AMERICAN IDOL Season 9: Top 12 (S)Tumbling the Dice on Stones Night

by Jason Matthews

No more fooling around; it’s time to pick our next American Idol. For better or worse (we miss you, Katelyn! Smell ya later, Lilly!), this is our Top 12 and we have to crown one of them. The first impression one gets with this group is how vast the gap is between the talented and untalented. Crystal, Siobhan, Lee, Casey, Didi and Big Mike are so clearly the Top 6 that the next month and a half is mostly just an exercise in patience. A waiting game, while the also-rans get their moment to shine. So let’s all hold our breath for a while, revel in Simon and Ryan’s delicious man love banter, and continue to ignore Randy (and, increasingly, Ellen), and just wait it out ’til the real game begins.

Reviews of the performances, from best to worst.

Siobhan Magnus – “Paint It Black”

Adam Lambert just switched teams. Siobhan has never looked better, like a goth wet dream mixed with ’80s Madonna as envisioned by a Pretty in Pink fanboy. Loved the insane red stage, the dramatic lighting, the ominous arrangement, and her sinister opening. Her emotion was palpable, at once brilliant and frightening. And the crazy glory note that went on forever, then kept on going, and then had children who also delivered glory notes? That was either damn awful or mad genius. I’m almost 80% sure it’s the latter.

Lee Dewyze – “Beast of Burden”

He mumbled the start, opened up nicely in the middle, and finished with his signature bland white rocker snarl, but it was all tempered nicely by his acoustic song choice. He was actually kind of sweet up there, charming, even. Not to commit blasphemy, but it was a very Kris Allen-like performance. He for sure gained fans with that one, me included.

Didi Benami – “Playing With Fire”

Why is it so scary watching Didi perform? Is it because there is even odds she has a complete meltdown at any moment? Or because we just don’t want to see her cry again so we hope she does well? She’s such an emotional whirlwind, that girl! Thankfully, she did well this week. Going with jeans maybe wasn’t the best star choice, but otherwise she looked amazing. The camera has never loved her more. Starting on the steps was a nice choice, and it’s good to see her shine without needing her guitar. She definitely stumbled midway through, but she hung in there and finished strong. Nice soulful, sexy arrangement, great tone.  All in all, this was a nice week for our girl Didi.

Casey James – “It’s All Over Now”

From jump street, he had immediate big stage rock star presence. He’s relying too heavily on his guitar, not showing us enough of his vocals, but for now he’s doing enough. There is a richness to his voice that is great to listen to; he’s definitely getting better. If only he would trust his own instrument! He’s easily safe this week, but he needs to start stepping it up.

Katie Stevens – “Wild Horses”

Dramatic spotlight lighting! A totally robotic vocal! Trying to be sexy, but barely managing smoldering!  Still not making up for the loss of Katelyn Epperly! Oy, this girl is at such the disadvantage. There’s no way she survives the next month. Until then…by far her best performance so far, and her smartest song choice, but she still has a WAYS to go before she can stand with the big guns in this competition.

Crystal Bowersox – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Very underwhelming for performing in the pimp slot. She doesn’t get points for admitting she was in her head and out of focus, but you do have to admire that even her lackluster performance was better than half the people in the competition. At this point, Crystal is her own worst enemy. She is so well liked and revered so early on, she has nowhere to go but down. This is exactly how Kris beat Adam last season.  Watch how she stacks up against Siobhan as the weeks go on. By Top 6 we may be looking back at today and wondering how we ever thought she was the clear favorite.

Michael Lynche – “Miss You”

Simon was right; Big Mike was corny up there. And it wasn’t just the dance moves. He’s got a smooth, silky voice, and his showmanship is in the right place, but he can be so cheese-on-crackers up there. Good energy, super likeable personality, a fine vocal, but the whole thing was more than a touch goofy.

Lacey Brown – “Ruby Tuesday”

Lacey is everything people find tiresome about this show. She’s another poseur, a wannabe singer with no personality, utterly lacking in real drama, and just standing up there performing mediocre karaoke. Way to not use the biggest platform in music, LACEY! I wonder if SHE thinks she can win this competition?

