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American Idol 9: Finals Week 1 Performances, Tuesday March 16, 2010
Tonight, we move into the American Idol finals as the top 12 take to the big stage and compete to become the last one standing. The theme for this evening's show is the Rolling Stones catalog, which should yield interesting results given that the Stones' prime demographic are probably these kids' parents. Still, the Stones' catalog is packed with hits so the Idols do have some great songs from which to choose.
Let's get right into our analysis of each contestant:
(1) Michael Lynche sang "Miss You" from the album Some Girls (1978). Overall, a nice way to start the evening, but for us, the performance was better than the vocals, which were good, but unexceptional. Michael does have a natural charisma and knows how to work the stage, so he should have no problem progressing to the next week. Grade: B+
(2) Didi Benami sang "Play with Fire" from the album Out of Our Heads (1965). Didi sang this song with lots of conviction, and it's one of our favorite performances from her. Really nice vocal, and we felt that Didi truly connected with the song and the lyric quite well. Will be a performance that people remember. Grade: A-
(3) Casey James sang "It's All Over Now" from the album 12X5 (1964). Solid performance of The Rolling Stones' very first number one hit by Casey who accompanied himself on electric guitar. This was our favorite performance of Casey's since week one's "Heaven." After a couple of shaky weeks following, we think Casey has proved that he belongs in the top 12 based on his talent rather than his heartthrob appeal. Grade: B+
(4) Lacey Brown sang "Ruby Tuesday" from the album Between the Buttons (1967). Way too stripped down and somber version of this rousing Rolling Stones hit. Competently sang, but we weren't wild about the country twang she infused in it, and didn't like Lacey's phrasing on the lyric "still I'm gonna miss you." Unless there are serious missteps from the remainder of the contestants tonight, this performance will put Lacey in danger of going home. Grade: B-
(5) Andrew Garcia sang "Gimmie Shelter" from the album Let it Bleed (1969). Andrew stepped out of his comfort zone of playing the acoustic guitar, and gave his most exciting performance in the competition thus far. The vocals weren't perfect by any stretch, but in places, this was the most thrilling performance of the night up until this point. Grade: A-
(6) Katie Stevens sang "Wild Horses" from the album Sticky Fingers (1971). Nicely done and a major step up from Katie's peformances in the semi-final rounds. We still would have preferred Lilly Scott to be in the top 12, but at least Katie has shown that she does have range and talent and deserves to be in this competition. Grade: B+
(7) Tim Urban sang "Under My Thumb" from the album Aftermath (1966). Tim's reggae-influenced version of this Rolling Stones classic really did not work for us, and did not allow Tim to fill up the stage with his performance or show off any vocal range at all. It was midrange and mid-tempo all the way through with tepid results. Grade: C+
(8) Siobhan Magnus sang "Paint it Black" from the album Aftermath (1966). Siobhan has never disappointed us in this competition; we've felt that she was a standout from day one. Tonight, she went even beyond our admittedly high expectations for her. She started off low-key and dramatic and quickly took this song to soaring and thrilling heights and was in complete control of both her voice and the song all the way through. Now more than ever, we feel that Siobhan is the frontrunner of this season of American Idol. Grade: A
(9) Lee DeWyze sang "Beast of Burden" from the album Some Girls (1978). Like Tim Urban's performance, this was another curious rendition for us. Lee's version of one of the better-known Stones' hits sounded like Bob Seger on a bad night. What could have been an energetic crowd pleaser was turned into something listless and dull. Rare misfire from one of our favorite male contestants. Even his normal dependable voice didn't shine here. Grade: B-
(10) Paige Miles sang "Honky Tonk Women" from the album Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits vol. 2) (1969). Probably our favorite performance by Paige thus far in the competition. She did hit some big notes in spite of having a bout of laryngitis earlier in the week, and overall worked the stage quite well. Grade: B
(11) Aaron Kelly sang "Angie" from the album Goats Head Soup (1973). Great song choice that sat well within Aaron's vocal range and allowed him to have nice, dramatic moments. Having this performance come so close toward the end is another advantage that will ensure that it is well-remembered by the audience. Grade: B+
(12) Crystal Bowersox sang "You Can't Always Get What You Want" from the album Let it Bleed (1969). Crystal is a folk rock artist, and that has been apparant since we first met her. That makes her one of the most easily identifiable and consistent artists in the competition. She has become a fan favorite and obviously a favorite of the producers who gave her the coveted "pimp slot" – the final performance on the show. Once again, Crystal chose a great song that played right into her folk rock strengths and gave a great interpretation. For us, this wasn't as good as Siobhan by a long shot or even as well done as Andrew Garcia's performance, but still one of the better of the night. Grade: B+
Looking back over tonight's performances, we'd say that the top 12 acquitted themselves quite well overall considering it was their first time on the big stage and in front of a studio audience of 450 people. A few misfires, but overall, a solid night.
For us, the clear winners of tonight were Siobhan Magnus, Didi Benami, and Andrew Garcia. Those likely in danger include Tim Urban, Lacey Brown, and Paige Miles. If we had the only vote, we'd send Tim home, but Tim seems to have a sizable fan following from the teenage girls who vote excessively, which should keep him safe for the next few weeks just as it did Ace Young and Sanjaya, former Idol contestants who stayed longer than they should have.
All that being said, our prediction for who will be going home once the results are revealed tomorrow is Lacey Brown.
American Idol 9: Finals Week 1 Results, Wednesday March 17, 2010
Looks like our streak of picking the losers each week continues pretty strongly. All three of our "in danger" picks above landed in the bottom 3, and Lacey Brown did indeed go home. Our advice to Tim Urban, however, is: get better – quickly – or you'll be gone by midseason like the aforementioned Ace Young or Sanjaya were.
The Judges' Save is back again this season with a minor twist: when the contestant sings for safety, it seems they can pick whichever of their past performances they want because, rather than sing last night's "Ruby Tuesday," Lacey opted to sing "The Story" from week 3 of the semi-final rounds. Still, it didn't help, and we don't think anyone really expected it to be used this early in the season.
Simon did mention that one of the bottom 3 was worth saving, and we're betting it was Paige, but even then, it's doubtful that the judges would have wanted to use their one and only Judges' Save in week 1 of the finals. The judges can use it any week up until the top 5, so it would make sense to hold onto it in case one of the frontrunners like Siobhan, Crystal, or Michael ends up in the bottom 3. Using it on Lacey or even Paige – two contestants who couldn't possibly win this season anyway – would be a waste of this valuable power.
Finally, in spite of Lacey being one of the more inconsistent vocalists this season, we were happy to see her give it one more try after being cut last season before the top 24. This time, she not only made it to the top 24, but made it all the way up to top 12. Well done, Lacey. Unfortunately, because Lacey did not make it to the top 10, she does not get to go on the American Idol tour that follows this season. However, she will be back on finale night to perform one last time as the top 12 are reunited on the television stage.