"American Idol": Episode 26--The Top 10 Sing

3/31/2010 Posted by Admin

"American Idol": Episode 26--The Top 10 Sing

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

Tuesday night restored my faith in this season of "American Idol." I don’t know whether the monumental sounding “Top Ten” title knocked some competitive spirit into the remaining 10, or if Usher was really that good of a mentor. I’m willing to bet, as I figured last week, that their voices and performance styles lend themselves incredibly well to R&B and Soul, and for once, they capitalized on their strengths.

The phrase I wrote down most over the course of the night was “his best yet,” which appears a whopping four times on my note list. Although during the auditions, I pegged this season as one led by the young girls, I’m quickly realizing just how male-dominated the talent really is.

One of the highest points of the night for me was Andrew Garcia’s comeback performance of Chris Brown’s “Forever.” While I was uneasy with the choice to sing a Chris Brown song, I loved the acoustic spin Andrew put on such a contemporary hit. While every contestant prior to him chose heavy, classic ballads, Andrew’s fun performance was welcome, as it lightened the mood. He proved he listened to his criticism. First, he was on increasingly thin ice as the weeks between him and “Straight Up” mounted, and second, he "sucked the soul" out of last week’s number. On Tuesday, instead of going with a heavy ballad (something that he’s proved to be weak at), Andrew returned to what made “Straight Up” so good, and gave his best performance yet.

One of my other favorites, Casey James, also did not disappoint. I felt his rendition of “Hold On, I’m Coming,” complete with a big band accompaniment, was one of the best of the night, and led to an incredibly well-deserved and lengthy standing ovation.

Michael Lynche excelled this week, but that was something I was counting on. Soul and R&B is his thing. Singing beautiful, sensitive love songs is his thing. Returning to his acoustic guitar, something that made me truly love him as a contestant, made this his best performance yet for me.

My final “his best yet” performance was also probably the best performance of the night, Lee DeWyze. For weeks, I didn’t get everyone’s fixation on Lee – I admitted that he was talented, but I didn’t think he was the saving grace of this competition. Now, I understand the fuss. After his rendition of The Cornelius Brothers’ “Treat Her Like a Lady,” Simon told Lee that tonight his life might have changed, and I agree. Now, I am viewing Lee as a serious artist and a serious competitor.

This week, I also fully got on the Crystal Bowersox train. I have been waiting for her to lose the guitar and Janis Joplin vibe and step out of her comfort zone, in part, because I was truly worried. Tonight proved I have nothing to worry about. Crystal isn’t as good as advertised – she’s better. Singing one of my all time favorite songs, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” Crystal lost her autographed guitar in favor for a grand piano. She lost her jeans in favor of a tight red dress and stilettos. It may not have been her best performance to date, but it was my favorite of hers by a mile. She took a risk, chose a perfect song, and it all paid off.

The thing that most let me down about Siobhan Magnus’ performance was what happened immediately thereafter--when the cameras followed her crying into the green room. I’ve never seen that happen on "American Idol," and I was sad to see one of my favorites feeling so down on herself, when I felt she did well. Her version of Chaka Kahn’s “Through the Fire” was likely her weakest performance, filled with pitchy moments, but I thought it still was really good. I still enjoyed myself watching her perform, and I still think she has the best voice of this competition.

While Katie Stevens may have showcased the powerful side to her voice with Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” I felt something was missing. Sure, she has a big incredible voice, but she’s singing songs too old for her while dressed like she belongs in Cindi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” music video. She needs to act her age – that’s when she does her best.

I was let down by Aaron Kelly’s performance of the quintessential "Idol" audition song, Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.” I’ve heard this song hundreds of times on "Idol," some worse, but some a hell of a lot better. While Usher paid him the best compliment of all, that he “has a chance of winning if he plays his cards right,” I haven’t seen it yet, and I certainly didn’t see it after this.

The two worst of the night were, not surprisingly, Tim Urban and Didi Benami, who will certainly be seeing the bottom of the pack on the results show. Didi may have upped the ante with the glam factor, but she doesn’t have the right voice to sing “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted,” and proved truth to her comment that she’s not an R&B singer. Tim, on the other hand, just missed the mark entirely with his performance, but as Simon pointed out, he merely has to smile and he remains safe, hence his apt nickname of “Teflon Tim.”

Joining Tim and Didi in the Bottom Three will likely be Katie Stevens, due more to her history of winding up there than anything else. Aaron Kelly could be taking that third spot, but I doubt it. Though she gave her worst performance yet, I feel Siobhan is safe from the Bottom Three territory for now. Unless Teflon Tim’s gaggle of fans pull through, I think this is finally his week to go.

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