The search for the next mediocre flash in the pan continues tonight. This...is what American Idol has come to.
Speaking of flashes in the pan, is that Van der Beek in the audience? Hmm, couldn't tell. They zipped by too quickly. I'd swear it was Dawson, though.
It's interesting that AI only needed 90 minutes for the Top 11 to sing, but this week they need 120. Does this mean that the Top 5 will be a five-hour show?
With the Godfather of Soul dead and the Queen of Soul busy making Snickers commercials, Usher is the mentor for R&B/Soul Week. I can't really pick on Usher because he seems like a nice guy and he's intent on helping the Top 10 perform well. But I'd really like to tell him that these contestants' futures aren't that bright, so he doesn't need to wear shades.
Up first is Siobhan Magnus with Chaka Khan's "Through The Fire." Well, I guess she's not going to lose the scream because no one ever got through a Chaka song without letting out at least one shriek. Sure enough, there are quite a few glory notes, and not all of them are that glorious. And the non-screaming parts of the song are mad pitchy, dawgs. Siobhan is a big disappointment tonight. The judges are all in agreement that Siobhan was fairly awful—something Siobhan is clearly not ready to hear. While Simon takes jab after jab, Siobhan's eyes well up and her face goes into full-on pout mode. I'm not sure whether to feel bad for her or reach through the screen and smack her. I mean, come on. She needs to get it together. Is she going to act like a teenager whose dad just told her she can't go to the dance everytime the judges don't dump a big pile of praise on her? And wow, now they're treating her like that teenager's stepmom, aunt and nosy neighbor by talking for an interminably long time about how she really is such a wonderful and sweet girl, but maybe she just needs to clean her room every now and then. Ugh. I expect this kind of meltdown from Didi, not Siobhan.
After the break, the camera follows Siobhan's walk of shame backstage. What the...? So nonsense like this is why we need two hours tonight?
Casey James is up next with Sam & Dave's "Hold On I'm Coming." Good vocal, good guitar work...overall a good performance. The only complaint I have is Casey's plastered-on smile. He's supposed to be projecting "bad-ass bluesy rocker," but he looks like he belongs on the Mickey Mouse Club or something. Randy and Simon think Casey is great, but the gals are a bit more restrained. Ellen thinks that although Casey is consistent, this performance felt a bit "generic." Kara wants to hear more range and asks Casey to show her "everything he's got." Then Seacrest steals the obvious joke before I can make it. Fauxhawked bastard.
Oh, I see, this "behind the scenes" shit is going to continue throughout the show. Who's the time-sucking genius who came up with this idea? I'm sure he/she got a nice, fat raise and a new Ford Fusion.
Michael Lynche is "Ready For Love," and proves it with an acoustic version of the India.Arie song. I've always been a big fan of this song, so I'm happy to hear it. Even happier to hear it done well. Even though he's a mile away from the Idiot Pit (as he's opted to sit on the "catwalk" behind the judges' table), they're still swaying as if he can really see them. All the judges love Michael's "sensitive" and "beautiful" performance, and Simon says that he's finally taking Michael seriously as an artist. Kara doesn't know this song, which she "hates to admit." Oh man, if she starts admitting everything she doesn't know, this show really will be five hours long.
And now to pick up where Siobhan's meltdown left off, it's Didi Benami! She cries in her video interview, she cries in her rehearsal with Usher...I'm convinced this girl is one of those people who cries in the shower every morning for no good reason. She says she picked Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted" because she connected with it immediately upon reading the lyrics. She promises an emotional performance, but instead delivers the most depressing Vegas lounge act ever. And not depressing because it's so emotional, but because it lacks any kind of feeling at all. Randy says that the performance "flatlined," while Ellen thinks it was "way dramatic." Kara takes the opportunity to remind everyone that Didi sang one of Kara's songs during Hollywood week, and of course that was better than anything she's done since. Didi makes Simon feel like he's swimming in jelly, which actually sounds kind of fun, so I'm not sure what the insult is.
Ryan then presses Didi to reveal WHY she chose to sing this song and WHY it was so emotional for her and demands to know just WHO THIS SONG WAS FOR, DIDI? TELL US!! Didi declines to name names, and just cryptically mentions that she's "gone through things" in her life. Seacrest steps in and tells the audience that Didi auditioned for the show "for a reason," and that she sang that song for "someone." Here's what Seacrest is talking about: when Didi first auditioned for the show, she was one of the Very Special Contestants—her sob story being that her best friend, songwriter Rebecca Lear, died in a car accident five years ago. No doubt that was a very devastating event in Didi's life, but, once again, it just seemed like another AI contestant pimping out someone's memory to get ahead. I guess I should give Didi props for not going into full-on Gokey mode tonight while Ryan was prodding her. Then again, a lot of people already knew who Didi was talking about and, if they didn't, probably Googled it to find out. So, I can't help but think that this was one of those semi-scripted ploys to keep Didi safe by drumming up some sympathy votes for her. Call me cynical. You'd be right.
