Saturday, April 24, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 7: April 20, 20120

Inspirational Songs - Top 7 - April 20, 2010

Casey James - "Don't Stop" (originally by Fleetwood Mac) B
A perfectly competent cover, but nothing spectacular. I think Casey just does what he does so effortlessly that we forget that he is a great contestant. He has a great tone to his voice and is always excellent on the guitar. I think here he suffered from picking the wrong song. I disagree with the judges in the sense that I do think this song can be viewed as inspirational. How amazing would it have been if he had stripped the song down and performed a haunting acoustic version that really let the words resonate?

Lee Dewyze - "The Boxer" (originally by Simon and Garfunkel) A-
Lee sang this song with lots of emotion, which I think made a difference in contrast to Casey's performance. I have to say I was not impressed with the song at all itself, and the la-la-las got a little old. (Anyone else find it odd that this was the only part of the performance they showcased on the recap? La-la-la-la-la...) It was this performance that showed to me that Lee could probably sing the phonebook and I'd still be impressed with him.

Tim Urban - "Better Days" (originally by Goo Goo Dolls) B+
Because I won't be able to do it ever again, or at least in a blog post related to a Tim performance, I'm going to say it for the last time. That hair, those blue eyes, those incredible abs, everything added up perfectly to make Tim the dreamiest contestant this side of Kris Allen (or Michael Johns - take your pick). Tim's last performance on the Idol stage (as he did not get a farewell performance due to Idol Gives Back running 1/2 hour long) was good but not great.

Aaron Kelly - "I Believe I Can Fly" (originally by R. Kelly) B
Aaron did sort of a country version of the song, which was actually interesting, as the lyrics might work very well for a country song. I was very impressed by Aaron's voice towards at the end of the song, where he picked up more steam, and the arrangement got a bit more dramatic, Celine Dion style.

Siobhan Magnus - "When You Believe" (originally by Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey) A-
Beautifully, gorgeously sung, although I didn't feel too much emotion throughout the song. I was expected the judges to praise her enormously and was shocked when they didn't. She picked a bit more of a diva song and gave an according performance. This was the best performance from Sibohan in a long time.

Michael Lynche - "Hero" (originally by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott) B-/C+
A little bit too much posturing for me. I am tired of his melodramatic performances with just OK vocals. And I am also tired of seeing his wife in the audience every five seconds. I really have nothing much to say about this performance. Decent enough but ultimately forgettable.

Crystal Bowersox - "People Get Ready" (originally by ??) A-
I liked her acapella intro, although she hit a pretty bad sounding note in the beginning. A true watercooler moment and a true American Idol moment, in the sense that I think people will still be talking about this performance in years to come. For some reason though, I just can't get on the Crystal bandwagon. I know she's great, I know she's the frontrunner, but I don't know...

Best of the night: Siobhan
Worst of the night: Big Mike

Friday, April 16, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 9 (Part II): April 13, 2010

Top 9 (Redux) - Elvis Week - April 13, 2010

Crystal Bowersox - "Saved" B
The second half of this performance was better than the first. There was a fun groove to this performance and I liked the arrangement more towards the end after the breakdown....but in the end, I couldn't get too excited about it. Crystal put a lot of energy into the performance which made it more entertaining to watch. I won't be downloading it however.

Andrew Garcia - "Hound Dog" C
Andrew never found his spark on the Idol big stage, and this would be his last performance. Utterly forgettable although not a train wreck. I never found Andrew's voice to be particularly strong, and certainly not better than Alex Lambert, Janelle Wheeler, or Katelyn Epperly, all of whom were voted off in the semi-final round.

Tim Urban - "Can't Help Falling In Love" A-
Although Tim didn't take Adam Lambert's advice to sing the last part of the song in his "head voice" (which must be a fancy term for his falsetto), he shined in this performance. It was a simple yet elegant song arrangement and Tim sounded good. Simon even trotted out the "Zero to Hero" left-handed compliment he bestowed on Anoop Desai last season.

Lee Dewyze - "A Little Less Conversation" A+
In one word: AMAZING. In a few: soulful, sexy, and perfect. The studio version is equally (if not slightly more so) amazing. Lee outdid Chris Daughtry's Season 5 version, which is not something you'll hear me say very often. More than worth a listen.

The studio version:

Aaron Kelly - "Blue Suede Shoes" B+
I loved the bluesy arrangement which saved the song. Simon was right when he said it was like a high school performance. (I hate to say it, but it's true.) Aaron even threw in a little bit of country in this version, which made it different from the original. The second half was, again, much better than the first where there was more of a slower breakdown. I had to laugh at the addition of the words "fruit jar" to replace something related to liquor.

