Wednesday, April 14, 2010

American Idol Season 9, Episode 30: Performances

Last night, the Top 9 sang the songs of Elvis Presley, which is yet again another retread theme from recent seasons past. Y'all will just have to forgive me for my grouchiness, because I can feel it creeping up on me throughout this season. I just can't help it. Does it feel to y'all that the producers have gotten very lazy and don't even bother to give us remotely original themes? The last theme we had that wasn't a retread of a past season was Top 12 night, Rolling Stones Night. Sheesh, American Idol. Your viewers are not idiots.

We've seen last night's mentor many times, only as a contestant last season, instead of as a mentor. That's right, it's none other than the incredibly polarizing Season 8 Runner-Up Adam Lambert. I just have to tell y'all straight up that I was never a member of the Adam Armada. I was always a proud member of Kamp Kris. Even so, I will try to not be mean. can anyone tell me, though, why they chose a runner-up to be a mentor? Especially one so fresh and green as an established artist? (Unless you buy into the belief that Adam was planted into the competition last year by producers. Of course, this is definitely my belief.) Maybe it was something as simple as he was the only contestant from Season 8 who hasn't performed on a Wednesday night this season, and this was the only was the producers could get him on the show. Much like the disastrous Season 6 episode where Gwen Stefani mentored the awful theme "Songs That Inspire Gwen Stefani". Hopefully, tonight will be much more successful.

This IS American Idol!

Crystal Bowersox changed things up last night. She sang an uptempo song, "Saved", with an electric guitar and background vocalists, which definitely gave her the gospel feel she was looking for in this song. It probably wasn't one of my favorite performances of Crystal's, but it was a good, solid performance. She is just a mainstay of excellence week after week. Don't get complacent, voters! It's not the performances that get you through--it's the votes, and there are no more saves left to give out from the judges.

Andrew Garcia sang "Hound Dog" last night and I loved his old-school microphone. I think I want one for my house. If I ever were even to consider getting a tattoo, it would be of a microphone just like that, maybe with stars around it or something. I don't know. I'm just dreaming out loud. Andrew's performance wasn't as Vegas-y as last week's "Can't Buy Me Love", but it was still a karaoke performance. I don't know what's happened to Andrew. He had so much potential, and now none of his performances are special. I think it's time for Andrew to pack his knives and go. Oh, wait--wrong reality competition. Same sentiment.

Richie swears that every time Tim Urban smiles, his teeth glint like he's in an Orbitz gum commercial. Urban (heh-heh, Seacrest called him "Turban") obviously took a page from the book of Casey James and decided to sing "I Can't Help Falling In Love" JUST. TO. YOU. And your teenage daughter. Look at me, I'm a non-threateningly handsome clean-cut teenage boy. You can trust me. Let me take your daughter out. We'll go to church together and take long walks in the park, holding hands while we talk about Meaningful Things. Tim gave the song a slightly modern spin, and the more he sang it, the better it got. I think if he had done a full performance of the song, it would have been really good. I'm glad that he trusted his gut and didn't go into his head voice to end the song, because it sounded much better ending on a low note. DARN IT, URBAN. You have turned into an American Idol Ninja, sneaking up on the viewing audience by stealthily getting better each week.

Oh, no, Lee Dewyze! I had really hoped that none of my favorite contestants would choose to sing the Idol-Killer song that is "A Little Less Conversation". Remember Season 5? Oh, let's not speak of it and live happier lives. I was so happy to see that he took this song to a new place, playing it acoustically and really giving it his all. Kara said Lee was a little uptight, and I agree that he still could stand to loosen up a little on stage and really, really have fun. It's obvious he loves what he does--he just needs to show it a little more. He sang to the crowd more, which was great. The whole feel of the song was very current, and the raspy quality of his voice gave the song a new sound. Excellent.

That seems to be the theme this year, isn't it? Making yourself seem current and marketable. "Current" is American Idol 2010's buzzword.

Speaking of someone who could be marketable but isn't necessarily current is the young Aaron Kelly. He sang the iconic (and very dated) "Blue Suede Shoes". A woman could get away with singing this song now and possibly make it current, but not Aaron. What man wears blue suede shoes now? And from the opening chords of this song, every piece of Aaron's performance was old-fashioned. He looked like he was having fun at the biggest karaoke bar ever.

Aaron is marketable but not current, and Siobhan Magnus is the exact opposite. She doesn't like labels, but the music industry thrives on labels, because how else can they market you? Let yourself get labeled, and then transcend it. She chose to sing "Suspicious Minds", another Idol-Killer. Elvis is like a death machine, taking down good contestants one by one. "Suspicious Minds" is very background-vocal heavy, so I was very curious to see what the curious Ms. Magnus was going to do with the song. I didn't like the way she had her back to the audience, playing to the camera. It seemed just as dated as the arrangement. Her voice is gorgeous, but I didn't like this performance. It was paced strangely and just...weird. Her white outfit also looked like something a Project Runway contestant would make after they'd been told that they had to make a garment out of my grandmother's old Sunday purses.

Siobhan smartly suggested "In The Ghetto" to Michael Lynche. It's funny that she would suggest this song to him, because I could totally hear her singing this herself. But I am glad that she didn't, because then we wouldn't have gotten to hear this gorgeous, hungry, haunting, stripped-down version by Michael. Like Crystal and Lee and *cough* Tim *cough*, he made this song his own. I have a hard time calling Michael "Big Mike" like everyone else does, mostly because I keep thinking about The Blind Side and how Michael Oher didn't like being called "Big Mike".

Katie Stevens sang a very uptempo song in "Baby, What Do You Want Me To Do?" Finally! She also sang it with lots of attitude. I just wish that she'd sing to someone other than the judges. I had never heard this particular Elvis song before, just like I had never heard Crystal's, but unlike Crystal's performance, if I hadn't taken notes on Katie's song, I wouldn't have remembered it. I'm trying to remember it now and am having trouble recalling the tune of the song. A bit sharp in places.

Finally (it felt like this episode lasted FOREVER...but maybe I was just anxious for GLEE), Casey James closed the show with "Lawdy Miss Claudy". I've heard this song a million times, so I was really happy that he changed the arrangement. It was almost unrecognizable in the most wonderful way. The way he performed it made it seem like it belonged on his album. I thought it was really a great vocal, and the way he picked up the pace of the song. I couldn't imagine him singing any other song, no matter how much the judges disliked his performance.

No performances really sparkled last night like I had hoped. There were several solid performances from contestants from whom we've come to expect this kind of thing--Crystal, Lee, Michael, and Casey, but mostly it just felt like any other night. As a mentor, Adam could only help them so much, but he was still better than Miley, but not as awesome as Usher.

Josie's Bottom Three: Andrew, Aaron, Katie

Possibly going hom: Andrew, Aaron

Results tonight!


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