American Idol Season 9: Top 10 Week

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

You guys, I just do not have patience for bad music tonight, so these kids better do well. Let's go!

Usher (who has a new album out this week; coincidence?) is mentoring for R&B/Soul week. Usher is kind of boring -- not as a musician, as a person.

Siobhan is our first performer this week and she is nervous to meet and sing for Usher. Usher gives her fashion advice, and then she sings Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire" in a horribly unflattering outfit, so that went well. Also she sings through her nose and her pitch is very, very poor. Like, at least as bad as Paige last week, if not worse. I'm serious. I don't believe she found the pitch once.

Randy notes Siobhan's pitch issues, but he approves of her sartorial choices. He would. Ellen says Siobhan glanced over at the judges when she went off pitch (was she ever on?), proceeded to freak out, and never found her way back. Kara thinks Siobhan was nervous, but she's entitled to an off night. Really? Not if it's the night I'm spending sixty bucks on a ticket to see her, she's not. Simon thought she was out of breath and both she and her outfit are all over the place. He is indignant at being booed.

Ryan invites the judges to wax poetic on when they tell contestants to take a risk, and they do, and bad things like this happen. ALL OF THIS IS TAKING SO LONG AND I WANT TO GET SOME SLEEP TONIGHT, GET ON WITH IT.

We are getting a lot of backstage footage tonight, including some shots of Big Mike trying to comfort a clearly upset Siobhan, and frankly I am a little uncomfortable.

We get Casey next, with his guitar again, and Sam and Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'." He's excited that he gets to sing the blues, because R&B is as close to that as the show is going to let him get. Usher doesn't have anything interesting to say. Casey's got a ponytail and a big grin for his performance, and it is adorable, y'all. He sings well, but still needs to learn how to move around more, guitar or no.

Randy thinks it was hot. Ellen calls Casey consistent, which is another word for boring; she also thinks it was kind of generic and he's staying in his safe zone. Kara thinks Casey has more range and he needs to show it. Simon thinks it was Casey's strongest performance so far.

Big Mike is singing "Ready for Love" by India.Arie, which is a song I actually know. Ten points for me. Usher tells Big Mike to project his energy. Like, really? Is that what Big Mike needs to work on? Anyway, I'm glad he's doing a smaller song tonight, and let us hope the gesticulating diminishes proportionately. He sings it while playing guitar on a stool behind the judges, bathed in a bright white light. Interesting staging... but what of the girls in the front pits? They must be so sad.

Besides all that, the performance is wonderful. It's the first time Big Mike is credible to me. His big vocals are generally overshadowed by what a pain-in-the-ass flashy showman he is, but here... it's great. Simply beautiful.

Randy says Big Mike is in the zone -- it may not have been exciting, but that's not necessary all the time. Ellen says it was beautiful. Kara had never heard that song before she heard Big Mike was singing it (ha!), but she calls his performance incredible, emotional, tasteful and lovely. Simon agrees with me that this was the first time he was able to take Mike seriously since the live shows began. He congratulates Mike on a terrific performance. I love when Simon congratulates them.

Didi is singing "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," apparently by Jimmy Ruffin, but in my head by The Supremes. Her session with Usher results in tears... Shocking. Usher advises her to use the emotion while she performs instead of breaking down afterward. This is wise. She sings it wearing a long, sparkly gown, just her and the mic at centre stage, and it's very pretty and quite well sung but not as interesting as I would have hoped; I personally blame the arrangement, which is still very R&B even though her voice is not. I would have loved to see it stripped way down.

Randy felt like it flatlined. Ellen boos herself and then tells Didi that although she loves her, the performance was overdramatic. Kara too says it was overdone; she thinks Didi has lost her way, and she is left puzzled. Simon says it was like swimming in jelly.

Ryan holds Didi's hand through her numbers, which is either because she is so emotional (she sang that song for her best friend, I guess -- the one who died) or because he loves her. He is always holding her hand.

