The producers have picked up on my observation about the ladies lovin' on Simon... but of course, to annoy the King of the Judges' Table, they accuse HIM of leaning into Kara. Very clever. And THIS... is American Idol!
First up, Lee Dewyze, who closed last week's show. He opens with "Fireflies." There's something about his voice that appeals to me, and I find myself liking the acoustic rock-esque performance. Decent start. Randy and Ellen say it was pitchydawg* but I actually think that it's intentional; he's not missing notes, he's hitting unexpected notes out of the normal melody on purpose. The closest example I can think of is Sinatra with his unusual phrasing. It sounds off in the harder-edged context. Your listenage may vary, but I find it interesting. Simon, however, says something I agree with: he's better than he showed tonight. He has to pick it up come Top 12 time.
* totally stole "pitchydawg" from SarahK. Her reviews of the girls and guys are up, too, so go read. Then please come back. Kthxbai.**
** I kind of stole that from SarahK too, but it's a re-steal, so I don't feel so bad.***
*** Stole this whole asterisk note thing from Joe Posnanski. I have to go to confession after every blog post lately.
Next it's Alex Lambert, the sheepish lion, singing "Trouble." Not as good as the last person to do it on Idol (it was recently, but I'm blanking on the name, and I'm as annoyed about that as you are about all the self-interruptions. Sawry). Also, not as good as he was last week. He just looks worried, worried, worried, worried. A step backward. Also giggled a bit about him singing "I was saved by a woman." It doesn't look like that's happened yet for young Alex. Ellen calls him a "mushy banana," which is right, but misses her own point by saying he's good all the time, like tonight. Uhm, no... he was mushy. A mushy, worried banana. If this keeps up Ellen will be calling him tasty bread next week. Simon says he needs a trick to relax, to get out of his own mind and enjoy the performance, and suggests, of all things, "Picture Randy in a bikini or something." Great, now how am I going to get THAT out my mind and enjoy the performance?
Tim Urban is third tonight. Oh, no... "Hallelujah." Done a lot on the show since Jason Castro nailed it two years ago. May be too much song. He stumbles a bit early, but really picks it up. Holy smokes, I think this is really good. His best so far, by a mile. This is the first time he actually sounds like he belongs in the Top 12. Randy loves it, Ellen runs up and hugs him (?!?). Ryan - "Do you want to give the numbers while you're here?" Hahahahahaha, love him. Kara liked Tim, Simon took credit for giving Tim the confidence boost. (Hahahahahaha, love him, again.) That leads to a chorus of "No, it was me who did that!" tag-alongs from everyone else. Now you know why Simon is King of the Judges' Table. The rest are all such wannabes.
Singing cleanup tonight is Andrew Garcia, with Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle." Still chasing his "Straight Up" vibe. Ladybug - "Huh, he's singing another girl's song: Paula, Alicia, Adele, now Christina." Like Lee before him, I like this better than the judges seem too. Randy says he "reduced the song to three notes," and it's a fair point. I really liked all three of those notes, though. The acoustic vibe suits Andrew. Ellen says he hit his stride too late, Kara says that he's still trying to recapture his high point, that he peaked too early with "Straight Up." Simon says he sounded a little desperate and was moving backwards. Again, YLMV, but I don't think it's entirely fair to judge him solely on a Hollywood Week performance from six weeks ago. Compared to the past two weeks of eliminations, he has shown improvement. Hope it's enough.
Fifth is Casey James, the blond brother of the Free Credit Report dude. He's slowing things down a little in response to last week's critique about his voice lacking power in a few of the big spots. He's on pitch, soulful, it felt like his song and not a cover. (Oh, yeah... Keith Urban's "You'll Think of Me.") Randy decides to be a tool and say that it felt too safe, that he wanted that Stevie Ray Vaughn edge. Which is why, of course, last week everyone was annoyed with him. Can they make up their mind about the poor guy before he gets sent home trying to do eleven things at once? Ellen liked it, says he looked really comfortable. Kara says he's moving forward, "just waiting for that spark from you." Simon says it was worse than week one, better than last week, sang it well but probably won't remember it in 24 hours.
