Thursday, April 01, 2010
AMERICAN IDOLS LATEST....
American Idol" lost yet another female contestant with the elimination of Didi Benami Wednesday night. For those of you keeping count, that's the third consecutive week since the finals began that America has voted to send home a woman. For a season that was touted by many as a year for the girls, it's been the boys, overall, who've had the stronger showing.
More: Watch "Idol" highlights | The worst of the best on "Idol" | View the top 10
The Tennessee native had initially impressed the judges during the semifinals with her intimate, coffeehouse-appropriate performances. But when the contest moved to the big stage, the 23 year old struggled, often over-singing her way through poor song choices. Her version of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" Tuesday night was a pageant-y mess, compelling Simon to call it "so over-the-top," "so old-fashioned" and "so off-melody."
After learning that she received the lowest number of votes this week, Didi tried gamely to sing her way back into the competition with a delicate rendition of "Rhiannon." But it was too little, too late for the judges, who, led by Simon, opted not to implement their Save. Joining Didi in the bottom three this week were teenager Katie Stevens and Vote-for-the-Worst sensation Tim Urban, who managed to escape elimination yet again.
Here's a breakdown of the remaining contestants:
Game change?: Without a doubt, this week's standout performer was Lee Dewyze, whose freewheeling, soul-heavy version of "Treat Her Like a Lady" absolutely floored the judges and finally caused a shake-up at the top. So much about this Illinois native reminds me of David Cook. First, there's the growling, rock-friendly voice. And then, there's the unassuming, hard-working Midwest manner. It remains to be seen whether Lee can capitalize on this momentum and emerge as the juggernaut that Cook ultimately became, but it's clear the judges, namely Simon, have really turned the corner on this guy. Joining Lee at the top is Crystal Bowersox, who remains the prohibitive favorite. Like Simon, I'm not convinced that this folk rocker needs to glam herself up and completely abandon her hippie-ish ways, but it sure was fun to see the Ohio native play around with her act this week. If Crystal shows up next Tuesday night with her acoustic guitar and without the stilettos, I wouldn't be disappointed.
Coming on strong: "Idol" viewers generally agree that the Miley Cyrus-as-mentor experiment was pretty much a huge failure. After all, last week's performances, top to bottom, were among this season's worst. Tuesday night, however, was a dramatic improvement. You've got to believe that many of the contestants -- the men in particular -- were buoyed by the positive energy of Usher, this week's guest mentor. Take, for instance, Casey James, who is finally showing signs of real bravado and swagger under the lights. Gone, suddenly, is the sensitive, little strummer-boy act from weeks ago. And in its place, we're seeing, thankfully, a budding frontman. No doubt inspired by the easy rapport he shared with Usher, Michael Lynche turned in this week's most heartfelt performance with "Ready for Love." Sure, Big Mike hasn't shown much variety with his song choices, but his velvety, Ruben Studdard-esque vocals are still a cut above most. Now, if only he could sing something that we're not likely to hear at a dentist's office.
Keep it simple: It was only a matter of time before Siobhan Magnus made a misstep. The Massachusetts native remains one of the frontrunners, but she demonstrated some uncharacteristically pitchy moments in her version of "Through the Fire," a song choice that was perhaps too overambitious. Since she's already a favorite of the judges and viewers, Siobhan could probably benefit from reining things in a bit and taking smarter risks, both vocally and with her wardrobe. She doesn't need to expend any extraneous energy in convincing us that she's got a huge voice and that she marches to the beat of a different drummer; we definitely get that. We just need her to focus on the singing and regain her confidence. And as for her now trademark vocal scream? Siobhan should hold off on that for a while … and save it for top four week.
Back on track: Just when seemingly everybody was ready to quit on him, Andrew Garcia turned in his strongest performance yet and reminded viewers just exactly why so many in "Idol" nation were so charmed by his humble background and his gritty voice to begin with. Based on his obvious comfort level this week singing Chris Brown's "Forever," Andrew should probably stick to R&B and forget about all the too cute pop send-ups he's been swinging (and missing) with the last few weeks. As for his other task, the California native needs to overcome his shyness immediately. When your mother shows more personality than you on national television, it's time to start worrying.
Lying in wait: So much has been written about the other contestants of late that it's been easy to overlook teenager Aaron Kelly. He's enormously polite, consistently good and seems thrilled every time he hits the stage. It's just that the teenager, this season's youngest, has yet to deliver a breakthrough performance. Something tells me, however, that Aaron will get his turn to shine at some point and American will have a collective "aha!" moment. Just when exactly that happens, nobody knows. But we have time to discover more about this likable, earnest young talent. As Simon often has reminded us, there's not a chance he's going home anytime soon.
Keep your bags packed: For the second consecutive week, Katie Stevens landed in the bottom three. She's tried her best to remain dutiful to the feedback of the judges, but at this point she just needs to pick a musical direction and commit, whether it's R&B-pop, as Kara has suggested, or otherwise. Whatever it is, this winsome teenager, the darling of Connecticut, just needs to stop over-thinking things and buckle down. All of the incessant questioning (from herself and others) about her musical style has just detracted from the fact that she's got a straight-up lovely voice. And what more is there to say about Tim Urban, who finds new ways to stave off elimination? Last week, it was some self-confident mugging with the audience. And this week, it was his grace under fire. Weathering a veritable barrage of harsh criticism from judges, Tim responded by not whining, wilting or getting argumentative. Instead, Teflon Tim flashed a couple of quick nervous smiles that completely disarmed Kara and only made Simon smirk with amusement. With his ease in front of the camera and his genuine charm, Tim has clearly managed to make an impression on the Brit, even despite the considerable vocal limitations. That said, expect Tim to continue to ride the bottom three train for yet another week.
It's your turn to sound off. Did America send home the right contestant? And more importantly, who's the next to go?