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American Idol: The Top 11 Fail To Impress

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I have been anticipating the week where I am able to praise every American Idol contestant's performance. This would not be one of those weeks.

The theme this week changed from "Teen Idols" to "Billboard's No.1 Songs." It might as well have been called "Songs That Have Been Previously Performed On Earlier Seasons."

American Idol season nine front runner, Crystal Bowersox.Alongside this lame theme was this week's mentor, Disney star Miley Cyrus. I already gave her a ton of grief in an article earlier this week, so I won't rehash my disdain about the decision to have her on Idol as a mentor.

However, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by some of the advice that she gave the Idols, and thought that she wasn't bad as I thought she was going to be. She still would not be my first pick as an Idol mentor.

Lee Dewyze kicked off the show singing "The Letter." As much as I like Lee, I don't know if this was the right song for his voice. I have been considering him this season's "rocker guy," but "The Letter" really is not  a rocker kind of song.

I did very much like that Lee performed sans guitar. It shows that he is not a one-trick pony, but he also needs to work on his stage movement. The way he was moving seemed awkward and uncomfortable. Plus, he needs to get his nerves under control already. I would take a wild guess that he's moving on to the Top 10, which means he would go on the tour this summer. I don't want to see him on stage looking like a deer in the headlights.

 

Lee really needs to take what the judges said to him this week about believing in himself and take it to heart. Also, Simon was right about Lee needing to make a moment for himself on the show. This song was not the song for him to carve a moment out of — especially when season seven contestants Carly Smithson and Michael Johns already made a moment with their duet of the song.

Up next was Paige Miles, who sang "Against All Odds." Out of all of the songs, Paige chose to sing the one that has tripped up various Idol contestants before her. Contestants should not even be allowed to sing that song on the show anymore.

Before her performance, Paige told host Ryan Seacrest that her big concern during her performance was not falling in her heels. I would think her big concern would be to sing and not be pitchy, but hey, that's just me.

From the first note, Paige was mumbling the words like a student giving her first public speech in front of the class. It was awful. And the judges were brutal.

Judge Randy Jackson said that the performance was terrible. Judge Ellen DeGeneres completely copped out of giving Paige a proper critique and instead pulled a Paula Abdul, where she complimented Paige on her outfit. If Ellen is going to be a judge on this show she needs to suck it up and give proper critique. Idol is not all unicorns and magic rainbows; sometimes hurricanes blow on through. I was very disappointed that Ellen decided to back down from giving a proper critique of Paige's performance. Judge Simon Cowell really let Paige have it by telling her that it seemed like she had stopped competing and that she was probably going to be in a lot of trouble on results night.

Tim Urban was next performing Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." His performance wasn't actually as bad as I hoped it would be. I kind of felt like he was doing his best impression of season three Idol contestant Jon Peter Lewis, where the vocals were not particularly strong, but moving around stage made the performance a little bearable.

The judges compared Tim's performance to something out of High School Musical. Simon told Tim that his performance this week and the week prior were "silly song choices" and that he should get some voice lessons if he wants to improve in the competition.

Up next was 16-year-old Aaron Kelly, who was battling tonsillitis and laryngitis during his performance of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing." Yes, the song has been done repeatedly since season two, most notably by David Cook during season seven, but Aaron sounded fantastic. It did sound like he was straining his voice to hit some of the larger notes, however I was just happy to hear a performance that didn't make me want to throw things.

The judges noted that it was a great song choice for Aaron. They praised him for pulling out a solid performance.

Crystal Bowersox was next performing Janis Joplin's "Me And Bobby McGee." It was nothing short of fantastic. She looked like she was having fun during her performance, and not so serious as she has looked in past weeks. She added a little ambiance by performing on a carpet that she had rolled out on stage.

Ellen and Kara mentioned to Crystal during her critique about performing without her guitar. I wonder about this, as well. I think Crystal is fantastic, but the time has come for her to lose the guitar and rock out on stage. It is time for Crystal to show America her showmanship. Randy and Simon disagreed with the female judges and thought that Crystal shouldn't change a thing about her performance style. Crystal mentioned that if she was there next week that she has something big planned.

Next up was Michael "Big Mike" Lynche who performed "When A Man Loves A Woman." It was an alright performance. Big Mike can definitely sing, but all the cheesy gestures he makes during his performances need to stop. The judges told him that he came off sounding like a lounge act, and I would definitely agree. He needs to practice performing in front of a mirror so he can work on downplaying his corny gestures.

Andrew Garcia performed Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." I think that Andrew is one Rascal Flatts song away from being the next Danny Gokey. His singing is starting to sound rabid, like Danny's voice did at times last season and it's really not enjoyable.

I agreed with Kara last night (GASP!) about Andrew being lost in the competition. I really think that he's trying to find a way to hold on as long as he can. I think Simon was also right in thinking that maybe Andrew's Hollywood Week performance of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" was an "overrated moment." I think all the praise from that performance is really taking a toll on Andrew as he tries to top it. I don't think he's going to be able to.

Next up was Katie Stevens singing Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry." This was a good night for Katie. She sounded pretty good, she was dressed like someone her age, and for once she showed some personality. The judges praised her, although Kara did say, "You still have mad pitch issues!"

Casey James performed next with Huey Lewis and The News' "The Power of Love." I could not believe my ears when Ryan said that a Huey Lewis song was being performed on Idol. I have been waiting for seasons for an Idol contestant to crack open their songbook and have at it. So, for the first time ever, I was excited about a Casey James performance. I really didn't want him to ruin a song by one of my very favorite bands.

My excitement for Casey's performance went downhill very quickly. He started the performance jamming out on his guitar, then went into the first verse, where I soon realized that Casey had decided to be an absolute sound-alike. But, that wasn't the only thing that bothered me about this performance. Casey has this classic rock and roll song and is just standing there playing guitar. If he had put the guitar down and rocked out to the song, it would have made for a much better performance.

The judges told Casey that it was the wrong song choice for him and he was trying to do a sound-alike performance. Simon told him that the song was very old fashioned, which I don't agree with, but I'm a huge Huey Lewis fan. I think that if Casey had attempted to make the song more contemporary, then Simon may not have had an issue with it as a song choice.

Up next was Didi Benami performing Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good." The judges didn't seem to like her performance, but I hope they went back and watched the show on TV, because I think they would realize that Didi actually did very well. I think she interpreted the song well and she sounded great.

The one thing that Didi did do that had me yelling at through my TV was talk back to the judges during their critiques. I will say this again, the contestants need to not talk back to the judges. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Closing out the night in the "pimp spot" was Siobhan Magnus singing Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." Her performance was alright, until that screech. Her screech is beyond unnecessary now. I miss the Siobhan that was a little more unpredictable. Putting the screech in every performance is getting really obnoxious. I really hope she bounces back next week.

Who goes home this week? I really think that we will be saying goodbye to Paige Miles, but I wouldn't be upset if Tim Urban got the boot either.

So, what did you think of this week's performances? Who are you hoping makes the Top 10 and goes on tour this summer? And how did you think Miley Cyrus did as a mentor?

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.