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American Idol 9: Finals Week 5 Performances, Tuesday April 13, 2010
Tonight, Season 8 runner up Adam Lambert returned to American Idol in order to serve as mentor to the final 9 (as well as to come back live tomorrow night to perform on the Idol stage). The theme was songs by Elvis Presley, which has tripped up more than one Idol contestant over the years, including Chris Daughtry in Season 5. There was every chance that things could go horribly wrong for a number of contestants. How did they do? Read on...
(1) Crystal Bowersox sang "Saved." Another great performance from Crystal who started off the night with a bang. We appreciated that she took an Elvis song that few people knew and made the audience fall in love with it. Crystal continues to do everything right, and she continues on the course that will take her straight to the finals. Grade: A-
(2) Andrew Garcia sang "Hound Dog." OK, but not great performance from Andrew. We liked the way he didn't make this song seem corny or ridiculous the way Elvis songs can often seem when interpreted by others. However, we don't think he put enough energy into it to make it soar. Andrew really needed to knock it out of the park this week, and he simply failed to do so. Grade: B
(3) Tim Urban sang "Can't Help Falling in Love." Tim's lower register simply isn't very powerful or interesting, and much of this song was sung at that level. The parts where he took Adam's advice and went higher were much more interesting and effective. We wanted to see more of that because the liberties he took with the melody were really good. Still, this should be enough to keep Tim out of the bottom 3 once again. Grade: B+
(4) Lee DeWyze sang "A Little Less Conversation." Lee did a growly, bluesy take on one of Elvis's later hits. Performing and connecting with the audience is still Lee's weak spot, but overall we liked his vocal. We didn't love it nearly as much as the judges did, but it was quite good. Grade: B+
(5) Aaron Kelly sang "Blue Suede Shoes." For us, Aaron was just too young to perform this song realistically. He seemed like a little kid playing dress up and doing an Elvis impression because his mommy put him up to it. The vocals were okay, but this song needed tons more aggression and attitude, and Aaron really couldn't pull it off. Grade: B-
(6) Siobhan Magnus sang "Suspicious Minds." Siobhan, decked out in a punk version of the classic Elvis white jumpsuit and Elvisesque pompadour, chose the final number one of Elvis's career. We didn't like the results as much as we thought we would. We had no problem with the dual nature of her arrangement with the first half being uptempo, and the back of it being cranked down. Our problem was that her choices didn't allow her to show off her spectacular vocals nearly enough. This wasn't terrible in the same way as her Chaka Khan performance a few weeks ago, but it was plain and unmemorable, which in a way, could be worse. Grade: B
(7) Michael Lynche sang "In the Ghetto." This song returned Elvis to the top 10 on the singles charts after a four year absence. For his rendition, Michael accompanied himself on the acoustic guitar with no backing musicians or singers. Michael definitely nailed the vocals as he usually does, but we agree with Randy in that it was a little too laid back and understated for us. Still, it was a good performance overall. Grade: B+
(8) Katie Stevens sang "Baby, What You Want Me to Do." For us, Katie has been the comeback kid in the last couple of weeks, and tonight continued that trajectory for her. Katie filled this performance with swagger and attitude, and we believed it. One of her better turnouts. Grade: A-
(9) Casey James sang "Lawdy Miss Clawdy." Casey's choice of song was probably the best of the night in that it sat right smack dab in the sweet spot of his voice and also suited him to perfection as an artist. Believable to a "T," this might have been our favorite of Casey's performances. We enjoyed this much more than the judges did. Grade: A-
For us, the bottom 3 is a little easier to predict than normal because some people were just clearly out of their element. Our choices for the bottom are: Aaron Kelly, Andrew Garcia, and Siobhan Magnus. We acknowledge that Siobhan is the longest shot of the three, but in comparison to the others tonight, she does belong at the bottom. In spite of the Judges' Save being gone, and the fact that two contestants must go tomorrow, we feel that Siobhan will be safe when all is said is done.
Our choices for the two contestants to be eliminated tomorrow are Andrew Garcia and Aaron Kelly.
AMERICAN IDOL 9: Finals Week 5 Results, Wednesday April 14, 2010
Well, we were half right. Andrew Garcia did indeed go, but it was Katie Stevens' dismissal that provided the shock of the night. There were weeks earlier in the competition where we would have gladly shown her the door, but she has been getting better and better, and we really liked her last night, so we were sorry to see her go before Aaron who has been rather lackluster for much of the competition. Ryan also revealed that Michael Lynche was not even in the bottom 3 this week.
We also had two guest performances tonight. First, Season 7's Brooke White teamed up with Justin Gaston to sing their duet, "If I Can Dream." Who's Justin Gaston? He was a former model and contestant on the sixth season of the American Idol type series, Nashville Star. That was the final season of the series, and the one that was broadcast on NBC in summer 2008 after having been on the USA cable network for its first five seasons. Justin came in 10th place, having been eliminated in week 3 of the competition. Following this, he dated teen sensation Miley Cyrus for awhile unti she broke up with him in mid-2009. Justin now appears on American Idol creator Simon Fuller's web series, If I Can Dream, as one of the six houseguests who are followed around by cameras as their attempts to realize their dreams are documented. Sort of like a career-oriented version of The Real World.
It was the second guest performer, however, that the crowd really wanted to see. Adam Lambert came back to the Idol stage to perform his hit single, "Whataya Want from Me" to roaring fan approval. Adam gave us a production number that would have done Elvis proud in the King's Las Vegas heydey. It was a performance complete with fog, lights, lasers, special effects, and – oh yeah – singing. Adam instantly reminded everyone how it's done and, after a restrained first verse, belted out his number, showing this year's Idol contestants why so many in the home audience have found this season's show to be a disappointment in comparison to previous seasons. We also appreciate how Adam always sings live with no lip synching.
We were glad to see Adam back and take command of the stage once again, but we're surprised he didn't use this opportunity to debut a new single from his album, which, while having sold more than twice the number that Kris Allen's did, hasn't exactly lit the sales charts on fire. "Whataya" has already reached its chart peak on Billboard, so why continue to push it? With about 20 million people tuning in to tonight's show, he should have used the opportunity more wisely by premiering one of the other tracks.
To recap, tonight's double elimination saw both Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens go home.
Next week's theme is inspirational songs, and the celebrity mentor will be Alicia Keyes. One week from tonight, on Wednesday April 21, the latest installment of "Idol Gives Back" will air.