Simon made much of the fact that whoever was cut this week wouldn’t make the tour. He even compared it to scoring five numbers out of six in the lottery.
I have to say, though, that on pure merit alone you could cut the tour to about… six or so and I’d have very little argument. It’s hard to see who deserves to be on the tour less: Tim Urban or Andrew Garcia. (At least Tim will keep the tweens happy; who exactly is voting for Andrew nowadays?)
Paige was the first to go home after singing Against All Odds, and frankly she richly deserved to go home. I predicted her to be safe this week, but that was all due to non-singing factors. However, last year at this time the Idol voters were very rational: it looks like the same will hold this year. Unfortunately, there’ll be a lot of bad singing to go through before we get to the real competitors.
The only real surprise was Katie being in the bottom three and Andrew not being there. In all likelihood, it was because of Andrew’s fanbase knowing he stunk and voting like mad to save him. Apparently, there are still enough of those not just to save him, but get him out of the bottom three. After a performance that was just about as dismal as Paige’s, he should have been at least in the bottom three, if not the bottom two. He could give Tim Urban a run for the Sanjaya Malakar Award, given to the worst finalist for any Idol season.
Mentors – Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: After watching this episode, I’ve come to this conclusion: Idol mentors are simply more trouble than they’re worth.
The trouble is that there’s a huge, huge, huge conflict between the kind of people who make good mentors, and the kind of music those good mentors bring. Historically, the best Idol mentors have been older musicians with a great deal of experience and, frequently, a lot of experience not just in singing, but as producers. Barry Manilow may be something of a comic punchline to many people, but as an Idol mentor he was excellent.
The trouble is, though, that to get that kind of experience mentors generally bring an older theme to the table. Usually, what they’ll bring is well over the 30-year-limit that seems to be the Red Line of Idol song relevancy. (Anything older and it becomes irrelevant for significant chunks of the Idol fanbase.)
On the other extreme, you can have younger, more relevant singers (and themes), but the flipside is as mentors they’re terrible. Even if the advice is right (as it mostly was in Miley’s case), it’s not clear if they can actually fix any problems they see. Let me put it this way: an older, more experienced might have been able to get Paige to sing something else. Or rein in Siobhan’s screaming tendencies. Miley had no chance of doing either.
An average mentor can tell an Idol contestant how to do song and arrangement A better. A good mentor can tell that same contestant that as well, if A really is the best thing to do. However, if it isn’t, they can find song and arrangement B, which would work so much better. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any “relevant” mentors who’d really be capable of doing that.
The Idol Power Rankings: With the top 10 in place, it’s time for our weekly rankings of how they stand.
1. Crystal Bowersox
Consistency, consistency, consistency. At her worst, she’s very good. At her best? Downright unstoppable. Our only advice? Don’t get cocky. A finals slot is not a sure thing. Ask Melinda Doolittle.
2. Siobhan Magnus
Oy. When she’s good, Siobhan is almost as good as Crystal is. Unfortunately, lately she’s been relying a little too much on yelling screaming singing glory notes. That could be a problem, but let’s be honest: is there anyone else even close?
3. Casey James
Like Crystal, Casey is consistent. Unfortunately, he’s consistently meh. On the flip side, at least he hasn’t been too much of an utter disaster. So far.
4. Lee DeWyze
Take everything I said about Casey and apply it to Lee. He’s not as good, but he’s similarly “consistent”. Still, this high? Seriously? Only because everyone else has issues.
5. Didi Benami
Of anyone in this field, Didi has the most potential to go up. Unfortunately, she is just as capable of fouling things up. Will the real Didi please stand up?
6. Michael Lynche
He’s the male version of Didi. Lots of potential, but not a lot to show for it yet.
7. Aaron Kelly
David Archuleta proved you could get to the finals with a lot of aw-shucks-ness, youth, and the ability to sing very well. Aaron falls short in the third category, but he’s not dreadful.
8. Katie Stevens
Well, if this were a beauty pageant Katie would probably do well. Heck, maybe even in a studio environment you could turn Katie into a half-decent singer. On the Idol stage… no. She’s not a live singer.
9. Tim Urban
When the annals of Idol history are finally written, bringing back Tim Urban will be recognized as a massive mistake. He was the 13th best guy? Surely you jest.
10. Andrew Garcia
Andrew shot to fame by doing a Paula Abdul song. Since then, it’s been all downhill. There’s no way to go except up – or out.
All in all, it’s an amazingly dismal top 10. This season is not going to be one for the ages, I think.