Let's start off with one thing: I freakin' love the Rolling Stones. I would say they are one of my top five favorite bands of all time. So when I heard that the first theme night of American Idol this season would be the music of the Rolling Stones, I was both pumped and nauseous. To be honest, we all know that this season of Idol has been mediocre thus far at best (with a couple exceptions), and I wasn't sure I would be able to handle the sure mangling some of my favorite songs were about to face. And of course the big question: would any singer have the cojones to tackle "Harlem Shuffle"?
Last night wasn't as much of a train wreck as I was expecting, but outside of two performances, nothing really stuck with me. By the end of the show, I had a hard time remembering what some people had even performed. Not a good sign, right? The little I've read from other bloggers seems to be in line with what I'm thinking -- this has become a two-woman race with everyone else scrambling for scraps. That could all change next week (or in weeks to come), but for now, this show belongs to Crystal Bowersox and Siobhan Magnus. Both hit it out of the theatre last night with confident, engaging performances that were miles above anyone else.
1. Siobhan Magnus -- Holy cow! This girl is the shit! Her version of "Paint It Black" was mesmerizing, powerful, and entertaining. I nicknamed her "Girlbert" last night in that she plays the dynamics and drama of music the way that Adam Lambert did -- and she can scream without sticking out her damn tongue! She's a gorgeous combination of Tori Amos, Margo Timmins, and Dolores O'Riordan...but with an edge. And her geeky glasses make me love her even more. Out of sight! I can't wait to download this song and BLAST it on the ol' ipod!
2. Crystal Bowersox -- My girl got not only the pimp spot but she also played my favorite song of all time -- "You Can't Always Get What You Want." The judges were slightly withholding of great praise, instead accusing Crystal of getting lazy and seeming like she thinks she "has this in the bag." I've never gotten that perception of her. If anything, the JUDGES have been acting like Crystal has it in the bag. Maybe they think calling her out on that is doing her a favor and activating her fan base. To me, it seemed like they were accusing her of arrogance and that it might end up doing her more harm than good. (How adorable was Papa Bowersox when he started choking up remembering the song Crystal sang to him?) I thought it was incredibly gracious of Crystal to acknowledge that Siobhan probably took the night, but Crystal did put up a good fight and made it clear that it's a battle between these two amazing, original woman.
3. Didi Benami -- Yeah, I'm still on the Didi train. I still see a lot of potential in her. I thought her "Playing With Fire" was lovely. In other seasons, she'd probably be middle of the pack, but once Siobhan and Crystal are taken out of the mix, I think Didi was probably the best of the night.
4. Casey James -- Casey was right on Didi's heels, though, with a cool kind of country-blues take on "It's All Over Now." (It does smell a little like shenanigan spirits, though, that they were given the option of doing a Rolling Stones COVER instead of a Rolling Stones original. Just saying . . .) I thought the comparisons to Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang were pretty on target, although I think Casey still lacks the grit and soul that Shepherd and Lang have. He's kind of like the Great America salute to Kenny Wayne Shepherd -- competent, engaging, but ultimately too scrubbed down to really be a bluesman.
5. Michael Lynche -- Yeah, I'm putting Big Mike lower this week. I suspect if I went back and watched over again, Mike's performance may have been better than Casey or Didi's. But here's the thing . . . about 30 minutes after his performance (while the show was STILL GOING ON), I could not for the life of me remember what Mike had performed. Seriously. His "Miss You" was completely forgotten. And that's not a good sign. I continue to worry about Mike's cheese factor. He takes his mannerisms so over the top at times that it's painful. My sis takes it even further and accuses Mike of essentially becoming a minstrel -- forcing himself into the role of the R&B man that the judges so desperately seem to want even though he has the talent to take chances and tackle some more rock-heavy music.
