Welcome to Tuesday (April 13) night's "American Idol," or as I like to call it "FOX's lead-in to the return of 'Glee.'"
With Adam Lambert mentoring the contestants in fabulousness, "American Idol" is tackling Elvis tonight (not literally tackling him, cuz he's dead and that would be disrespectful) which may be... Eclectic.
Thanks to the Judges' Save last week, we've got 9 performances in 88 minutes, which means that, if nothing else, Tuesday's show will be our least-padded "Idol" in weeks.
Click through for the full recap...
Singer: Crystal Bowersox
My Take: Yikes, "American Idol." With a double-elimination coming up tomorrow, I wouldn't want to be putting Crystal this early in the show. That's just tempting fate. Or do the "Idol" producers figure that America is smart enough to recognize that Crystal is in the early stages of making a mockery of her alleged competition. She didn't start out as a huge personality show-woman, so this ought not be her ideal theme, but she's getting better at opening her performances up with every week. Tonight, she's got a bejeweled electric guitar and three accompanying singers and she just holds the stage with confidence. I also have a hunch this will be the least iconic Elvis song tackled tonight, meaning that it's the one where we're most likely to walk away talking about Crystal's awesomeness, rather than Elvis'.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Yo. Yo. Alright. So yo. You know what? Randy thought it was dope, with her blues-cool vibe, comparing her to Bonnie Raitt. Ellen, sick of raving about Crystal, asks if there are any birthdays in the audience. Kara calls it "solid." Simon loved that Crystal put her own slant on the song and avoided the karaoke trap. Simon ends by shrugging as if to say, "Surely this is obvious to everybody, right?"
Singer: Andrew Garcia
Song: "Hound Dog"
My Take: Andrew is one of the contestants the producers would love to see go home tomorrow. And if Crystal was in a dangerous slot, Andrew's place is even more dangerous, especially if he isn't memorable and even Adam Lambert calls his initial performance "boring." Andrew likes the microphone. It's his friend. And he's decided that without a guitar in his hands, he's going to cradle the mic and the mic stand as he lumbers around the stage. As vocals go, this was one of Andrew's more managed performances. But he's having so little fun with the performance it's contagious. Go ahead, tell me what Andrew has added to the song. Tell me what his arrangement has allowed you to recognize about this piece of music. Tell me how it's better or even distinctively changed. He's slurring some of the words drunkenly? Is that "interpretation"? This was just a waste of time and you can be sure that Adam Lambert never would have done something so dull in a million years.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Yo. Yo. Check it out. Randy calls it "not good karaoke." Kara disagrees, though she wanted a little more swagger. Kara wanted Andrew to own the stage, calling the mic his crutch. Simon thought it was lazy and unpredictable, rather than a star performance. He also feels like Andrew has lost his coolness. Man, Andrew lost his coolness weeks ago and this performance is one that virtually guarantees elimination.
Singer: Tim Urban
Song: "Can't Help Falling in Love"
My Take: Adam Lambert is evil. Tim Urban's falsetto is horrible and should never be encouraged. You know who would have done a good cover of this song? Alex Lambert? Then Adam Lambert could have mentored Alex Lambert and it would have been a whole thing. I'm tellin' you, if this were a beautiful spring day and Tim Urban were leaning up against a tree and strumming his guitar and doing this, he would be very popular with the ladies. And around the country, there are hundreds of Tim Urbans leaning against hundreds of trees scoring with hundreds of coeds with performances of that song that are every bit as exciting and star-making. And yet... And yet... This is Tim's most competent performance yet. And he's actually on a string of relative competence. And that's a dangerous combination with his "High School Musical" sequel good looks. He's becoming dangerous and not just to music.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Yo. Randy actually liked it. Ellen compares Tim Urban to getting drunk on tequila. Kara calls it probably her favorite Tim performance. Simon says that Tim has gone "from zero to hero." And nobody mentioned "Glee"? Wasted opportunity, dudes. Is anybody else getting an eerie and nauseating feeling that Tim Urban is going to win "American Idol" this season?
Singer: Lee Dewyze
Song: "Little Less Conversation"
My Take: I'm loving that Adam Lambert isn't just making fun of every "Idol" finalist. He's making fun of them for exactly the right reasons. This has to be a familiar arrangement of "Little Less Conversation," right? I like it. Lee still has only a limited amount of stage presence, but he's musical and talented. And Lee's vocals and guitar acumen are even more impressive and admirable after Tim Urban.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Yo. You know what Randy's loving? He's loving that Lee is in the zone. Ellen thought it was current and engaged more with the audience. Kara loved it, though she'd have liked a little more lightness and more playfulness. Simon responds, "When you say playful, what do you want? Kittens?" Simon thought it was "on the money, full stop."
