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"American Idol" Top 12 Performances

By admin Published: March 16, 2010

In-progress notes from Rolling Stones night. After the jump.

Usual blah blah to start the show.

Big Mike Lynche leads off. "Miss You." Seems like an odd choice, but I like the falsetto start. Oh, yes, this works. And he's working the stage. Vocal a little ragged in spots, but he's setting the bar fairly high. Of course, I would much prefer to hear him work this out for six or eight minutes, which isn't going to happen on "Idol" in our lifetime. But he does fairly well with the time allotted, however much it butchers the song. B/B plus. (Hard to go much higher for the first performance of the night.) Randy wasn't crazy when the arrangement started but "dawg, you slayed it." Ellen ask what's not to love about that, "amazing, good good good." Kara thought he conveyed the message of the song while being hot onstage. Simon thinks he's got his confidence up, but the performance was kind of corny, and at times "a tiny bit desperate." Simon and Ryan bicker.

Didi Benami. "Play With Fire." Actually not a bad choice considering her vocal style. But when she tries to act dramatic, I'm not buying. The arrangement is lethargic and this is actually showing some of her singing limitations. And it's boring. C. Randy thought "you were on fire tonight." Ellen says she has an amazing voice and "you sounded great, and you made the word 'fire' two syllables." Kara liked the intensity and the sweetness of her voice with the eeriness of the song. Simon agrees with everyone else and Didi is showing what kind of artist she wants to be.

Casey James. "It's All Over Now," originally a Bobby Womack composition, covered by the Stones. No more than adequate as Casey continues to establish his role the bar-band-boogie guy. C. Randy says he's back to the Casey that Randy loves. Ellen says "for most women" he'd set hearts racing but "for people like me" (pause for laugh) it was fantastic. Kara says "tonight you were a rock star" -- but points out the Stones didn't write it. Simon thinks he looks great but "that was like an audition performance" and not incredible; "you've got to push yourself."

Just noticed that Casey has a ginormous neck, and it makes his head look small.

Lacey Brown. "Ruby Tuesday." Oh, I don't like this. Nor the chorus. She's made the song weirdly coy, and that's not it. A little vocal force at the end, but I still don't like it. D. Randy calls it "definitely very interesting" and was "pleasantly surprised," and the most interesting performance of the night. Ellen was puzzled by the way she moved during the song -- where she chose to move and where to sit down -- and it was "a tiny bit sleepy." Kara says it was 50-50, with "some issues where you didn't hit the notes right." Simon thinks she performs like an actress, "really really precise," but "you've got to stop overthinking this."

Andrew Garcia. "Gimme Shelter." I don't know. Nice to see AG assert himself, and the instrumental backing is interesting. But like "Ruby Tuesday," the music seems hesitant -- can't match the steady thunder that drives a lot of Stones songs, especially when Keith is on game. But I found it more entertaining than a lot of other things tonight. C plus. Randy thought "it wasn't great" and "was pitchy everywhere." Ellen thinks it was his best performance yet. Kara's thing is that it was a Vietnam song and Andrew wasn't intense enough. Simon asks if she wants him to come onstage with a tank; he and Kara argue. Simon is somewhere in the middle, that he gave it 100 percent but that Andrew was better in rehearsals; he hopes AG survives another week.

And by the way, I have been listening to and loving "Gimme Shelter" for 40 years and have never thought of it as a Vietnam song. Just an amazing rock song full of ominousness. Merry Clayton!

Katie Stevens. "Wild Horses." Oh, to just take a pass without hearing it. Or at least to go and slap down all the trained seals' hands near the stage. But it's actually better at the start than I expected but she can't handle the chorus -- her mediocrity shows through. But it's a blatant appeal to the anthem-loving side of the audience. C/C minus. Randy thought it was a very strong performance. Ellen thought it started a little pitchy but once she got into it "you sounded amazing." Kara says she's never technically perfect but she was going in the right direction and it was better than last week. Simon says this is the only week when she has chosen a strong song, but she lost the emotion in the second half of the song. Also that he recorded the song with Susan Boyle, the thought of which is just giving me the willies.

