The top nine finalists perform this week. We said a sad goodbye to Didi Benami on Wednesday. I wasn’t quite ready for her to go, as I think Katie and TwinklyBits are still on the chopping block and Didi at least had something interesting about her.
The theme tonight is Lennon/McCartney, the most successful and arguably the most important songwriting duo who has ever put pen to paper.
I’m such a huge Beatles fan that I’m going to just say these are my favorite songs ever.
Aaron TwinklyBits Kelly is opening the show tonight. He picked “The Long and Winding Road.” He seems to be having some pitch issues tonight. It’s almost as if he is having issues breathing as his phrases are totally unsupported. He stuck almost exactly to the melody with nearly an identical arrangement to the original. He does seem to be improving every week, though. Randy thinks he has a nice tone but thought it was kind of sleepy. Ellen called it the “Long and Winding Song.” Kara thinks it was a good performance, but needed to be great and he needs to pick an uptempo song for next week. Simon thought it was old-fashioned and boring and he needs to become young and relevant.
Katie Stevens chose “Let It Be.” She actually looks like a teenager tonight with her big earrings, pink dress and ponytail. This is the first performance of Katie’s that I actually like. It started tender and soft and her tone was quite pretty. Whatever she did differently this week worked. The arrangement and her minor melodic changes were stylish and surprisingly pleasant. She may have finally picked the exact right song for herself. Randy called her it her best performance ever. Ellen called it a perfect example of changing a song just enough to make it her own. Kara said she was blossoming on stage. Simon said she got it right tonight and wasn’t robotic like her past performances have been.
Andrew Garcia picked “Can’t Buy Me Love.” He put a bit of a modern rock-a-billy intro and break into the song, but stuck mainly to the melody. This was a definite middle-of-the-road performance. UMB noticed that the arrangement didn’t go to the minor chord in the chorus which made the melody sound a bit off. Andrew sang it just fine, but since I’m not a big fan of his voice it didn’t do a thing for me. Randy thought it was an ok performance that bordered on corny. Ellen thought it was perfect song choice. Kara wanted to love it but didn’t feel like it was anything new. Simon thought the arrangement was corny and irrelevant.
Michael Lynche landed on “Eleanor Rigby.” Wait, that sounded painful… that’s probably what killed her! First line in and I already hate this. Dude, you’re not Maxwell stop trying to sing like him. Ok… so here’s the deal. I actually really liked the arrangement that Michael did. I just kept wishing it were someone else singing it. Someone who wasn’t trying to throw such a gospel-cum-syrupy R&B spin on it. His voice is alright… it’s his style I don’t dig. Randy isn’t sure it all worked, but thought parts of it were brilliant. Ellen thought it was incredible. Kara called it “fire” and that his vocals were amazing and commercial for today. Simon thought it was a little too Broadway musical styled.
Crystal Bowersox takes the stage next with her version of “Come Together.” Her arrangement includes a dijeridoo which is pretty f’n awesome. I’m running out of adjectives to describe how on point and talented Crystal is. I’d buy her album right now. UMB called this an incredible “Bonnie Raitt moment.” Crystal knows exactly who she is as an artist, she makes the right song choice every week. She makes arrangements fit her style as though they were always meant to be performed that way. She’s already won this competition. I’m getting really tired of making this statement every single week, but there it is. Randy didn’t know that it was her best, but it was totally solid performance. Ellen is distressed because she’s running out of ways to describe how good Crystal is. I feel ya, babe. Kara called it one of her favorite Crystal performance. She compared it to a Bonnie Raitt performance. Simon thought it was something he’d listen to on the radio right now and absolutely terrific.
Tim Urban is up next with “All My Lovin’.” His arrangement started with just him and his electric guitar. He’s made very few interesting melody changes. He’s hammering on one my all-time pet peeves, though…. putting an “and” in front of every line where they don’t belong. “AND all my loving.” “AND close your eyes and I’ll kiss you AND tomorrow I’ll miss you.” It distracts me. Otherwise, he sounded good tonight. No pitch problems, no real issues of corniness. For the most part he stuck to the original version of the song, which means he might get some flack from the judges for not standing out enough. Randy thought it was a much better performance than the last couple of weeks. Ellen thought it was his 2nd best performance. Kara thought it was good and loves that he has such a good attitude. Simon thought he did really well tonight, and there was no gimmick and he didn’t try to oversing it.
