Review: Presley Pressure on the “Idols”
It was Elvis Night on “American Idol” and the pressure was on the remaining 9 singers to make these songs (most of which were over 50 years old) somehow seem contemporary and relevant again. Adam Lambert, the very first former contestant to ever return as a mentor, certainly helped a few of the finalists punch up their stage presence a bit, but overall it wasn’t enough to keep the Lunesta butterfly from fluttering by from time to time. What the show really needs is to snap out of its fascination with the ancient past…Rolling Stones Night, Beatles Night, Elvis Night…can Dinah Shore Night be far behind? “Idol” could stand to take a cue from “Glee,” which has an all-Madonna episode coming up next week. And would a ’90s Night kill anyone? Or how about The Hits Of Today?
Anyway, the contestants aren’t selecting the themes so they certainly aren’t to blame for that, but they are responsible for delivering their songs in a way that communicates to us what type of artist they’d be in the current marketplace. How successful were they? Let’s take a look:
LEE DeWYZE - “A Little Less Conversation” - This may very well have been the only performance of the night that not only was a vocal home run, but was something I could actually imagine hearing on the radio. Lee took Adam’s advice and was more visually expressive while singing, and as Simon noted, it was “on the money.” His voice never sounded better. Grade: A-
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX - “Saved” – Although I still think Crystal is the best singer in the competition, her choice of a gospel number did nothing to advance her cause to be given serious consideration as a contemporary singer. But man, what a voice! Grade: B
MICHAEL LYNCHE - “In The Ghetto” - He may have nearly been eliminated last week, but I’ll be shocked if Big Mike end up in the Bottom 3 again ttonight after returning to top form with another understated, controlled performance. Yes, the arrangement was a little sleepy, but it’s very clear to me now: I like Michael best when he’s still. Grade: B
TIM URBAN - “Can’t Help Falling In Love” - Simon hit the nail on the head when he told Tim that he’d “gone from zero to hero in two weeks.” Kara proclaimed it her “favorite Tim performance ever.” But did the show producers really need to undercut the sincerity of Tim’s delivery with the comedy of seeing Ryan slow dancing in the audience with Season 8 finalist Michael Sarver? UGH. Grade: B
CASEY JAMES - “Lawdy Miss Claudy” – Like Crystal before him, Casey sang well enough…but why pick such an obscure blues number? This guy’s got the goods, but sometimes he makes it difficult for me to picture hearing him on the radio. Simon summed it up best: “A wasted opportunity.” Grade: B
SIOBHAN MAGNUS - “Suspicious Minds” - When Siobhan is hitting those impressive high notes of hers, there’s no denying that she’s a force to be reckoned with. But overall, last night continued her disappointing slide into cabaret. I heard she was wearing ripped jeans and an “Eraserhead” t-shirt at Monday’s rehearsal…what I wouldn’t give to see her come out one week and give a performance to go along with her edgier, off-stage self. Grade: B-
AARON KELLY - “Blue Suede Shoes” - My hat’s off to Aaron for changing things up a bit and finally doing an uptempo number, but I think the fact of the matter is that the kid is a balladeer. Nice voice, but his confidence has a long way to go before he can own the stage with the swagger that a song like this calls for. Grade: C
KATIE STEVENS – “Baby What Do You Want Me To Do?” - Last night I finally saw what Simon’s been talking about all season when he’s claimed that Katie would make a good country singer. But unfortunately, the whole thing was a little bland, and not even Ellen’s risque comment (“A very horny song…lots of horns in it.”) made things interesting. Grade: C
ANDREW GARCIA - “Hound Dog” - Adam found Andrew’s rehearsal of the song boring and encouraged him to change it up. Andrew took his advice and it was still boring. Simon informed him that “all the coolness was sucked out of you”, but I highly doubt it was ever there to begin with. Grade: C-
BOTTOM 3 PREDICTION: Aaron Kelly, Katie Stevens, and Andrew Garcia
GOING HOME: Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens
Who is your favorite “Idol”? (Vote in our poll on the right.) And which two do you think are going home?
Do you have any great ideas for theme weeks? Sound off below with your comments!