C'mon, you know at least one of this musically challenged group had to google Lennon and McCartney to find out who they were. "Didn't we learn about them in history class?"
I had already written the beginning of my post this afternoon, in anticipation of a total train wreck tonight. Unfortunately (or fortunately, who knows at this point), that is not what unfolded. In fact, I'd have to say that the majority (albeit a slim one) of the performances were good or better than good. And only one was a calamity. In light of that, I'm leaving the beginning as I wrote it this afternoon intact here, but I won't be using the grading system I intended. I will leave my list of possible grades there as well, just so you can see what might have been.
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A couple of things before we get started (really before -- I'm writing this part in the afternoon before the show even airs):
1. For those of you not on Facebook, here is what my status update was for most of today -- "[I am] rescinding -- for one week only -- my moratorium on extreme hyperbole (e.g. crimes against nature, worse than the holocaust) in advance of Tim Urban's performance of a Lennon/McCartney song on American Idol tonight.
2. I will never forget how, when I was a junior in high school, our entire trigonometry class scored so poorly on a test that Mr. Coopersmith graded the test with words rather than numbers or letters. I received a "pathetic". Other grades included woeful, despicable, pitiful and horrendous.
With those two things in minds, I am instituting a different grading system for tonight only (see examples below).
An abomination before God
Terrorism at its worst
A sign of the Apocalypse
Mark David Chapman incarnate
The musical equivalent of 9/11
Marginally better than getting cancer
The equivalent of five hollow-point bullets
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If you blinked you may have missed it, but someone had a sign with a picture of Ryan from high school. Thank God I'm not a celebrity (and I can untag any old photo anyone decides to upload).
Aaron Kelly (The Long and Winding Road) -- Somehow I don't think Yoda would have chosen this song for Aaron. Confused you are about your emotional maturity, Luke Skywalker. I honestly thought it was going to be Tim that completely missed the boat with his song choice instead of Aaron. He might as well have worn wallpaper. That's about the only way he could have been less interesting or memorable. And it went on way too long. It's not a good start to the night at all. 4.75
I don't agree with Ellen that the song was too big for him, unless she meant he didn't understand it. I don't think hitting the notes was his problem tonight as much as finding any kind of authenticity in his performance. He seems really defeated, having to be told to use the mic (sweetie) twice. Simon didn't do him any good asking him why he didn't change up the arrangement. What he said was almost incomprehensible and what it seemed like he was trying to say was, "because I don't know how to do that." And Simon rolled his eyes for all of us when Aaron said, "This whole journey has been a long and winding road."
The guy booing must have been really loud there because I was surprised at how they reacted to him.
Katie Stevens (Let It Be) -- I have to admit, I thought this was going to be a disastrous song choice. And who's with me here? The way she moves (or doesn't) on stage, would you have ever guessed she could do the Single Ladies dance without kicking herself in the shin? You could have knocked me over with a lock of Tim Urban's hair when she made that little change (that really worked) to the middle of the song. Call me easy if you want, but I got chills when she hit the "there will be an answer." In terms of surprising us with a maturity beyond her years, it was comparable to Archuleta's performance of Imagine in the semifinals of season 7. 8.5
I think Kara made a good point that it was especially startling considering how they've batted her around the stage the last few weeks. But what the hell was Simon talking about leaning toward country? I'm guessing she was thinking about her grandmother.
Yoo hoo. Kara. We're still on the air. You want to check for that little red "on air" light before you run to smoke your joint or whatever it is you do to make you the fantastic judge that you are.
Andrew Garcia (Can't Buy Me Love) -- Aaron Kelly said that of the entire group, Andrew has the most personality. Talk about damning with faint praise. He's the most interesting dolt. He came out looking stoned (and looking like he had a bird's nest on his head), so maybe he was with Kara during the break. And he was clearly smoking something when he came up with this arrangement. He pulled it together a little bit in the second half of the song but I think this was another week he kind of botched it(although not as much as he has in other weeks). 6.0
So, Kara got it right here. I don't know what Ellen was listening to. And I think Andrew hit the nail on the head when he said if that was corny, then he's corny. Ding ding ding.
