‘American Idol’: The Top 12 Rock The Rolling Stones Catalog
Believe it or not, there was plenty of “satisfaction” to be found with Rolling Stones Night on American Idol. Maybe that’s what this season finally needed to kick the Top 12 contestants into gear and give the program some much-needed fireworks—a little good old-fashioned classic rock, direct from London.
Michael Lynche — “Miss You” The theme of the contestants’ montages this week was where they grew up, and so we got a quick glimpse at Big Mike’s life in St. Petersburg, Forida, where he played high school football but turned to music after his mom died. As for his song choice this week, Michael does a more straightforward rock take on the Stones’ 1978 disco classic “Miss You.” Something about it just clicks, and lets us know that, after weeks of dismal performances and downbeat judges’ critiques, the night isn’t going to be too bad. Bless you, Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie.
Didi Benami — “Play With Fire” Didi, who was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, informs us that her mother gets really nervous watching her perform and doesn’t want to see her get judged—so mom is sitting the evening out. And after all the erratic judging the contestants have had to endure in Season 9 so far, we don’t blame her! The elder Benami is, however, in L.A., watching Didi’s apartment while her daughter is a contestant on the show. Anyway, Didi knocks out a solid (and rather intense) performance of “Play With Fire,” which elicits a decent response from all four judges. Ellen jokes, “You made the word ‘fire’ two syllables, which is gr-eat!”
Casey James — “It’s All Over Now” Eh, Casey is just okay this week. In fact, his electric guitar licks are more dazzling than his vocals. That said, the blond Texan (he grew up in the small town of—wait for it—Cool!) manages to garner the funniest line of the night from Ellen. “I think for most women, their hearts start racing,” she points out, emphasizing the “most” part (wink!). “But I think for people like me—blondes—it was fantastic.” Did all of America get that joke? Hmmmm.
Lacey Brown — “Ruby Tuesday” Tonight, Lacey–who was born in Amarillo, Texas, and whose parents are both pastors—looks more like Sharon Osbourne by way of Pat Benetar than ever. She gives a soft, subtle performance of the Rolling Stones’ 1967 chart topper “Ruby Tuesday.” It’s not amazing, but again, something about giving Season 9’s hopefuls a particular set of songs to choose from is working, and making even the so-so performances sound bright. (Can we have Rolling Stones Night next week, too, please?) Simon ends up telling Lacey she performs like an actress, and she needs to stop over-thinking the competition. Uh, sure. That ought to be easy to do.
Andrew Garcia — “Gimme Shelter” It’s kind of strange seeing Andrew Garcia performing without his guitar. But, hey—after last week we didn’t think we’d be seeing him at all again. The arrangement of “Gimme Shelter” sounds a tad off, but Andrew’s singing is pretty spot-on. Ellen agrees, but like last week with Aaron Kelly, Kara says she didn’t feel Andrew’s connection to the lyrics of the Vietnam-themed song. Simon’s response (and the second best line from a judge of the evening): “What was he supposed to do? You want him to come on stage with a tank or something?” Seriously, just shove a rag in your yap already, Kara.
Katie Stevens — “Wild Horses” Sometimes you just tend to think the judges are deaf. Case in point: Katie, who this week veers into Susan Boyle territory by giving a watered-down rendition of “Wild Horses.” And it’s off-key. And painful. And pitchy. Still, Randy finds it to be “a very strong performance,” while Ellen says Stevens “sounded good” once she “got into it.” Surely Simon is on our side? “This is the only week you’ve actually chosen a good song,” he says. Dammit.
Tim Urban — “Under My Thumb” Tim, who is from Duncanville, Texas, grew up in a family that had ten kids. So maybe he always struggled to stand out. Unfortunately, his reggae version of “Under My Thumb” does stick out, but for all the wrong reasons. It comes across like UB40 tackling the Rolling Stones—they’re both British, but that doesn’t in any way mean you should eff with the arrangement of a classic so extremely. Ellen sums it up best: “I felt like I was at a resort drinking a Pina Colada.”
Siobhan Magnus — “Paint It, Black” All props to Siobhan, because her haunting, dramatic take on the Stones’ ’66 #1 hit “Paint It, Black” is the performance of the night. Sure, it seemed very staged. But that’s what this competition has been lacking for the past two months—the drama. And once again, we get a crazy high note of shriek-tastic proportions from Siobhan. “That was hot,” Randy exclaims. And we concur.
Lee Dewyze — “Beast Of Burden” Like Casey James’ performance, Lee’s ends up being kind of a snooze. He offers up a very stripped down version of “Beast Of Burden,” but damn if Randy and Kara don’t give him a glowing review. Ellen seems to be thinking along our lines, at least, when she says she was expecting a bit more, of all the people on stage singing the Rolling Stones. He’ll be safe, though, since he seems to have America’s female population under his thumb.
Paige Miles — “Honky Tonk Women” The fact that Paige Miles is still standing on the AI stage and Lilly Scott is not is one of the greatest travesties of modern television. But now that we have that out of our system, we’ll at least acknowledge that Paige rocks it out pretty decently considering she has laryngitis, and didn’t get to rehearse at all due to her illness. Plus she looks like she’s actually having fun while singing this week. The judges give her a pass, though we suspect it’s only out of sympathy.
Aaron Kelly — “Angie” Sixteen-year-old Aaron, who hails from from Sonestown, Pennsylvania (where there are only about 50 houses, y’all!) ends up sounding like O-Town covering the Rolling Stones. But you know what? We’ll take it. The kiddo’s got star quality that Tim Urban and Andrew Garcia only wish they possessed half of. In his interviews he comes across as an “aw, shucks” shy guy, but when he’s on stage, Kelly really comes alive. Ellen correctly points out that Aaron and Siobhan gave the two performances that stand out for the evening. Simon adds that the teenager “absolutely 100% chose the right song.”
Crystal Bowersox — “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” Has onetime clear front runner Crystal peaked too early? Her take on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is pleasant enough. But it’s maybe just a bit too restrained. Come on, girl—at this stage in the game, you need to be rockin’ it out. Simon says he feels like it’s the first time where Crystal was beaten by somebody—Siobhan. Actually, Aaron Kelly kicked Crystal to the curb, too. But the judges seem to be angling for a girl to win this season. We shall see.
Best of the night: Siobhan and Aaron.
Worst of the night: Tim Urban. It’s over, dude.
Final thoughts: Sure, the Rolling Stones catalog gave this season’s Idols a shot of pep in the arm after a dismal streak of lackluster performances. Still, can we really be blamed for looking forward to Ke$ha’s appearance tomorrow night more than the actual voter results?