A lot has been written in the Idol press this week about whether or not Season 9 is the worst Season in Idol history. So far, I think it has been, but not because these kids can’t sing.
No, the problem is that the contestants, for the most part, don’t know how to work the stage or perform on camera. There’s a world of difference between performing on stage with a band, and sitting in your bedroom singing to your laptop camera (I’m looking at you, Andrew Garcia.)
This week’s iTunes performance recordings, as usual, contains hits, misses and surprises.
- Lee Dewyze – “The Letter” – Wow. Awesome vocal! It’s not just Lee’s appealing raspy tone that I dig, but he’s got great phrasing and dynamics too. If only he looked as confident on stage as he sounds in this recording – Audio Video
- Paige Miles – “Against All Odds” – Even with her vocals cleaned up, Paige sounds awful. If Paige had been healthy, I think she still would have stumbled, because she only sounds good when she’s belting in her upper register. Season 5’s Mandisa had the same problem. Paige’s vocals have an unpleasant vibratro on her lower tones. Me no likey – Audio Video
- Tim Urban – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – I’m getting a major Rick Nelson vibe from the band’s arrangement of this song. And if Tim were only musically astute, he could have canned the stupid dancing and turned his live performance into a clever homage to 50’s teen Idols. The recording also misses the mark because, of course, Tim is no Ricky Nelson. – Audio Video
- Aaron Kelly – “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Aaron’s recorded performance is pleasant, but charisma free. Boring. But better than his dorky, hard-to-watch live performances. – Audio Video
- Crystal Bowersox – “Me and Bobby McGee” – Even without a major re-working of this song, Crystal manages to completely make it her own. I mean, seriously, she could record this and release it as a cover, it’s that good. Incredible tone, delivery and confidence = Win Win Win. I love Crystal – Audio Video
- Mike Lynche – “When a Man Loves a Woman” – Big Mike acquits himself nicely on this old standard. Somewhat irrelevant and old-fashioned, but a very good vocal. (Mike, I’m waiting for you to go contemporary again…) – Audio Video
- Andrew Garcia – “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – Andrew doesn’t bring anything new or interesting to this great classic. And he’s supposed to be the guy who can re-work songs in a cool way? Not here. I have a feeling Andrew had Simon’s voice in his head when he picked this one. Forget the judges, Andrew! – Audio Video
- Katie Stevens – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – I’ve got to give Katie props for choosing an age appropriate song, finally. But while her voice is pleasant, she’s just..wait..huh.. Zzzzzz. (See Kelly, Aaron) – Audio Video
- Casey James – “The Power of Love” – I’m surprised….that I don’t like this. Something happened on the way to Casey’s iTunes recording–the engineers went a little wild with the autotune, me thinks. All the wonderful character I heard in Casey’s live performance is ironed out here. Don’t do that producers! – Audio Video
- Didi Benami – “You’re No Good” – I’m surprised…that this sounds so cool. Didi’s live performance was a little….awkward. But her live recording works. Her sexy, slinky voice sounds hard-boiled and a little world weary here. Honestly, the judges have given Didi a raw deal. At least she tries something new, and I appreciate that. I’ll be giving this recording a second listen rather than the karaoke-worthy songs from Aaron, Katie and Andrew – Audio Video
- Siobhan Magnus – “Superstition” – I actually liked Siobhan’s live performance of “Superstition” this week, until she started screeching again. Well, wouldn’t you know, I’m loving this live recording! Screeches and all! Siobhan puts her own soulful spin on one of Stevie Wonder’s most beloved songs. When she hits the big notes here, they sound right. Now that Siobhan has made the Top 10, perhaps she can calm down a bit? Audio Video