Well, here we are with the Idol Top 12. It’s a Rolling Stones theme night. Will the performances make Keith Richards roll over in his grave? Wait, he’s not dead yet? Are we sure about that? Does he at least sleep in a grave?
On with the show!
First up is Michael, who gives an 80s R&B, Jeffrey Osborne feel to “Miss You.” It was an interesting, and not unpleasant, arrangement, and his vocals were fairly smooth. But I don’t think any Puerto Rican girls are gonna come around at 12 that are just dyin’ to meet him. 6
Next we have DiDi, who will perform “Play With Fire.” She delivers it with a slow, if somewhat melodramatic, urgency, and kept her vocals in control through most of it. I like the choice and the arrangement here, and she didn’t do anything to hurt her chances. 7
Casey is up third, with “All Over Now.” Is he the first guy to play slide guitar on Idol? That’s a nice surprise. It’s a pretty straightforward version of the tune, bluesy and country, and as far as former Idol contestants, he’s like the bastard love child of Bucky Covington and Bo Bice. Not adventurous, but enjoyable, with vocal a well suited to the material. 7.5
Here comes Lacey, performing “Ruby Tuesday.” The strings sound nice, but as far as versions of “Ruby Tuesday” go, I think the one with the big salad bar comes out looking better. Not a strong vocal. Obviously, I have nothing against a good twang, but hers was well pronounced here, and a talky delivery didn’t help. (“stillI’mgonnamissyou” sung/spoken like a drunken elf) And then she sat down for the bigger notes, which just didn’t hit. First big miss of the night. 4
Andrew will do one of my absolute favorite songs, “Gimme Shelter.” Maybe it’s just because I love this song so much, but that was pretty terrible. You can tell there’s a gravelly, bluesy voice in there somewhere, but Chtulu help me, I actually agree with Kara here. This was delivered with a minimum of passion and intensity, and this tune really needs it. Not good. 4
Katie has chosen “Wild Horses,” which I was kind of dreading as a selection, because it can fall into such listless cliché. It wasn’t a great vocal performance, but it wasn’t terrible either. A missed note here and there, and the melody kind of came apart at the end. Just “okay?” 5
Tim is doing “Under My Thumb.” He’s giving a calypso, busking vibe with a warbly vocal. Oh shit, do we have another Castro here, with only a slightly less annoying haircut? Tween girls will swoon, and I will slash my wrists. WIPEOUT. 2
Next is Siobahn, performing “Paint It Black.” Well, that was interesting. She gave the tune a dramatic spin (will this be known now as “Lambertesque?”), made the most fascinating arrangement choices thus far, and went to town, wailing on the close. Sure to be divisive, but my only complaint was that she wasn’t more aggressive in her phrasing in the middle of the song. 8
Lee will give us “Beast of Burden.” It’s a pleasantly low key performance, and winning compared with previous coffeehouse takes. Probably because the vocal is more heartfelt, if not 100% technically proficient. Not a showstopper, but charming. 6
Here comes Paige with “Honkey Tonk Women.” I don’t know if it’s just my local feed, but the band doesn’t come across very loud here, which sucks a bit of energy from the song. Despite that, Paige puts down a strong, smoky vocal. (which it turns out, was due to laryngitis). The choice and arrangement, from what I could hear, was pretty de rigueur. Not bad at all. 6
Aaron will do “Angie.” Another song, like “Wild Horses,” in the Stones catalog that I’m not crazy about. I was hoping for some more uptempo, provocative choices, but oh well. What the fuck is it with guys today and the little hair gel upsweep? That is so irritating. It’s like a giraffe bent down and licked their whole heads, and they said “this looks great!” That song is twice as old Aaron, but it was a smart choice for him. It was convincingly delivered, and right in the sweet spot for what seems like a narrow vocal range. 7
Finally, in the Pimp Spot, is the only contestant I’ve heard anything about prior to tonight, Crystal. She’ll be doing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Wow. I guess there’s a reason I knew something of her. She’s fucking terrific. Confident, personable, and vocally ahead of much of what I heard tonight. A great, bluesy and sassy performance. (and evidently, not one of her best?) I look forward to seeing more of her. 8
And week one is in the books. Honestly, given some of the buzz leading up to tonight, I was expecting much worse.
With regard to the cast and crew, was it just me or was Seacrest overly unctuous and flat tonight? Ellen was a pleasant surprise, funny, observant and to the point. Simon was his usual self, and the best part of the panel of course. Kara actually made sense (color me shocked, too), and Randy was as always, an extra appendage, but not quite so molten hot dawgie incomprehensible as last year.
TNRLM Top 3: Crystal, Siobahn, Casey
TNRLM Bottom 3: Lacey, Tim, Andrew