“Idol Thoughts” – Season 9, Top 11 Tuesday, Mar 23 2010 

Miley Cyrus as a mentor.  A  MENTOR (or a men-tar[d]), as she says).  I’m sure Andrew and Big Mike and Crystal will take very kindly to being “taught” by a 17-year-old.  Fantastic.  THIS.  Is American Idol.

Lee Dewyze – “The Letter,” OPB The Box-Tops and popularized by Joe Cocker.  Damn. My favorite guy in the death-knell number-one spot. Miley is giving him the eye-f*ck up and down and says what I’ve been saying for week – great voice, sub-par stage presence. And AK points out to me that Miley is in hot pants while Lee is wearing a hoodie and leather jacket – who’s wrong here? He’s trying to Hicks it up a bit, strolling suavely up and down the damn place in a pseudo-suit though is clearly more comfortable rocking a Cars tee shirt and holding a six-string. The vocals are smokey and strong, with fewer pitch problems than usual. Judges are split, Simon repeats his new mantra (“Have a moment [like this]!”).  Lee’s still getting my vote.

Paige Miles – “Against All Odds,” OPB Phil Collins.  Oh, dear. This never ends well for people.  Ugh.  Are these actual notes she’s singing?  It just sounds like breath pushed through a cracked wooden pan flute.  When she gets into her chest voice, she hits a couple – literally, a couple – of fine-sounding notes.  But all in all, an UTTER mess.  Judges agree that she was horrendous; will she get sympathy votes?  It’s a distinct possibility, because they ripped her absolutely to sheds.  Not undeservingly.

Tim Urban – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” OPB Queen. What can one say. It’s Tim. He’s cute as a button, has a smooth tone, and is perfectly likable in his nautically-themed outfit. The pitch seemed fine, but there wasn’t a whole lot of “oomph.”

Aaron Kelly – “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” OPB Aerosmith and ruined by Mark Chestnutt. NERD. Ahem. I saw this song coming up the street in a cab. I think he started too soon (that’s what she said) – but if so, the band caught up post haste. So while Aaron is wee, and annoying, and nearly everything that is wrong with music and America in general, his voice isn’t super terrible (especially given the laryngitis). And the ladies love him, because the ladies are idiots. Whatever.

Crystal Bowersox – “Me and Bobby McGee,” written by Kris Kristofferson, performed by Gordon Lightfoot and made famous by Janis Joplin. Predictable song choice, but absolutely spot-on beautiful. The beginning is quiet and angelic, the end is powerful and literally gives me chills. She’s one of the best contestants on this damn show, ever. Done and done.

“Big” Michael Lynche – “When a Man Loves a Woman,” OPB Percy Sledge. Again with the predictable song choice. My typical problem with Big Mike is overload on the vibrato, and runs all over the place, and that’s true this time around once again. His tone is pleasing as always, however, and he commands the stage like the giant he is. I’m not sure … he’s talented, and seems like a nice guy (did you know he’s a new father?) but something about him is not quite doing it for me.

Andrew Garcia – “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” OPB Marvin Gaye but also performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Were they given a list of 25 songs from which to choose? Same shit, different season. In the words of my 24-year-old buddy at work, Andrew is “Supes Totes Awks” without his guitar. The boy pointed to his eye when he said “tears,” people. To his ear when he said “heard.” My f*cking God. There is something about his voice I still like, but the kid is out of his element something fierce. He is off the rails and not long for this world. So sad!

Katie Stevens – “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” OPB Fergie. Well, at least someone is doing something released in the last 25 years. And her hair is so shiny! She sounds fine, sometimes, but also like every young girl who’s been on this show for nine seasons from Carmen Rasmusan to Mikaleh Gordon and everyone ever since. GUTTURAL TONES take over as the song wraps up. And she’s wearing stupid neon suspenders and a peace sign tee shirt (“PEACE RULZ, y’all!”) Ugh.

Casey James – “The Power of Love,” OPB Huey Lewis and the News, and arguably the best song EVER!? I like his rockin’ version; it is making me smile, as does the staccato horn section. Again, his performance was great, his voice was fine, but not showcased as brilliant. One of my favorites of the night.

Didi Benami – “You’re No Good,” OPB Linda Ronstadt. Not sure what is going on … she’s a little uncomfortable and a little off-key at the beginning but pulls it together, a bit, toward the end. Why is everyone singing these hacky, ancient songs?  Again, I wonder who her fan base could be.

Sioban Magnus – “Superstition,” OPB Stevie Wonder. YAWN. What list were these kids given? Only Casey picked something not Idol-esque. Blah, blah, blah. Strong vocals, weird, screech. Side note: all these girls were stuck on a treadmill and are dropping pounds. Please, what is the Idol diet?

I’m just not that excited this season.  Except by Crystal.  And I still like Lee as well.

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“Idol Thoughts” – Season 9, Top 12 Wednesday, Mar 17 2010 

Have we all recovered from the loss of Alex Lambert or Lilly Scott?  Didn’t think so.  But while the “right” person doesn’t always win (sorry, Taylor Hicks, love ya, but … no), the Top 12 isn’t always the most talented dozen.  Without further ado.

It’s Rolling Stones night, and rock-and-roll purists of the world grow one step closer to throwing themselves collectively off a bridge.  Bring in Bruce as a mentor, and it’s all over.

“Big” Michael Lynche – “Miss You.”  Wow, I’d totally forgotten Mike had a baby.  Don’t like the chain wallet, dude.  I also don’t like this arrangement, but he sounds fine and swaggers with just the right amount of confidence. A little too much vibrato and falsetto for this song.  The meat of the song is totally ripped out, and it’s just a showcase for runs and glory notes.  But he’s probably fine, even though stuck early in the night.

Didi Benami – “Play With Fire.” Her family gives me the creeps.  Great voice, control of the dynamics, and great stage presence.  Unlike most of these fools, it looks as though she is truly feeling the mood of the song (though I don’t buy her as a dangerous type).  “Couple of pitch problems,” but she sticks the landing when it counts.  And unlike Big Mike, who sang, like none of his song, Didi sings like the entire song.  She’s talented and “commercial,” but what demographic is voting for her?  She’s not a “rocker” or a kid or a diva … she’s just … simply good.

Casey James – “It’s All Over Now.” Total pie-face in the interview.  So the deal with Casey is that he is a hotter Bo Bice.  Bo Bice, shockingly, came in second only to Carrie Underwood that year.  And Casey’s whole package (looks, guitar playing, hair, and yes … I said “package”) is better than just his voice on a platter.  That said, his voice is raw and pleasing to the ear, and I think he’s actually better than he thinks he is.  But I’ve yet to be blown away by any of his singing specifically.

Shut up, Randy.  Shut up, shut up, shut UP!

Lacey Brown – “Ruby Tuesday.” I can’t make up my mind on this one.  I appreciate how she “makes things her own.” Two weeks ago, she took one of my least favorite songs ever (“Kiss Me” by Sixpence) and tweaked it ever-so-slightly so that I liked it better.  She does the same thing here, double-timing the “still I’m gonna miss you” lyric (and changing the last note).  Her tone is pretty, part syrup, part gin, but she doesn’t seem to have as much control as she should, especially when in her lower register.  Last note was rough.  So obviously … she’s never gonna win, but she’s certainly better than I am.  Love her hair, confused by her outfit.  As one friend pointed out, it looks like she has Spanx peeking out from under her skirt.

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