Siobhan Magnus - "Suspicious Minds" B-
Sibohan brought more of a diva style into this song, something we have been sorely missing this season on Idol. It was a much better performance than last week and Siobhan sang it a little more "pretty" and a little less "screechy". She gave a nice response to the criticism Simon threw at her but overall it wasn't one of Siobhan's best.

Michael Lynche - "In The Ghetto" B+
A toned-down and suprisingly touching performance from Big Mike. At first when I heard he was going to do this song, I was expecting another over-wraught and melodramatic performance but he did the song justice. It was very authentic and sounded from the heart. Mike made this song sound current, even though I am sure it is 40+ years old.

Katie Stevens - "Baby What Do You Want Me To Do" B+
A sassy and fun performance. She has grown in confidence on the Idol stage and seemed less robotic and more herself this week. Her voice cracked on one of the notes but overall a solid performance although not one I will be downloading.

Casey James - "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" A-
A sexy, bluesy, and great performance of a more obscure Elvis song. I think the judges feel his selection of more obscure tracks works against him, however I would have to say the opposite. He isn't going to be compared to prior Idol contestants or, worse, the original artist.

Best of the night: Lee
Worst of the night: Andrew

Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 9: April, 5, 2010

Beatles Week - Top 9 - April 5, 2010

Aaron Kelly - "The Long And Winding Road" B-

This was a sweet, but bland performance. Aaron struggled a little bit at certain parts of the song and Simon was correct in calling it old fashioned. But still, Aaron Kelly has mastered that aw-shucks charm that David Archuleta gave off so effortlessly. Aaron remains likeable and a more than competent singer.

Katie Stevens - "Let It Be" A-
One of Katie's best performances. She is slowly growing and improving on the Idol stage. Katie has been criticized online for being robotic and pageant-like. With this performance, I think she changed all that and revealed a softer, more heartfelt side of herself. I had pretty much written off Katie as a true contender for the American Idol crown, but this song coupled with "Wild Horses" and "Big Girls Don't Cry" might have changed my opinion.

Andrew Garcia - "Can't Buy Me Love" C

This performance started off barely decent and progressed into ultimate cheesiness. The music sounded EXACTLY like "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones and compared to Tom Jones, Andrew just couldn't compare. It wasn't a trainwreck, by any means, but this should have been the performance that sent home Andrew to a ninth-place finish.

Michael Lynche - "Eleanor Rigby" C-

Horribly melodramatic. Big Mike pushed too far with his falsetto and accented words in a way I can only describe as off-putting and unnecessary. I correctly predicted that he would be the lowest votegetter and based on this performance, he did not deserve the Judges' Save. As I have said before and I will say over and over again, he is no Matt Giraud (who was the recipient of the first ever AI Judges' Save last season). I admit Big Mike can sing and his cover of "When A Man Loves A Woman" was excellent, but I wouldn't have shed a tear over seeing him go last Wednesday. Especially based on this performance, which did not even come close to holding a candle to David Cook's excellent Season 7 rendition of the same song.

Crystal Bowersox - "Come Together" B

An interesting performance, to say the least. I believe viewers turn in to see what Crystal will do each week for the sheer enjoyment of it all. She is so effortless at what she does, I wonder if it will come back to haunt her. Meaning, viewers love to root for the underdog and right now Crystal is the front-runner. Could this be the shock elimination of the season? Anyway, back to the performance. I still prefer Carly Smithson's version of "Come Together" for Season 7 - god I miss Season 7 - but Crystal's was certainly good but not great.

Tim Urban - "All My Loving" B+

Oh Tim, what can I say? Finally a performance the judges praised, although I didn't find it to be any worse or better than last week's "Sweet Love" (which of course the judges hated). Tim's voice sounded smooth and I don't need to write about how gorgeous he is again this week - ok fine, I will (that-smile-those-eyes-that-hair).

Casey James - "Jealous Guy" A

This is the kind of song I could hear on the radio - Casey has a real radio voice, the voice of a true artist. Casey put a lot of emotion into this performance and it showed. I loved how he picked a more obscure John Lennon song (or at least obscure compared to songs like "Can't Buy Me Love" which probably every person on this planet has heard). You just can't teach someone how to perform like this. Amazing.

Siobhan Magnus - "Across The Universe" B-

I tried to like this performance. I really did. The ending note was gorgeous but somehow the whole thing just did not come off great to me. I did appreciate that Siobhan didn't feel the need to insert a scream into a song arbitrarily.

