Oh, “Idol!” Just when I think you can’t sink any lower than providing a platform for the fresh-out-of-the-gutter song stylings of Ke$ha, you surprise me yet again. This time it wasn’t even the uninspiring performances that caused concern. (I mean, let’s be honest. Most of us are patting ourselves on the back just for staying awake for an entire episode this season.) Adding some much needed excitement to last night’s show was the fact that it was the beginning of mentors and theme weeks. (To be fair, the “excitement” was of the WTF? variety; but during this snoozer season, I’ll take my excitement any way I can.)
Now, I usually think of a mentor as a wise older adviser, not, well, Miley Cyrus. But I guess that’s why I’m not a producer on television’s number one show. This music prodigy has sold a boatload of iTunes downloads as well as Hannah Montana Halloween wigs. Oh, and, in case you haven’t heard, she and her boyfriend are “deeper than normal people.” (See: Teen Vogue) Miley shelled out her “deeper than normal” sage advice to the 11 remaining contestants while smacking gum and sporting cut-offs. Not since Britney Spears has a pop star made the “Trailer Trash Lolita” vibe seem so ladylike and graceful.
The theme this week was Billboard #1 Hits. Sheesh, could it have been any broader? Initially, it was to be Teen Idols Week, which would have been so much more interesting and Miley a propos. (And you know how I love me some Debbie Gibson!) Hopefully we’ll see themes with more of a wow factor as the weeks progress.
And hopefully we’ll see performances with more of a wow factor as the weeks progress, too. I never thought that this season would have me longing for a tune from Ryan Starr or B-b-b-b-blake Lewis. The judges talked about how hard it would be to go home this week, as only the Top 10 get to perform on the Idols Tour. But I say that whoever gets eliminated this week is lucky. She or he (I suppose it could be someone other than Paige Miles) won’t have to be lumped in with this year’s loser cast and can have a jump start on her (or his) own album.
LEE DEWYZE — “The Letter” by the Box Tops
I have to admit that I agree with Miley on this one. Lee does have a great voice, but he’s missing stage presence. In fact, I had to go back and watch this performance again after the show was over just to come up with something to say about it. Unfortunately, the adjectives that jumped into my head were along the lines of “fine,” “acceptable” and “pleasant.” The judges (excepting Simon) disagreed and thought that Lee has never sounded better and that his progression has been impressive. To me, though, he’s just a poor man’s David Cook.
PAIGE MILES — “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins
The second that Seacrest mentioned Collins it was obvious which song would be covered. (I mean, “Sussudio” is not exactly “Idol” material.) I was excited, though; I actually love this song. Unfortunately, with her pitchy mangling of it, Paige secured her spot in the Bottom 3 this week. It was so bad, in fact, that Ellen commented on how she looked and refused to critique the vocals. Yes, Simon has (until now) lauded her as the best female singer of the season but how many awful performances can you give and still be considered good? I’d go as far as to say that it would be “against all odds” for her to survive tomorrow night’s elimination. (At least she won’t have to go on tour!)
TIM URBAN — “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
Well, I’ll say this about Urban: the guy knows where his bread is buttered. Urban is very aware of his strengths on “Idol.” By the way, his biggest strength is not necessarily singing; it’s his tweenage fan base. How else could one explain that knee-slide down the stage right in the middle of the song? Yes, Simon and I thought it was ridiculous but the girls in the audience screeched with delight. He slid right into their hearts and into the Top 10, despite Kara’s comments that he was acting like he had “already made it.”
AARON KELLY — “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
Aw, how cute. Kelly has a crush on Miley! And Rosie O’Donnell used to have a crush on Tom Cruise, remember? (Just sayin’.) Even with tonsillitis, Kelly was able to execute his signature nervous hip sway and pull off vocals that sounded effortless. While I hear the country twang that the judges talk about, to me he has always had more of a Broadway sound. (This is not an insult; I love a good showtune!) Either way, he is definitely not a pop star. And, sad, to say, I don’t think he’s the American Idol either. While he has a little more charisma than his Season 7 counterpart, David Archuleta, his voice is not quite as immaculate technically.