I expected more songs the Stones covered, vs. ones Jagger-Richards wrote, than we have had so far.

Tim Urban. "Under My Thumb." Reggae-ish. Terrible reggae-ish. And a stupid part near the end. The little girls may think he's cute, but this is not remotely engaging. D minus. Randy didn't get it and found it weird, and didn't like it. Ellen felt as if she was at a resort; that he sounded great but it was "on the beach, laying back" and didn't wow her. Kara thought it was "something so incredibly different" and he made it his own. Simon applauds him for doing something different and thinks it's a boring song (which it isn't when the Stones do it) but it didn't work.

I am now at the point where it feels as if the show has been going for about four hours.

Siobhan Magnus. "Paint It Black." Good God, what have they done to her? Hmmm. If they ever do a Broadway show consisting of Stones tunes (maybe they have), this would be one of the numbers. She's hitting The Note again and it's no longer revelatory; it's just redundant. Not to my taste at all; I might watch it but I wouldn't care to hear it. C. Randy thought it was hot. Ellen thinks she rises above. Kara is having flashbacks of Adam Lambert and it's the best interpretation of the night. Simon concurs, although he says there are a lot of people who are going to hate it. I didn't hate it. I just didn't care about it.

Lee Dewyze. "Beast of Burden." Tricky song, and so far he isn't doing much with it. And still isn't. And still isn't. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, he's done. C minus. Randy says he did a very singer-songwriter kind of thing and "it was dope." Ellen thought it was great and he sounded great but "it was a little less than I expected." Kara says he is growing faster than anyone else and she wants to celebrate that -- which leaves something significant unsaid, much the way she seemed to stop short of fully expressing herself about Tim Urban. Simon is still wanting a moment when he will "stamp your mark on the competition."

I am going to have to play a bunch of Stones soon to clear these performances out of my head.

Paige Miles. "Honky Tonk Woman." As I recall, there's a semi-interesting Tina Turner version of this from her Ike & Tina days. This is not that. She sings it well but -- and this is not just a problem she's had -- there's too much enunciation. Remember when the Stones not only slurred their words, they were guarded about the lyrics? Some good parts, though. C plus. Randy says she did all right but wishes she had more energy. Ellen thought she sounded great -- and noted that Paige has been struggling with her voice. Kara praises the big notes and thinks the Paige we love is back. Simon asks what was wrong with her voice; Paige says she had laryngitis, and Simon is even more impressed, although he still worries that she's generic.

Aaron Kelly. "Angie." He seems out of synch with the piano. And I am hating this -- little boy singing a man's song. Much rasp, little heart, and while it's not his fault I don't like the instrumentation. C minus. Randy says he was born to sing, and likes the tender moments a la Justin Timberlake. Ellen thought it was a great song choice and that it is one of two standout performances tonight, along with Siobhan's. Kara thought it was really great. Simon thought he chose absolutely the right song, and that he sang within the limits of his vocal, and mostly in tune.

Ohio's Own Crystal Bowersox to close. Looks as if they've at least gotten her out of that Amish dress. "You Can't Always Get What You Want." A real warhorse, but I like the way she's singing it at first. Waiting for her to make it big, and -- is that it? Not yet. Oh, there it is. Likable but not transcedent, especially for a show-closer. But it's very CB, who's taking everything to church. Still, less than I hoped. B minus-ish. Randy didn't think it was her best but "I love you." Ellen thought she sang with such ease that she's been missing personality -- although she added some tonight. And CB admits she's been thinking too much. Kara agrees with Ellen, and wonders if Crystal thinks she's already got this; but she also didn't think it was her greatest vocal performance. Simon asks what she's been thinking about -- she mentions the show, her family; Simon says she came out 100 percent the clear favorite and this was the first time she was beaten by somebody -- Siobhan, to Simon.

Interesting how they're completely forgetting Big Mike, especially since he led off the show. As if the show wants to make sure Mr. Lynche doesn't run away with it -- and maybe even can be dumped in favor of the younger, cuter performances. How could anyone not looking at demographics seriously think Aaron was more interesting than Big Mike?

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