Lee Dewyze - "Hey Jude" A-

Oh Lee, you are the dark horse. You are the closest thing we are ever going to get to David Cook. But yes, it's not fair to compare Lee to David because Lee stands out on his own as a great singer and interpreter of songs. I loved Lee's use of the bagpipe player - finally something unexpected and unique. Probably one of the craziest and riskiest things I have ever seen in years of watching Idol and yes, it paid off. A true performance. I felt like I was at a concert watching someone I had paid good money to see.

Best of the night: Casey
Worst of the night: Big Mike

Monday, April 5, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 10: March 30, 2010

R&B/Soul Week - Top 10: March 30, 2010

Siobhan Magnus - "Through The Fire" (originally by Chaka Khan) B
I thought Sibohan did a lot better than the judges gave her credit for. She did pick a song that fit the R&B theme quite well, and adjusted her voice somewhat to fit the theme. Overall, she embraced the R&B theme much more than I thought she would. Maybe she suffered as she picked a song that sounded quite dated and threw in a scream that did not at all fit with the songs. The last scream was actually painful to listen to - ouch.

Casey James - "Hold On I'm Coming" (originally by Sam & Dave) B+
A fun, energetic performance. Casey's performances always have a fun, bluesy vibe. Casey may be the season's most talented musician, but you would never know it due to all the attention Crystal gets. I think Casey has a "moment" in him, the kind that will make all our jaws drop and grab our attention. He is the kind of singer that will hopefully go on to front a rock band - I would think this sort of role would suit him much better than life as a solo artist.

Michael Lynche - "Ready For Love" (originally by India Arie) B-
First off, it was odd for Big Mike to be sitting behind the judges. Odder still was that none of them turned around to watch his performance. It was a perfectly competent performance, but I couldn't get excited about it for some reason. I also couldn't find anything wrong with it. Yet, it was a performance that certainly highlighted a different, more subtle side of the usually cheesy and energetic Big Mike.

Didi Benami - "What Becomes of The Brokenhearted" (originally by ?) C+
It seemed Didi was singing too fast for the music, and it never really straightened itself out. She sounded okay for the most part, but it was certainly not a memorable performance by any means. It was a bit melodramatic and Ryan Seacret's not-so-subtle references to Didi's deceased best friend came off as cheap and unnecessary. I also am not sure how this song is the definitive song to dedicate to a friend who has passed away. The second half of the performance was a lot better than the first.

Tim Urban - "Sweet Love" (originally by Anita Baker) A-
I could listen to - and watch - Tim sing all day. Simon was hilarious, because it is true - it really doesn't matter what the judges say. Tim will continue to smile that beautiful, crooked smile and get thousands of votes (mine included). I was expecting the judges to praise him profusely after this great performance, but it wasn't to be. But who cares? Those abs, those eyes, those perfect teeth. He's got my vote. (Side note: Props to Randy Jackson for using one of my favorite words - pedestrian.)

Andrew Garcia - "Forever" (originally by Chris Brown) B
The first thing that caught my attention about this performance was the song choice. Chris Brown isn't exactly family-friendly entertainment anymore, but this song, released before the assault incident, stands up as a quality piece of R&B. Maybe FINALLY the judges will stop talking about Andrew's performance of "Straight Up" way back in Hollywood week after this performance, which was fun and different. Unlike his cover of "Genie In A Bottle", which came off as boring and creepy, this was a fun twist on the original song.

Katie Stevens - "Chain Of Fools" (originally by Aretha Franklin) B+
I liked her makeover. Her cover of "Chain Of Fools" was fun and she showcased a little personality. Frighteningly, I have loved this song since before Katie Stevens was born. I thought she did the song justice, overall.

Lee Dewyze - "Treat Her Like A Lady" (originally by the Cornelius Brothers) A+
The first A+ of the season! Last season I gave out the only solo A+ to Adam Lambert's cover of "Whole Lotta Love" (I think I also gave one to Kris and Adam's duet with Queen). When did Lee get so undeniably sexy? Tonight was the night I have to agree with Simon - his life may have changed forever. It would be a crime if it didn't. This was a subversive, gruff, incredible performance. In one word: AMAZING. This will surely make my Top 25 Most Played list in a few months, right up there with anything by Matt Giraud.

Crystal Bowersox - "Midnight Train To Georgia" (originally by Gladys Knight and the Pips) A-
Somehow, Crystal has set the bar so high for herself, I am worried it might be her undoing. This was a great version of a song I've loved my whole life. The backup singers didn't sound too great, however, and I would have preferred her to sing without them.

Aaron Kelly - "Ain't No Sunshine" (originally by Bill Withers) B-
On its own, this would be a good, solid performance. But compared to Kris Allen's haunting and excellent version from last season, Aaron's version just falls short. Not much to say about this one.

Best of the night: Lee (by a mile)
Worst of the night: Didi (by a hair)