6. Lee Dewyze -- Yes, Lee continues to stir controversy Chez Mel, although I did get my sis last night to admit that he seems like a nice guy and not the roofie-packing date rapist she'd said he resembles. His "Beast of Burden" was decent enough. I like the little growl in his voice. My sis finds it lazy. She thinks he's in danger. I think he's good enough to stick around a bit longer. We'll see who's right.
7. Aaron Kelly -- Yeah, the shocker of the night. Aaron was pretty decent. Sure, he picked one of the safest choices in "Angie." He gave it a little country spin that worked well. He was in tune. He's cute, I guess. I still don't like him, but I have to begrudgingly put him here because he did a decent enough job . . . even if it should have been Alex Lambert standing on that stage last night instead.
8. Andrew Garcia -- Oh, Andrew. How the mighty have fallen! Just a few weeks ago, I labelled Andrew as the men's best hope for success this season. Now, he's ranked in the bottom half and is falling fast. His choice of "Gimme Shelter" was brave. It's probably the hardest song in the Rolling Stones catalog. It is a powerful song that grabs you by the gut for a solid four and a half minutes and won't let go. It is a mighty song of social activism that found a way to blend power chords and a railing against social injustice like no song before. I mean, it has a chorus that screams, "Rape! Murder! It's just a shot away!" WOW! And Andrew came out and did this kind of blissed-out, mellow performance that undercut everything Jagger and Richards intended this song to be. I am totally with Kara on this one. If you're going to sing a song like "Gimme Shelter," you have GOT to feel it. Andrew let the song down last night in a big way. If he were sent home tonight, I would honestly not be all that shocked. I do think that the four people ranked below him were worse, but I wonder if they might not have powerful enough fan bases to keep them alive a little longer.
9. Paige Miles -- So is Paige a country singer now? Her "Honky Tonk Women" had a definite country feel to it (and yes, the song has the same feel, I know). I thought it was an odd choice -- to pick one of the most masculine of the definitely masculine Stones songs and then turn it into a female song. "I'M a honky tonk woman?" Really?? It was okay enough, though. The real question here is whether Paige will be "punished" for stealing a spot in the top 12 that most people don't seem to think she deserves. Again, can you imagine what Lilly or Katelyn would have done last night? What kind of challenge could the two of them have posed to the Crystal-Siobhan juggernaut? Since we can't vote AGAINST performers, that may keep Paige safe for a little longer. Or not.
10. Tim Urban -- Tim's in trouble. No doubt. To be quite honest with you, I kind of liked his sort of reggae-fied version of "Under My Thumb." Of course, I also have an ipod loaded with Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz, so take that comment for what it's worth. Tim's no dummy. Tim has to know he probably should be home right now, but I applaud him for being self-aware enough to come out and not try to emulate Mick Jagger, to stay within his own wheelhouse as best he could. Perhaps his mellow vibe would have worked better with a different song rather than "Under My Thumb," but bless the kid for taking some chances. The fact that he's also super adorable may get the tweens voting enough to keep him around.
11. Katie Stevens -- Oh, what a surprise! Katie sang "Wild Horses." Oh, what a surprise! Katie sounded like she was auditioning for Star Search . . . or the Miss Teen USA pageant. Zzzzzzzzz. Here's my big question: with her family in the audience rooting her on, who's home taking care of Grandma with the Alzheimer's?
12. Lacey Brown -- I have come to loathe Lacey Brown. I think her voice is totally affected. I think her performance skills are shoddy. I think that she's a closet bitch. (Seriously, look at her face when she's given any sort of criticism. She has laser eyes!) I thought her performance of "Ruby Tuesday" was painful -- showing no sense of emotion or dynamics and I hated the way she changed up "Still I'm gonna miss you." LAME. Please, America, let's send Lacey home where she can continue shopping for glittery leopard print tops and start auditioning for the Golden Girls musical. PLEASE!
I kind of feel like Lacey is/should be headed home. I know that surprises are always plentiful, though, on Idol, so who knows? Next week, my spring musical will be over, and perhaps there will be a surprise in store. Stay tuned.