Casey James decided on “Jealous Guy,” a solo John Lennon song. He’s playing acoustic guitar with a cello accompaniment which makes this seem like an incredibly intimate vibe. He’s got a definite Bob Segar vibe to his voice tonight. He’s another contestant who really knows who he is. He’s definitely got the modern blues market cornered. This is one of his best performances, not necessarily the best vocal he’s ever done, but the overall package was perfect. He seemed vulnerable and he made the song lyrics up front and center which added to the mood. I think he had a great moment tonight. I can’t say I like the way he ended the song unresolved, but whatever. Randy loved the sensitive side and thought it was a great performance. Ellen called it his best performance to date and he really poured himself into the song. Kara commented on his vulnerability and thought he was showing a lot of depth. Simon called it the best performance of the night and thinks he has made the biggest improvement of any contestant over the last several weeks.
Siobhan Magnus is gonna perform “Across the Universe.” I seriously have chills right now. This was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Totally reserved, soft and intimate. She added some minor variations to the melody that showcased her ability to hit those really high notes at low volume which is not easy to do. I’m on the verge of tears, actually. Brilliant. Randy thought it was a little sleepy but loved the tender side. Ellen loves that she always honors who she is and called it beautiful. Kara thought it was restrained and polite which is a big change for her but left her a bit confused. Simon called it much stronger than last week and likes that she is unique.
It’s weird how they can hear the same performance that I do and come away with a totally different impression. Siobhan is clearly influenced by artists like Tori Amos, Nellie McKay, and Kate Bush. I’m guessing the judges aren’t real fans of that style.
Lee Dewyze picked “Hey Jude.” He’s playing acoustic guitar and it seems a bit like an annoying drunk guy sitting around a campfire. And then a guy emerges from backstage playing the bagpipes in full kilt regalia. Because that makes total sense. This was an utterly pointless performance. Firstly, he’s playing the song in a key that is obviously too high for him to sing as he keeps bowing out of the top notes. Secondly, by the end of the song he was basically just shouting a rather non-melodic “na na na nananananananaaaaa” at us. Whenever they pull some strange theatrical trick, in this case the celtic piper, it always seems to be during a performance the producers feel we need to be distracted from. This one would certainly qualify. Randy thought it was a hot performance. Ellen thought it was confident and comfortable. Kara noticed a few off moments, but thinks she could hear him on the radio. Simon wouldn’t have included the bagpipes as he was doing fine before he came out.
Maybe it was just the quality of songs they had to pick from tonight, or they are actually all stepping up their game… whatever it is, tonight didn’t make me want to shoot myself in the head or willingly implode my eardrums.
I’m concerned that I’m the only one who was moved by Siobhan, since the judges didn’t totally dig it. She’d better stick around. I think if she were to end up on the chopping block they would actually use their save for her.
My ranking (not necessarily the rest of America’s apparently…)
- Crystal Bowersox
- Siobhan Magnus
- Casey James
- Katie Stevens
- Tim Urban
- Michael Lynche
- Andrew Garcia
- Lee Dewyze
- Aaron Kelly
It just suddenly struck me that there are only 3 girls left. How did that happen? We haven’t said goodbye to a guy in a few weeks now. For that reason, I’m suddenly feeling a bit better about Siobhan’s chances at staying around. TwinklyBits was the weakest this week and I think it’s time to say goodbye. Let all the tweeners who are voting for him keep Tim Urban around another week or two while we pick off Andrew and Lee. Though Katie going home soon wouldn’t bug me in the least… that is unless she keeps performing as well as she did tonight.
What do you all think? Was it the songs that made tonight so much better than previous weeks, or have the rest of the contestants figured out that they have to really do something spectacular to try and gain some ground on Crystal?