Our very first guest blogger is Season 5 finalist Elliott Yamin, whose rich, soulful take on classics like Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” helped him place third overall. Elliott’s life since leaving Idol has been dedicated to making great music, but he recently took on an unexpected role: while stuck in Chile following last month’s terrifying earthquake, Yamin suddenly found himself essentially acting as a freelance journalist when his tweets were used by news outlets to report on the devastation. Despite a brief health scare, he made it out of the country unharmed, and he’s already bouncing back to work: Elliott will soon hit the studio to record his third album, the followup to last year’s acclaimed Fight For Love. (Check out his gorgeous performance on the Fight For Love single “Can’t Keep On Lovin’ You” over at his official site.)
Thankfully, Elliott found some time to guest blog his thoughts on the Top 11 performances for us. After the jump, check out a review of last night’s show from a guy who really knows what it’s like to give it all on the Idol stage:
I can remember Top 11 week like it was yesterday! It was definitely one the most nerve-racking, gut-wrenching weeks of my life, so I know exactly what these guys were going through! The pressure to make the Top 10 is intensified because not only do you get to advance and continue the amazing ride, but it also guarantees you a spot on the post Idol national tour, which, next to being on the show, was the most phenomenal experience of my life! So there’s a lot at stake this week, and I’d like to share my two cents on what I saw last night.
1) Lee Dewyze – “The Letter”
I thought that Lee totally lacked confidence and stage presence, and I thought his vocal was a bit stiff at times. If I’m being brutally honest (which I mean respectfully) I actually thought that the judges were strangely patronizing afterwards. It didn’t even really appear that Lee was convinced himself after the they were done critiquing him.
2) Paige Miles – “Against All Odds”
Oh no!! The song was pitchy from the first off note to the last, and unfortunately Paige let her nervous energy, and the pressure of staying on pitch, get the best of her. I can relate, ’cause I’ve been there before, but it was just downright uncomfortable from start to finish.
3) Tim Urban – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
I like the fact that Tim actually showed a little more personality this week and engaged the audience. I thought the song choice was awful, especially considering that it’s done every year on the show. There was nothing unique about it.
4) Aaron Kelly – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”
Great song choice to me, this kid epitomizes what AI is all about. He has a great story, and you can tell he grows with confidence each week. I love his tone, and the way he uses his voice at 16 is pretty impressive. The performance wasn’t the greatest, but he held it down considering he is battling tonsillitis. I’m really pulling for him.
5) Crystal Bowersox – “Me And Bobby McGee
She was the fifth performer of the night and I truly felt that for the first time of the evening, the heat was on to make the post Idol tour. She sang with a lot of conviction and I thought this song was a perfect choice… I think crystal knows exactly who she is as a singer, and has yet to compromise her artistry.
6) Michael Lynche – “When a Man Loves a Woman”
Didn’t really care for the song choice, and I agreed with Kara, in that the performance was a tad bit overindulgent, and there was no real connection. Sometimes less is more (Paula told me that once on Season 5). That being said, I really dig Big Mike’s likability factor, voice, and swagger on stage.
7) Andrew Garcia – “Heard It Through the Grapevine”
I wasn’t too keen on the key that Andrew chose for this song. It didn’t really suit his voice well… I’ve been a fan of Andrew’s since his audition, but he just doesn’t seem to be evolving each week like you would expect, which is disappointing.
8) Katie Stevens – “Big Girls Don’t Cry”
I just felt that a lot of notes during the song were pitchy and under. Perhaps it was nerves. I thought the song choice was smart, youthful… however, I’m just not too sure if she has the vocal capacity to carry her much further in the competition. It’s not big enough, but Katie is young and I think she has potential.
9) Casey james – “Power of Love”
I thought this was a good song choice and the best performance I’ve seen from Casey thus far. It was right up his alley, and he finally cut loose and sounded better, and he was a little more confident on stage.
10) Didi Benami – “You’re No Good”
Kind of sexy song choice! I’ve really liked her voice this season. Although I didn’t think it was as bad as the judges made it seem, it was probably my least favorite performance by Didi this season.
11) Siobhan Magnus – “Superstition”
I like that she stepped out of her comfort zone a bit. Again, I just didn’t think this was her strongest performance. I am, however, a fan of Siobhan’s voice, and I thinks she’s going to be safe.
The two best performers of the night for me were:
1. Crystal Bowersox
2. Casey James
Keep an eye for Elliott’s next performance — he recently returned from Africa, where he helped break ground for the school of the orphanage he visited on the original Idol Gives Back tour two years ago, and he’ll soon be singing (in the nation’s capital!) for the Washington Nationals.