Tonight’s theme was supposed to be ‘teen idols’, but it was changed belatedly to ‘Billboard #1s’, aka ‘close your eyes and stick a pin in it’. I like to imagine that one of the contestants had a diva fit and refused to sing a Taylor Swift song, but as none of the contestants ended up singing a teen idol song, I sadly can’t decide who to pin the ‘difficult’ label to.
Perhaps the most likely candidate is this week’s mentor, prodigious Vocoder-voiced marketing asset Miley Cyrus. Maybe she’s decided it’s time to throw off the heavy shackles of her ‘teen idol’ identity (well, ‘tween idol’) and redefine herself as a serious artists. Honestly, teenagers! You will notice, in the mentoring scenes, that the former Ms Montana is wearing a dress so short that her age of consent is showing.
Cyrus is an invaluable guide for these contestants, because who else can speak with such expertise about having their youth destroyed in order to become a micro-managed record company asset? Miley probably slipped a note into each of the contestants’ hands that said, in crayon, ‘Run and never look back’.
Once again I’m ranking the contestants from worst to best. My assessments are not necessarily based solely on this week’s performances, but that’s what I’ll be talking about. Oh, and as it’s performance night, not results night, I won’t be revealing the results this week, so as the Blue Erster Cult once said, don’t fear the spoilers.
11. Paige Miles, aka Bushbaby
Paige sang Against All Odds, which could almost be considered deft given that she’s clearly doing the Mariah Carey version, yet it’s the Phil Collins original that was the Billboard #1. But it’s not deft, because she was awful, and when the judges called her awful, the audience could barely summon a boo. The poor girl was drowning in the song, and given that she was bottom three last week, this should be her last week in the contest. (Down 5.)
10. Tim Urban, aka Crappercrombie & Fitch
The Timbot has been programmed with a series of gestures and swivels downloaded from years of ‘hot young musical thang’ video footage, from Elvis to the Jonas Brothers, but sadly machine technology is not yet sophisticated enough for the emulation to look organic, and Timbot’s stage slide looked like a Star Trek ensign doing the ship-shake tango on a wet floor. Disastrously, Tim is wearing a jacket this week, so we can’t even admire his biceps or his extraordinarily tiny waist. The song was billed as Crazy Little Thing Called Love, but I have heard that song, and this was not it. (Up 1.)
9. Andrew Garcia, aka Straight Down Now
I imagine Mike Lynche would do a pretty good Heard It Through the Grapevine. He’d keep it Motown. He’d keep it slick. He’d keep all the original notes. Andrew Garcia doesn’t do any of these things. His performance is the aural equivalent of cardboard salad. I think he thinks it’s sexy, but it’s just… MILEY CYRUS SPIT OUT THAT GUM RIGHT NOW! Young lady, you are on television! Have some class. You’re not just Billy Ray in a dress, you know. (Down 1.)
8. Katie Stevens, aka Miley Cyrish
Katie can learn so much from Miley, who is a little over two weeks older than her. Those two weeks give a person a completely different perspective on life. In auditions, Katie did an impressive rendition of Etta James’s At Last. I don’t know what happened to that girl, but I think she’s Benjamin Buttoning at a rate of one trimester a week. Katie sounded flat and strained, but it was a Fergie song, so maybe it was meant to sound like that? (Up 4.)
7. Aaron Kelly, aka Kid Ganglion
He has tonsilitis, or laryngitis, or snivelitis. I don’t know or care. He’s astonishingly boring on the best of nights, and this was a bad night. His I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing was dependably dull and wholly unmemorable. (Up 3.)
6. Lee DeWyse, aka Generic Supermarket Brand
A peculiar jazz arrangement of The Letter allowed DeWyse, who has the air of a waxed orang-utan, to lumpenly bump around the stage like a simian Michael Bublé. Yet the vocal was the same coffee-grinder rocker stuff we’ve come to expect from him. It’s not that Lee is bad, it’s just that this is airtime that could be better used to advertise Dr Scholl’s skin tag remover. (Up 3.)
5. Didi Benami, aka Folksteady
Did’s rendition of You’re No Good makes me think we have a potential Nancy Sinatra on our hands. Nancy always stuck safely within the limits of her voice, but she had the looks and the style to sell her songs. Didi is no Nancy just yet, but that’s where her safe zone lies. She had technical problems and a clod-footed shuffling dance style this week, but I think she was better than the judges gave her credit for. (No change.)
4. Casey James, aka Redneck Messiah
The cornstalk was on fair form this week with a faithful rendition of Huey Lewis’s Power of Love. He walked through it and didn’et exert himself in the least, but his voice sounded good. Certainly, there were more offensive Texans in the public eye this week. (Up 3.)
3. Siobhan Magnus, aka Tuney Loon
After another long week buying toy soldiers on eBay so she can suck off the lead paint, Siobhan Magnus took to the stage with a badger brush up-do and a poorly chosen Stevie Wonder classic, Superstition. It was too orchestrated, too arranged for Magnus, whose golden moments have come in her stripped and spooky performances. Here she was fighting with the brass section and unleashing some fearsome screams. It wasn’t right. This was her ‘off’ week, and she was still better than almost everyone else. (Down 2.)
2. Mike Lynche, aka Big Mike
Mike Lynche is a whole big bucket of cream coffee. Even Starbucks doesn’t serve in these sizes. When A Man Loves A Woman is a safe choice, but the performance was smooth, soulful and sincere. I like Big Mike more each week, because although he never offers any surprises, he always delivers. He’s the UPS of American Idol. (Up 1.)
1. Crystal Bowersox, aka Gypsy Ford Cortina
Dame Bowersox is seven actual years older than Miley, and about seventy musical years older than Miley, and you just know they would never normally even make eye contact in the Mean Girls canteen of life, so I applaud Crystal for not sending the little snit upstairs to play with a Bratz Terrifically Tacky Tramp Stamping Playset while she smoked dope in the garage with her friend Snake who owns a pick-up and is feeling vulnerable because his brother is in Afghanistan. Anyway, Crystal sang Me And Bobby McGee, but not much of it. Mostly she just riffed and noodled around it. It was good, of course, but the Bowersox is capable of better. (Up 1.)
This was a terribly weak week for Idol, though perhaps par for the course at this stage in the competition. I would be very surprised if Paige Miles survives the week, but Tim and Katie seem like solid contenders for the bottom three, and Didi is pretty, so I doubt she has many fans. I have a suspicion that Siobhan is also capable of attracting a lot of antipathy, so a weak week for her could actually put her at risk.
Do you agree with this week’s rundown? Am I too kind to Big Mike? Too cruel to Lee DeWyse? Let me know in the comments section.