The theme tonight is Soul/R&B. I expect much better performances this week, because this is a very good genre to stretch and show off in. The category is way too broad for me to make any guesses about who will sing what song. Usher is the mentor. If you aren’t familiar with Usher, he sold more records in the last decade than anyone. He is a singer/ songwriter/ producer/ record label head/ actor/ God knows what else, and a personable guy with a quick wit and a sense of humor. He should be terrific as a mentor. In his pre-show introduction to the contestants, several of them were in obvious awe of him.
The singers, the songs-
Siobhan Magnus, “Through the Fire”, Chaka Kahn
Ouch. She was horribly pitchy and out of tune all three times that she went for the big upper range runs. It was right between her full voice and her “belting” voice, and she flat out missed a couple of them. The judges were correctly harsh, but also quick to remind us that Siobhan has been terrific all season. Well, other than Simon. Simon took the opportunity to roast Siobhan over the coals and threaten her with elimination, as if this was her first audition. She took it very hard, and the whole segment was really uncomfortable. D+
Casey James, “Hold on, I’m Coming”, Sam & Dave
Casey tried to rock out more, and move around a little bit. He sang the notes well, but he really doesn’t have that strong of a voice. Overall this is a pretty boring song, and Casey’s version was pretty boring to me. C+
Michael Lynche, “Ready For Love”,India Arie
This was Big Mike’s best performance, by far. He wasn’t perfect, but he was close and he hit some notes that I didn’t think that he had in him. He was emotional, and his arrangement stood out for its sparseness. He left some blank spots, to very good effect. I won’t worry about the one or two bad notes, or that he was nervous and a little bit hyper. He held it all together very well, and delivered a commanding performance. B+
Didi Benami, “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted”, Jimmy Ruffin
Didi showed her emotions some, but she was chasing the song a little bit too. She was ok to good, not her best but far from her worst. I really worried that the song tempo was too fast when they showed her with Usher. It was. She went for some high notes, and she didn’t quite get them. C
Tim Urban, “Sweet Love”, Anita Baker
Teflon Tim, huh? Tim said that he thought that it meant he kept smiling when Simon hammered him. No, that’s not it. Teflon Tim is a reference to the fact that he is STILL HERE, despite never really singing anything amazing. He sang ok, I guess, but this song has a light and fluffy melody. Tim was heavy and ponderous, and he seemed like he was trying to lift a piano with his voice. D
Andrew Garcia, “Forever”, Chris Brown
Andrew might have found his mojo again. This was a return to what he is most comfortable with, and some of his vocal power and range showed back up. He’s been lost for weeks, so he has some work to do if he actually wants to contend, but he is at least back to singing with some swagger. Usher really helped him. B
Katie Stevens, “Chain of Fools”, Aretha Franklin
I really wish that Siobhan had sung this; it’s a terrific vehicle to show off without having to scream. Katie did ok, but she was pitchy and her phrasing was off some. She is just not good enough, experienced enough, to sing at this level. She tries, but she is starting to remind me of Tim. She isn’t singing so much as she is impersonating a singer. Did she take over Paige’s wardrobe? C-
Lee Dewyze, “Treat her Like a Lady”, Cornelius Brothers
He was terrific, right up to the ending. The ending was pretty bad, but it shouldn’t detract from the rest of the song too much. The difference between Lee’s voice and Casey’s voice is huge, which I’ve mentioned a few hundred times. Lee is what Casey tries to be, vocally. Lee doesn’t have a type A personality, and we shouldn’t expect that he’ll ever be dynamic other than with his voice. B+
Crystal Bowersox, “Midnight Train toGeorgia”, Gladys Knight
Crystal, if you didn’t watch the show, played the piano tonight. She plays it well, but she wasn’t very comfortable singing while she was playing. She was even more uncomfortable standing up and singing. That being said she still delivered a powerful vocal. She was the standout last week, and she is the standout this week. She should probably get back behind her guitar next week and stay there. It’s what she is, and where she is comfortable. A-
Aaron Kelly, “Ain’t no Sunshine”, Bill Withers
I didn’t like how he started out. He was singing it straight up, with no syncopation. It sounded corny and amateurish. He got better as the song went on, and overall he sang fairly well. I didn’t like the song choice, because it’s been sung too many times already on Idol. C-
Safe to in danger-
Tim has been the lowest vote-getter among the 10 remaining singers for 2 weeks running, so he’s on the hot seat. Siobhan went first, had serious pitch issues, got hammered over the head by Simon and showed obvious frustration and nerves. She is probably going to sit in the hard chairs tomorrow night, at least. Didi was also roasted by the judges, particularly Simon. Katie didn’t sing all that well despite choosing a song that practically sings itself, but the judges were kinder to her. Aaron wasn’t all that great, but Simon demanded that he be voted through. Andrew was good tonight, and probably safe. The top 4 are all locks.
Bottom three- Tim, Siobhan and Didi.
The stage is set for a very dramatic show tomorrow night. Siobhan is not a lock to get the save with Simon in the mood that he is in, and she is very much in danger of being the lowest vote-getter. Didi is also in some danger, and I would not expect them to give her the save. The best result would be Tim shuffling off to the tour, but that would be too logical. I’m just hoping that Siobhan’s fans are on the ball, and making sure that she doesn’t have to put her head in Simon’s guillotine.