‘American Idol’: The Top 9 Are All Shook Up

Becky Bain | April 14, 2010 6:34 am

After last week’s bizarre episode featuring a didgeridoo and a bagpipe player, the Idols must have been too stumped to pick another outlandish instrument to tack onto their Elvis Presley songs. (A harp? kazoo? xylophone? So many options!) Good thing they headed back to basics, forgoing strange musical instruments in favor of their trusty guitars or just singing along to Ricky Minor and the band—we’d say Elvis should only be slightly rolling over in his grave at the Top 9 performances last night. And we have mentor Adam Lambert and his spot-on critiques to thank for leading the contestants in the right direction. Love us tender by reading our recap of Elvis night below: 

Adam Lambert  said he had to rock “an Elvis do” while mentoring Elvis Presley theme night, but we think his spikey hairstyle looks more like Bart Simpson. Photographic proof:

Now that we have that important follical matter out of the way, onto the contestants:

Crystal Bowersox – “Safe” Crystal is first, which means there’s nowhere to go but down from here. Sigh. Thanks, Idol producers, for making the next hour and a half draaaag. Crystal gives an energetic, gospel performance (rockin’ the electric guitar instead of an acoustic for a change) that we would actually pay to watch. What more can we say? The woman is a professional and can be counted on to give a solid performance every week.

Andrew Garcia – “Hound Dog” Adam is bored when first hearsAndrew sing, and bluntly says so directly to his face. When Andrew finally gets on the Idol stage, we weren’t so much bored as mystified that  he managed to turn this once-sexy Elvis song into a cha-cha ballroom dance version.  We can tell Andrew is reaaaally trying… but if you don’t have “it,” you can’t force “it.”

Tim Urban – “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” Ryan Seacrest calls him “Turban,” whic makes us wonder if this is this a nickname we’ve completely missed all season long. Blast! Moving on: Tim’s pitch is predictably all over the place, but his performance was actually earnest. And he benefitted by sitting still in a chair and playing his guitar, so he couldn’t rely on sliding around the stage or practicing his patented goofy dancing. Tim ignored Adam’s advice to use his falsetto at the end of the song, but who cares? Tim was able to hold a note! Golf claps! With this better-than-average performance, we officially dub Andrew Garcia the new Sanjaya of Season 9.

Lee DeWyze – “A Little Less Conversation” Lee begins his song with just his voice and an acoustic guitar, and the band eventually joins in and turns it into a blues-rock number. Lee’s vocals felt stronger than usual, since he has a tendancy to warble, and we got really into his performance. If anything, we thought it was little on the short side—the song lacked a big, powerful finish. But we enjoyed it, and are enjoying Lee more and more each week. Let’s see if Mr. DeWyze falls victim to the fourth place curse.

Aaron Kelly – “Blue Suede Shoes” “I don’t necessarily know that the song fits me. It’s probably wrong for me in every way.” Hey, those were Aaron’s words, although he’s talking about the liquor-drinking lyrics, not the fact that this song is the complete opposite of relevent and fresh. It’s a song about shoes, and you know what happened to the last song about shoes? It was Jennifer Lopez’s “Loubuotins.” ‘Nuff said. His voice is competent as usual, but we have no inclination to purchase an Aaron Kelly CD now or probably ever. Sorry, kid.

Siobhan Magnus – “Suspicious Minds” Siobhan (girl really needs a nickname… Si-Magz?) is wearing an Elvis-inspired white dress. All the outfit needs is a cape, and all Siobcakes needs is a shot of adrenaline—this number starts off majorly slow and old-fashioned. It picks up in the middle, but we’re really getting worried about how far Shiv-On is going to last in the competition, especially with two contestants being voted off this week. Much like Andrew with his acoustic “Straight Up,” she may have peaked too early with that impressive money note in Aretha Franklin’s “Think.” As of right now, when we think of Siobhan, we think weird and kooky personality, not her voice.

Michael Lynche – “In The Ghetto” Taylor Hicks sang this emotional Elvis track during Season 5. He nailed it back then, but Big Mike was able to kick the memory of Taylor’s performance off of our Idol radar forever—he kills it with a performance that made it seem like he himself had written the song. His vocals are pitch perfect and he takes his time delivering the message of the song. America, how DARE you try to kick off this incredibly talented, sensitive, enigmatic performer? We don’t know who you are anymore. We’ll forgive you, America, just don’t let it happen again.

Katie Stevens – “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” Last week we were finally impressed with Katie Stevens’ subdued take on “Let It Be,” and this week she goes back to strutting around the stage, singing with a frog in her throat. We’re with Simon—what does it matter what we think? She’s good enough to survive another week, but let’s hope she’s got Disney’s number on speed dial once she’s done with this show. If she plays her cards right, we see a long career ahead for Katie as Hannah Montana’s successor, Melinda Virginia, or some other rhymey name that’s worth a zillion dollars.

Casey James – “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” Casey is wearing the most eye-rolly, hipster hat during his mentor sesh with Adam, and he thankfully takes it off for his performance. It’s another standard blues number from Casey, and he sings it well, but… He may be “very sexy” as Ryan Seacrest, of all people, describes him, but we’re bored. We want Casey to pull a Lee DeWyze and add something strange/interesting to his peformances—it doesn’t have to be a bagpipe player descending from a staircase, but just something to put a little bit more buzz back in his name as we feel like we’ve seen the same thing from Casey over and over. (He could always take his shirt off again. Just sayin’.)

Best of the Night: Tim Urbjust kidding! Crystal Bowersox. Again. (And again and again…)

Worst of the Night: Andrew Garcia and Andrew Garcia. Can they boot him off twice?

Quote of the Night: “My tongue isnt as talented as yours.” —Ryan to Adam Lambert, after putting on a baby voice and humoring the Idol alum with a few lines from “Whataya Want From Me.” Thanks for bringing up that months-old American Music Awards drama Adam tried so hard to shelve back in 09, Ryan.

Final Thoughts: Adam intended to be honest but constructive while critiquing the Top 9, and he did just that—he made the contestants feel comfortable, but wasn’t afraid to tell them the hard truths in order for them to improve. Basically, he’s like your loveable Sassy Gay Friend who tells you how it is (except, you know, not such a blatant stereotype). Even though many were worried he would lack the knowledge to critique contestants simply because he’s only been a household name for about a year, we think Adam was one of the better guest mentors this season. So take that, Glambert haters!