What is arguably the worst American Idol Top 9 in the series’ history took on the catalog of the best song writing duo of all time - John Lennon and Paul McCartney - on Tuesday night. The result… mediocrity at best.
Aaron Kelly started the evening with a cover of “Long and Winding Road” that literally almost bored me to sleep. All I remember is him coming out on stage in his trademark stance - one that reminds me of a arrogant lounge singer in need of a cheeseburger - and the next thing I know, I’m getting kicked in the shin by my wife to wake me up and Simon is calling Kelly “sweetie.”
But sweet or not - with a rare weak vocal performance, his increasingly gooey persona, and an improved showing by Tim Urban - Kelly is in serious danger of going home this week.
And, yes, you did read my words correctly, Urban took a step forward this week with his cover of “All My Loving.” He’s still not good, but he was better and much less annoying than he has been all season. And Randy had it right when he said he has to judge Urban against himself, because he does not compare to the other artists at all. It’s like rewarding your kid for getting a ‘D’ on his report card when he failed the rest of his classes.
Most of the other contestants - like Andrew Garcia, Crystal Bowersox, and Katie Stevens - had good performances, but there was nothing memorable about them.
Meanwhile, Michael Lynche and Siobhan Magnus managed to flounder on “Eleanor Rigby” and “Across The Universe,” respectively.
One of the great things about “Eleanor Rigby,” besides the double string quartet in the background, is how plainly McCartney’s vocals told the song’s story. Big Mike’s voice was in tune, but I just thought it was way too busy. The only part of the song I thought worked at all was the first couple times he belted out the line “Ah, look at all the lonely people,” because it was one of the few parts of the song that he wasn’t doing vocal runs though. But then a couple seconds later he was at it again. Lynche is not in danger of going home, but it was not anywhere close to being a good performance.
And I think Magnus blew what should have been the perfect song choice for her. It’s no secret that I don’t like her voice, in particularly her flat lower range and her need to scream all the time. But she has a very beautiful and tender upper range that she should’ve showcased more in this song. Instead, we were forced to sit through her singing almost the entire song down low and only hit those high notes a couple times.
But thank God for Casey James and Lee DeWyze.
Not only did James pick a lesser-known song when it would’ve been much safer for him to chose best seller - something I love to see the Idol contestants do. He opted to cover “Jealous Guy,” my second-favorite song, off John Lennon’s second solo album, Imagine, with the iconic title track obviously being my favorite. James’ guitar playing was awesome, his vocals were spot on, and for the first time all season he did was rock stars do - made what he was doing look harder than it really was. I know I gave DeWyze the following praise last week, but… James’ performance was my favorite of the season.
If James’ performance wasn’t so good, DeWyze would’ve had the best performance of the night, yet again. He started off a little shaky in the beginning of his cover of “Hey Jude,” but quickly got back on track. And by the time he started yelling at the crowd to sing along and the bagpiper came strolling on stage, his performance had become one of the most memorable (and legitimate) in American Idol history.
My picks for the Bottom 3 this week are Kelly, Urban and Garcia. And while I liked Garcia’s cover of “Can’t Buy Me Love, ” I think he’ll go home mostly because the judges were hardest on him. However, Urban will remain at the bottom of my power rankings.