Tuesday, March 16, 2010

American Idol -- Top 12

Note: Starting tonight, I will be posting this as a note on Facebook in addition to posting it on the blog. It feels like some people are reluctant to comment on the blog, so now there will be two ways to give your feedback.

They did this big intro for the judges and Ryan for last year's top 12 (13) show.

When Ryan re-acquainted us with the big stage, he mentioned 450 screaming fans. I had no idea the crowd was so small for these tapings. For whatever reason (naiveté?) I was under the impression that they were performing to about a thousand fans. I did, however, know that the exact number of lights and cameras was "galore" so that didn't surprise me at all. And finally, he told us that this was a platform truly suited for a superstar. How many times do you think Beyoncé is getting dressed and out of her house to do a show for fewer than 500 people?

When they brought out the top 12 I barely recognized Siobhan; Crystal was the only one that didn't look at the camera -- I think she's going to struggle to figure out the competition part of this process; Katie Stevens still looks like she thinks this is a pageant; and none of them looked particularly comfortable. I know I'm probably looking more closely this year because they all seem so wholly unprepared for all of this, but so far I'm still not seeing anything to indicate there will be a breakout star in this group.

Oh right. I forgot that they were doing Rolling Stones music tonight. I still am concerned about how this might play out.

Michael Lynche (Miss You) -- I feel like he is a parody of himself with those ridiculous gestures and "dance" moves. I don't think he sounds bad, but he's doing exactly what I was afraid of (and what I'm afraid is going to continue), which is that he's draining all the sex and sleaze out of the song. For me, it's that "almost-but-not-quite too skanky" quality that Mick Jagger has that makes their songs appealing. This was the wedding singer version. 6.9

So, Randy thinks Mike has become a great performer. I don't think I want to go to concerts with Randy. And Ellen gives him an amazing. Blecch. And Satan is back. Mike conveyed the same qualities as Mick Jagger up there, Kara? Get the hell outta here. I'm going to puke if Simon doesn't bring this back to earth. Thank God for Simon.

Ryan really thinks he's the king of AI these days, doesn't he?

Didi looks great. The more I see her, the more I feel like I've seen her before. I need to google her and find out if she has acted.

Didi Benami (Playin' with Fire) -- I don't really know this song, but I think the tone of her voice helps her a little bit tonight. She also looks more comfortable on the big stage than she did on the small one. Maybe it's just her phrasing, but I feel like she's struggling with the lyrics a little bit. I don't think I'll download this, but I definitely think she did a great job with it. Unlike Michael, her facial expressions and movements on the same matched the feel of the song. 8.0

I guess Ellen also thought she struggled with the lyrics a little bit. But, what was that about her making the word fire two syllables? Isn't it already two syllables (fy - er)? Apparently, I was seeing the same thing as everyone else. They were awfully nice to her tonight.

Casey James (It's All Over Now) -- Why doesn't he know how old he was when his parents divorced? Wouldn't that be a monumental moment in the life of a pre-schooler? God, he's hot. He looks like he's happy to be here. That's a good start. So, way back when, I went to Live Aid; when The Cars came out to play, Ric Ocasek was obscured by a pole and I couldn't see him. He proceeded to stand perfectly still the entire set. I never once saw his face. That's who Casey reminds me of. If he weren't moving his hands to play the guitar, you wouldn't really have any proof that he wasn't a statue. Doesn't matter though, because he sounds really good. And I still think it's cute that he watches himself play the guitar. 8.2

Even the lesbos love him (and the blondes). Simon and I are not only on the same page tonight, we're in the same sentence. He's absolutely right. There has got to be more. He has to push himself. And move!!

Lacey Brown (Ruby Tuesday) -- I always like it when they use strings. Deer. In. Headlights. At least her nerves aren't knocking her way out of tune. By the time she hit the chorus the second time, she had it under control. This is the most I've liked her since Hollywood week when she did Wonderful World. This song suited her voice pretty well. I have to say that I'm surprised so far that only Michael has had a problem making these songs believable. The song choices so far have been quite good. I have to wonder if they didn't have a little help choosing. 7.1

I'm not sure exactly what Simon means by moving like an actress. It really just looked like nerves to me. Ryan is super weird tonight.