Tim Urban is going to sing "Sweet Love" by Anita Baker. Usher doesn't believe Tim so he makes him pretend that Usher is the love of his life. Then he tries mostly leaving the room and has Tim sing to an imaginary lady. None of it works. I'll have you know that I had to YouTube a bunch of old Usher songs to prepare myself for this. You know, so that I could at least remember what awesome music sounds like. So, Tim is boring like beige. I think he's trying to sing to me through the TV, but I am underwhelmed and vaguely creeped out. His notes are mostly right, at least.

Randy says there were pluses and minuses: singing in tune, plus; singing waiter, minus. Randy demonstrates vibrato for Tim and sings better than Tim does. Ellen calls Tim adorable, to better aid the drinking game, but she thinks it was a terrible song choice. Kara isn't sure if it was more Broadway or Vegas, but she knows that he stripped the song of its soul. Tim seems to be growing some chin pubes. Simon knows that Tim doesn't care what the judges say.

Now we're past the halfway point, FINALLY, and Andrew is going to be singing the only choice tonight from the past decade, Chris Brown's "Forever." It seems he is giving it the "Straight Up" treatment. Usher needs for Andrew to calm the hell down and stop worrying about what everyone is going to think, and just be real. At least I think that's the gist of it; I am only halfway paying attention at this point. The good news is that the performance is wicked fun and quite well done; the bad news is that it should have come five weeks ago, because now we know he also has the potential to suck wildly.

Randy declares to us that Andrew is back! And mad dope! Ellen dug it also. Kara says he took a giant leap in the right direction, and Simon calls it miles better than what they've been hearing from him. The only problem he has is that Andrew comes across as a boring person. "Don't take this the wrong way," he says. Mean or not, he's right, and it does matter.

Katie is singing Aretha's "Chain of Fools," and I am chagrined. Pray, do not suck, young lady. Usher hammers home connection to Katie also, and fair enough. He is well equipped to pass on such a skill. Wardrobe has put Katie is a rather unfortunate formal-shorts jumpsuit this evening, but it's ok because she's singing much better than usual. Her head-bobbing and neck-snapping even works for this. I can't decide whether she's being overwhelmed by or blending well with the backup singers, but those three ladies are having such a good time I'm not sure I care either way.

Randy thinks that although it was at times disconnected, it was the best vocal of the night, and he wants her to own that. Ellen loved the vocals, but she wishes Katie had picked something more current. Kara also loved the vocal and thinks Katie fits in this R&B pocket, but agrees with Ellen on keeping it younger. Simon thought it was pretty good, but robotic and almost cold -- he calls it Star Search-y. The judges (save for Ellen) fight a whole bunch over Katie.

Is it just me or has this show been going on for days already?

Lee's turn, with the Cornelius Brothers' "Treat Her Like a Lady." Usher calls Lee's voice "incredible" and asks that he please own that. And then you've got the grey leather jacket, you've got the guitar, you've got the rasp, you've got the cute boy singing about treating a woman right -- for selfish reasons, but nonetheless -- and you've got something good here. I don't know what Simon's going to say, but I think Lee might have just had his ~*MOMENT*~. (I hope the first of many.)

Randy calls it unbelievable -- best he's heard Lee in weeks. Ellen says the night has finally started. And only seven songs in, great! Kara says it was amazing and could be on his record. Simon says he has always believed in Lee and hey, he seems to agree with me, because he wants Lee to go watch the show back on TV and realize that his life may have changed tonight.

In all likelihood continuing the trend of wonderful performances, here's Crystal. Crystal is doing something different this week but she won't tell us what, except that Usher figures out she's going to play the piano on "Midnight Train to Georgia." Usher says, "You got a real shot, kid. For real," and he means it, for real. It's a nice moment.

