Okay, guys, I have something a little uncomfortable to discuss with you. I've been debating whether to bring it up, but, well . . . here goes . . . . I think I'm being stalked. After last night's American Idol, I'm actually pretty sure I'm being stalked. I appear to have an obsessive fan who is going above and beyond to get my attention. Well, Miss Crystal Bowersox, it's working. You have my attention. I am flattered by your obsession and how you have gone above and beyond to get my attention. You shrewdly showed up on the Idol stage with your dreadlocks and lot-fresh look, making me wonder if perhaps I didn't once buy a goo ball from you in some parking lot long ago. But that wasn't enough for you. You needed insurance. So you started pulling out songs you were sure I would like -- "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman." A little Alanis. A little CCR. Throw in some Tracey Chapman. Nice. Subtle. Not too over the top. No, over the top came last week when you decided to pull out the big gun and pick the song that is universally known to be my favorite song -- "You Can't Always Get What You Want." That started to make me feel a little uncomfortable. After last night, I'm downright scared. Crystal followed up her terrific performance from last week with an absolutely incendiary performance of my OTHER favorite song of all time "Me and Bobby McGee." Of ALL the Billboard #1's she could have picked, she picked that one. It was beautiful. It was powerful. It moved me to tears -- partly because I was afraid she was going to show up at my door with a plate of magic brownies. Okay, maybe THAT wouldn't be so bad.
In all seriousness, Crystal was absolutely amazing last night. There was Crystal and then there was everyone else. She was the only one who seemed to make a real case for being the next American Idol. She was the only one who seemed like a real star up there. And as a fan of the type of music Crystal seems to be peddling, I can't wait for her to start releasing her own work.
Other than Crystal, last night was a largely disappointing venture as even Siobhan seemed a little off. Maybe it was the influence of "mentor" Miley Cyrus (please don't get me started on that one!). There was little last night, though, that made me sit up and take notice once Crystal was done, but here are the rankings nonetheless.
1. Crystal Bowersox. DUH! And thank you, Simon, for basically telling Crystal she doesn't need to lose anything. Keep the guitar, keep the rug (which I just noticed this week -- has it always been there?) and keep rockin', sistah!
2. Siobhan Magnus I'm not sure that "Superstitious" was Siobhan's best choice, which, outside of Crystal, seemed to be the theme of the evening. For Siobhan, it just seemed that Stevie Wonder really didn't fit the artist she seems to be selling herself as. How do you go from that dark, alternative take on "Paint It Black" to Stevie? Wouldn't Siobhan have been better served with maybe "Nothing Compares 2 U" or Lisa Loeb's "Stay" or "I Kissed a Girl" or even "My Life Would Suck Without You"? I know that the Billboard charts aren't necessarily filled with alternative girls, but they weren't tied to the Hot 100. There is a Billboard "Modern Rock" chart from which she could have picked Siouxsie and the Banshees "Peek-a-Boo", Kate Bush's "Love and Anger", Concrete Blonde's "Joey", Tori Amos's "God", The Cranberries' "Zombie." All much better choices. Now, I know that even though we were told the Idols could pick ANY #1, they probably had a limited list from which to choose, but you can't tell me there wasn't something better suited to Siobhan than this one. And I will also add my voice to the chorus of people asking that Siobhan please stop screaming at the end of every song. Thanks.
3. Casey James Yet another lousy choice as Casey picked Huey Lewis's "Power of Love." Yeah, you read that right. Listen, Huey Lewis was old-fashioned in 1984; he's old-fashioned now. His music has not aged well and feels incredibly dated now. I thought maybe Casey would come out and really give the song a cool re-invention. Nope. Same horns. Same riffs. I felt like I needed to grab hold of someone's bumper and go skateboarding through Hill Valley. Again, let's play a "Why Not" for Casey. Instead of Huey Lewis and if Casey is so set on the 80s, what about some Don Henley? He could lend himself to a blues rock re-invention. Springsteen has surely had a couple number one tunes.
4. Lee DeWyze Lee chose "The Letter," which I actually didn't think was an awful choice. The problem for me, though, was the memory of the hot version of this that Michael Johns and Carly Smithson threw down a couple years ago. Lee's version seemed rather staid by comparison . . . a little on the loungey side, if you ask me.
