After the American Idol judges spared Michael Lynche a week ago, the top nine took the stage once again, this time to take on the classic tunes of Elvis Presley. There to guide the singers was Adam Lambert, who promised to be both brutally honest and constructive in his criticism. (And he actually was.) So did the singers do The King proud? Let's find out.
First a note about Ryan Seacrest: What was up with him tonight? I swear he was slurring his words at the top of the show and he seemed on a different planet through most of the night. From slow dancing during Tim Urban's performance to comparing the talent level of his and Lambert's tongues to needlessly taking a jab at former Idol co-host Brian Dunkleman, Ryan's particular brand of time-wasting was more annoying than usual tonight.
On to the singing ... Lambert said overall that his impression of the singers during rehearsal was simple: They needed to wake up a bit. We all know Lambert is quite the showman, so let's see if he could turn some of this season's duds into dynamite.
Crystal Bowersox, "Saved"
She chose a less obvious song, but it was right in her bluesy wheelhouse. At Lambert's advice, she mixed it up and played the electric guitar, but I am not sure that made much difference. She did some nice breakdowns with the arrangement and felt totally comfortable once again. Still smooth sailing for now.
Judging the Judges: B+ Randy says he dug the vibe and Kara appreciated the drama of the arrangement. Simon said she once again made the song her own and was terrific.
Andrew Garcia, "Hound Dog"
I would have rather listened to hound dogs howl than what Andrew did to this song. Lambert told him the arrangement was boring, and if Andrew made many changes between rehearsal and tonight, they weren't the right ones. Andrew stayed true to his unique voice, but it was just all kinds of wrong on this track.
Judging the Judges: B Randy didn't like it all, and Kara was underwhelmed by his lack of energy on stage. Simon said it was lazy and that Andrew's coolness had been sucked out of him.
Tim Urban, "I Can't Help Falling in Love"
I had the scariest thought during this show: Tim Urban might win American Idol this year. He clearly has fans who have kept him around so far. If they can save him when he's bad, imagine what's possible when he actually turns in a good performance like tonight. He didn't follow Glambert's advice to end the song in his falsetto voice, but it didn't matter, as his stripped down version (and nice guitar work) was surprisingly delightful.
Judging the Judges: A Ellen compared Tim to tequila — she likes both more and more after time. Kara called it Tim's best performance ever and Simon said Tim went from zero to hero in two weeks.
Lee DeWyze, "A Little Less Conversation"
I really enjoyed Lee's version of the song (maybe because there weren't bagpipes!) and I think he halfway followed Lambert's advice to make more of a connection with his face while performing. I am more than a little peeved, though, that for two weeks straight, the judges have given blanket praise to singers who screw up their lyrics. Last week it was Crystal. Yes, she and Lee kept their composure and got through their respective songs, but it still deserves a reprimand, not a pat on the back. (Something says if Aaron or Katie had dropped lyrics, they would have gotten a talking to.)
Judging the Judges: C Points docked for the reason above. Randy said Lee is in the zone, and Kara said Lee has never gone for it vocally the way he did tonight. Simon said he nailed the song.
Aaron Kelly, "Blue Suede Shoes"
Lambert tried to make sweet Aaron into a growler, and it didn't really work. The first part of the song (with the crazy camera cuts) was all kinds of cheesy. And even though the judges asked for Aaron to go up-tempo, he was clearly better when the arrangement dropped into halftime during the second part of the song.
Judging the Judges: B Randy only liked the second half and Ellen thought Aaron didn't quite do what he was trying to do. Kara liked that he pushed himself out of his comfort zone, but Simon said he was singing karaoke and just dressing the part.
Siobhan Magnus, "Suspicious Minds"
Even though I am officially over her (see last week's recap), I didn enjoy parts of this song. (That very dated opening, however, was not one of those parts.) Siobhan was at her best when she was really getting down, but then she ruined it by going after those big notes again, and this time out, she missed a few. Kudos to her for being an individual who refuses to be labeled, but she's got to find that spark she had if she really wants to contend for the title.
Judging the Judges: A Randy said the song only came alive with the big vocals. Kara said it felt like two different people sang the song, which was confusing. And Simon said Siobhan has lost who she is.
Michael Lynche, "In the Ghetto"
Lambert's worst advice of the night: He told Big Mike to bring out a little of the actor in him. Thank goodness, Michael didn't take that advice. (Hmm, trend developing?) He did another nice acoustic rendition, which highlighted his vocals rather than his annoyingly hammy stage persona. It was a good way to come back from being saved, but also not a wow performance.
Judging the Judges: B+ Randy said it was sleepy, but the vocals were good. Ellen was glad the judges saved him and Simon said it was a terrific song choice and a million times better. (Also, I love when the judges only get 10 seconds to speak. They should always do that.)
Katie Stevens, "Baby What Do You Want Me to Do"
For me, Katie failed to bring the toughness Lambert suggested into this performance. Her big notes (particularly on the word "you") were always a little shouty and had pitch problems, but overall the song fit in with Katie's trend of improvement.
Judging the Judges: C Ellen said it was a horny song. (Come on, people, it's a brass section joke!) Kara thought Katie succeeded in proving the judges wrong, but Simon called it loud and annoying.
Casey James, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy"
Casey fell a little flat after what I thought was his revelatory performance a week ago. His vocals were characteristically strong, but Casey went back to the same old familiar tricks we've seen all season. That, and the song, as Lambert said, wasn't very vocally dynamic. I have to say, Lambert's advice was generally on the money and more of the singers should have listened.
Judging the Judges: B Randy and Ellen said it was solid, but they were hoping for more. Kara said Casey fell short of the brilliance he's proven he has and Simon thought Casey picked a bad song in a week that could have really shown off his style.
What did you think? Was Lambert a good mentor? Who is in danger of going home?
After the American Idol
judges spared Michael Lynche a week ago, the top nine took the stage once again, this time to take on the classic tunes of Elvis Presley. There to guide the singers was Adam Lambert, who promised to be both brutally honest and constructive in his criticism. (And he actually was.) So did the singers do The King proud? Let's find out.