American Idol‘s theme for the Top 11 last night was #1 Billboard Hits, and — was anyone really surprised? — the fact that contestants could choose from thousands of songs didn’t stop from (mis)treating us to the same old tunes we’ve heard countless times on the Idol stage. That may say more about the contestants than the types of songs that actually went to #1 on the Hot 100 over the years, but either way, it was depressing. And when Miley Cyrus is the most likable part of anything, you know you’re in serious trouble. Catch our full recap of last night’s aural assault below.
“How am I going to tell them that they’re doing something wrong when I don’t see it?” Miley Cyrus asked herself, doubting her own credentials as a mentor (while wearing a pair of Daisy Dukes so short she was basically wearing denim underwear). No matter your feelings regarding Miley’s mentoring abilities on American Idol last night—she mostly stayed criticism-free, just asking contestants to make eye contact with the audience and “switch it up a little”—you have to admit that Lil Miss Cyrus can perform circles around almost all eleven contestants. Speaking of the Top 11, sigh, let’s get to it:
Lee Dewyze – “The Letter” by The Boxtops
Lee finally puts on some nice clothes and avoids picking a predictable song. He gives a soulful performance, and although we don’t think singing and performing comes naturally to Lee, he appears as though he’s giving it an honest try to do his best. And it’s the first time we think Lee actually stayed in tune.
Paige Miles – “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins
Paige had laryngitis last week and survived mostly by scoring the pity vote from viewers who felt bad for her, but this week we don’t think she’ll be so lucky. She just appeared rattled, warbling with a voice that veered wildly out of tune when it wasn’t simply too weak to function. Even her “ooh, ooh’s” felt forced out of her throat. Girl, Mariah Carey sang this song, for crying out loud. You are unable to sing a Mariah Carey song. In fact, at this point we bet Paige could barely hum through “TiK ToK” and stay in key. We’re going to do as Ellen does and just stop critiquing her altogether. In case you missed it, here’s the video of Paige’s performance if you’re the type to slow down on the side of the road and watch the grisly outcome of a fatal car crash:
Tim Urban – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
Miley says flat out that Tim isn’t getting good reviews, and he needs to add unexpected riffs to his performances. Tim decides to ignore advice and instead slide on the stage and step into a circle of screaming girls. It’s pretty desperate, but he’s gotten pretty far without being very good, might as well have fun up there while you still can, right? Paige was so spectacularly awful, we’re certain we’ll be hearing him blandly sing another song next week. Hopefully he’s plotting his acting/modeling career while he’s sliding around on stage, because the only singing he’s going to do after this show is in the shower.
Aaron Kelly – “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith
Aaron has a huge crush on Miley, and it’s adorable because he’s only 16 and he’s allowed to be attracted to her. (If any other contestant were that tickled to get a hug from the teen star, they’d come across like a total creeper.) David Cook memorably sang “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” back during Season 7 (it was even the producer’s pick!). Aaron’s could never measure up to Cook’s version, even if his country-leaning voice does give it a different dimension. He does a decent enough job considering he’s been sick, but does Aaron’s voice even matter? He’ll drift along until the little girls at home change their votes for more competent performers closer to the Top 5. Also, Ryan calls Aaron “David Archuleta” while giving out his Idol digits, but it’s an unfair comparison: Archie always had extremely polished vocals (don’t tell us you don’t still get the shakes when you hear his gorgeous take on “Imagine”), and Aaron has yet to convince us he’s anything more than a high school talent show performer.
Crystal Bowersox – “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
Crystal had Miley sign her guitar—the same one with Melissa Etheridge’s signature on it—which made us second guess the dreaded wonder’s decision-making skills for a half-second. But besides picking what could have been a safe choice for her (a Joplin song? Get out of here!), we can’t hate on Crystal – she gives an absolutely effortless performance, and doesn’t need to move an inch around the stage to get everybody to pay attention to her. She teases at a guitar-less performance during next week’s show, but why? She’s leading the pack by staying true to what she knows best. And we have to admit, that rug really pulled the room together.