Moving on...During rehearsals, Usher encouraged Tim Urban to really connect with the TV audience. So, during his lounge lizardesque rendition of Anita Baker's "Sweet Love," he acts like a deer that the TV audience is about to run over. Holy crazy eyeballs, kid. I would be terrified if a guy was yelling, "Don't you ever leave me," while unblinkingly staring me down like that. So, Tim doesn't uncover any soul in that Ken doll body of his, but he does bring out the creepy stalker within, which should probably count for something. Ellen picked up on the stalker vibe, too, and tells Timmeh that he was "walking like he was sneaking into a bedroom." Tim laughs. Randy and Ellen point out the obvious (that Tim's not a very good singer), while "Teflon Tim" just laughs and laughs. The judges are perplexed. Simon doesn't even bother to give a proper critique, saying, "You're gonna smile, the audience is gonna vote for you, nobody cares, and you'll be here next week." Tim laughs in approval.
I wince in anticipation of Andrew Garcia's version of Chris Brown's "Forever," but am shocked that I end up kind of liking it. I'm no fan of Woman Beater Brown, but I really do like this song, even if it was written for a bubblegum ad. Sue me. Andrew does his acoustic thing, doesn't attempt to dance, and doesn't punch any girls, so it's all good. Randy proclaims that "Andrew is back." Everyone else agrees that the performance was strong, but Simon tells Andrew to hurry up and develop a personality if he wants to stick around. Andrew's crazy mother takes issue with this and says some unintelligible things. People immediately seem to love her. Perhaps Andrew should just go the stand-up comic route and start doing an impression of his mom while on stage?
Now it's time for a story for the ages: When Katie Met Usher At Epcot. Wow, great story, Katie Stevens! Time to sing. The 17-YEAR-OLD chooses Aretha's "Chain of Fools," which should really help her with that youthful image the judges are always asking her to project. She sings it well enough, but it's kind of boring. It feels like the big musical number from Bring It On 7: It's Been Broughten To Death, when the suburban high school's cheer captain tries to win over the girls from the inner city "bad girl" squad at the local talent show. I know, I know, I spend way too much time imagining bad movie sequels, but can you blame me for trying to entertain myself here? Randy thinks Katie's is one of the best vocals of the night and compares her to a young Christina Aguilera, which Cowell finds ludicrous. Ellen likes Katie's "Snooki pouf." Kara and Simon argue again about whether Katie will be a pop or country singer. In future news, both are proven wrong when Katie is never heard from again.
Lee Dewyze does a rocked-out version of The Cornelius Brothers' "Treat Her Like A Lady," and finally has a MOMENT!! Time moves in slow motion while Simon and Lee trade knowing glances back and forth as Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" plays. OK, so I'm imagining things again. But, wow, do the judges make a big deal over this performance. I mean, Lee sounds perfectly fine, but honestly this pales in comparison to anything David Cook ever did on the show. This year's group of contestants is just so average that the good performances seem like mind-blowing masterpieces. But I guess I shouldn't rain on Lee's parade. Not that he would feel a little rain during the giant tongue bath he's getting right now. Simon proclaims this THE NIGHT LEE'S LIFE MAY HAVE CHANGED FOREVER.
Crystal Bowersox reveals the big surprise she promised us last week—she's wearing stilettos. Big whoop. It also looks like she washed her face and rejiggered her dreads a bit. Oh, the other big surprise? She stole Miley's "I'll sit at the piano for a little bit and then stand up to finish my song" act. However, unlike Miley, I think she actually plays the piano, and she doesn't jerk around on stage like she's having a seizure. (By the way, did everyone hear Miley's giving up music? There. God exists.) Dreadsocks™ does a very nice version of Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train To Georgia," and it's kind of nice to see her without the guitar and wearing something other than black. Everyone loves Crystal, but Simon loves her so much that he never wants her to change. He warns her to not let the show suck out her identity. That will come later at the hands of 19 Management.
In the pimp spot tonight is...Aaron Kelly? BUT HE'S ONLY 16! HE CAN'T HANDLE THE PIMP SPOT!! I actually think this kid has a really good voice, but I can never remember him. He sings Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," which is a poor choice considering that Kris Allen's big "moment" with this song is still fresh in everyone's minds. He does an OK job with it, but like him, it's just not that memorable. Ellen rhetorically asks again how old Aaron is. (Actually, that's the only thing we all remember.) The other judges are all pretty "meh" about the performance, with Simon calling it the "cupcake" after Lee's "main course." Randy then demands to know where the cupcakes are.
So, it's time for more of my lousy predictions. (I think the quality of my predictions is directly proportionate to the quality of the contestants.) I think Siobhan's placement in the First Spot of Doom plus her tiresome screaming and complete inability to handle criticism will land her in the Bottom 3. She will be joined by Tim and...uh...either Katie or Didi. I think probably Didi. But Didi will get enough sympathy votes to save her from elimination and Siobhan will get a free pass, so Timmeh will finally be sent home, laughing all the way, natch. When Simon stops harshly critiquing someone and tries that "reverse psychology" on the audience, it usually works.
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