Aaron Kelly the Boy Wonder has decided to annoy me by singing a Lonestar song. Not my vibe at all. If this is really unfair let me know in the comments, I won't deny it. Yow, pitchy right off. He's not doing well with the verse, the slow stuff, it's like he can't wait to power out the chorus. Yup, big notes now. I dunno... it was all very old-fashioned sounding with the synth piano and soft-rock arrangement and the soaring chorus. Kind of faux-inspirational, contrived, like a very intrusive movie score that orders the viewer to feel sad on cue. It's not that the kid has a bad voice - he has a good voice, and a really big voice, but he sings to no real purpose. Randy liked it, especially "in the power zone." Ellen brings up that he's really young (AGAIN) and says "you have the confidence of a 30-year old." You see, that's kind of the problem here: good in the power zone, old-sounding... even the compliments point out the problem. Ellen does add, though, that it was "too big a song for you." Kara says the song was about a dad calling his kids, and that Aaron really couldn't sing it convincingly. Simon immediately calls that "rubbish." "Don't be so literal," he tells Kara, adding that it was the style of song Aaron does well with. Again, the compliment IS the problem. He, like Ellen, points that the vocal wasn't that good.
Todrick Hall has to do something or he's going to the half-glove party with Jermaine and Michelle. Singing Queen's "Somebody to Love." Apparently, we're being touched by an angel with this spotlight deal. If he tries to power this like Freddie Mercury it will blow up on him. Smartly, he isn't. Quieter, controlled. Beautiful high note early. Very good, though he's flattening the melody a bit at the end, as if he doesn't trust himself to get back up that high again. Very good arrangement, well sung, maybe he could have done a bit more but he did really help himself with this. Randy - Todrick is back! Ellen - liked the gospel vibe, wish you were more committed. Kara - good singing, but she called it "too serious and dramatic." Todrick - "I'm fighting for my life up here, Kara!" Bravo, Todrick! And great point, too - he used his personal situation to fuel the song and he really connected with it, and with the audience as a result. Kara makes so much about it for everyone else, why is she suddenly forgetting things she said to the very previous singer? Simon - now we know who you are, "it's American Idol the Musical doing Queen." Very Broadway. (Agreed.) Takes a veiled shot at Casey by saying he didn't just sit on a stool with a guitar (boo). "This may have saved you." (Agreed again.)
Finally, Michael Lynche. The last sang first, and the first shall sing last. He's also gone from a Man's World to "This Woman's Work" by Maxwell. I think he's very smart not to bring an instrument with him. The first week, that guitar was pretty much just a prop for him to hide behind, and about as ineffective as my hiding behind an index card. I think I like last week better, he's starting a bit sleepy. Now it picks up. He's into the performance. It's obvious that he feels the smooth R&B, it's right in his wheelhouse. He's really revving it up now, knocking it right out of the park. Terrific job. He's a lock for the twelve. Randy has officially lost his mind. All he can do is yelp "Dope! What? Really??!?? It was hot!!" Ellen calls him the man to beat. (I have to agree, at this point.) Kara is actually, factually crying, and I'd snark her, but I think she really felt that hit home. Of course she brings up Big Mike's wife and daughter, whom he pretty much refused to go home to see born. But looking at her reaction highlights the problem I had with Aaron: this was a genuine moment coming out of the performance, not manipulative. Simon's side-hugging Kara (that's sweet) and says it was the best performance of the year so far. I may not be all the way there with that but it was easily the best of tonight.
Tops: Big Mike.... a gap.... then Tim (I know - I'm shocked too) and Todrick.
Bottoms: Alex, Aaron, and then probably Andrew, though I liked him more than the judges. Aaron is teflon right now, so I'd say the other two are in a world of trouble tonight.