Andrew Garcia (Gimme Shelter) -- I half expected them to show his parents hidden behind a screen or have one of those blurry dots over their faces. He dresses like a science geek that thinks he's cool. I think I said this before, but I'm still having memories of Gokey when I watch him. Even more so because -- just like with Gokey -- I liked him way better during the auditions and Hollywood than I have since. And they all need a little tour of the stage like Ryan gave to Lacey. He sounded better than he has the last few weeks, but I'm not feeling anything related to chills (or even a cool breeze for that matter). 7.0

I didn't hear the pitchiness. Randy and Ellen were like Mama Bear and Papa Bear (too hot, too cold). Kara was making real strides toward relevant and useful criticisms for a couple weeks, but now she's just rambling again. I loved Simon's comment -- Did you want him to come on stage with a tank or something?

Katie Stevens (Wild Horses) -- She really looks like she's ready to sing a Stones song, doesn't she? I'm not sure they do these contestants any favors when they let them explain their thought processes. They are totally trying to remind us of Katharine McPhee with the hair and the lighting. Man, I hate that dress. But not as much as the necklace. She's finally found her voice again though. This is the best she's sounded since her audition. I was really starting to dread her walking on the stage. I still don't think she can win, but she might have bought herself another week. 7.6

Tim Urban (Under My Thumb) -- I paused before listening because, once again, I'm afraid of his song choice. I'm not so sure of this arrangement. Does he have any idea what this song is about? Unless he's being ironic, that tender spin he added is just creepy. So, I've changed my mind. I am sure about this arrangement. It's terrible. I can't honestly say he sounds terrible, but this was reminiscent of Carmen Rasmusen singing Call Me in season 2. I don't like it. 5.5

Maybe he should have been wearing dreadlocks. I disagree with Ellen. I think there was something wrong with it. And Kara is applauding him. I'm not sure that saying all he was worried about was having fun is going to help him.

Siobhan Magnus (Paint It Black) -- She looks sooo different tonight. In a really amazing way. I didn't realize before that she's beautiful. And that dress/necklace combo is as fantastic as Kaite's was horrid. She might be a dark horse after all. I still wish she'd hit a few more of the regular notes to go along with those crazy ones, but overall I'd have to say great job! 8.75

She even looks hot with the glasses on.

Lee Dewyze (Beast of Burden) -- So, what I've done tonight is listen to the song without taking any notes, then go back before the judges speak and listen again and take notes. I was really worried about this song choice, but then almost from the first note I was all in. I've already said before that his biggest strength is that he knows exactly who he is, but I had forgotten how big that is when they start doing themes and specific artists every week. He didn't sound karaoke. He didn't sound like a cheesy lounge singer. That's one of their signature songs. It should have been a train wreck. Instead, I was riveted. Loved, loved, loved it. 9.0

What the hell is Ellen talking about? Wow. I guess that's why there's chocolate and vanilla. I thought he totally had a moment. Simon and I have gone our separate ways at this point.

Paige Miles (Honky Tonk Woman) -- She looks really good tonight. Finally, I'm seeing what they've been talking about for weeks. She does have a great voice. It's wild to me that there have been three or four of them tonight -- and Paige is one of those -- that look and sound better on the big stage than they did during the semi-finals. Usually nerves kill a bunch of people on the first night. It's been almost the opposite tonight. This was exponentially better than anything else we've seen of hers so far. 7.9

I would never have known she was having vocal issues. How on earth did she sing that song like that with laryngitis? I feel like I should up her score for that.

Aaron Kelly (Angie) -- I was sort of hoping he'd sing Satisfaction. Here's my thing with him. He's got a good voice. He's cute. But he's generic. He's 16. He needs to discover and nurture his personality. He's like Casper Milquetoast. 7.25

Ellen and I are never going to agree I think. Maybe it felt different live than on television. He's too cute to not get votes.

Crystal Bowersox (You Can't Always Get What You Want) -- Interesting song choice, especially for the guitar. I'm diggin it. It started out a little sleepy, but the second verse is HOT. And she doesn't look like someone shot her best friend tonight. She definitely earned her pimp slot tonight. Well done, m'lady. 9.0

Actually, I think it was one of her best performances. The last half of the night the judges and I were watching different shows.

