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'Idol' contenders can't always get what they want
Finally, it's dirty dozen time.
All the preliminary hoo-ha is over, and "American Idol" is officially underway. Consequently, with a more manageable amount of contestants to wade through, it's time to now dive in each week and employ Culture Crumbs to scrutinize the world's most popular TV show.
But after last week's voting abominations left some of the most intriguing contestants watching "Idol" from the comfort of their tear-stained apartments, I was somewhat fearful that this batch might fall short of expectations.
That coupled with the Rolling Stones Night them wasn't much of a draw, either. For every 10 Stones songs, there are maybe two with an above-average melody. That didn't seem to bode well for a singing show.
Fortunately, the talent level proved reasonably high this early in the game. (Usually it’s not until about the round of eight where the frontrunners begin to take charge.) And the show had its share of praise-worthy highlights.
But what the dozen also proved was how great a divide there is already between competitors who have the ability to surprise, and those who merely fulfill expectations.
The more I watch the series -- now in its ninth season -- the less interested I become in who "sings good." Rather, I crave drama and revelations and edge-of-my-seat "what are they going to do next" moments.
So keeping that litmus test in mind, here's how things shook out.
In the SAFE AND/OR PREDICTABLE category:
*Casey James with "It's All Over Now"
*Lacey Brown with "Ruby Tuesday"
*Katie Stevens with "Wild Horses"
*Tim Urban with "Under My Thumb"
*Lee DeWyze with "Beast of Burden"
*Paige Miles with "Honky Tonk Women"
*Aaron Kelly with "Angie"
*Crystal Bowersox with "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
In the BETTER PAY ATTENTION category:
*Michael Lynche with "Miss You"
*Didi Benami with "Play With Fire"
*Andrew Garcia with "Gimme Shelter"
*Siobhan Magnus with "Paint It Black"
By no means does this imply the latter crew sounded best. Bowersox and DeWyze certainly smoked Garcia this round -- but I know when I tune in next week they'll deliver the same basic performance. Professional, yes. Compelling, not-so-much.
The only singer who truly tanked this week was sub-Zac Efron pretty boy Tim Urban, whose version of "Under My Thumb" sounded like it was arranged by a Jimmy Buffet cover band. It's also hard to deliver lines such as "the squirmin' dog who's just had her day" as if you were strumming an Ovation at church camp.
Regardless, I still think Urban is more interesting than Katie Stevens. The 16-year-old seems better suited for a school production of "Fiddler on the Roof."
This week Didi Benami did the most with the least: the forgettable 1965 track "Play with Fire." Whereas Siobhan Magnus did the most with the most: the anthemic and still eerie 1966 track "Paint It Black." Can't wait to see what the “nice girl” and the "weird chick" come up with next week.
Bottom three: Tim Urban, Lacey Brown and Andrew Garcia.
Going home: Lacey Brown. (By no means the worst performance, just among the most forgettable.)