The Golden 12

With last week behind me and after intense counseling sessions and many ugly crying jags, I’m finally ready to gain closure about losing Katelyn Epperly, Lilly Scott and Alex Lambert. Could this top 12 be full of more talent than they currently have? Yes. But it’s hardly an American Idol season without these kinds of upsetting things happening. Remember Daughtery being robbed? Remember (ugh) Sanjaya and his ridiculous hair hanging on week after week? Remember Taylor Hicks (oh, wait a second – he won, didn’t he?)? Sure, this one stings a little more. But harness your chi. Take up yoga. Breathe in….and out. In…and out. Close your eyes and go to your happy place. Okay. Now I think we’re ready to begin.

What? Boys and girls ON THE SAME STAGE? I’m not sure Bob Jones would approve. I will say this for the night…even my least favorite contestants pulled out relatively good performances tonight. It’s almost as if the power of an American Idol stylist bolstered their courage and their vocal pitches.

The music of the Rolling Stones. We all know that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Okay, I’ll ‘fess up. Basically,  I have never heard any of these songs before in my life. Well, with the exception of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” but really, that’s just because Glee remade the song, so I’m not sure if that counts? I know this causes some of you to doubt my committment to music. I know, I know. Okay, enough is enough. Let’s get down to the musak.

Michael “Big Mike” Lynche – “Miss You”
And I Quote: “It was verging, at times, a tiny bit desperate.” – Simon Cowell

So, I think I counted maybe 2(?) notes that maybe were a little off pitch tonight? But really, a very solid performance from the big guy on the big stage. I think he may be the most consistent Top 12-er (with the exception of maybe Crystal) with regards to pitch. He’s always spot on and also his dancing/moving about the stage doesn’t make me feel awkward like some people…ahemAaronKellyahem. I think he does a good job week in and week out. I gotta say, though, I’m SUPER tired of being reminded that he had a kid during Hollywood week and that he’s a new father. I mean, maybe that’s calloused, but let’s move on.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 3 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 7 of 12

Didi Benami- “Play with Fire”
And I Quote: “…and you made the word fire two syllables which I thought was gr-eat.”- Ellen DeGeneres

Gosh, I love Didi. And she BROUGHT it tonight!  No more softer side of Didi. This Didi was all edgy and angsty and stuff, but in a totally awesome way. Now, let’s bring it down to reality for a second. She definitely lost some of her words about two-thirds of the way through, but she got back on track. And…her big note? Kinda screamy. All of that said, I’m completely and totally a fan. I betcha didn’t know that, huh? Oh, but hey, Didi? Of all the contestants I’d hate to meet in a dark alley, you are NOT one of them. Your street smarts do not intimidate me. Your ability to walk and perform in high heals? A much bigger threat.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 4 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 1 of 12

Casey James – “It’s All Over Now”
And I Quote: “You playin’ the guitar – blusey, kinda firey, stone-sy, rocky…I loved it!” – Randy Jackson (Hey Randy? What’s “stone-sy”?)

Dear Casey delivered just the right amount of family, heartwarming story and humility in his intro video- the perfect recipe for an American Idol contestant. Just add water!

Here’s the thing, though. On stage, Casey looked like he couldn’t be bothered to do anything but stand at his stationary mike and sing the song. Sure, he was holding a guitar, but he seriously only had one hand on it through the first portion of the song and didn’t really do anything interesting with it until the very end! Dude! Move around. Crack a smile. At least make us think that you love to perform! Maybe put a little meaning into the song? I mean, I don’t think we’re asking too much. Let us also say “Holy height difference, Batman!” Ryan and Casey really are not the same height. I’m just sayin’. Two more weeks and we’ll find out what’s in the pre-performance ritual box!

