Idol: These Are Your Contestants
This year’s American Idol is finally down to a manageable number, which means I can finally tolerate blogging about it. Up until now, there has been too much filler on stage. Too many packing peanuts, no personalities. And because the votes are spread so thin, anyone could go home any week - as proved last week when smoky-voiced witch woman Lilly Scott was prematurely sent home - so it’s barely worth forming an opinion about these people.
Of course, I did have opinions. Of the top 24, I was sorry to see Latino mole man Joe Munoz and wannabe rubber Jagger doll Tyler Grady kicked out so quickly - they weren’t going to win, but Munoz was better than most of the boys and Grady was more interesting. Asian crooner John Park showed great potential in auditions, but was a sucking vacuum on stage. Haeley Vaughn had a lot of charm, and Michelle Delamor had talent, but they were also both ethnic, and that never helps. By my count, ten of the top 24 were ‘contestants of colour’, and seven of those went home in the first three weeks. It’s always easy to get the minorities out when they haven’t had a chance to become people yet.
Now that we’re down to 12, I’m bothering to care a little more. So here are my thoughts, in order from least to most favourite.
12. Katie Stevens, aka Rinkydink Girlchild
You can see in her face that Katie doesn’t know what she’s still doing on the show. She’s a weak runt kitten that should have died weeks ago. Her version of Wild Horses was like watching a goldfish with a gun floundering on a pavement. I’m struggling to remember why I had nice things to say about her at the audition stage.
11. Tim Urban, aka Crap Efron
I find the continued presence of Tim Urban on this show kind of hilarious. He was brought in to the top 24 as a replacement at the last minute and he should have gone straight back home again, but week after week his dimpled smile, his dewy eyes and that ridiculous mound of hair have kept him in. The shirtless photos of him on the internet can’t have hurt. So long as he keeps wearing really tight sweaters, he has a chance to stay in. But his voice is shaky and soulless, and as a performer he’s so wet and floppy that I assume he must also be lemon-scented and Swiffer branded. But I’ll give him this; he’s good-humoured about the mistake his life has become.
10. Aaron Kelly, aka Rinkydink Boychild
Completing the troika of contestants who have no idea what they’re doing on this show. He looks like a young Ed Norton squeezed through a toothpaste tube. He may actually be Ed Norton, smuggled onto the show to prep for a role. He can’t be here based on talent.
9. Lee DeWyse, aka Canless Meat in a Can
So uninteresting. Solid, but so dull. He simply never gets started. When Simon trots out his ‘you sound like a pub singer’ line, Lee DeWyse is the Platonic ideal of that concept. I suspect that Lee is a Chicago attempt at a Frankenstein’s monster, moulded together from breeze blocks, toilet roll tubes and a thick paste of corn grits. Corn grits without the butter.
8. Andrew Garcia, aka Guy Who Did That One Good Song That One Time
Remember that one time he did Paula Abdul’s Straight Up as a ballad? Remember how good that was? You’d better, because Andrew Garcia has been coasting on that performance ever since. He tried to recapture the magic with a reinvented Genie In A Bottle, but it didn’t work, and this week’s Gimme Shelter was unforgivably boring. It becomes increasingly clear every week that Andrew Garcia had one good trick in his repertoire, and now he’s all used up. But it was a good trick.
7. Casey James, aka The Shirtless Streak
Casey James is proof that you can have a weak audition and go on to be a contender, which shows how unreliable the audition process is. This blond ratty white Jesus lookalike only got through because he took his shirt off and everyone but Simon thought he was a good sport. Never mind that he has a body like a gnawed corn cob! Since the auditions, he has improved a great deal, though he’s sliding a little lazily into an easy country groove.
6. Paige Miles, aka Miss Teeth
Paige can really go either way. She has a lot of personality, but her version of Smile last week was shaky and badly arranged; her Honky Tonk Woman was much better, but may be as big as she can go. Even so, I like her a lot in principle. She’s sweet and cheerful, and with her big eyes and round face she looks like a Sanrio character. But she should never again wear a shorted safari suit. No-one should.
5. Didi Benami, aka Jo-Beth Sweetums McGee
Didi is the girl-next-door type, but let’s not hate her for that. I think she has potential. She tries too hard to force that 60s girl singer sound that’s so in fashion at the moment, but I suspect that country is more her thingdawg. (Thingdawg is Randy-ese for ‘forté‘.) If she stops pushing the vocals and tries to sing to her strengths, she could be very good.
4. Lacey Brown, aka Baby Cougar
What I like most about Lacey Brown is that she looks like the young white trash waitress in a roadside biker bar, all leather skirts and meth breath and a baseball bat always just in reach. But she sings with this lovely sweetness that’s just on the right side of cloying babydoll cute. There may be a rocker beneath the surface, but I think her distinctive look is a suit of armour and there’s a terrible lack of confidence under the surface.
3. Mike Lynche, aka Big Mike Lynche
Mike is the only guy singer that I actually like thus far, in spite of his abandoning his wife while she was giving birth so he could be on this show. Last week he sang Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work as a tribute to his wife. It was an extraordinary choice, but he made it through the falsetto parts and the parts where there’s not really much melody to grab hold of and acquitted himself brilliantly. This week he sang Miss You, which isn’t much of a song, but still out-sang most of the competition with his gospel riffs. Hopefully he’ll stick around, but that’s a lot to ask for a black dude on this show. He should stop trying to dance, though.
2. Crystal Bowersox, real name Mary Jones, probably
Simon was criticised for comparing Bowersox to a busker, but she is a busker. I mean, both in an actual sense - she is a busker - and in an abstract philosophical sense - she is the embodiment of buskiness. She is the busker queen. Crystal Bowersox has never seen American Idol, and it’s clear that she’s baffled by the whole process, from the tortured group performances to the offensively awful Ford ads. She’s what happens when a musician accidentally walks onto the show. Crystal’s stripped-down, Americana numbers are dependably great, and in all likelihood this year’s show is hers to lose. But she’s not my favourite this week.
1. Siobhan Magnus, aka Solid Gold Crazy
Siobhan is my favourite. I love Siobhan. She is a kook. I think Siobhan is a tiny mouse in a Billie Piper suit, trying to operate the controls that will allow her to pass for a real girl, but the controls are all slightly too far away from each other, so she can’t quite make it look smooth and convincing. There is something detached, peculiar, and massively over-medicated about her. In fact, she brings back the madness we lost when Paula left the room. I thought her House of the Rising Sun (which she sang as a boy) was an Adam Lambert moment, but this week’s operatically gothic Paint It Black blew that out of the water. When she sings, that little mouse has complete mastery of the controls. Delectably daffy.
If you don’t know who got sent home this week, look away now. But before I get to that, a few comments on the judges, who broke new ground this week. First, Kara said something that wasn’t wrong (that Mick Jagger put passion in his songs- it wasn’t original either, but it wasn’t wrong). Simon contradicted her anyway, but it’s a reflex, he can’t be blamed for that. And second, one of the judges made a gay joke that wasn’t homophobic. Admittedly, it was Ellen, but I’ll take what I can get. Unchanged since last year; Ryan Seacrest is still a twat.
This week’s loser was my fourth favourite, Lacey Brown. We will never know if she could have come out of her leopard print shell and rocked the hizzouse.
Whether you agree or disagree with my rundown, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the top 12. Do you love Tim Urban’s dimples? Do you hate Crystal Bowersox and her ‘credibility’, whatever the hell that is? Let me know.