Season 09

Final 11 Performance Night

The theme tonight is Billboard #1 hits. Ryan mentioned that, in the eight plus years since Idol began in 2002, former Idol contestants have hit the top of the charts 261 times. That’s an amazing total, even considering how many charts Billboard produces. This is a big night, as I said last week. There are 11 singers, and 10 slots on the Idol tour.

The singers, the songs

Lee Dewyze, “The Letter”, The Boxtops

This was a really weird arrangement, and I had a hard time getting over that. Lee sang like Lee sings, and he was trying to show more personality. Actually I would say that he overdid it, tried too hard. The performance was manic, kind of messy, and overcooked. B-

Paige Miles, “Against All Odds”, Phil Collins

Ouch, that was messy. Paige is in huge trouble. Man, she was just all over the place; pitchy, bad rhythm, missed notes, missed runs. She was soooo nervous. I feel for the kid, but this was a mess. She picked a really poor song for her skill set, and the nerves just killed her. D-

Tim Urban, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Queen

Karaoke, and not even good karaoke. With Paige imploding ahead of him he’s probably safe and on the tour, but he is on borrowed time. He doesn’t have any rhythm or vocal dynamics, and honestly he no business being in the competition this late in the game. What is with the singers tonight? They are all trying way too hard to do something amazing, and they are all going way out of their element. D

Aaron Kelly, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, Aerosmith

He was a lot more connected to the song tonight. Last week Sean Kates and I tossed some email back and forth, and Sean hit it right on the head: Aaron was impersonating a singer, rather than being a singer. Tonight he was much more in tune with the song. That being said, he is not Steven Tyler. His version was sort of a country version of the song. Mark Chestnut sang this song on one of his albums, so maybe he was going for that. Overall he was good, not great. B

Crystal Bowersox, “Me and Bobby McGee”, Janis Joplin

I was going to get cute and list the song as a Kris Kristofferson song, but Crystalwas obviously going for the Janis version of the song. Crystalwas terrific, as usual, but she did strain just a little bit a couple of times. If this was the first time that I heard her sing I would be raving, but her bar is set very high. This was very good, but not a “moment” like last week. A-

Michael Lynche, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, Percy Sledge

Mike showed some improved range, but he bit off a little bit too much at the end. Overall I would call it progress for him. His falsetto is getting better. He was overwrought even by his own standards. Everyone is trying hard, and in some cases too hard. Mike almost went into the lounge singer mode. B-

Andrew Garcia, “Heard it Through the Grapevine”, Marvin Gaye

I’m of two minds about this. Andrew soared in his audition, and he hasn’t come close to doing that since. Even his notorious version of “Straight Up” didn’t feature the Stevie Wonder high range that he showed in his audition. I don’t think that he’s underachieving any more. This is just what he is. He is stilted in his phrasing, and inconsistent with his intonation. He has a signature style, but I don’t know that it’s a signature that I really care about. He looked almost silly tonight, strutting around the stage. C-

Katie Stevens, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, Fergie

Katie was better than she has been, though she was far from perfect. This has not been a very good night of performances when this one stands out this much. I really didn’t like Katie picking this song because her voice isn’t mature enough to take on the emotional power of the song. While she sang it well by her standards, it wasn’t a performance that I would ever want to hear again. B-

Casey James, “Power of Love”, Huey Lewis

Casey is still being an imitator more than being himself. This is fairly common among bar singers. He sang well most of the time, but there were some bare spots where his voice broke a little bit. He didn’t seem as well rehearsed as he could have been. Simon told him to move around more, so he started off stage right but went to the mic almost right away, and stayed there for the rest of the song. So much for movement. B-

Didi Benami, “You’re No Good”, Linda Ronstadt

Another singer out of her element, what is up tonight? Didi was about the (counting back…) fifth singer that was singing a song that reminded me of kamakazi karaoke. I actually would have liked the version if Didi had been playing her guitar and the arrangement was really spare, but she was just short of wearing leather and trying to be the tough dame, stalking the stage. She still showed off her terrific voice and phrasing, but the song didn’t fit her at all. I did think that she got better as the song went on, and found the tuning fork a few times. B-

Siobhan Magnus, “Superstition”, Stevey Wonder

She went for the scream again, and I don’t think that it’s a good idea. She has a very real chance to win this competition, but going to the screaming well too often might end up alienating her audience. Besides, it really was a scream tonight, not a pure note. I love Sha-Von, but I didn’t love this performance. It took too long to develop, and she tried to fit too many vocal calisthenics in at the end. Again, she was trying too hard. Everyone is nervous about making the tour, even the front runners. B+

Safe to in danger-

Crystal, Siobhan, Casey, Lee, Mike, Aaron, Katie and probably Didi and Andrew are safe. It’s going to come down to Paige and Tim, unless something really weird happens in the voting. My guess is that Paige is the one who will be going home instead of on tour.

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