Singer: Aaron Kelly
Song: "Blue Suede Shoes"
My Take: Aaron is aware that the song doesn't fit him, but I actually appreciate that Aaron didn't do one Elvis' ballads. That would have been much too predictable. This is pretty silly, but at least it isn't predictable. If you put a Care Bear in a little leather jacket, that Care Bear would have more swagger than Aaron Kelly. This is the most straight-forward, least interpreted cover of the night. It's Aaron just trying to stay afloat through a challenging theme week. On the last note, Aaron starts off miles away and wrestles it to the ground.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Randy liked the second half of the performance, but not the first. Ellen has nothing to say tonight. Kara liked that Aaron was out of his comfort zone. Somehow she thought that performance made him more current and young. Simon, thankfully, disagrees. He compares it to a high school talent show performance.
Singer: Siobhan Magnus
Song: "Suspicious Minds"
My Take: Siobhan is a huge Elvis fan and I'd like to think that somewhere there's a picture of Priscilla Presley rocking this same look. It's an oddly choreographed performance that begins with Siobhan at the top of a staircase singing to the screen. It starts off staid and I'm feeling disappointed that this is what came of a Siobhan-Lambert collaboration, but in the second half, there are runs aplenty, some nice upper register work and a few mini-screams from the "American Idol" Munch-kin. The shift at the half-way point is a bit abrupt, but I think this is still a better version of Siobhan than we've seen in these past few disappointing weeks. Nobody since Crystal has really entertained me and I'm already beginning to forget Crystal. Was this all Adam Lambert's plot to make us appreciate him even more?
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Randy liked the second half and observes that Siobhan can sing. Ellen agrees. Kara, however, is getting confused by the contract between the First Half Siobhan and the Second Half Siobhan. Simon says it was like Siobhan hopped in a time machine and went 20 years into the future. He calls it erratic and screechy and worries that she's lost her confidence. "Even I can't pinpoint who or what I am," Siobhan tells the judges. She tells them, "If I can't even label myself, I don't think it's necessary to be labeled. I just love to sing." As talking back goes, this was some of the best we've seen.
Singer: Michael Lynche
Song: "In the Ghetto"
My Take: [Darnit. I missed a Dunkleman joke because I wanted to switch my other screen over to watch JC Romero's no-hit bit. Naturally, Romero got taken deep on the first pitch I saw. And I missed a freakin' Dunkleman joke.] "In the Ghetto" *is* my favorite cheeseball Elvis ballad, one that Taylor Hicks did a decent version of, way back in the day. Michael's in storytelling mode tonight. He's got a guitar, but he's hardly using it at all. This is very, very close to an cappella performance. And he sells the heck out of it. His phrasing and enunciation are flawless. His voice is pure and true. And if anything, his elongation and concentration render the song more heartfelt and less cheesy that it so often can be.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: It was sleepy, but Randy thought the vocals were hot. Ellen's glad they saved Michael. Kara says Michael saved it well. Simon calls it a terrific choice of song and "a million-billion times" better than last week. He also warns that we're running long. Would it be a disaster if "Glee" didn't hit its 9:28 premiere time? And how could we possibly be unable to fit two performances into 21 minutes?
Singer: Katie Stevens
Song: "Baby, What Do You Want Me To Do?"
My Take: I love this song choice for the frequently confused and misguided Katie. No, she can't come close to selling the boots and leather pants (I original wrote "pulling off the boots and the leather pants" but syntax is probably important when critiquing the 17-year-old girl), but I think she sounds pretty good, at least for a while. Then she gets a little sharp and shreik-y at the end. She sells swagger far better than Aaron Kelly does, at least.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Randy's happy. Ellen calls it "a very horny song." She referring to the brass accompaniment, but clearly Ellen does not feel the need to abide my my concerns at not making the performance by a 17-year-old girl sound dirty. Overall, Ellen's pleased. Kara's also happy. Simon, however, found it "loud and a bit annoying."
Singer: Casey James
Song: "Lawdy Miss Clawdy"
My Take: Ever wonder how "Lawdy Miss Clowdy" would sound if the Counting Crows recorded it? Now we know! After doing Eddie Vedder last week, Casey James making a commanding case that he just the best '90s Tribute Band singer EVER! [Or at least he may be the best '90s Tribute Band singer since Chris Daughtry.] Casey doesn't try to rock the full stage. He goes out on a platform and the women mill around. It's a fitting end to a night of so-so, modestly entertaining performances on Elvis Night.
Randy, Ellen, Kara and Simon Say: Randy didn't see anything different, but still found it sold. That fell short of brilliance for Kara. Simon thought it was a good vocal for Casey, but a forgettable performance.
TONIGHT'S BEST: Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze were probably my favorites? Along with Michael Lynche? Dunno. I have no real passion for any of these performances tonight.
TONIGHT'S WORST: But I also have no real hatred for any of tonight's performances either. Andrew was probably the worst. Aaron was probably down there as well.
IN DANGER: I assume that one of the two people heading home will be Andrew. If he's safe, it's a sign something strange is happening. Decent performance aside, I'm going to predict that Katie is the second singer to go home, with Aaron rounding out the Bottom Three. Of the people the show probably doesn't want to lose, Siobhan might be in a little danger as well. But I'm predicting Katie and Andrew.
What do you think? Who was good? Who stunk? And who's going home on Wednesday?