I don’t get it. I really don’t. At their worst, this bunch of Idol contestants is capable of epic levels of fail. When they’re good, though… they’re pretty good. So which is which? For the good of this season, I hope it’s closer to the latter. Chances of that happening… I’m not optimistic.
Siobhan Magnus… oh dear. Last week, I was essentially telling her, “don’t jump!” Well, she did jump. Yikes. There’s no hiding the fact that it was awful. The power notes were screechy – a sign that she’s trying far too hard – but the rest was not all that good. It’s like she decided, stylistically, to mail in everything except the shouting. On its own, it wasn’t that bad, but in context with what Siobhan has been doing lately… no. just no.
On the whole risk-taking thing… when people say that, they almost always mean calculated risk. Calculated risk is all about taking risks, but doing so with some sort of underlying, calculated reason. Unfortunately, in the Idol context, most risks tend to be the stupid, I-took-risks-for-the-heck-of-it kind. Siobhan was not really an exception. You can only take calculated risks if you know what kind of singer you are, and right now I’m not sure Siobhan does. She knows what she doesn’t want, for sure, but that is not the same thing.
Casey James has, up to this point, been competent but boring. On both counts, he improved this week. Not by much, really, but small improvements added up to a much more compelling performance. The vocals were good, the performance was just enough not to be completely dull… but overall, a fairly strong performance. Nothing exactly groundshaking, but completely respectable.
Michael Lynche did something which, as far as I can remember, is unique in Idol history. He was behind the judges and just sat there. Overall, it was a supremely controlled, emotionally connected performance. If there’s anything bad I can say about it, it’s this: it was good, but it didn’t have that one defining moment that raised it to the next level. It was good, very good in fact – but not quite great.
Rarely has there been such a disconnect between what we saw in the pre-song promo and the actual performance. Didi Benami said she was emotional, but I never saw that in the singing. It was flat, unemotional, and just plain boring. The song may move Didi, but she didn’t do anything to move the rest of us.
On the other hand, Didi looked fantastic next to Tim Urban. When even the Idol mentor – Usher this time – has difficulty believing someone is real – guess what. You’re in trouble. Deep, deep, deep trouble. I was half looking for a teleprompter that Tim was reading the lyrics off. Rarely have such emotional lyrics been delivered with less conviction. Is he having fun? Good for him. The rest of us? Not so much.
Andrew Garcia is clearly a case of Your Mileage May Vary. For me, personally, it just doesn’t work. Andrew is just not our cup of tea. So, I’m going to grade him on how close he came to what he wanted to do. Andrew’s formula for success really is stripping down songs and performing an acoustic version, and by far he did that reasonably well this week. Infinitely better than last week, and I suppose a lot of people will like it.
Katie Stevens was, well, consistent. Chain of Fools wasn’t bad, wasn’t good, but didn’t belong in a singing show. It didn’t feel like a singer singing on a stage; it was more a very good-looking actress singing reasonably well, but not much more than that.
One thing Lee DeWyze just doesn’t do: subtle. I’m not quite sure how much resemblance his version of Treat Her Like A Lady had to the original, but I somehow doubt it. To give Lee the credit he deserves: the vocals were good, the song and arrangement were both inspired, and it was a very well-done performance overall. He did good, but was it great? I’m not so sure.
Crystal Bowersox had her “worst” night, but let’s put that in context: it was still pretty good. Her vocals weren’t as sharp as we’ve seen before, but to be honest that was probably the piano. She’s probably not used to performing with a piano on stage, so she couldn’t let her vocals do as well as she otherwise would have. More than doing well or not-so-well on one night, however, what she proved tonight was she didn’t have to stand behind a mike stand, guitar in hand, to do reasonably well. Midnight Train To Georgia has a fairly distinguished history on Idol and in all fairness Crystal lived up to it. Well done.
Aaron Kelly closed out the show in the “pimp slot”, but I’m not sure why somebody thought this was a good idea. It was vaguely like Katie’s performance in quality – not good, not bad, but just meh. Aaron Kelly is talented, sure, but he is far too green for this show.
Here’s how we rank the show:
- Crystal Bowersox
- Lee DeWyze
- Michael Lynche
- Casey James
- Andrew Garcia
- Katie Stevens
- Aaron Kelly
- Siobhan Magnus
- Didi Benami
- Tim Urban
One chance to screw up: Siobhan was awful today, but let’s be honest: she’s not going home. Her performance wasn’t wretchedly awful to send her home right away, and the bad reviews she got won’t kill her chances. She’ll get a pass.
Based on their performances, the two most vulnerable are Didi and Tim. If it were just performance, this is no question: Tim should go home. He’s been awful just about every week. His trainwrecks don’t even have the Sanjaya Malakar quality of being entertaining. Let’s be blunt: Tim is, right now, in the Sanjaya Zone of ineptitude. (His formal “induction” will be when he finally gets the boot.) He is just out and out awful.
Tim has a fanbase, though. He’s a likable fellow, and probably is a nice guy. Idol voters don’t always vote for the best singer; many will vote for a singer they like so long as he’s not terrible, and maybe even that won’t stop them.
Didi, though, is in serious trouble. It’s doubtful she’s had much of an opportunity to build a fanbase. She’s been good, but not great, and she hasn’t had that one performance that really stood out. So she doesn’t have the insurance that Tim has.
This is as probably as “simple” a boot as one can expect this season, but here’s a warning. Don’t be shocked if either Katie or Andrew end up in the bottom three or worse. Katie’s fanbase is suspect – we found that out last week. Andrew did very well this week, but it’s entirely possible that they could relax this week. A Katie “shocker” is in the cards.
Still, though, I’m calling it for…
TIG Pick: Didi Benami to go home.