Top 12 Performance Rating: 9 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 5 of 12

Lacey Brown – “Ruby Tuesday”
And I Quote: “You like to sit on the edge of things…don’t go to the Grand Canyon.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Aha! Now we know the secret to Lacey’s success. It was all those church dialers. It was also at this point in the show, that I noticed the theme of the intro video was “wear your favorite beanie”. I’m sure Paige Miles felt right at home. Whilst watching the intro video I realized something else…Lacey always talks in her customer service phone voice. Do you know what I mean? She’s always trying to sound sweet, or something. Now, don’t get me wrong, being sweet is a noble goal. But for some reason her voice (speaking and singing) rubbed me the wrong way tonight.  One things is for sure, though, the girl can SMIZE (smile with her eyes)! Tyra would be proud.

Pitch was a little bit of a problem, here, but what was more troubling to me was that the tone I used to find charming and unique magically turned whiney. And DOES SHE OR DOESN’T SHE HAVE A SOUTHERN ACCENT? I’m at a loss here folks. I will give her major props for using the strings as a part of her arrangement. I liked that idea.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 11 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 8 of 12

Andrew Garcia  – “Give Me Shelter”
And I Quote: “Did you want him to come on stage with a tank or something?” – Simon Cowell

Who would like to leave all the references to his arrangement of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” in the past? Oh, everyone. Okay, great.

I really like Andrew’s voice. I think it’s unique, easily identifiable and comes in a nice, quirky bespeckled package. Here’s my problem with this performance, though…I think he needed more power to sing this song super convincingly. Also, he had as hard of a time holding onto the pitch as he would a greased pig, but that slippery pitch seems to plague many contestants in our Top 12.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 7 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 6 of 12

Katie Stevens – “Wild Horses”
And I Quote: “First of all, I almost wore that…” – Ellen DeGeneres

I got really excited at first because I thought I knew this song. Turns out, I was thinking of “Wild Angels”. Verrry different. After watching Katie watch and re-live an old home video where she sang “From this Moment” at a wedding with an unidentified taller boy, I am reminded why even if I had a hope to make it on the show, I’d turn it down. I have too many videos like this that could be used against me. Yikesamola. Also, Katie? Connecticut IS on a map. See below. The chorus pitch took a turn for the worst, but maybe if we all send flowers it could recover? I’m amazed that any sound could come from her at all with that hideous necklace weighing her down. Probably one of Katie’s better performances, but I found it pretty boring.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 10 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 11 of 12

Tim Urban – “Under My Thumb”
And I Quote: “I’m going to boo myself first. Boo.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Wow, what a difference a few weeks with a vocal coach makes, right? This was definitely Tim’s best performance so far, but I think that’s because his reggae version of the song gave him shorter phrases that he could finish fairly well. I’m not convinced that he can carry a longer phrase through, yet. I do think, as a rule of thumb (get it? :)), that reggae is probably usually the WRONG flavor to give a song. Sure, he’s probably not adopted the entire Rastafarian culture, but still. It did take me back to the movie “Cool Runnings”.

Also, did anyone else see the “I’ve got Urban Fever” sign that someone in the audience was waving? That’s pretty funny.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 12 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 10 of 12

Siobhan Magnus – “Paint It Black”
And I Quote: “I mean, it’s almost like you’re going to have to scream at the end of every song. But it kinda works…” – Simon Cowell

Whoa. This performance shines just like a nugget of gold in a 40’ers pan of water and silt. Siobhan’s version of the song was dark, eery and well-performed. Descending  the Adam Lambert stairs leading to…somewhere (maybe stardom?)… Siobhan had the look, the sound, the arrangement – it all came together and really made me look beyond all her monotone, glass blowing quirkiness and just see the amazing talented person that she is. Okay. Warm and fuzzy moment over. But seriously. Wow. The ending was BRILLIANT. (The big note wasn’t my favorite, though.)

Top 12 Performance Rating: 1 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 3 of 12

Lee Dewyse – “Beasts of Burden”
And I Quote (x2): “I coulda sounded like a duck and it wouldn’t have mattered.” – Lee Dewyse about his family’s reaction to his singing as a kid.

