"American Idol" was down to the final 10, who will go on tour this summer to sing to empty stadiums all across the heartlands and coasts of America.
Tuesday's night show was all about R&B… without the soul. Usher, who has sold more than 45 million records worldwide, worked with the mostly uninspired and talent-deprived group. Talk about throwing your pearls to swine.
First up, Siobhan Magnus. Usher said she had "THE" voice and a true shot at being incredible.
Siobhan sang "Through the Fire," and I felt like I was being tested. Siobhan was all over the place (and so was her outfit), as her screaming turned to screeching at the end.
Randy: "Yo. Listen, big song. I don't think it caught on pitch-wise. Still love the courageousness and conviction. It wasn't your best."
Ellen: "I have to agree with that.It's kind of like when you're hiking and miss the trail and then get freaked out about it." Ellen, at least come up with a musical metaphor.
Kara: Give the woman some pasta!
Simon: "It sounded as if you'd run a marathon and you were singing while you were running out of breath, it was all over the place. By far your weakest performance so far, and I'm getting bored by the screaming at the end."
Casey James: Usher said, "I was really impressed with him. He has a tool to go to which is his guitar." I immediately thought of Kara, who surely was thinking, "That isn't the only tool Casey has."
Casey sang, "Hold On I'm Coming." Casey had his red guitar, and he was hot. His voice was sexy and strong.
Randy: "Casey James. Casey James. Check it out, baby. I'm going to make this short and sweet. This was another hot night for you. Perfect song choice."
Ellen: "It felt a little generic." (That's like the pot calling the kettle black.) "That was a safe zone for you, Casey." (So was that feedback.)
Kara echoed Ellen. This was surprising, given Kara's crush on Casey.
Simon: "This week, in my opinion, it was your strongest week you've had so far. You took on an R&B song and it showed a completely different side of you. It sounded authentic. I'm really impressed with you this week."
Michael Lynche sang "Ready for Love." Michael was sitting in back of the judges, facing the audience, playing his trusty guitar, and I was waiting for "Kumbaya." Hey, Michael had a great voice, and he was ready for love. I was bored and ready for bed.
Randy: "Mike, Mike, I liked the guitar. It was a very sensitive song. Dude, listen, you were in the zone. It was good to see your sensitive side." I was scratching my head. Hasn't Michael always showed his sensitive side?
Kara: "You did an incredible job with that song. You got to the true emotion of the song. It was tasteful and lovely and one of my favorite performances".
Simon: "This is probably the first time where I can actually take you seriously now as an artist. Even though it was a little bit gloomy, what you demonstrated is the difference between being original and being a silly karaoke singer. You did a terrific job. Congratulations."
I must have been sleep-deprived.
Didi Benami: "A very emotional song for a very emotional young lady," were Usher's words, as he found himself suddenly dealing with a very weepy Didi. Usher became an instant therapist, hugging Didi and encouraging her to be authentic.
Didi sang "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted." I was distracted by the sequin evening gown. She looked like a young starlet with a face old and worn beyond her years. It wasn't a strong performance… it was strange.
Randy: "Yo, the whole performance flat lined for me. It wasn't great."
Kara: "It's overdone, girl." Hey, this whole show is overdone. I'm done, stick me with a fork.
Simon: "It was like swimming in jelly. It was so over the top, so old-fashioned, so off-melody, and that's an incredible song and it just didn't do it. Kara's right, and you've completely lost your way."
The highlight of the night came next, in the form of Kris Allen in a car commercial.
Teflon Tim Urban chose Anita Baker's "Sweet Love," and Usher said he didn't believe him when Tim was singing about being in love. He tried to coach Tim by having him visualize a curvaceous woman. Usher was being over-ambitious. Would it be redundant to use the throwing your pearls to swine analogy again?
Tim was sitting on the stairs and grimacing, trying to pretend he was in love. He looked like a constipated puppy. Tim's version of "Sweet Love" went sour.
Randy: "You're kind of like a singing waiter. It felt so pedestrian, so not 'American Idol' material." This comment made me burst into fits of laughter.
Kara: "It was like Broadway and Vegas at times." How insulting to Broadway and Vegas!
Simon: "I don't think it makes any difference whatsoever what we say to you Tim. It was completely an inappropriate song, it was like a mouse picking a fight with an elephant, you're not going to win. But it doesn't matter because you're going to smile, the audience is going to vote for you. Nobody cares, you're going to be here next week, so well done." Wow, Simon just doesn't give a crap anymore.
Andrew Garcia was nervous and overly attached to his guitar, as thought it were a kind of umbilical cord. Usher tried to coach Andrew to stop already with the nervousness and learn to connect.
