“American Idol,” March 30, 2010: Didi Benami and Teflon Tim Urban probably turned in the worst performances of the night. Didi sang fourth, attired in a strapless sparkly gown, the top of which fit as poorly as Gwyneth Paltrow’s pink one at the Oscars the year she won. Did said, before she even began, “I wanted to pick something that moved me, but now I’m worried that it might be too much.” During her time with Usher, this weeks’ guest mentor, she even broke down in tears. Did might as well have saved the waterworks until after the judges critiqued her off-key performance, since nobody liked it. Randy said, “It flat-lined for me. It just wasn’t great. It just never quite caught.” Ellen said, “It was dramatic. I thought that was way dramatic and not your best performance.” Kara said, “It was way overdone. I don’t know who you are any more as an artist.” Simon compared her vocal styling to “swimming in jelly.” He said, “It was so over the top, old-fashioned, off-melody. You’ve completely and utterly lost your way.” He went on to say it reminded him of “those dancing shows that always have a singer murdering a song on it.”
The reaction to Tim Urban’s as usual sub-par performance of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love,” which he sang with a microphone that had problems, unshaven, with a deer-caught-in-headlights look was also underwhelming. Randy compared Tim to a singing waiter, calling the rendition “pedestrian,” but did say, “At least you sang in tune, but there was no vibe. No swag. It had nothing, Man. It just felt flat for me again.” Ellen—after commenting on how “adorable” Tim is, said he was “mostly on key” but “you were walking like you were sneaking into a bedroom. Oh, boy, why?” Kara called his rendition “uncommercial,” comparing it to Broadway or Vegas and, most critically, said, “You took the soul out of the song.” Then came Simon, who was hilarious. He told Tim that the song was “completely inappropriate” and like “ a mouse versus an elephant,” but added, “I don’t think it makes any difference what we say. You’re not gonna’ win. You’re gonna’ smile. The audience is gonna’ vote for you. Nobody cares. You’re gonna’ be here next week. So, well done.” Teflon Tim, as he has come to be known, commented—with a smile—that of all the things he could be criticized for, he didn’t think that smiling was going to be one of them.
So, if you ask me who should go home, take your pick of the two above, with Andrew Garcia another possibility.
First performer up this night was Siobhan Magnus, the 20-year-old from Cape Cod, MA. Usually, the judges have given her high marks, but her rendition of “Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan, which began in a very low register, while Siobhan was attired in what looked like high-topped tennis shoes (boots?), a white skirt and a dark top, with long dangly earrings, left Randy saying, “Only you would have taken on this song. It wasn’t your best performance at all.” Ellen said it was like having “Dessert before the meal.” Kara said, “It should have worked for you, but your lower register—it just wasn’t there.” Simon was the most blunt, commenting, “It was as if you’d run a marathon and were out of breath. You were so all over the place. You even look all over the place (protests from the other judges at this comment on Siobhan’s unusual outfit). You’re kidding yourself if you think it was a good performance, and I’m getting bored with the screaming at the end.” When Siobhan and host Ryan Seacrest made some chit chat about her desire to “kill it” (the song), Simon came back with, “I’m going to call it manslaughter.”
Casey James was hot tonight, playing a mean guitar on the Sam and Dave song “Hold On! I’m Comin’.” Randy said, “Yo. Listen. This was another hot night for you. I thought it was a perfect selection and choice for you. Nice job.” Since the song genre this night was soul and rhythm and blues, Casey was in his element and also played a mean guitar. Ellen did find his rendition “a little generic,” but admitted, “You sang it great.” Kara said, “These songs aren’t showing us everything you’ve got.” Simon basically disagreed with the 3 other judges, but agreed with me when he said, “Your strongest week you’ve had so far. You were not a sound-alike. You sounded authentic. I was really, really, really impressed with you this week.” Simon called this one right tonight.
Michael Lynche sang “Ready for Love” with an acoustic guitar, a quiet version. Randy said, “You are in the zone. I’m loving every performance, dude.” Ellen said, “That was beautiful.” Kara said, “You did an incredible job with it,” calling it “tasteful” and “lovely.” Simon said, “This is probably the first time since you entered that I felt you were being original,” although he called the song “a little bit gloomy.” Simon ended by saying, “I thought it was terrific. Congratulations.”
Andrew Garcia, 24, sang “Forever” by Chris Brown and was his usual ho-hum self. Simon even went so far as to say, “The only problem is that you came over as very boring.” Andrew has come across as boring ever since he entered the competition, probably because he is boring. At least there were no comments about his rendition of “Straight Up,” Thank God.
Katie Stevens, clad in a very unattractive dark black/gray outfit that did nothing for her figure, sang “Chain of Fools,” an Aretha Franklin classic. About the best thing I can say for Katie, this week, is that she wasn’t as off-key as she usually is. Randy called her rendition, “One of the best vocal performances of the night,” in fact, and even compared her potential to “a young Christina,” with which Simon immediately took issue. Ellen, commenting on her “Snookie poof” hair do said, “I wish that the song had been a little more current.” Kara said, “You found where you belong: rhythm and blues. Good job on the vocals, but you gotta’ go back to making it young.” Simon disagreed vehemently with Kara’s assessment of what musical genre Katie belongs in and called her “very robotic. You actually came over as quite cold tonight. My problem is I think the advice Kara has given you is wrong.” Squabbling amongst the judges then ensued as to whether Katie was a C&W potential performer, a R&B performer or something else.
Lee DeWyze, who had suffered from walking pneumonia during the week, came out and sang “Treat Her Like A Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers and hit it out of the park. Randy called it “Unbelievable. That was the bomb, baby!” Ellen said, “That was the best performance of the night.” Kara called his version, “Amazing.” Simon, too, said, “Something has happened tonight. This was the night your life may have changed forever.”
Crystal Bowersox did not play guitar this night, but began her set seated at the piano playing “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Fortunately, since she seemed really preoccupied with the piano accompaniment, she soon left the piano and sang with just a microphone. Randy said, “Another great performance.” Ellen said, “You’re never not good. You’re in it to win it,” calling her use of the piano rather than the guitar, “A wonderful, wonderful idea.” Simon was not so sure that Crystal’s use of the piano was all that wonderful an idea. He did call the song choice “sensational” and said, “Incredible vocals,” but he added, “Do not let this process change your identity. You are that rare artist who knows what she’s about. Don’t change.” Advantage: Simon, once again.
Aaron Kelly finished off the program, singing, “Ain’t No Sunshine When You’re Gone.” Ironically, Aaron’s coaching from Usher had him emphasizing the “I know, I know, I know” line and crescendoing on it, a technique that was nowhere in evidence during his actual performance of the song. Randy pronounced it to be “Just all right for me.” Ellen said, “I thought it was a good song choice and a really good job.” Kara said, “I liked it.” Simon said, “Lee was the main course. That was like a cupcake. It was okay. There’s absolutely no chance you’re going to be leaving the competition.” This a reference to the 16-year-old’s appealing personality.
Who should be eliminated tomorrow?
Either of the two mentioned first (Didi Benami or Tim Urban) or Andrew Garcia.
Stay tuned to see what the voting public decides.