“It almost didn’t come together like a, like a hospital gown. I felt like it was almost here…but it was a little less than I expected.” – Ellen DeGeneres on expecting a tiny bit more from Lee on Rolling Stones night.

Where do people come UP with these song titles?! Beasts of Burden? Hmm. Sounds…uplifting.

Aw, Lee. I’m so glad he’s gracing the stage this week. I liked seeing his parents on the intro video, but I loved their thick-as-butta’ midwest accent more. Priceless. I love the quality of Lee’s voice and check it out! He’s actually PLAYING the guitar throughout the performance. What a novel concept. His was one of my favorite performances of the night, but let’s face it…no one could touch Siobhan tonight. That said, I really hope he makes it through to the next round. And judging by the amount of girls screaming during his intro interview with Ryan, I think he just may.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 5 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 2 of 12

Paige Miles – “Honky Tonk Woman”
And I Quote: “Well, if you’re into the honky tonk women, you can vote for Paige.”- Ryan Seacrest

I don’t think it’s any secret that I dislike Paige Miles and each and every performance that she’s given up to now. It infuriates me that Simon is always rushing to her defense when we haven’t seen a SINGLE PERFORMANCE that has blown away the competition and the fact that she used the death of Michael Jackson to explain why she struggling to hold it together on stage last week. Thank goodness Mick Jagger is still alive (he is, isn’t he?) or we might have had a problem this week, too. My friend Todd said that I should call her “Paige-ignites-my-rage Miles” and he’s right. But I’m going to try to give her the benefit of the doubt. First, though, can we just address the awful vibrato? Todd identified the problem perfectly – she has a vibrato that gets in the way and it’s interesting on short notes but gets annoying really quick on long notes.

If I’m keepin’ it real (as Randy would have me do), her performance was her best so far. I’m impressed that she delivered that kind of a performance without rehearsing due to laryngitis. Heck, if I have a cold I have a hard time not sounding pitiful! In her intro video, Mama Miles told us that people would come to church on the Sundays that Paige was singing and that totally reminded me of Sister Act.

I think that’s as much as I can do for now. Baby steps, people.

Top 12 Performance Rating: 6 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 12 of 12

Aaron Kelly – “Angie”
And I Quote: “Are you trying to do your hair like mine now? You trying to copy me?”- Ellen DeGeneres

Okay, Aaron’s connect with his adopted mom almost made me cry. He’s a sweet kid and he does have a good voice…for a 16-year-old. My problem with him is just that I think he’s not quite ready for the big stage. That said, when he stepped on stage I wasn’t thinking about his voice, I was completely distracted by his hair! I know, I know. I’m shallow. But seriously! It’s not even a faux hawk because it was kinda lopsided. It looked like the stylist was going for a carefully disheveled look and then decided to do a faux hawk moments before he took the stage. Is anyone else with me here? The hair did, though, make him seem a little more contemporary and if the stylists and their product can get it together for next week (if he’s here), it might really work for him.

This, too, was my favorite performance by Aaron. I think he was much more in tune this week than the previous weeks, but Randy is SMOKIN’ something to consider him even remotely Justin Timberlake-like. C’mon, Randy! That said, if Aaron can get more comfortable with himself and refrain from doing his patented stiff sway move that we’ve come to associate with him, I think he could improve drastically. Time will tell!

 Top 12 Performance Rating: 8 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 9 of 12

Crystal Bowersox – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
And I Quote: “Stop thinking. No one should think. Remember that, kids.”- Ellen DeGeneres on Crystal’s tendency to overthink her performances.

This is the first week that I’ve really connected with Crystal’s performance. I mean, I know she’s wicked talented and the front-runner in the competition, but I’ve never really enjoyed her song choice or style up until now. Maybe because I didn’t know the songs she was singing before now? But thanks to Glee, that was not a problem this week. I totally dug her cool, relaxed and earthy take on this song and also appreciated that she seemed to show a little more of herself in the intro video with her dad and her interaction with the judges. Crystal could win me over yet!