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX — “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
Answer me this: In a season where Bowersox is the overwhelming favorite to win, why don’t they just bypass the formality of the next two months and hand her the prize already? (Which is what? A recording contract and a Ford Focus?) Bowersox sang like a pro, as usual, but her song choice was predictable. Her music is the perfect background noise for sorting your recycling or cleaning your bong, but once again, I want to see what else she can do. Teen Idol Week would’ve been classic. As a sidenote, I thought that she would bristle at the thought of Cyrus coaching her, but she actually asked Miley to sign her guitar! Either she’s officially sold out … or she’s planning on selling that thing on eBay.
MICHAEL LYNCHE — “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
Big Mike is so likeable. He’s just like Ruben Studdard except with a personality. Once again, though, with so many songs to choose from, this one seemed too obvious and safe. I wouldn’t mind Lynche going back to some of the Jason Mraz-y type numbers he did in the beginning. People seem to have pegged him as a strictly R&B artist, forgetting what a wide range he has. In fact, that’s what I always liked about him — the fact that he could do it all. He should be safe this week but I’d like to see him do something a little riskier next week. (But please, no Tim Urban-style sliding.)
ANDREW GARCIA — “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
Miley, in her infinite wisdom, suggested that Andrew put down the guitar this week. While I am tired of the Idols using their instruments as a crutch (ahem, Bowersox), this seemed to be the wrong move for Garcia. He still has a great voice. In fact, at one point I closed my eyes to listen so that his spastic movements would not taint my judgment. But without the guitar, he just seems so vulnerable. He was one of the favorites during the first week or so but his confidence (and America’s confidence IN him) has seemed to take a nosedive. He peaked with “Straight Up” and ever since then his chances of being the next American Idol have shot straight down.
KATIE STEVENS — “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
I just cannot get on the Katie train. There is no spark there, no excitement. Kara thought that this performance was fantastic and that she should be doing these types of songs. Simon stuck with his assertion that she should be doing country, as there is a more loyal audience there. I see what he means. In this age of Gaga and gimmicks, it’s hard for a normal girl next door to stand out in the pop world. I mean, even Mentor Miley had to pole dance on an ice cream cart! The country world is more accepting and Katie fills all of its requirements, namely having a good voice and wholesome looks. Plus she could even show up for work in jeans, as opposed to a coat made of Kermits.
CASEY JAMES– “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News
Did anyone else think it was hilarious when Casey told Miley that he was a big fan … of her dad’s? (And does Billy Ray really have that many fans anymore or was Casey just putting her in her 17-year-old place?) I have to say that I totally did not expect to hear this song on “Idol,” like, ever but it made me giddy. (Maybe it was my crush on Michael J. Fox.) I kept waiting for the bridge, though, and it never came. Instead it seemed like the same chorus over and over. Everyone else hated the song choice, except for Kara, who inexplicably raved that Casey was on “another level” and “ready to make an album.” Huh?
DIDI BENAMI — “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt
I feel like Didi has been getting the short end of the stick all season. I think that she has one of the best voices this year (especially among those who are left) and I can’t understand why the judges continually dog her. In fact, I think that her pure sound was what Lacey was trying for (and failing at). Clearly I am not hearing the same thing as the judges are. Kara accused her of playing a character and being very dramatic and “slinky.” Hello? She was playing a character. It’s called performing. As far as being “dramatic,” they don’t seem to mind it when it’s coming from Siobhan. Why must Didi be pegged into this acoustic guitar prison?
SIOBHAN MAGNUS — “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
It was a good move for producers to put Siobhan at the end of the show. It ensured that people like me would stay awake through the whole episode to see what she would do next. In this season of disappointments, I have to say that Magnus is the one contestant left who excites me. Unlike Bowersox, she continually keeps you guessing with her song choices. Yes, the screaming this week was a little pitchy and Simon argued that it could grow tiresome to some. To me, though, she always seems to make it fit. Kara hit the nail right on the head when she said that Siobhan seems more comfortable on stage than anywhere else in her life. (How can someone be so awkward in interviews and so kick-ass confident on stage?) Seriously, if she gets voted out, I am boycotting the show.