Crystal is clearly not comfortable on the piano, but she does an admirable job at it, and once she gets a phrase or two in and settles into it, her singing is just as wonderful as usual. She stands up before long, and I think her huge heels may actually be more of a problem than the piano was, heh. But no matter, way to soul it up, Crystal. I loved it.

Randy loves it all, all of it he loves. Ellen knows that Crystal is never not good, and appreciates how she has clearly begun competing. Kara loved the risk Crystal took and can't wait to see what she does next. Simon calls her song choice sensational, but he knew she was uncomfortable with some bits of it. He exhorts her not to let this process suck the originality out of her.

Little Aaron will be closing the show with "Ain't No Sunshine"... which I'm pretty sure is Kris Allen's, so step off, kid. Usher, however, thinks his singing is incredible, and he picks out the "I know, I knows" as a part that Aaron really needs to sell. YES. This is the KEY to this song. Usher thinks Aaron could win if he "plays his cards right."

So Aaron does the new-country version of "Ain't No Sunshine," which is fine because that's his bag, and he sings the crap out of it, at least by Little Aaron standards. I would say it's my favourite of his so far. Which is not saying a whole lot.

Randy thinks it was just alright and Aaron has even more soul than he showed tonight. Ellen: good song choice, good job. Kara liked it, but wasn't in love with it -- it needed a higher key and more energy. Simon says it wasn't as good as Lee, and it wasn't as good as it's been done previously on the show, but he thinks Aaron should be fine this week.

So who's in danger? I'm going to guess Tim, Didi and Siobhan. Let's find out the facts...

Results. Complete with Clash of the Titans-meets-Idol trailer. So lame.

Also, Ruben Studdard, looking significantly trimmer. Ryan makes Big Mike come over for comparison's sake and Ruuuuuube is EVEN TALLER than Big Mike. Yo.

Ford commercial featuring "Kung Fu Fighting."

Some results now... after about four hours of chitchat with the idols (should I capitalize that?).

Lee? Well, four more hours of talking first, and then... Safe.

Casey? Ditto (including the talking).

Little Aaron? Simon would like Ryan to know this is not Oprah. Yes, let's move on. Aaron is safe.

Siobhan and Katie: one is safe and one is not. The girl in the Bottom 3 is KatieSiobhan is safe. This is silly because Katie was finally good and Siobhan was finally terrible.

Simon pulls Ryan over for a chat and tells him he's really getting on his nerves tonight. ME TOO. And I can fast-forward most of him!

Ryan's best friend Justin Bieber is in the audience, helping him introduce Usher, who is singing his new song, "OMG." Oh hey! There's! That was nice of him to show up with his nouveau-Hammer pants.

More results now...

Didi? Bottom 3.

Big Mike? Safe, obvs, after a Ryan-style fake-out. There is much prancing around and throwing of the Seacrest.

Crystal? Duh.

Tim or Andrew? One is not safe, and that one is... Tim. Andrew is safe.

So I was 2 for 3 on the Bottom 3; not bad, not bad.

Ryan sends Katie back to the couches. I like Didi's shirt.

PLEASE LET TIM GO HOME, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Every week when I watch him sing, I want to cry because he is so boring.

You guys, guess who's about to perform? Diddy + 2 random girls = DIDDY DIRTY MONEY. I wish Sean Combs would just crawl back into whatever hole he came from. Does anybody care anymore?

All right, the person in danger and performing for the judges' save is... Didi! Alas! This is so sad! She will be singing "Rhiannon," and I feel like there is actually some suspense because who better for the judges to use their save on? All of the really awesome people are pretty safely ensconced in the arms of their fans and voters. Oh, Didi. You sing so pretty. Save her, judges!

And my DVR cuts off. AWESOME. I have changed the series recordings settings from now on, but the interwebs tell me that Didi was in fact sent home. Such a shame.

Ah well, it is increasingly apparent that the Final 2 will be Crystal and Lee. Do you agree?

Tags: american idol, recap

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