So, this was the week that American Idol transitioned away from the gender-defined 3-day broadcast schedule, or what I like to call "over saturation." The Top 12 also moved from the in-the-round set-up and performed on the "new" stage--which is basically just the stage you saw last year with all the lights and the band in the second tier, that comes with judges up front and random prime-time celebrities in the audience. And we got longer bio packages with tender testimonials from proud parents and relatives. [Sniff.]
But, it seemed the stage proved to be a bit too large for some contestants. As a group, they seemed out of sorts, way more nervous than previous shows and not as entertaining. The biggest challenge was the theme. Yes, last night's episode was the jump off for "theme weeks," and the tie that bound was the Rolling Stones.
Some people picked good songs for their voices: Big Mike sang "Miss You," Lee Dewyze renewed my interest in him with "Beast of Burden" and Siobhan Magnus rocked "Paint it Black." Even Didi Benami broke out of singer/songwriter clone to offer up a fairly good rendition of "Play
ing With Fire."
And then there was North Texas:
Casey James (Fort Worth) returned with his shiny blue guitar to go old school with (Bobby and Shirley Jean Womack's) "It's All Over Now." He had a good amount of throwback guitar stylings and his voice was a'ight, but not awesome. He was locked into his location on stage and didn't really make a huge impression with me. It was a solid performance, and while he seemed to enjoy himself, I dunno, I just didn't catch the 'tude.
Randy liked his Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang vibe...and the chance to namedrop guitarists (he LOVES it!). Ellen offered, "For most women, their hearts are gonna start racing just lookin' at you...right? But then for people like me...[crowd laughs]...blondes... I think it was fantastic." Kara made mention of the time she said he was trying to be a rock star, then credited him with his "best performance yet" and told him he was a rock star. Simon said it was an audition-caliber performance and chided him for not using the stage to its fullest. Fist bump, Simes.
If you've read anything I've written about Duncanville's Tim Urban, you know I don't feel like he's deserving of being there. In addition, I find his "humble surprise" face to be totally fake and really irritating. Glad I got that off my chest.
Timmy went with "Under My Thumb" and an acoustic guitar. And I am not lying--I have a witness--when I say I fell asleep during his performance. Out. Cold. That's how commanding it was. But I woke up, praised the God of Rewind and re-watched it.
Not only did he turn it into a reggae song, but he channeled both Jason Mraz and musical theater in doing so. I just hope Mick and Keith weren't watching. It was at times beachcomber and at others an exercise in theatrical enunciation. I will give Tim Timmony that his voice was much stronger this week thank it has been for past performances, but the pitch was off in several parts. And it was just weird. Real weird.
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Randy didn't like the reggae styling either. He said it neither served Tim or the song. Ellen said, "I felt like I was at a resort and drinkin' a pina colada and listening to somebody sing." She went on to add that he didn't use the stage and that, essentially, he underperformed. Kara agreed but said she applauded his effort at making the song his own. And Simon, dear Simon, thought the reggae was a crazy choice and handed him a guilty verdict: "I have to applaud you for doing something different--it is quite a boring song anyway. Having said that, it didn't work. And, actually, a lot of people who are Rolling Stones fans would be turning their television sets off at that point."
...Or, you know, fall asleep.
So as far as who's going home? Here's the thing: Now we're on a one-per-week cycle. We don't get to axe four, or even two, per week and move on swiftly. So it's a matter of who either sucked balls or was forgettable enough to not get the votes. I'm thinking North Texas is fine this week and Andrew Garcia's heinous and censored rendition of "Gimme Shelter" will earn him the boot.
As usual, I'll fill you in tomorrow.