 Top 12 Performance Rating: 2 of 12
Amy’s Rating: 4 of 12

One last thing. 

I think we all know how I feel about Ryan Seacrest. He is hands down the best reality tv show host…he makes me laugh, he’s dorky when he’s trying to be cool, he takes what these off the wall contestants give him and makes it funny, the list goes on and on. And on a live show where anything can happen? This is where Ryan shines. I feel the need to give him a major shout out for making this show about the contestants, but making it a fun ride for us along the way. After all, tonight made the stage his own and delivered a pitch perfect performance.

Ry-Ry Moment #1:  After Big Mike performed, Simon critiqued his dancing as being corny. When Ryan took the stage to stand by Big Mike’s side and give out his voting digits, he asked Simon what part of Michael’s dancing was corny and what part of the performance was desperate. Simon replied asking Ryan “Do you want me to talk to you or to Michael?” Ryan promptly descended the stairs down to the judging panel table and leaned over the table to look Simon in the eye and said “I’m actually trying to help him out a little bit, Buddy, because I want him to stay in the competition. You okay with that?” Awesome.

Ry-Ry Moment #2&3: In a segment I like to call “Pop quiz with Ryan Seacrest”, Ryan gave two contestants a pop quiz.

– Ryan to Katie Stevens: “Who’s the lead singer [of the Rolling Stones]?” Katie to Ryan: [small pause] “Mick Jagger?” In a pass/fail scenario, Katie passes.

– Ryan to Lee Dewyse (by the way, the look on his face throughout this was awe.some.): “I always think it’s crazy how many paint colors they have…so I went onto the website of your old store. And do you know what ‘Snugglepuss’ is, what color that is? What family?” Lee: “No. Purple.” (correct!) Ryan: “How ’bout ‘Cupid’s Dart’? That’s a paint shade.” Lee: “It’s gotta be red.” Ryan: “It’s a light purple. One out of two ain’t bad.” Amy: “Okay…one out of two is 50%, which if I remember correctly is FAILING. But really, who can blame Lee? Ryan picked two shades of purple and I think that’s kind of a tricky way to go about it.”

This post is already over 2700 words, so to show a slight respect for your time, I’ll end here. See you on results show night! (And by “see”, I mean I’ll be watching it and you should too.)

Haddock, out!

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4 thoughts on “The Golden 12

  1. Susan says:

    So, I’m utterly distracted by your nugget o’ gold comment. 40’ers? Seriously? At first I thought “Okay, she’s not from CA. Maybe there’s a lesser known gold rush that happened in 1840 or 1940 or even 1740.” I googled it. Klondike Gold Rush? Nope. That was 1897. The Diggers of Australia? Nope – 1851. The Cariboo Gold Rush of British Columbia? Strike 3, you’re out. That was in 1861. Were you trying to refer to the ladies and gentlemen of the California Gold Rush? Anyone who’s been to San Francisco knows those guys are called the 49’ers (you know, the tiny little NFL team, to whom your beloved Broncos lost by 1 point back in August ’09). “40’ers” doesn’t even roll off your tongue, while 49’ers – now that’s music to my ears. Speaking of music, I’ll simply refer you to the first 15 seconds of the great ballad about Clementine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efVt4B6W4UI&feature=related

    Just keepin’ ya honest, Haddock 🙂

  2. Brooke Hamilton says:

    Oh, Amy, the Bob Jones reference just cracked me up. As did the “40’ers”! I do have to tell you that I literally slid off the couch trying to get away from that last note of Siobhan’s.

  3. Brooke Hamilton says:

    I forgot, I spent the whole night saying, “I didn’t know that this was a Rolling Stones song.” Until Colin told me that I was embarrassing him.

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