American Idol Season Top 12 Performances

Welcome back to One21music’s coverage of American Idol Season 9.  Last week we predicted that Katelyn Epperly would win and she promptly exited the show four days later.  We still think America made a big mistake.  We feature Christian music artists on American Idol Season 9, so we are thrilled to that Michael Lynche, Didi Benami, Lacey Brown and Tim Urban are in the Top12.

Most people think Crystal Bowersox will win the American Idol Season 9.  We don’t, but what do we know (see above).  We were exhilarated by Michael Lynche’s performance of “A Woman’s Work” last week.  I think it was the best we have seen since Jordan Sparks in American Idol Season 6.

Tonight the American Idol Top 12 sing songs of The Rolling Stones.  The Stones have a deep, broad catalogue of music that should fit all singing styles.  I look forward to tonight’s performances so let’s get started.

We are on the big stage and it looks like the designers have started dressing the Idols.  This usually freaks a few contestants out so let’s see who is ready for the large live audience.

Cool montage to one of the greatest rock bands of all time.  Their body of work is raw, edgy and complex while being accessible.  It will be difficult to cover these songs without being copy cat.

We are opening with Michael Lynche.  He is singing Miss You.  He better do something do this highly stylized song from the Stones disco era.  He is filling this disco number with a driving R&B vibe.  He looks stronger and stronger every week.  He is showing some sweet arrangement skills.  This is a great follow-up to last week.  Michael Lynche is true favorite to American Idol Season 9. The judges are loving them some Michael.  Randy says he slayed it.  Kara says he delivered swagger and attitude. Simon thought the dancing was a little corny.   I and all of the other judges disagree with Simon.  Is Ryan going to punch Simon?

Looks like Didi Benami is next.  The Rolling Stones are a minefield for Didi.  Their’s are not really singer/songwriter tunes.  She is singing “Play With Fire”.  Okay, she is slowing this down and inserting a little grit into the song.  At least she is connected to the mood of the song.  This is quite interesting.  I like her pleading, edgy take on the song.  Well done. Randy loved it.  He calls it her best.  Kara liked her intensity and that is was I liked as well.  It was darkness, combined with Didi’s sweet voice.  Simon liked it.  They all talked about her losing her way in the song.  But she recovered so well that I did not really notice.

Casey James came from a divorced family and nearly died as a baby.  He is singing “It’s All Over Now” as a electric country rave-up.  Everybody’s doing well so far.  I guess great songs just work.  I bet Casey sings this in his club set.   We get just enough of the guitar but not so much that it distracts.  Another good performance.  Randy compared him to Kenney Wayne Shephard.  Ellen says fantastic.  Kara says he is no longer trying to be a rock star but is a rock star.  Calls it his best performance so far.  Simon doesn’t like anything tonight.  He says it has to be more than stand in the middle of the stage and play his guitar.

Time for Lacey Brown.  She needs a very strong performance because she is on the bubble.  Her parents are pastors.  She is singing “Ruby Tuesday”.  The perfect song for her voice.  This is not as great as I would hope.  Her voice sounds a little pitchy and she is not really bringing anything new and interesting to the song.  She is singing just fine, but I don’t think it was great.  Randy was pleasantly surprised.  Ellen tells her not go the Grand Canyon because she likes to sit on the edge of the stage.  Kara was 50/50 thinking it was a little sleepy.  Simon thinks her performances are a little too precise.  Finally, Simon gives some constructive advice.

Time for Andrew Garcia. Andrew is doing one of the hardest Stone’s songs “Gimme Shelter”.  He sounds good, but the song has none of the danger that is the soul of the song. I never though Andrew would not be edgy.  He showed off his voice but this is not the dark song that took the world by storm.  Randy hated it, Ellen loved it.  Kara says she did not feel the connection to the message of the song.  Kara is tired of Simon’s criticisms and snaps at him.  Simon was luke warm on the song.

Teen beauty queen Katie Stevens is singing “Wild Horses”.  She can do something with this song.  Based on the bio video, Katie’s family is doing all right.  She is showing a limited range that is surprising to me.  It pushes this song into more of a country ballad style.  She sings it just fine but I don’t like her take on the song.  Randy thinks she sang it very well.  Kara gives her faint praise.  Simon like her song choice, but thinks she lost the emotion of the song in the second half.

Tim Urban is from Texas (that is the 3rd Texan so far).  He is singing “Under My Thumb”.  He is playing guitar and has arranged the song with a reggae vibe.  For me it loses some of the anguish but reggae music can express deep sorrow with a beat.  He is singing well.  This was an interesting choice and he performed it well.  I liked it.  Randy called it bizarre.  Ellen didn’t connect with it.  Kara applauds him for doing something incredibly different with the song.  Simon thinks it did not work.  I disagree with the judges, I thought it was interesting.