Watching the recap, I think I may have changed my mind. I might download Didi's song. I love the sound of her voice. I can only speak for myself here, but this was by far the best performance show of the season. A few people really stepped up and proved they belong here. Of course, that makes choosing the bottom three a little riskier. Will people vote based just on tonight or do they already have favorites they won't budge from (I'm more in the latter category)?

Based on the scores I gave tonight, it would be Tim Urban, Michael Lynche and Andrew Garcia in the bottom three. But I don't think it's ever as simple as all that. Other factors come into play. My predictions for the bottom three, therefore, are Lacey Brown, Andrew Garcia and Tim Urban. Even though Tim should be the one going home, I have a feeling it's going to be Lacey Brown.

What do you think?


  1. michael: i agree; he sounded good, but the dancing was cheesy. keep your guitar, mike.

    didi: i know that song a bit and i liked what she did with it.

    casey: i was on the phone during this, but when i saw that recap at the end, i wasn't impressed.

    lacey: she needs to go. she never should have been in the top 12. should have been lily instead.

    andrew: it was okay, but i agree that he'll probably never live up to that "straight up" moment in hollywood.

    katie: she was so good during auditions, but i feel she hasn't lived up to it. tonight was the best she's done so far.

    tim: i don't get him. he's cute, but that's about it.

    siobhan: some great moments, but honestly, i thought that big note was horrible - sounded like she was shrieking. obviously, the judges did not agree.

    lee: he's got a david cook/kris allen-ness to him, so i WANT to like him more than i do. he's just kinda boring. i keep waiting and hoping for him to have a really big night.

    paige: i keep forgetting her name. to me, she's "generic black woman singer." i don't think there's anything special about her at all, except her gorgeous eyes.

    aaron: i was surprised that i kinda liked this. i'm usually instantly prejudiced against the really young boys because i hate nasal boy band singing. but this was pretty good.

    crystal: i'm finally warming up to her. she is really the most natural singer up there. one of the judges said "effortless," i think. great job.

    my prediction for who's going home tonight: lacey and tim.

  2. janet here -- my bottom three would be lacey, tim and andrew and i think lacey will go home but i would prefer to see andrew go home. i think we've seen all he's got. my rant today, however, won't really be about these performances per se but the little disagreement between kara and simon over andrew's performance. this happens to be simon's one really blind spot. i have to agree a million billion percent (as the judges would say) with .... (insert dramatic pause as simon would do) ... kara. great artists aren't great because of (solely) their vocal cords. great artists channel the meaning and emotion of a song. last week, kara was absolutely right to point out that the song aaron sang didn't make much sense for a 17-year-old to sing. andrew sang "gimme shelter," (the best rolling stones song, IMHO) as if he had no idea what it meant. simon was being very flip when he asked if andrew should have come on stage with a tank but what he should have brought was the feeling of desperation, frustration and anger in that song. he "sang" that song but he did not deliver anything close to an artistic interpretation of it.

  3. Hmmmm. I think I sort of agree with you, but I think it's a lot to expect that they will all be able to really find songs that they can feel when they are given a specific theme or artist and a couple of weeks to figure it out.

    When it's obvious -- as in tim clearly not getting that under my thumb is misogynistic -- it's a big problem. But I think Andrew's problem was a little more subtle in that it didn't seem so clear that he had betrayed the meaning of the song with his performance.

    Clearly, he was in my bottom three also so I certainly didn't think he did a good job with it, but I thought Simon's jab was a little fair because Kara was verging on self-indulgence and self-importance with her citicisms last night.

    I will say, though, that your complaint (rant) points out exactly why I thought the Rolling Stones were a bad idea all along. There was no way any of this group was going to have any idea how to do those songs in any meaningful way. I was just happy that only two or three of them were total disasters.

  4. janet again -- i totally get what you are saying. it is not very fair to ask for a mick jagger level performance from someone who had a week to rehearse this song. still, they have to deliver somewhere better on the scale than andrew did which i think was a complete disconnect from the song. didi, siobhan and crystal (and yes, even aaron) did what i am talking about and what i think kara is talking about. andrew just sang the notes and that's not enough. funny, you thought the stones were a terrible choice and i thought it was great because the stones encompass everything from hard rock to blues to country. there was something for any singer to choose from in that catalog. tonight should be interesting!