‘Idol’ Guest Blog: Elliott Yamin Takes On The Top 11

We’ve decided to add a little star power to our continuing American Idol coverage, so we’ve reached out to a couple of our favorite Idols from seasons past to lend their unique perspectives on the show. We’ll be introducing a new guest blogger every week or so, and we’re psyched to say that the select group we’ve lined up is loaded with actual singing talent (*cough* season9blows *cough*).

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:

Elliott’s Review:

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.

  • Lilly

    Oh Elliott…..I love your comments. I wish you could be a guest judge one week, or appear & perform again on the show. You won my heart and you are my all-time favorite AI contestant ever!!! I have all your music….and I am so excited about your next album.

  • http://twitter.com/TweeterNese Denise

    Elliott loved you last CD. Also the song you did with Taylor Hicks on his CD “The Distance” was beyond HOT!!

  • Kathy

    Elliott is my all-time favorite Idol, so it was great to see him act as guest blogger. Go Elliott! Make some more music for me! I LOVE your Fight for Love album.

  • Carol

    You know what you're talking about E, loved both of your CD's can't wait to hear more from you and hope to see you again on Idol, hopefully this season.

  • Cathy

    Maybe if Elliott was guest mentor, he could help these contestants pull it together. Most have good voices but totally lack instinct when it comes to song selection and performing on stage. Understandable at the start, but I'm not seeing any growth.

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  • Sheila

    Nice critique Elliott Yamin. I share your thoughts on how the contestants performed. I thought you were to the point and honest, without being mean spirited about it. Like others I loved your Fight for Love CD and hope we get to see you perform on Idol this year.

  • musicmuse25

    I agree with Elliott's assessment of the performances this week – right on!
    I hope that he gets to perform this year. I know I can hardly wait for Idol Gives Back episode for Elliott's appearance for sure, but for the generosity of soooo many. Elliott's last album was as great as his first. I can hardly wait for the next. Elliott Rules!!!

  • http://www.baduku.com Namanh Hoang

    So Paige got eliminated and it was expected, had a terrible performance yesterday but sad because overall she's done much better than others like ….Andrew and Tim. But now that's it's all over we can all agree that her eye are totally fake right? Get more opinions and polls about your favorite Idols at Baduku. http://www.baduku.com/americanidol9

  • evelyn

    elliott is the “gold standard” for what an american idol SHOULD be…..but unfortunately, the american audience judges each performer by how he/she looks, dresses, and parades around the stage. the singing talent is almost never first. and for simon, it's all about how much money he can make from this performer.
    the only performer on this years show to reach elliott's level is crystal bowersox.
    she is incredible……and i hope she doesn't win, so she can remain true to herself. she will have a contract no matter where she places, because she is just that good.

  • Patti Lynn

    Great review Elliott!! I've loved your voice since I first heard you on American Idol!! I hope you are invited back to sing on the show again. See you on tour!

  • MR_Red_Beard

    Elliott Yamin is one of Idols best singers. i think he would be a great mentor for a week.

  • Linda

    Elliott's comments were very accurate. Not only does he have the best voice that has ever been on the show, but his instincts and song choices were great every single week.

  • JC

    Elliott…wow…I remember your Idol performances like they were yesterday….but honestly thought you had dropped off the face of the world since your first album. I just downloaded fight for love on iTunes and am listening for the second time through….totally digging every song? You need to do a better job marketing yourself….how did I not know this awesome album existed? Oh…and totally agree with your critique…..so excited about this album. Pls idol….bring him back!

  • cynthia

    if he would be a guest mentor that would be the only reason id watch the show! this is probably the 2nd to worst season ever! im almost converting to dancing with the stars! they need to make it more interesting and if elliott was on it, id DEFINITLY watch it. i think he could make some of these people much better considering he went through the entire american idol procedure unlike other mentors(miley cyrus, pink, slash, and others)