The sky's the limit when the American Idol contestants are asked to cover past No. 1 hits from the Billboard chart.
So it's always surprising when they end up pulling the least likely songs out of their you-know-whats.
But that's what 17-year-old mentor Miley Cyrus was there for, to help guide the top 11 to be the most marketable, radio-worthy artists they can be by not only choosing the right songs ("Yesterday" was a chart-topper, but so was "Macarena"), but also by tapping into the sort of infectious appeal that has made so-so singers like Miley into international superstars.
"Do something cool and different," she advised Tim Urban at one point.
So, did anyone have one of those Moments that the judges are always talking about?
Lee Dewyze: We didn't really care for his jazzy, Michael Bublé'd version of "The Letter" by the Box Tops—though Lee gets points for the homage to the recently deceased Alex Chilton. Kudos to him for shaking up the arrangement and his voice sounded great, as usual; but, to us, that wasn't an Idol "moment." Simon Cowell didn't think so, either, calling it "quite corny" and "not a recording performance." He was outnumbered, though, by Ellen DeGeneres, who blathered on about her refilling her favorite pen with ink, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson.
Paige Miles: Cripes, who is picking Paige's music?! She utterly butchered Mariah Carey's version of Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" (like, really bad), looking the whole time as if she had been forced onstage at gunpoint. The opening bars were so dreadful, by the time she let out a few booming, successful notes, we were over it. "Take a look at Paige now going home," is how the chorus should have gone. "That was honestly terrible…nothing came together at all," Randy lamented. Kara judged it "the worst vocal I've heard from you and possibly the worst I've heard all season."
Tim Urban: We were expecting a disaster when we learned he was trying Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." But it wasn't so bad. The dancing around the stage was awkward, but in true JoBro style Tim stood surrounded by adoring girls for a moment, which theoretically could prove more important (in real life) than how his voice sounded. Ellen thought it felt like a High School Musical audition. "The dopest thing you did was the slide [on the steps], the vocals were so boring," Randy said. And Kara actually criticized Tim for going into the audience. "You're not at that place yet, you're not established," she chided him. Simon just ended up criticizing Queen, saying he was surprised that song was even a No. 1 record.
Aaron Kelly: Leave it to the 16-year-old to belt the first modern-day No.1 of the night, Aerosmith's oozy ballad "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Aaron wasn't pitch-perfect, but nor did he sound like a kid who suffered from tonsillitis and laryngitis all week. His version had a nice country tinge to it, and it actually came off like a real competitive performance. "Best song choice of the night," Kara said, though that was a given. "You're a little tryer, aren't you?" Simon queried. "If you want to vote for David Archuleta here…" quipped Ryan Seacrest, reading off the voting number.
Crystal Bowersox: The whole Janis Joplin picture was completed tonight, with Crystal actually choosing the Joplin heart-grabber "Me and Bobby McGee." Which, as you might have expected, she did a superb job with it, especially as the tempo picked up in the second half. And did you notice she's been standing on a rug while she sings? "That's what is called being a star!" Randy cried. Ellen and Kara are both itching for just a bit more emotion from Crystal. "I wouldn't change anything," advised Simon. "Up until now, we have listened to a karaoke competition…You took a song, nailed it, and your only gimmick is a carpet."
Michael Lynche: Out came Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" for the umpteenth time in Idol history. But Michael's got serious chops, a consistently improving falsetto and the charm to pull the old standard off. Randy proceeded to explain why it wasn't that great but he loved it. "This woman loves that man," Ellen said, though she also compared the song choice to "driving the speed limit." And Simon agreed with Kara's synopsis of over-indulgence, saying, "I kind of know what you're saying…like you wanted one scoop of ice cream and you got 11."
Andrew Garcia: Well, Paige might be safe after this dreck. Is anything more overdone, karaoke-wise, than "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"? Not only that, but Andrew—so promising, once—didn't even sound good. His voice was, to steal an adjective from Randy, "weird." "I feel bad for you up there, because you're chasing that moment...I don't know who that was," Kara said sadly. "Maybe we just overrated that moment, in hindsight," Simon said. "You sucked the soul out of that song."
Katie Garcia: "Big Girls Don't Cry" was a great song choice and Katie did Fergie proud. Her version wasn't markedly different or unique in any way, but, at this point in the night, merely enjoyable was enough. A few sharp notes, but at least her performance made sense. "I think you meeting Miley Cyrus was probably the best thing that could ever happen to you," Simon concluded. He still thinks Katie should go the country route, but Kara felt the 17-year-old had found her niche. Ellen though it was her best performance to date.
Casey James: Sure, nothing screams youthful appeal like Huey Lewis and the News! But "The Power of Love" was from Back to the Future, so at least the Gen-Xers should like it. Actually, the 27-year-old stud-muffin sounded remarkably like Lewis and turned in a perfectly polished performance. Of course, Simon didn't even think the song was current 25 years ago, so he had no idea what Kara, who told Casey he was "on another level," was talking about. "Maybe it's just me…I'm English," he shrugged.
Didi Benami: Who knew Didi's goal was to play a Reno lounge one day? She sounded OK, but Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good" was just a really random song choice. It wasn't right for her voice, and the slinky performance just wasn't her. "I felt like you were playing a character," Kara said. Simon didn't really have to point out the irony of the song title, but he did.
Siobhan Magnus: Stevie Wonder tacklers, beward. But Siobhan, trotting out a Debbie Harry-Pat Benatar look tonight, worked it out. And yes, she screamed at the end. "I loved it, man," Randy said, sounding like Jeff Bridges giving an acceptance speech. "To quote Oliver, 'More please,'" offered Ellen, obviously tapped out by show's end. "You express yourself every time you perform," Kara said (and you know how she loves expression). But Simon would rather she cool it with the screaming.
So, which contestant deserves to go home? And why, when faced with a vast catalog of song choices, do they pick stuff like "The Power of Love" and "Superstitious"?
Can someone please explain that in the comments section?
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