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.