Michael Becker / FOX
Michael Becker / FOX
Oh, the irony.
Mick Jagger and his unorthodox pipes probably wouldn't get past Hollywood week if he tried out for American Idol today, but yet the top 12 were tasked tonight with living up to the standards set by Mick, Keith Richards and their beyond-classic band, the Rolling Stones.
The six guys and six ladies the voters chose—somewhat surprisingly—to move into the upper echelons of Idol's ninth season trotted for the first time onto that bigger studio stage, in front of their biggest live audience yet, to take on the Stones' unparalleled song catalog.
Tuesday also marked the inaugural night of co-ed competition, so we finally got a look at each contestant's star power, side by side.
Here's what we found out:
Michael Lynche: Coming off a game-changing performance, Big Mike had a lot to live up to. He may not wear teenage-girl-size pants like Mick Jagger, but he tried his best to capture that signature energy onstage while singing "Miss You." He probably picked the best song for his falsetto-as-much-as-possible style, but we're not going to include this on our list of favorite Michael nights. As for the judges: Michael moved, therefore Simon Cowell deemed it somewhat corny, but the others all dug the performance.
Didi Benami: The Stones' lyrics were never so decipherable! It was funny to hear the L.A. transplant namecheck veddy British places like St. John's Wood, but otherwise "Play With Fire" was a good vocal for the untraditional singer. Despite a midsong flub, Didi's voice sounded intense and rich, perfect for the song's combination of threat and mating call. "You're on fire tonight!" exclaimed Randy Jackson. "Not brilliant," Simon countered, but "solid."
Casey James: The heartthrob-in-training added just the right amount of Texas honky-tonk to "It's All Over Now," on which he also accompanied himself on electric guitar, picking his way back into the judges' good graces. "Most women, their hearts are going to start racing just looking at you, right? Then for people like me…" began Ellen DeGeneres, waiting a beat before adding, "blondes." Whatever her hair color, Ellen thought his performance "fantastic." Kara thought he was a rock star tonight. Simon, however, thought Casey needed to be more than just a guy standing in the middle of the stage playing guitar.
Lacey Brown: From the first couple of notes of "Ruby Tuesday," this was a different kind of performance from Lacey. As in, a good one. We felt the arrangement perfectly suited her funny little voice and the string quartet was a plus. But once again, a slow song was again "too sleepy" for Ellen's taste (not everything is a dance track, Ellen!), and the judges were torn about the quality, with Randy being "pleasantly surprised" and Simon finding Lacey's performance too controlled.
Andrew Garcia: At first we were worried that he was going to wail "Gimme Shelter" and just stand there, but Andrew eventually picked up the microphone and…moved a few steps this way and that way. It didn't really matter anyway, because only parts of the song were listenable—seriously, it was half weird-sounding, half awesome. Randy thought it was "just pitchy everywhere, man," but Ellen thought it his "best performance yet." Kara quibbled with Andrew's inability to truly make her feel the Stones' anger about the Vietnam War. And Simon, bless him, again made fun of her for taking things too literally. "What was he supposed to do, come out in a tank?" the Brit asked.
Katie Stevens: We're glad someone tried to do "Wild Horses," covered so memorably by the Sundays. Too bad Katie gave it the high school treatment. The countrified arrangement wasn't awful, just very blah. The judges were in turn neither here nor there with their criticism. "It's the first time where I think you connected with a song 100 percent. Well done," Simon said. "Better than last week," was all Kara would give her. "I almost wore that," Ellen joked, referring to Katie's strapless floral party dress.
Tim Urban: Not quite sure what that "Jammin'" reggae beat was doing in that arrangement of "Under My Thumb." But the onetime lucky loser turned in another confident performance, and his appeal continued to rise. For us, anyway. "Very bizarre, I didn't really like that," Randy said, shaking his head. It reminded Ellen of a beach vacation, in a bad way. Kara applauded his "incredibly different" take on the song. "Crazy," Simon called it. "A lot of people who are Rolling Stones fans would be turning their television sets off at that point because it just didn't work."
Siobhan Magnus: Siobhan is the Adam Lambert of season nine, arrangement-wise. She started warbling "Paint It Black" slowly, sitting theatrically on the steps, and then launched into a full-on vocal assault, including a round of piercing screams, before ending the great song with a lingering high note. "Like Snooki's poof, you just stand out!" Ellen raved. Kara deemed it the "best interpretation" of the night, and Simon approved of the fact that "a lot of people are going to love that" while "a lot will hate it…Better than being indifferent and boring." She'll have a flaming disaster one of these nights, but so far, so good.
Lee Dewyze: There goes Lee with his professional self again! He turned in a completely radio-worthy version of "Beast of Burden," prompting Simon to compliment his "incredibly good voice" on what was a "forgettable song." (Which describes most of the songs on the radio, so, great!) "Like a hospital gown, it was almost there," Ellen offered, while Randy thought Lee "really came home" with this one.
Paige Miles: Finally, there was the voice the judges have been claiming Paige has all this time. The 24-year-old hit some great big notes despite a bout of laryngitis but, sadly, brought absolutely zero vim or vigor to "Honky Tonk Woman" (or "Man," in this case). Sure enough, Simon was still waiting for Paige to connect with the audience. He and the other judges couldn't praise her sound enough, though, especially considering she had struggled with her voice all week.
Aaron Kelly: The 16-year-old may have used the stage better than anyone tonight, minus Siobhan, and the wee lad—if you just listened to him—made the wistful "Angie" absolutely believable. It was about a million times more believable than anything Justin Bieber could pull off, anyway. Even Kara, representing the feelings police, thought he connected very powerfully with the song. Aaron "chose absolutely, 100 percent the right song," according to Simon. Indeed he did.
Crystal Bowersox: The minute Crystal picks up her guitar and approaches the microphone, it's as if you're watching a different show entirely. No nerves, no...nothing? This week, she turned in an angsty-yet-feel-good version of "You Can't Always Get What You Want," a great way to close the show. Simon, however, didn't feel that Crystal, by doing what she wanted, got what she needed. "For the first time, you were beaten by somebody, and that was Siobhan," he mused.
Well, at least there are weeks more to go before that's settled!
One person will get the boot on Wednesday's live results show.
Who rocked the hardest for you tonight? Does Siobhan get you to shut up and listen, or would you rather it be her doing the shutting up? Do you agree with Ellen, that Crystal's been lacking in personality? Does Paige even have a personality?
Share your thoughts in the comments section!
And to think, all these contestants came to Hollywood in the hopes of meeting Johnny Depp (that's why we came here, anyway), when all they had to do was look in our Big Picture gallery!