American Idol Top 10 Performance: First Impressions

You might have noticed (but probably not) that I’ve changed the title of my performance show review to “First Impressions”. I mean, my reviews are reviews but they’re always based solely on my first impressions and, although my opinion will probably change after repeated listens (especially since I’m totally fickle), it will just seem schizophrenic to keep changing it so I’m just gonna label them as such from now on.

So, tonight, Soul and R&B! Which are totally not my genres and I’m predicting a lot of snoozes (especially looking at the song list and seeing that most of them chose really old, boring sounding choices). At least Usher’s more credible than Miley as a mentor.

Siobhan MagnusThrough The Fire – Wow this is the first performance from her that I totally didn’t like at all. She was shockingly off-pitch at several points, her screaming parts were just not climatic and the arrangement was so lacklustre and boring and sounded very cheap and elevator-ish. She still has one of the best voices in the competition (and it did show at parts), though, and I really hope she doesn’t go out for this but I agree with the judges that it was totally her worst performance by far. C

Oh wow that backstage thing was so weird and awkward.

Casey JamesHold On, I’m Comin’ – I actually like this song a lot and I thought he performed it well. It’s totally in his element – he was funky, he was confident and his vocals were pretty strong. Still, though, I’m not sure whether it’s a memorable choice for a show like this but I liked it. B

Michael LynchReady For Love – So drama! It’s totally a cheap shot that he got to sit practically inside the audience instead of far away on stage. Totally worked though. Made it look so much more intimate and personal. To me, the song arrangement was a little boring but his vocals were powerful, his delivery was sensitive and heartfelt and all that dramatic lighting and positioning totally helped him. I don’t know why, though, he always churns out such great performances but nobody really puts him as a frontrunner. Sad for him. Anyway, I’m not a fan of the song but performance-wise it was great. B+

Didi BenamiWhat Becomes of the Brokenhearted – This is actually one of my favourite songs (from the Ally McBeal soundtrack all those years back, of all things). Still, I wasn’t sure this was a right choice for this stage and, while the arrangement wasn’t as cheesy as I thought it would be, it was totally weird. Didi seemed to lack energy throughout the song (and was, to borrow a phrase, a lil’ pitchy) and then just randomly exploded at the end. Not as I’d expected but totally weird. And oh man, that whole thing with Ryan was even weirder. C+

Tim UrbanSweet Love -Whoa his eyes looked crazy and manic. This song was vocally perfect for him and he actually sounded pretty good for once. Still, I think this is one of those songs much better suited to a closer, more intimate audience (like with Usher) than for a huge stage like that. It just came off totally cheesy and tacky with the overdone moves and vibe. Still, one of his best vocals so far (and that big note at the end was pretty impressive). C+

Andrew GarciaForever – Yay for him choosing the only contemporary song of the night! I don’t know why he has to look like some weird Elvis wannabe every week, with that curry puff hair. Even with the butch lesbo do’, his was actually one of the better performances of the night, for me, although that doesn’t count for much. It was pleasant, his singing was pretty good and it was a nice, chillout vibe. There wasn’t any wow factor to the song, though, and the arrangement was a bit zzz. Nice but not memorable. B

Katie StevensChain of Fools – I thought her actions were a bit rehearsed and mechanical looking and her pitch wavered a bit at times but that this was actually one of her better performances. Although it was kinda weird to see her sassing it up, she at least showed some personality and attitude (even if it looked totally faked out) and her voice was pretty solid throughout. Not a showstopper but decent for her. B-

Lee Dewyze Treat Her Like a Lady – My favourite Lee performance so far (and I’m a huge fan of his). His vocals were spot-on this week (no pitch problems finally!) and he sounded totally confident and strong. I understand how some people think he’s just shouting through the song but I thought it actually worked very well here. He rocked it out, it felt authentic and professional (in the same way that Crystal’s performances are) and he not only added a contemporary, rock edge to the song, but also put his own recognizable spin on it. Very good. A

Crystal BowersoxMidnight Train to Georgia – So she’s not hiding behind the guitar but she moved to hide behind a piano instead haha. I didn’t expect her to do this song (since it’s so mainstream and, y’know, not Janis-ish) and I was hoping that she wouldn’t be bogged down by the song choice (because it can potentially get very lounge-y and karaoke). Of course, I needn’t have worried. She totally changed the song up in subtle but distinctly Bowersox ways and she just let her vocals rip this week (although the glory notes could have been…glori-er). Totally felt like a real performance by a legit artiste during a concert. A

Aaron KellyAin’t No Sunshine -Not bad, but not great. He was confident, his vocals were decent (but still not as great as everyone keeps saying it is) and the arrangement wasn’t bad but it wasn’t memorable. I still find him boring and like Rascal Flatts-lite, just not as cheesy as I initially expected . And he chooses the most predictable, cliche songs. And he had the pimp spot too! Wasted opportunity. B

Tonight’s show was totally weird, with all the awkward back-stage scenes and Ryan’s random haggling of people and being kind of a jerk by drawing out their torture. And the performances were still sub-par generally, which makes it all the more possible that Rolling Stones night was really just a fluke. Plus, given a genre that’s seen some gems in recent years, why did everyone choose such old snooze-fests? Plus, you know it’s an odd week when Siobhan randomly does the worst out of everyone.

Still, though, there were two really great performances (from two of my faves) and here’s my ranking (cumulative, not just limited to this week’s, since you can just get that from the letter grades I gave) of the top 10 after this week:

1. Crystal – She’s always been the best performer of the entire group by far to me but just not my cup of tea; this week, she totally was that cup.
2. Lee – This week he showed no flaws for me (finally) so he’s a definite 2nd. To me, he used to be good only compared to the rest this season (and not previous seasons) but this week he’s just good period.
3. Siobhan – I know it’s probably just an off week but the fact that she could turn out such a performance at all shows that she might not be as good (although I still think she would be outclassed in previous seasons anyway) as I had hoped so she’s down to 3rd.
4. Michael Lynch
5. Casey James
6 & 7. Didi Benami & Andrew Garcia
8. Aaron Kelly
9. Katie Stevens
10. Tim Urban

I still want Tim to leave (although he does seem like a fun person) but I have a feeling Didi might be in danger. Or, heavens no, Siobhan.


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