Michael Lynche – “When A Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
Big Mike is definitely the male standout of this season—hell, he even got Miley Cyrus to fall in love with him! But as much as we love Michael on Idol, we’re not exactly sure what the music industry would do with him. Look at similar artist Ruben Studdard—no, really, look for him. Can you find him on the charts right now? Exactly. Like Ruben, Mike is a big fish in a small pool, but his voice isn’t distinct enough to make him stand out in the giant landscape of R&B – there are tons of male singers out there who can rock a falsetto just as well as Michael did during his last two performances. Our biggest advice to Mike once he’s off Idol (which we don’t imagine will happen anytime soon) is to write some great songs and keep showing off that bright and bold personality.
Andrew Garcia – “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
Andrew is finally not singing a female pop song from the mid-90s. It’s a miracle! He put his guitar down, and contrary to what Simon thinks, we think that was a misstep for him. (Watch out, Crystal—you may not want to lose your instrument just yet.) Andrew gives a decent vocal performance of a Motown song that’s still tragically stuck in the past, but his corny staging of it never rose above a cruise ship level. (Although, who are we to make fun of cruise ship singers? They have to audition and perform just like any other paid entertainer making a living. That said, Andrew should never sing that song again unless he’s setting sail to Aculpulco. Which very well might happen sooner than later.)
Katie Stevens – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
Katie looks the most age appropriate she’s looked all season, and the song is a perfect fit. But she’s still got the frog in her throat, which we think only can be cured by years of singing lessons. Was she as bad as Paige? Nowhere near it. So let’s move on. Ellen calls her “the Dakota Fanning” of the Idol competition, but that sounds like an insult to Dakota Fanning to us. (If Ryan had only seen The Runaways, he would know D-Fan knows a thing or two about stage presence, something Katie still hasn’t excelled at yet.)
Casey picked a song that (we think) has never been played on American Idol before, and for that alone we want to give him a hug. ”The Power of Love” is the perfect song for his voice, and anything relating to Back to the Future nabs the 20 to 30-year old demographic instantly, so, smart move. Did the song move mountains? No, but look how pretty he looks while singing! And he wasn’t terrible! Way to go, Casey. We just wish he was rocking a life preserver vest like Marty McFly, but hey, you can’t win them all.
Didi Benami – “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt
Didi admitted she was so worried about her nerves in the pre-performance clip, then Ryan screws up her name seconds before she appears on stage. (“Didi Benini” is now how we will refer to her from now on.) Every week Didi looks more and more like a star, and she’s got an incredibly unique voice, but compared to Crystal and Siobhan, she’s got absolutely no one hyping her up. The best thing Didi could do at this point is absolutely kill a song (think Katharine McPhee’s game-changing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), or somehow be involved in an internet scandel. Maybe one of Didi’s friends can start a rumor that she and Lee Dewyze are hooking up behind the scenes? We hate to have it come to that, but they both could stand to generate some buzz before it’s too late.
Siobhan Magnus – “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
Siobhan looked like one of The Goonies in her pre-performance clip, then walked onstage looking like Pink’s little sister. We don’t think we’ve ever seen a bigger difference between the way the stylists dress a contestant on stage and how the contestant dresses themselves in real life. See below:
Parent Trap remake, anyone? As far as Siobhan’s performance goes, she’s totally comfortable on stage, and was a lot less screechy than last week when she belted out the money note. (Yes, there was another money note. There will always be a money note ending Siobhan’s performances from here on in.) We’re starting to think Ms. Magnus might be a one-trick pony, but she’s still so very interesting to watch.
Best of the Night: Who do you think? Crystal Bowersox.
Worst of the Night: Paige Miles isn’t appearing at the Idols Live tour unless she buys her own ticket.
Best Quote of the Night: “I’m a big fan of you….r dad’s.” —says Casey James upon meeting Miley Cyrus. We’re starting to really warm up to this guy, and spouting hilarious one-liners like this only make him more likable. (At least to the people who don’t count themselves as Miley Cyrus fans.)
We’re definitely reconsidering our post about why this season of American Idol isn’t awful. Can next week’s theme please be “Songs That Were Released In The Last Month” so we don’t have to suffer through the same overplayed routines over and over again?
Don’t miss guest blogger Elliott Yamin’s review of the show — this man knows his stuff.