'American Idol' Recap: Much Mediocrity - and 'The One' - Rolling Stone
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‘American Idol’ Recap: Much Mediocrity – and ‘The One’

Plus: Randy sings like Simon, and a former couple get awkward performing the Bee Gees

Michael Becker / FOX

Paul Mabbitt, 20 from Waco, Texas.

Randy sure is trying to be mean. First there was that distressingly happy girl with the upswing in her voice that made it sound like she was always asking a question. Randy told her she’d never make it, and she said, “Okay!” He ordered her out of the room, and she said “Okay!”( People are probably always telling this girl to stick up for herself.) His next target was a “small girl with a big voice.” Her Chaka Khan was unambiguously bad, but Randy didn’t need to tell her never to sing again. There’s always singing in the shower! Laced into the criticism was that second-hand Simon speak Randy can’t shake this season, a put-on that calls to mind the kid last week who assumed a silly-sounding operatic tone. “You’re singing with someone else’s voice,” Randy told him. Unfortunately, last night’s episode had so many bad performances and so few bright spots that Randy sang like Simon for awhile.

Amidst the wreckage of a Skynyrd enthusiast with a violent style and the guy in a purple full-body suit who sang through the latex encasing his head (yes), the few stars probably shone brighter than they otherwise would have. A former couple with very different takes on their feelings for each other – he loves her still; she has a taller boyfriend now – sang a unified Bee Gee’s duet. “You don’t know what it’s like to love somebody the way I love you,” the poor kid crooned as his ex bopped along. The luckiest scrape-by went to Stormi Henley, winner of the Miss Teen USA pageant of 2009. She wanted to be judged only on her “talent,” but Steven and Randy made it clear they were voting yes for other reasons (the same ones beauty competition judges care about, no doubt).

The last contestant of the day place of honor went to Lauren Alaina, and man was she honored. Lauren is fifteen with a great smile and an enormous crop of rough golden curls. She’s also, according to Steven Tyler, The One. Her sad story of a sisterly cousin who fought a brain tumor wasn’t sad enough to render her voice irrelevant, but she still didn’t seem to merit the round of applause her first run got her. “You made us cry,” Jennifer said. “You’re going to make forty million people cry,” Steven added. Then came the second attempt, in front of her laughing, crying family who she’d brought in to meet the famous judges. She asked to sing an Aerosmith number (it turned out to be “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”) because it’s her parents’ song, and Steven gave his blessing. This time her voice sounded fuller and sweeter. Maybe it was the comfort of having her family behind her, or knowledge of the ticket she’d already won. She had stage presence, too, throwing smiles to everyone in the room. When she reached the end of the chorus, she pointed her arm Steven’s way, tossing the baton for good. “Forever,” he croaked, utterly eclipsed by The One.

Last episide’s recap: Better, Faster, Stronger

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