Michael Lynche (Eleanor Rigby) -- I at least understand why he picked this song, since his father used to sing it when they performed. You'd think it would be a good idea for him to crowd the stage with musicians to take the focus off him signing the song as he sings, but it really just made him even bigger (if that's possible). I don't know how he hit all the notes and still missed the mark, but he did. As a comparison, check out David Cook's performance from season 7. 7.1
Well, I guess it's Simon and me again. Over the top is a good description (to me) of what he did. Kara absolutely didn't want the help Randy was giving her about it working because it was reminiscent of Glee. And then Mike just went weird and awkward with the comment about Simon wanting to challenge him to a pec contest. Also, Ryan's fascination with how big Mike is is bordering on creepy now.
Crystal Bowersox (Come Together) -- I guess Ryan felt like he had to tell us Crystal has a cold since he always does it for everyone else, but I don't see her needing to make excuses. I don't think this was her best vocal by any stretch -- she sort of lost it for about ten seconds in the middle -- but she pulls you in because she puts so much into her performances. Other than getting too far away from the mic a couple of times, I thought it was another strong outing for her. In fact, I think I like her version more than Kris Allen's. 8.5
I think Kara nailed this critique. Crystal did seem more accessible there. It was nice to see a less serious side of her. It was nice that they brought out the didgeridoo player, but then he was playing over Ryan trying to give out her numbers.
Tim Urban (All My Lovin') -- Can I just take my cue from Simon and not even bother here. He picked a song that -- regardless of meaning or layers -- works as a vacuous pop tune. And then he sang it as a vacuous pop tune. The way he sings the lyrics makes me think they have a karaoke machine feeding him the words. He sings each one separately, as though they are random words rather than sentences that are supposed to convey a thought. But really, what can you expect from someone that is part zombie? And here's the bad news: that performance is almost certainly going to carry him into the top eight. 6.0
I swear they must think he's a complete moron. Randy was acting like he wouldn't realize that "judging it as a Tim performance" was an insult. It was good of Kara and Simon to acknowledge that he has taken the criticism and not whined about it. And he looked like he might wet himself from excitement during his backstage interview.
I loved how Ryan completely ignored that Lacey Brown was sitting right next to Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz.
Casey James (Jealous Guy) -- Without really changing his "I'm not going to move a muscle" philosophy, he managed to finally live up to what I knew was there all along. He sounded amazing tonight. This is by far his best performance of the season. It was as close to an "Idol moment" as we've had this year. 9.25
I'm sure Randy was right that there were a couple little pitch problems, but sometimes imperfect vocals are more interesting and emotional than the perfect ones. Kara was having a pretty good night at the table, but she always has this tendency to start to ramble when she thinks she's having a good night.
Siobhan Magnus (Across the Universe) -- I wish the producers hadn't put her right after Casey because I think the way the song started and then built would have worked better if we hadn't just come off the intensity of Casey. My friends thought she was brilliant. I thought she was very, very good and that she needed to do this type of song regardless of how it turned out. She needed to have a week where she showed she could be restrained and wasn't a one-trick pony. Plus, by not having to focus on the big note she was able to clean up the rest of her vocals. 8.75
It may have been a little "sleepy", but she really had to show something different tonight. Simon must have been thrilled that someone answered one of his questions with some feeling and coherence for a change. And I don't think you can express what they must be feeling sometimes better than "Holy smokes".
I hope they patted that guy down before they let him on stage to hug Siobhan. That was a little uncomfortable.
Lee DeWyze (Hey Jude) -- This is easily the most comfortable he's looked on stage all season. I'm not sure this song was a great choice for his voice, BUT... It was a perfect choice for him to let him come out and finally realize that the crowd is rooting for him rather than against him. And it was a cool way to close the show. I'm not sure the bagpipe added anything musically, but it did give him a little needed quirkiness. 8.25
I loved his answer when Ryan asked why he pushed for a bagpiper -- "why not, man?" Exactly.
If people were paying attention, the bottom three stuck out like sore thumbs tonight. It's got to be Aaron Kelly, Andrew Garcia and Tim Urban. Now, I still think Tim has another week or two of support so I'm going to say Andrew Garcia will be leaving us. I think, based on just tonight, it should be Aaron Kelly but I think he probably has a bigger fan base than Andrew and that will save him.
By the way, Adam Lambert will be the mentor next week. Discuss.