American Idol Season 9 has me befuddled. I can usually understand the voting patterns by grouping contestants into demographic groups and looking for likability factors within the groups. Not on American Idol Season 9. The unique performers (Didi Benami, Lacey Brown and Lilly Scott were wiped out early), R&B artists were voted off as quickly as America could get to them (Michelle Delamor, Ashley Rodriguez, Jermaine Sellers, Toddrick Hall) and left untouched are a group of mid tempo pop rockers (Crystal Bowersox, Andy Garcia, Lee Dewyze, Casey James) and undefined teen dreams (Tim Urban, Katie Stevens, Aaron Kelly). We are left with only two unique performers, R&B mountain man Michael Lynche and unclassifiable Siobhan Magnus.
Wednesday night was the final straw when Christian music artist Michael Lynche was voted off and then saved by the judges. Why does the America Idol Season 9 audience dislike R&B music? Given the very clear message from its audience, why does American Idol keep pushing R&B performances (Usher, Rihanna and on and on) down its America’s throat. I just don’t get what the American Idol Season 9 audience is voting for.
Quick Summary of American Idol Season 9
We started American Idol Season 9 with seven Christian music performers and they have not fared well with only Michael Lynche and Tim Urban remaining in the Top 9 and Didi Benami making it onto the American Idol Season 9 tour. Lacey Brown just missed the tour when she was voted out in the Top 12. Michelle Delamor, Ashley Rodriquez and Jermaine Sellers were dismissed early in the live shows. This is the fewest number of Christian music artists making it to the live show since I started watching American Idol. Of this group, none were worship leaders and only one, Michelle Delamor, had experience singing regularly in worship services. I wonder if the lack of weekly performing responsibilities has to do with the lack of success by Christian music artists on American Idol Season 9.
Another theme of American Idol Season 9 must be the survival and rise of Christian music artist Tim Urban. A last minute replacement for disqualified Chris Golightly, Tim flew in the week before the Top 24 hit the live stage. He struggled mightily through the early weeks and it looked like he did not belong, except for the smile. Tim Urban‘s electric smile could not be suppressed and it was a smile that has melted the heart of millions of teen girls across America. The judges were as cruel and dismissive of Tim Urban as any performer I have ever seen on American Idol. Yet he continued to smile. Many believed it was a ploy to use his looks to overcome his shaky performances, but we learned different. It turns out that Tim Urban is a model of transcendent gratitude. Despite all of the venom spewed his way by the judges and the press, Tim Urban‘s smile is an outpouring of a heart grateful for a chance to perform for more and more people each week. Tim Urban is living Jesus’ call to “do not worry”. The judges and the press, steeped in a culture of success, superiority and wealth, just do not get it.
Top Performances on American Idol Season 9
Finally, I agree with most people that American Idol Season 9 has been the worst I have seen. But there have been moments, those spine tingling show stopping moments that the American Idol audiences wait for each week. There have been three, only three.
1)Michael Lynche “This Woman’s Work”
Up to this point Michael Lynche looked like a neo soul/rocker wannabe. His singing had been strong and his performances had been solid. Then Michael Lynche had a chance to close the show and he closed the show with a capital C. With a back story of separation from his wife during the birth of their first child and a clear passionate love for his family, Michael Lynche unleashed a mind blowing performance of this heart breaking love song. From the perfect falsetto runs that bookended the performance to slamming power blasts in the middle, Michael Lynche demonstrated untouched range and power as well crushing interpretive skills. Kara cried, I shouted and proceeded to show the performance to everyone who came to our house over the next week.
2) Crystal Bowersox Long As I Can See The Light
Literally crawling out of her hospital bed to open the show Crystal Bowersox took a song that has been one of my favorites since I was a kid and showed me a whole new take on it. Leading up to the show we did not know if Crystal Bowersox would be able to perform. Rumors were that she suffered some ailment that nearly caused her to die. Then she reinterprets “Long As I Can See the Light” as a gospel plea. One of the most poignant moments ever on American Idol, Crystal Bowersox sang the song perfectly, without drama, allowing us to embrace the moment.
Katelyn Epperly “The Scientist”
I am still bitter that this multi-stylistic musician is not a front runner for the Season 9 crown of American Idol. Katelyn Epperly sat behind a piano for the first time on American Idol Season 9 and delivered a gut wrenching interpretation of this song I had never really listened to. Watch the video and notice the maturity of her performance. The way Katelyn Epperly used the camera, the way she turned from the audience at just the right moment. Every time I watch this I become more frustrated that Katelyn Epperly left American Idol Season 9 the next week.
Join us on Tuesday night as we live blog American Idol Season 9. Adam Lambert mentors the Idols and the rumored theme is Elvis Presley songs. Remember that on Wednesday night two will be voted off. Watch, read and vote.