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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: What Would Miley Do

As I was watching the first half of tonight’s “Idol” episode dedicated to Billboard’s Number One Hits, I wasn’t sure who I felt worse for.

Was it Paige Miles and Tim Urban, who tanked on stage and were subsequently torn apart by the judges like a pack of rapid hyenas? (Yeah, I felt bad, especially when Ellen, the nicest person on the panel, couldn’t even comment on Paige’s singing. She didn’t even compare her to a mushy banana or anything!)

Was it the judges, who looked so horrified at having to listen to those singers, that I felt it was only a matter of time before they ran for the emergency exit? (I bet they’re totally kicking themselves for letting Chris Golightly and Angela Martin slip through their hands.)

Or was it this week’s guest mentor Miley Cyrus, who wasn’t sure how to react when Michael “Big Mike” Lynche tossed her around in the throws of a bear hug?

Actually, I felt bad for the viewing public, the dedicated “Idol” addicts who tune in every season waiting to see the next Kelly, Chris or Carrie emerge. The talent looked so good back in Hollywood week, but a combination of bad song choices, nerves and the fact that too many good singers got the boot in the semifinals, has made the competition a little lackluster so far.

Take those performances by Paige and Tim I was just talking about. I felt bad that Paige seemed to still be suffering from her laryngitis, and it definitely put a hamper on her voice. Unfortunately she knew that too, and you could see fear creep into her face during her performance of “Against All Odds.” I think she tried her best, but the judges really let her have it. All four said she was bad, while Simon and Kara said it looked like she had given up. I give her credit for not bawling right there on stage.

As for Mr. Urban (and unfortunately I’m not talking about Keith), he was completely corny on “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Between the awkward slide on stage and his even more awkward expressions, it was the cheesiest performance of the season thus far. Ellen nailed it when she said it looked like an audition for “High School Musical.” But Ellen is also correct when she says he has a lot of fans, who I’m pretty sure will vote him on to the next round. He’s like Sanjaya 2.0! (Somebody cue the crying girl!!!)

Also failing to impress, for the fifth week in a row, was Andrew Garcia. I think tonight was when he finally used up all that “Straight Up” goodwill he earned back in Hollywood. Did Simon call it when he said they may have overrated that moment? I still think Andrew has some good moments left in him, but someone needs to sit him down and explain the difference between a good song choice and a bad song choice. Good song choice equals “Straight Up.” Bad song choice equals “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which is what he belted tonight. I think Miley and Simon have it right when they say Andrew hides behind his guitar, though he doesn’t yet know what to do with himself without it. Here are some tips that could totally help his performance next week. First, ditch the guitar. Second, grab a stool and sit down (because those arm shakes you were doing tonight were just plain distracting). And finally, pick a song that suits your voice and turns you into a contemporary artist. Stop singing 60s doo-wop, and start looking for some cool 80s or 90s song that you can slow down and rock out with.

Taking the middle of the road path this week was most everyone else. Lee Dewyze impressed Miley with his vocals on “The Letter,” but was just a little behind the beat during his performance. Ellen declared that her favorite pen was back (does she have a book of strange metaphors somewhere?), and Kara said he raised his own bar.

Michael Lynche showed off his smooth R&B skills with “When a Man Loves a Woman,” but I’d love for him to escape from his comfort zone a little bit. I know this is the type of artist he wants to be, and he’s very good at it, but we need to see a little more variety. Maybe he could change a song from another genre into something with an R&B beat? And, as the judges said, he needs to watch out that he doesn’t cross over into lounge singer territory.

Switching it up this week, and lowering the age of her performance, was 17-year-old Katie Stevens. She took the judges’ advice and sang a more current song this week, Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” As Randy would say, it had some “pitchy” moments, but I think she sang it very well. I agree with Kara (who said that???) that she’s more a pop and R&B artist, than Simon’s suggestion that she skew towards country radio. (Now if only the rest of the singers would follow her lead and start choosing more current songs!)

For Casey James’ performance, I’m afraid that I’m a little biased. You see, my favorite song of all time is Huey Lewis and The News’ “Power of Love” from my favorite movie “Back to the Future.” So imagine my giddiness when I heard someone was going to sing it on the show!! While his version may not have been great (it sounded like a Santana-cover band), I think his vocals were the best they’ve been this whole competition. You did Huey proud, Casey!!

Then there was poor Didi Benami. The happiest contestant by far definitely receives the least credit for taking chances on the show. She sang “You’re No Good,” using her interesting voice and unique vibrato to put a different spin on the song. Unfortunately, the judges said it looked a little too theatrical and was a little too pitchy. I’m hoping America gives her another shot.

And then there were the singers that stood out. David Archuleta, um, I mean, Aaron Kelly did an awesome job on Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing,” infusing some nice country twang into all his notes. And despite showing some nerves in front of Miley (he’s got a crush on her, y’know!), she was wowed by his voice. The judges were on the fence about him, though the consensus is he’s pretty talented and will be back next week.

Taking the top two spots on my list of favorites from tonight were Crystal Bowersox and Siobahn Magnus. The way things have been going, I think these two will be duking it out for the crown this May. Crystal made the judges sit up and take notice again, blowing their collective socks off with her take on “Me and Bobby McGee.” Randy said she’s a born star and Simon said her version was just as good as Pink’s! When asked if she’d ever leave her comfort zone, Crystal said she’s got something big planned for next week. What could it be? Maybe she’ll sing “Straight Up” this time! (And after watching her take a seat on her special comfort rug alongside Ryan, I finally started to feel like Crystal was ready to let us all in!)

Also making the list for best singer of the season is our kooky glass-blower Siobhan. Singing “Superstitious,” she burst on stage with her new Mohawk and hit all her notes. Seriously, this girl is a completely different person on stage. It’s almost as if she was born to sing. Like Simon said, I could use a little less screeching and a little more singing at the end of her songs, but otherwise, it was a great performance.

How did the singers do tonight? Are you as worried about this season as I am? Did Paige and Tim deserve such harsh critiques? Do you think the judges will actually stick around for another week? Should Siobhan tone down the screaming? And are you curious about what Crystal has up her sleeve for next week? Post your comments below and be back Wednesday night for more “American Idol!” –Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on March 24, 2010 12:27 AM
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