now, if you followed my musings last year, you know that I have never been a huge fan of Glambert and his guyliner. In addition, the fact that the producers even chose to feature him as a mentor at all drew a capital “WTF?” from me. With so many “AI” alums to choose from, why would they ask him? He hasn’t even been off the “Idol” stage for a full year and -- I hate to rub it in -- but he didn’t win.
What’s next? Is he going to be auditioning for Simon’s seat?
I have to say, though, that he actually did a really good job mentoring. He offered the contestants real advice and criticized them with honesty and tact, no easy feat. He lauded the Idol’s personalities and voices, saying that they just needed “a little coffee.” (Funny, I always thought Elvis was more of a barbiturate kind of guy.)
The more I thought about it, I realized that it was actually Adam’s fans, not he himself, who turned me off to him last year. They were so passionate that they were borderline rude, even calling people who didn’t worship him homophobes. In the end I don’t think it was homophobia that lost Glambert the “Idol” crown; I think it was the off-putting bravado of his fans.
He won me over right away when he first addressed the Idols and got the big question (which was “WTF?”) out of the way. “Obviously I’m just at the beginning of my career,” he said, “so what the heck do I know?” But he went on to explain that he knows exactly what the Idols are going through. And I have to hand it to him, he does know how to perform.
There were only two real gaffes during last night’s show and, not surprisingly, they came from Ryan Seacrest. The first was when Glambert was jokingly coaching him on how to sing better, telling him he had to “get the tongue out” more. Seacrest responded, “My tongue is not nearly as talented as yours.”
The second comment of questionable taste? When Seacrest was announcing some of the details for next week’s “Idol Gives Back” telecast, he mentioned that there would also be celebrities participating at a second location, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. “I can announce that Brian Dunkleman will host that portion of the show.” When some audience members started to clap, Seacrest had to interject with an “I’m kidding.” I think that was supposed to be some sort of attempt at humor but it was completely inappropriate. It’s times like these when I wish Brian Dunkleman were back!
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX “Saved”
This gospel-blues song sounded like it could’ve been straight out of a revival ... at the First United Church of Free Love and Other Hippie Crap. In fact, Randy even made an allusion to it being like the “second coming of Bonnie Raitt.” I’ve gotta say that, as usual, Crystal’s vocals were perfection. I am not familiar with this song but I would’ve liked to have heard her do something a little different from her usual schtick. I want to see the more vulnerable side of Crystal -- on a stool with just her and the acoustic maybe. Her vocals are always going to blow us away, but why not blow us away with something that is more unexpected -- “Love Me Tender” or “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Loved the sparkly electric guitar -- very Taylor Swift (except with a good voice). Hated the pants -- very wallpaper in a bordello (except not as classy).
ANDREW GARCIA “Hound Dog”
Andrew’s rehearsal just left Adam wanting more. “It was boring,” he said. Clearly he saw that “Straight Up” performance like the rest of us. (I feel ya, Glambert!) Mistake number one: Garcia abandoned the guitar. Mistake number two: Garcia abandoned the cordless microphone. I know he was trying to channel Elvis with the mic stand and old school microphone but it was just awkward. Even Kara said that it seemed like a crutch. I would agree and what’s funny is that, usually, he uses the GUITAR as a crutch. Andrew Garcia does not know how to perform without some sort of prop. Additionally, the arrangement reminded me of a lame 70s sitcom theme song. (Maybe Siobhan could be the wacky neighbor.)
TIM URBAN “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
After SeaPest rudely introduced him as “Turban," Tim did what he does best -- the ballad-on-a-stool thing. Granted, it’s hard to go wrong with this song. I mean, even UB40 had a hit with it. The melody is beautiful and, even when Urban changed it, it worked. Glambert seemed to really like him too and tried to push him outside his comfort zone. (No, dirty minds, I’m talking about using his falsetto!) I was really getting into the song ... until I saw Ryan and “AI” alum Michael Sarver slow-dancing in the audience. Way to distract the contestants, buddy! Simon said he had gone from zero to hero. I swear, if my beloved Siobhan ends up leaving the competition, I’m gonna start voting for this kid, just because.