Siobhan Magnus, the quirky one, sings “Paint It Black”.  The performance starts with strings and Siobhan singing quietly. She is really struggling.  This song is too fast for her voice. She soars and then screams through some big notes at the end.  This did not work for me at all.  Too much drama.  Randy loves it.  Am I watching the same show.  The judges are fawning all over her.  Kara calls it the best interpretation tonight and Simon calls it the best of the night.

Chicagoan Lee Dewyze takes on “Beast of Burden”, another Stones disco song.  he rearranges into an indie pop song.  Essentially he strips away all of the song’s peculiarities to highlight his voice.  It works.  Lee shows off his strong voice.  I could hear this on the radio today. Randy thought it was dope.  Ellen compares it to a hospital gown (not quite together).  Kara celebrates his tremendous growth. Simon says he is low personality and the performance was low energy.

Now it is time for Paige Miles.  She has struggled with some serious throat problems this week.  Paige talks about singing in the church when she was growing up.  She is singing “Honky Tonky Woman”.  She loves old bluesy, foot stomping rock songs. This is working.  I am getting a bit of a Tina Turner vibe.  Husky vocals with big soaring notes.  She did make it big. Ellen says Paige has great star quality and sounded amazing.  Kara thinks she got a little lost but liked it.  Simon thinks she did great but she can do better.  Because of her throat problems this was her first full performance of the song, wow!

Aaron Kelly is a country performer through and through.  Did you see the big hats?  He is singing “Angie”.  I think the song is a little mature for him.  He certainly looks comfortable on the big stage, but the vocal performance is a little bland.  He could have wrung more (some) emotion out of that song. The judges are loving this performance as well.  I guess I will never be an American Idol judge.

Crystal Bowersox ends the show with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.  Just Crystal, her guitar and a wisp of organ. The song starts a little slow and quiet, but then she kicks the bridge and turns on her gospel chops.  Strong vocals and mature stage presence, a very good performance.  Let the judges’ fawning begin.  Ellen points out that we are starting to see a little of her personality.  Simon says she was not the best of the night.

It is interesting that the four who received the harshest criticism were planted in the middle of the show.  I am just saying.

AI9 Christian Hollywood Week Hopefuls

American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week is upon us. Now the show gets good. Over the next two weeks we will find out who makes it into the Top 24. One21music focuses our American Idol coverage on Christian music artists trying to make their dreams come true by running the American Idol gauntlet. Last year we followed the triumphs of Kris Allen and Danny Gokey, the inspiring stories of Michael Sarver and Scott MacIntyre and the way too early ousters of Mishavonna Henson and Felica Barton.

American Idol Hollywood Week Season 9 should feature several Christian music artist favorites and we want to help you keep an eye out for them. We have already featured, Alex Nestor (who for some reason was never seen in the audtions), Ben Honeycut and Jermaine Sellers

But we continue to look and we have found seven more Christian music artists for you to follow through American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week.  We believe that it is likely you will be able to vote for these Christian music artists in a few weeks:

Lacey Brown

Lacey BrownThe 24-year-old, who the show identified as a church event director from Amarillo, sang “Over the Rainbow” in Orlando, Fla., before the four judges unanimously voted her through to the next round. Lacey Brown is the daughter of David and Connie Brown, pastor and co-pastor of Victory Church in Amarillo. She shared that the first time she sang was in church for her parents anniversary party while she had hiccups, and went on to say that her relatives were as shocked as she was that she could sing

Lacey Brown made it into the Top 50 of American Idol Season 8.  She was cut in a chair scene with Meagan Joy.

Ashley Makailah Rodriguez

Ashley Makailah RodriguezAshley’s journey as an artist began at the age of four when she started ballet, jazz and tap lessons. Loving the art of performance, Ashley Makailah Rodriguez joined the drama club in high school, took piano, taught herself guitar and sang in the school’s chorus to hone her skills as an all-around performer. It was there at Chelsea High School that she was introduced to the City Music program at Berklee College of Music, which eventually awarded her a full four-year tuition scholarship.

During her four years at Berklee, Ashley Makailah Rodriguez not only worked to improve herself as a vocalist, but also majored in Music Business Management in order to fully immerse herself in the industry. As a performer, Ashley was offered many incredible opportunities, which included traveling internationally with the gospel group Overjoyed and singing at the Berklee Performance Center with artists such as Philip Bailey, Chaka Kahn, and Berklee alums Lalah Hathaway and Paula Cole.

