You may not like “Party in the U.S.A.” You may not understand the significance of the response, “She’s just bein’ Miley.” But it would be hard to claim that mentor Miley Cyrus was the weak link on last night’s horrendous American Idol. Which songs were up for grabs? Every single Hot 100 Number One in history. So why did history range from 1967 to 1998 with one little detour into the present century for a Fergie ballad? And perhaps more importantly, why did every contestant respond to their critique by announcing they “had fun with it”? What’s fun about disastrous, awkward songs? And even more importantly why did nobody mention the passing of Memphis legend Alex Chilton when Lee DeWyze sang a song by his early band the Box Tops? Disgraceful stuff, Idol.
Ones to Watch:
• Crystal Bowersox felt so at home rocking out Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” she even brought her own flooring. And we all know how a rug can tie the room together.
• Laryngitis-struck Aaron Kelly was clearly not at his best, but his choice of Aerosmith’s power ballad “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was wise, and he has that kind of endearing koala quality Idol viewers love. As Ryan Seacrest put it, “If you want to vote for David Archuleta here…”
• You know who complimented Lee DeWyze’s choice of the Box Tops’ “The Letter”? Miley Cyrus, who called it a “great song.” Ellen DeGeneres told a nonsensical anecdote about a pen during judging, and Simon Cowell said the performance was a bit corny — OK, there was a little Taylor Hicks in there.
• Mike Lynche … still don’t get this guy. His cover of Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” was overwrought and too reminiscent of the velvet Teddy Bear. The world needs only one Velvet Teddy Bear.
• Katie Stevens sure has pitch problems, but at least she’s of this millennium. Her version of Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” had Ellen making a Runaways joke nobody in the audience got: “You’re evolving and changing, you’re like the Dakota Fanning of American Idol.”
• Casey James’ rip through Huey Lewis and the News’ “Power of Love” was likely appealing for its nostalgia (Back to the Future!) than its originality, but it was definitely not as mind-blowing as Ms. DioGuardi would have you believe: “You’re just on another level. You’re ready to make an album, it’s there. You’re in a zone, stay in it.”
• Didi Benami, on the other hand, is much better than the judges think. Her Duffy-lite take on Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” was solid despite the fact that Seacrest rattled her by mispronouncing her name as she took the stage.
• Siobhan Magnus, yes, meh this week. There was nothing original about her Stevie Wonder song “Superstition” other than the psychotic scatting that jumped five octaves at the end. There’s a fine line between screaming and screeching. We have just met it.
Ones to Wipe From Your Memory With Bleach:
• Tim Urban’s cheesy audience-slapping during his terrible take on Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” had Kara DioGuardi indignant: “You’re not at that place yet, you haven’t sold hundreds of millions of records.”
• Andrew Garcia’s Paula Abdul cover and heartwarming story gained him many early supporters, but misguided performances like his cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” simply suck. Even Simon said it: “You sucked the soul out of that song. Sucked it out and tortured it and ruined one of the great pop songs of all time.”
Thanks for the Memories:
• Last week, Paige Miles had laryngitis, this week she had her sense of pitch surgically removed. Her poor performance of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” almost left Randy Jackson speechless: “Yo, man, yo, wow. Really, honestly. I don’t know if your voice is back, but that was honestly terrible.”