5. Mike Lynche Mike bored me for the second straight week. If the judges are going to keep throwing "Straight Up" in Andrew Garcia's face, how much longer will it be before they start throwing "This Woman's Work" at Mike? Plus, can I be frank here for a second? Mike's "Sensitive Dude" angle is really starting to grate on me to the point where I kind of wonder if the guy is rocking a mangina down there. Mike chose "When a Man Loves a Woman", and it was really, really dull. It was competent but forgettable and totally cliche. And it brings me to a point that started to get on my nerves last night -- the fact that the contestants really seemed to be mired in the past. Outside of Katie Stevens, no one did a song originally released within the past 10 years. These are young people and they are singing songs significantly older than they are. Now, I know the argument would be, "That's because there's no good music anymore." Kinda true -- with some exceptions . . . take a listen to some contemporary radio and you may find a couple artists who are doing some cool stuff still. Honest! The thing is that these kids are attempting to inject themselves into the contemporary market ... by doing covers of songs that are older than dirt. As much as I love "Against All Odds" or "You're No Good" or "The Letter," these songs really don't have a ton of relevance in today's music market unless they are given a modern spin. These kids need to prove that they can sell records (or downloads), and I just don't see the market (particularly in the key demographics) rushing to download "Power of Love." And the older people who drive CD sales, well, we'll just go buy Huey Lewis's original rather than a pale imitation.
6. Aaron Kelly I believe I've mentioned on this blog before how much I dislike Aerosmith's "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Well, I do ... I dislike it ... a lot. I love Aerosmith, but that song is just like nails on a chalkboard for me. So of course it would be performed last night by a contestant whose very presence is like nails on a chalkboard. Aaron did an okay job with a schlocky song. I do think Aaron would be smart to go a country route since I think he could be super marketable as a country teen idol -- a country Justin Bieber. There are a LOT of teen girls who love country music, based on the girls I work with, and they would love a cutie like this kid.
7. Katie Stevens Kudos to Katie for choosing a contemporary song in "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie. I will say, though, that I have to agree with my sister that I would like to hear Katie's "real" voice. I have a hard time believing that this deep, smokey voice is coming from this girl. I still am not a fan, and I still think she needs more training than Miley Cyrus can offer, but she's safe for another week or two.
8. Didi Benami I have to admit that I actually LIKED Didi's version of "You're No Good." I get where the judges were coming from, particularly Simon's critique that it seemed very theatrical. I'm a theatre teacher; of course I'm going to love a performance like that! Yes, Didi could have picked something better suited to her -- "Stay," "Take a Bow" (the Madonna version), maybe taken a look at the Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac offerings again, or even tried a different Linda Ronstadt song. I kind of worry that Didi is in danger of bottom three territory tonight, which would be unfortunate because I think the girl has a mighty performance in her, and I'd like to see it and I do think there were others worse than she was.
9. Andrew Garcia Poor Andrew. He will forever be dogged by the ghost of MC Skat Kat for having the balls to perform "Straight Up" so well during Hollywood Week. He created a tremendous buzz and has yet to live up to it. He took on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" last night and it was just kind of dull. I give him props for putting the guitar down, but there was just nothing all that interesting about his performance. Totally in danger tonight.
10. Tim Urban Same for Tim who made a really bad choice in Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," a song which was intentionally dated when it came out. Wouldn't it have been nice if Tim had come out and done something like "Hey There Delilah". Jesus, even some Nelson would have been better than this.
11. Paige Miles What is going to save Tim and Andrew and Didi from elimination, though, is Paige. Oh, Paige! First of all, PHIL COLLINS?!?!???? "Against All Odds" is a great song, but it was totally out of her range, forcing her voice to dip down into some really scary places. And seriously, who chooses Phil Collins? This girl has to know she's vulnerable -- she was in the bottom two last week. This was the time to kick out the jams, to really show her stuff and prove to America why she's the artist they want playing on their radios all summer long. Paige is a Michael Jackson fan. Why not tackle one of his songs? Why not try Janet Jackson? Or Rihanna? I admire her for not tackling a big gun like Whitney or Mariah, but what about Toni Braxton? Beyonce? Heck, I'd even say Alicia Keys. Prove your marketability, prove you can hold you own on the charts with the women who are dominating them right now. Don't pull out a 25-year-old ballad by a balding British man and then have the audacity to sing it so poorly that it's being labelled one of the worst Idol performances ever. EVER! Unless America decides to throw the biggest pity party ever, I suspect it's Paige who will be packing her bags tonight ... and not for the summer tour.