LEE DEWYZE “A Little Less Conversation”
Oh, Lee DeWyze, I just do not see your appeal -- unless maybe it’s your amazing voice. The thing is, I need more from my Idols than an amazing voice. Adam mentioned that there was “nothing going on” with the face and I couldn’t agree more. (So this is why he’s the mentor!) He’s just not very likable, regardless of his voice. Kara wants him to be more playful. If that means incorporating a bagpipe every week then I’m all for it. Lee said he was afraid that America thought he wasn’t a very happy guy. I’m glad he clarified that he was actually having fun because I have been preparing a campaign to raise funds for his personality transplant.
AARON KELLY “Blue Suede Shoes”
Oh poor little Aaron. How could you not feel sorry for him when he, referring to his song choice, said, “It’s probably wrong in every possible way?” I have to hand it to him, though. At least he didn’t do another Rascal Flatts-style ballad interpretation. While I was hoping that someone would sport a jumpsuit for this episode, I think Kelly came closest to wearing a costume with his blue t-shirt. You’d think that the “Idol” glam squad could set him up with some actual blue suede shoes, though. Bummer! While I think that Kelly is one of the most naturally talented kids on the show, I still think that he needs to gestate a little more and become confident in his abilities. This performance was very “group number without the group” (and Auto-Tune).
SIOBHAN MAGNUS “Suspicious Minds”
Finally they come face to face. Now we know for sure that Adam Lambert and Siobhan Magnus are not the same person. After Glambert told her to pick up her sleepy arrangement, they engaged in a little mutual admiration. I have to say, that while this wasn’t my favorite Siobhan performance, I am still growing my beard until she wins. The judges seem confused by her “two different voices” but Siobhan explained that she takes pride in being different and doesn’t see the need to label herself. You go, girl! As long as she continues to surprise with her song choices, outfits and arrangements, I’m content to just label her “Siobhan.” After all, how did they first label Madonna or Lady Gaga?
MICHAEL LYNCHE “In The Ghetto”
When first I heard that Lynche was doing this song, all I could think about was Eric Cartman’s version on “South Park.” Once I stopped laughing, I paid full attention to what seemed to be the back-up music for a PSA on gang violence. It was, as Randy said, “a little sleepy” but the singing was great. I am glad that Michael was saved by the judges and I’m curious to see if his fans pulled through for him this week. He’s got the voice and he certainly has the personality.
KATIE STEVENS “Baby What You Want Me To Do?”
Katie is at her best when she actually connects to what she’s singing about. This was the perfect song choice for her; a way for her to channel her frustrations with the judges. In fact, aside from last week’s “Let It Be,” I thought this was little Katie’s best performance yet. It was very reminiscent of her “Chain of Fools” performance, though -- the strutting around, the “no you dit’ent” head jerk. There was also something that called to mind the jazz club scene in “Adventures in Babysitting.” Perhaps it was her fresh-faced youth mixed with the blues? I really wish she would’ve gone right up to the judges’ table (a la Seacrest) and sung it directly to them. Maybe that would’ve impressed Simon more, as he once again proved that he’s already checked out when he noted, “They liked it so it doesn’t matter what I think, right?”
CASEY JAMES “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy”
Casey’s vocals and confidence seem to be getting better and better each week. In fact, I think he’s come the farthest since the beginning of the competition. The problem? While James does the bluesy thing quite well, I’d like to see what else he does well. That’s pretty much what the judges said, too. Ellen said that it wasn’t exciting but it’s always good and Simon said that it was forgettable but the vocal were good. I’d really like to see Casey experiment with a more country sound; after all, that’s not that far off from blues. Let’s hope that Country Week comes soon! Shania, where are you?