Andrew Garcia – “Gimme Shelter”

We learned tonight that the small stage the Idolists were on the last three weeks was masking just how small and uninteresting Andrew’s voice truly is. Working on the big stage, he was swallowed up. Even with that desperate glory note at the end, he still came off charisma-free. Not to mention his clunky, mismatched fashion. Also? For one the Stones’ signature songs, that was the worst arrangement of the night.

Aaron Kelly – “Angie”

What are the judges seeing that I am not? Aaron Kelly is a charisma suck, a gaping black hole of personality, passion and interest. I wasn’t sure the performance had started ’cause the whole thing was so snore-inducing. I dozed off before he even got off the steps. I think even Aaron fell asleep during that performance. He’ll be safe this week ’cause America loves it some shaky talent tweens, but his days are numbered. And wow, someone needs to get FIRED over that hair of his.

Paige Miles – “Honky Tonk Woman”

She unleashed her big voice for the first time ever, which was good, but just made us feel sorry something so beautiful was trapped in a vessel so dull. The main problem with Paige is that she just isn’t vital. There are literally forty of her on the charts right now, and she’s not good enough to outshine any of them. Beyoncé didn’t even flinch watching her work. Jennifer Hudson just rolled her eyes and went back to shining her Oscar. Paige needs to show us a big personality, not just a big voice.

Tim Urban – “Under My Thumb”

Well, that was some weak, forgettable, Tiger Beat nonsense, lacking in every way: vocally, musically, and aesthetically. Just a safe, small performance by a guy who knows he doesn’t belong. I hope someone was keeping an eye on poor Alex Lambert, because he probably drowned in his own tears watching the spot he so deserved to be in get wasted by Tim.

Who should be the first to go? Do you think Siobhan has what it takes to beat Crystal? Make some noise in the comments!



  • Reply
    March 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I agree with you, it’s almost embarrassing to watch one performance to the next.

    But I do disagree with Simon about polarization being a good thing when it comes to music. A great song and performance crosses all lines of preference. When it’s good, it’s good and when it’s bad, it is F-ugly. Admittedly, I am a fan of the Stones, but Siobhan’s rendition of Paint It Black last night was just plain lousy in my book. The only way I could see anyone applauding it were people who hadn’t heard the original. And so what if she was able to hit a high note last night? If it did anything, it cracked glass! It didn’t kick ass! Listen to it again and try and envision that note in a song you would actually listen to. It was really lame. Also: I thing she looks like a cartoon character in a manga graphic novel.

    Michael Lynche, Lee Dewyze, Casey James and, surprisingly, Paige Miles rocked it for me last night.

    I could have gone either way on Didi Benami and Crystal Bowersox. To be fair though, even an off night for Bowersox is still better than an on night for everyone else.

    The LIGHTS ON, BUT NOBODY’S HOME awards go to:
    Aaron Kelly (he tried, but there’s just not enough mileage on him for this song)

    Lacey Brown (does she even have a clue what lyrics like “She comes and goes” mean? The Rolling Stones were really sexual and had an attitude about it.)

    Tim Urban (sounded like he was singing about a My Little Pony commercial he saw when he was younger. No clue.)

    Katie Stevens (Wild Horses? Sounded like she was singing about a summer she spent visiting a carousel).

    Andrew Garcia just didn’t have the growl he needed last night, but at least he was present.

    I wish they could kick off 4 people tonight.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    March 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Whoa, you put Katie BEFORE Crystal, Jason?! When I saw Katie sitting on a stool, I thought, “Would Jagger be sitting on a frakkin’ stool?!”

    Crystal wasn’t as good as Siobhan but I don’t want the latter to think she has to hit a crazy-ass high note every time now. It’ll turn into a grating gimmick real fast.

    Yay for our girl Didi! I’m like you—crossing my fingers every time she performs, hoping she makes it through without crying. And she did well! Had a bit of growl and ‘tude in her performance this time.

    Didn’t understand why Tim thought he was in Jamaica busking for Mai Tais with his version of “Under My Thumb.”

    Lacey needs to go TONIGHT. She murdered one of my favorite Stones songs.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Woo hoo! Got your wish, PCN! See ya, Lacey. We still have a ways to go before all the fat is trimmed, though. I don’t know in what order they’ll go but the next 5 will be Katie, Paige, Aaron, Tim, and Andrew.

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