Chris Golightly aka “Orphan”

Chris GolightlyChris Golightly performs under the name Orphan. He born in San Pedro, CA. and by the age of three he was placed in the social services system. Growing up without parents Chris Golightly struggled to find himself.  As a child it was very rough and Chris Golightly had to stand up on his own two feet.

Running away from foster homes etc… every five months made Chris Golightly come to realize he had stories to tell. Ever since he was six years old he was singing and performing. At the age of twelve Rich Mullins inspired him to started writing. Today, Chris Golightly attends Calvary Church in Santa Ana, CA and performs there regularly.

Vered “Didi” Benami

Vered BenamiVered Benami lists her influences as “First and foremost God.”  When you listen to her original music her faith is clearly apparent, as in the chorus of her song “Lullaby”- “He wants to comfort you. He wants to save you.”  Ever since she was old enough to speak Vered Benami was inspired, energized, and fascinated with the groove of life in ever-changing motion. She immersed herself in all kinds of jazz, blues, southern rock, folk, country, R&B and pop music. Throughout her life she has harmonized, danced, and written to any music that moves her.

Vered Benami attended Belmont University where she met her biggest inspiration, Rebecca Joy Lear. Rebecca was a singer/songwriter from Wichita, Kansas who began to help Vered capture and sharpen her ability to sing, and combine vocalizing expression with writing music.  Not too long after these two met they became close friends and decided to stick it out at school, (even though all they were really passionate about was writing and performing music) Rebecca’s Journey was cut short by an automobile accident in December 2005.  This was an eye opening experience for Verdad Benami, and made her realize that life is too short to waste not doing what you love.

Michelle Delamor

Michelle DelamorMichelle Delamor dreams of conquering two worlds: music and fashion. In a Miami Herald article, she said of the two passions: “The moment you step on stage, the transformation is amazing. You can go from crazy nerves to becoming the music. I want to be huge, I want to tour around the world, sing for millions and millions of people. But another dream of mine is to have my own clothing line. My style is funky-glamorous.”

Michelle Delamor is a 20 year-old a music major at Miami Dade College-Wolfson. Michelle credits Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Pink and Mary J. Blige as being some of her biggest musical influences. She also has a strong gospel background and is a soloist in Miami’s Unity on the Bay church choir.

Michael Lynche

Michael LyncheLike many great artists in the R&B tradition, Michael Lynche was first exposed to music through the church. Both of his parents were pastors and the Lynche Family or “Lynche Mob” (as they were known) was well known for its energetic act, which featured a young Michael performing gospel.

Michael Lynche excelled in high school, earning a full academic and athletic scholarship to the University of Central Florida, where he played NCAA Division I football as a defensive lineman. Michael was sure football was his ticket out of the poverty of his youth, but while in college, his beloved mother fell ill with cancer and Michael saw it as his duty to go home. As he recalls, “My love for football was enormous, but when my mom got sick, I started really rethinking about my journey in life and I got to thinking that this was all happening for a reason.”

After the passing of his mother, Michael Lynche stepped back to where he started – with his love of music and specifically, the guitar. He recounts, “When I was a kid I picked up the guitar that was stashed in the back of my mom’s closet and learned to play it. I loved the sound of blues guitar. When she died, one of the first things I did was get a new guitar and start writing. At first, I was just writing music for the church. Then it became a singer songwriter thing. But nothing was groundbreaking.”

Moving to New York in 2006 to pursue his dream, Michael Lynche then hooked up with hip-hop producer Ming (of Ming & FS). Ming started adding beats to the more traditional singer/songwriter and soul songs that Michael was writing, and for Michael, it was like lightning struck. He exclaims, “I’m a soul singer at heart and a story teller, but I realized through Ming that it was the beats that make the songs fun. I was thinking about what kind of music that would be and one day I came up with a new genre name: ‘Dirty Blues,’ where gritty southern soul meets dirty south hip-hop.”

So watch for these Christian music artists starting next week in American Idol Season 9 Hollywood Week and don’t forget to follow American Idol Season 9 on when we start live blogging when the show goes live on February 23rd.

In the meantime help us find more Christian music artists competing on American Idol Season 9.  Here is a list of some Hollywood Week participants we are researching.  If you know anything about these artists’ faith background, please share.

Aaron Kelly
Haeley Vaughn
Tyler Grady
Alex lambert
Paige Miles
Casey James
Katy Stevens
Andrew Garcia
Katelyn Epperly
David Duke
Jose Munoz

Next week we review the first two shows of American Idol Season 9 and start predicting the Top 24.