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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Jagger-meisters

Who needs reruns of old “Idol” episodes, when you’ve got the ghosts of Idols past right here on the stage? This season feels like someone took nine seasons of “Idol,” and one guy named Tim Urban, and shoved them into a musical blender.

Here’s a quick recipe I whipped up to explain this season. Take one scoop of Siobhan Magnus (who’s channeling the high notes of last year’s runner-up Adam Lambert), plus three shots of Lee Dewyze (confidently infusing some David Cook-ness into his songs) and a slight dash of Andrew Garcia (whose off-beat musical selections remind me of Chris Sligh), and you’ve got the greatest “Idol” mash-up ever to hit the airwaves.

Now if only Lilly were still here. She’d probably be the crazy straw you put in the drink! Alas, all that remains of our favorite silver-haired songstress is a lone peacock feather hanging from front-runner Crystal Bowersox’s dreadlocked hair. But I’m guessing Lilly is pretty proud of her friend, who is hands down still the best singer in the competition. (I don’t care what the judges say!)

Tonight was Rolling Stones night on “American Idol,” though I have to admit I’m a tad disappointed that we didn’t get to see Mick Jagger or Keith Richards coaching our contestants. I can just picture the scene, with Michael Lynche bench-pressing the aging rocksters while Katie Stevens tried to guess which one is Mick. Instead of a mentoring session, we learned some more about the singers’ back-stories and finally had a chance to meet their families.

Looking at the show as a whole, it’s hard not to break it into two segments. The first segment, we’ll call this the opening act, was anyone who sang songs one through 11. The second segment, we’ll call this the main attraction, was Crystal Bowersox. And I know there’s plenty of people who think it’s shameful how much the producers have been promoting this girl (she was in the last, and choicest, spot once again), but I think she’s the real deal. Her performance of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was awesome. Ellen and Kara complained that it wasn’t quite up to the bar Crystal has set for herself, which is partly true, but she still did an amazing job. Simon said she’s the “100 percent clear favorite” to win, but that she needed a better song to sing. (By the way, if we’re judging tonight’s singers using the Simon Cowell grading scale, only a few contestants won a “100 percent” from him. Simon said Andrew and Katie both gave their“100 percent best,” while he said Aaron Kelly “chose 100 percent the right song.” Since when has Simon been such an easy grader?)

Since Crystal pretty much dominated, let’s look at how everyone else did compared to each other. I’d say our resident glass-blower Siobhan Magnus is probably the next-best singer on the show. Beginning with the slow build of “Paint it Black” on those light-up red stairs and continuing all the way to those last Adam Lambert-esque power notes, Siobhan came out swinging. Her voice is incredible and she has good stage presence. All the judges loved her and Simon said she really stood out. I’m guessing that she’s the only one who will join Crystal in the finals.

The only guy who’ll be joining those two in the final three has to be my man, Lee Dewyze. This guy is remarkable and he doesn’t even know it. To paraphrase Mr.Jackson, Lee’s voice is like the marriage of Rob Thomas and Dave Matthews (though I’d probably throw a little Jack Johnson in there too). And just like all those singers, Lee has a radio-ready voice and a very current sound. His version of “Beast of Burden” had great moments, though all he needs to do now is just relax. You’re good, Lee, now start believing it!

Winning the award for Surprise of the Week, by a landslide, is the girl who we all thought was out of this competition just one week ago. That’s right, I’m talking about Paige Miles. Where did that voice come from? Did we even hear anything like that during Hollywood or the Semifinals? And how did she do that with laryngitis (even Simon was amazed)? Her take on “Honkytonk Woman” was pretty stupendous and it was great to hear the nice country sound to her voice. She seems to have great control and even better power. If she comes back next week and can prove this isn’t just a fluke, she could be a real contender.

That leaves the rest of the group. I’d say pretty much everyone else gave middle of the road performances. Michael Lynche did a good job on “Miss You,” though some of his high notes were too high and the whole performance couldn’t hold a candle to his last semifinal performance of that Maxwell song. Didi Benami did a great job showcasing her vocals on “Play With Fire,” but the arrangement was too slow and dreary. These kids keep picking slow, sad arrangements this year. It makes me want to buy them all puppies to cheer them up!

Casey James spotlighted his blues-rock voice, but failed to totally impress on “It’s All Over Now.” I feel like he should take a break from his guitar, especially since it sounded a little rushed tonight. The judges liked his version, though Simon called it an audition performance, not a finals performance.

Lacey Brown had a solid night, but I feel like I’ve heard this song from her before (wait, this wasn’t Sixpence None the Richer?) and have seen her sit on the edge of the stage before. Ellen called her on this déjà vu, and Simon told her to stop mapping out the whole performance before she comes on stage. I will say, though, that this was her best vocal so far on the show.

Both Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens had pretty strong nights, as Adam sang “Give Me Shelter” sans his guitar and Katie spiced up a version of “Wild Horses.” I give Adam credit for finally busting out his great vocal chops, but he needs to really go for it before we all start rooting for him again. As for Katie, she evoked the days when Katherine McPhee was on the show, with the stripped down version of the song and the powerful vocals. I think this was one of her best weeks too.

As for Aaron Kelly, the future replacement singer for country band Rascal Flatts, he did an OK job of singing “Angie.” It was a little shaky at parts, though Simon commended him for staying within the limits of his voice.

That just leaves one singer, Tim Urban. He’s like the Singing Mystery to me. His vocals are just OK, his performances are incredibly hokey and yet he’s already been voted through about three times more than I would have guessed. Did I miss something on his recital of “Under My Thumb?” Was the reggae beat “brave” like Kara said it was, or was it like drinking a pina colada at a resort like Ellen declared? I’d say he’s the first the go, but here in Bizarro World, he’ll probably make the Top 3.

Were you moved by any of tonight’s performances, or are you still underwhelmed? Do you think Siobahn, Lee and Crystal are the clear frontrunners? Which of this season’s fallen contestants would’ve rocked Rolling Stones week? And who do you think will be going home on Wednesday night? Post your exciting/crazy/music-loving/fanatic comments below and be back Wednesday as Ryan gives someone their walking papers!–Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on March 17, 2010 12:37 AM
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