Andrew sang Chris Brown's "Forever." I liked his voice, the arrangement, the sultry sensual way he sang it. Andrew doubled my pleasure with this song.
Randy: "Yo, yo. Yo, baby. Yo, dog. So listen. Here's what I love. Andrew is back, and here's why: I liked the outfit, the outfit is like mad dope, it's dope you took a Chris Brown song and turned it into your own."
Ellen gave another canned response having something to do with, "When you smile the whole world smiles with you." Then she figured out a way to get the word "gingivitis" in. Ellen needed a muzzle.
Kara: "One giant leap in the right direction." Kara was brief? There is a God.
Simon: "I think it was miles and miles better than what we've heard. The only problem I have with you as a person, and don't take this the wrong way, you come off as a little boring. You've got to start showing a personality." Shame on Andrew if he took that personally!
Oh no, Andrew's Momma didn't like Simon's feedback and came on the stage to have a little chat with Simon. I was concerned Momma was going to go Uzi. Simon played peacemaker and gave Momma a big hug. I wanted to throw Momma from the train.
Oh good, another Kris Allen commercial.
Katie Stevens: Why did I immediately groan? Usher said her voice was really good. " I just want to make sure you have a little pizzazz and attitude." Usher should have said, "You need a time machine."
Katie sang Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools." Hey, Katie was doing the Kara Bobblehead! Katie's vocals were great, but the performance was stilted.
I felt like I was on the Ship of Fools.
Randy: "Yo, listen. I know you're mad young, but this was one of the best vocal performances of the night. You were like Christina [I'm assuming Aguilera]. You definitely have the pipes."
Ellen: "You have a little 'Snooki Poof' going on. The vocals were great." Forget Katie. What was discouraging was that Snooki was getting yet another fifteen minutes of mindless fame.
Simon: "For Randy to compare you to Christina is crazy. It was pretty good, but I thought it was very robotic and you came over as quite cold in that performance. I wouldn't have taken on that song."
Lee Dewyze: Oh yeah, Lee. I'd forgotten about Lee. Lee had walking pneumonia. How do these people sing with these respiratory illnesses? Usher became a motivational coach: "You have an incredible voice. Don't be so critical of yourself. Own it."
Lee sang "Treat Her Like A Lady." Lee had great vocals, especially in comparison to the other contestants. Although he was still too reserved for my taste, it was his best performance yet.
Randy: "Yo yo. Lee, check it out baby. Unbelievable. Best I've heard you in weeks." Lee should get walking pneumonia more often.
I boycotted Ellen due to the Snooki Poof reference.
I boycotted Kara because she was sitting next to Ellen.
Simon: "Lee, I've always believed in you from the beginning of the competition, but you find it difficult to make eye contact, and this has been your problem, but this was the night your life might have changed forever." Simon liked Lee.
Ryan was ecstatic, "Now we have a competition!" Not really, Ryan.
Crystal Bowersox surprised by wearing stilettos. Ask me if I cared. There was another surprise, and Usher proved to be psychic. He suggested she play the piano and blew her big surprise. "You have a real shot, kid. For real."
Crystal sang, "Midnight Train to Georgia." Crystal's voice was crystal clear. She played the piano awkwardly, gave up on that and stood up to connect with the audience. And what's this? Crystal was smiling broadly at the audience in her hot red cherry dress. Oh no, a fake eyelash looked like it was about to fall off. Crystal, keep the stilettos and lose the phony eyelashes.
Ellen: "You're never not good." A big-time no no, Ellen…no double negatives!
Simon: "Your choice of song was sensational, the vocals at times were incredible. Do not let this process suck the identity out of you. You're the kind of artist, rare, that knows what they are doing. Do what is comfortable for you and don't change what's not." In other words, lose the piano and the eyelashes!
Aaron Kelly: Usher thought Aaron could maybe win the whole thing. Really? Usher, apparently, was exhausted.
Aaron sang "Ain't No Sunshine," and he started out with some gray cloudy notes. I wanted Aaron to go away.
Randy: "Yo yo, it kind of was alright for me." Randy was exhausted, too.
Ellen: "If I had that much confidence when I was 11…" Never mind, Ellen was too busy being cutesy and cheesy.
Simon: "That was like a cupcake as opposed to a main course like Lee's. However, there's no chance you're leaving the competition." I think Simon might get humbled.
So, the March madness continues….
My Top 3:
Crystal Bowersox, Lee Dewyze and Casey James
Milquetoast but acceptable:
Michael Lynche, Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia, Siobhan Magnus
Tim Urban, Didi Benami, Aaron Kelly
Since Simon predicted Tim and Aaron aren't going anywhere, I'm predicting that during the Wednesday night elimination show, Didi will be trying to mend her broken heart. Or look out for Siobhan, who just might get burned.