This isn’t a top 10 that would be known for its soul (the them for the night). Good voices, mostly so. Stage presence and heart? Not so much.
Fortunately, Lee DeWyze gave a brilliant vocal and salvaged another so-so night. He was by far the best. Biggest disappointment: Siobhan Magnus.
The bottom three? Tim Urban again, of course. He earned it with a lounge singer take on Anita Baker with all the soul of Carrot Top. Siobhan earned it, too. She has been a favorite but she was godawful. Didi Benami also will likely land there as well, though I didn’t think it was quite as bad as the judges did.
The top 10 ranking: 1. Lee 2. Andrew 3. Crystal 4. Casey 5. Michael 6. Didi 7. Tim 8. Siobhan 9. Katie 10. Aaron
I found Katie and Aaron kind of boring and lacking connection with their songs. Youth did not prevail in either case. But I suspect they’ll both be safe.
For folks looking for modernity, there wasn’t much. Only two singers picked relatively recent songs. Guest mentor Usher brought some good advice at times but wasn’t always followed. (See Aaron.)
first up: Siobhan Magnus (”Through the Fire” Chaka Khan) – She missed notes, didn’t sound like she was really in command. She then threw off a few big screams – again. Stop it!
Randy: “It was a little all over the place for me.”
Ellen: “To start off the night with you is like the dessert before the meal. But it wasn’t your best performance.”
Kara: “Your lower register wasn’t strong enough. Every artist is entitled to an off night.”
Simon: “It sounded to me as if you’d run a marathon and singing while you were running.”
second up: Casey James (”Hold On, I’m Coming,” Sam & Dave) – He’s still a bit lethargic on stage for my taste but for Casey, this was a relatively good performance.
Randy: “This was another hot night for you. You stayed in your element.”
Ellen: “You’re consistent. You’re always good. It felt a little generic.”
Kara: “I think you have more range in you.”
Simon: “It was strongest night so far.”
third up: Michael Lynche (”Ready For Love” India Arie) – A little on the dull side but he does get into a genuine emotional place.
Randy: “Very sensitive song. You’re in the zone.”
Ellen: “That was beautiful.”
Kara: “I never heard that song. You did an incredible job with it.”
Simon: “The first time since I’ve seen the live shows that I can take you seriously as an artist. What you demonstrated tonight between being original, having a moment and being a silly little karaoke singer. You did a terrific job. I believed that performance.”
fourth up: Didi Benami (”What Becomes Of the Broken Hearted” – Jimmy Ruffin) – I find her pronunciation of words amusing, almost lisping e.g. “bwoken.” She was messing around with the melody. I didn’t think it was that bad because it was heartfelt.
Randy: “It flatlined for me.”
Ellen: “It was dramatic. I love your voice. I thought that was way dramatic.”
Kara: “It’s over done girl. This is confusing. I don’t know who you are. I’m very puzzled.”
Simon: “It was like swimming in jelly. It was so over the top. so old fashioned, so off melody. That song is actually an incredible song and has a great climax. It just didn’t do it.”
fifth up: Tim Urban (”Sweet Love” Anita Baker) – Vocally, he was in tune. Otherwise, he seemed to be doing it in an oddly cheesy way. Vote For the Worst must be in heaven!
Randy: “It had no swag. There was no vibrato in love. Put a little grease on it. It fell flat for me.”
Ellen: “There’s a drinking game every time I call you adorable. So I’m calling you adorable… That is a tough song to sing. You were mostly in key but the way you were walking like sneaking into a bedroom. We can see you.”
Kara: “Broadway times Vegas. You took the soul out of the song.”
Simon: “Like a mouse picking a fight with an elephant. It doesn’t matter. The audience will vote for you. So you’ll be back next week. Well done.”
Sixth up: Andrew Garcia (”Forever” Chris Brown) – He’s been flatlining himself lately. But he actually gave a warm, crunchy granola take on this sturdy R&B pop song. It should save him this week. I wish he would warm up a bit on stage and really give more of himself.
Randy: “Andrew is back. I like the outfit. It’s dope you took a Chris Brown song and you turned it into your own. Your best performance for me in a long time.”
Ellen: “That was an amazing strong performance.”
Kara: “Nothing makes me happier. That was one giant leap in the right direction.”
Simon: “Miles better than what we’ve heard the last couple of weeks. The only problem I have with you as a person… you come off as very boring.”
Seventh up: Katie Stevens (”Chain of Fools” Aretha Franklin) – Textbook version of this song that any pageant singer could do. She is playing a role and it does not feel convincing at all.
Randy: One of the best vocal performances of the night. You showed you have the pipes.
Ellen: I wish the song had been a little more current.
Kara: This is one of your best vocal performances. But I agree with what she said. You have to make it young and commercial.
Simon: To compare her to Christina is crazy. It was very robotic.
Eighth up: Lee DeWyze (”Treat Her Like a Lady” Cornelius Brothers) – He’s really sounding like Dave Matthews with a smidge of Chad Kroeger. Someone also said Bruce Springsteen. He sounded better than he ever has. And he almost seems comfortable on stage. Not quite but he’s improving. And voters love that.
Randy: Best I’ve heard you in weeks. That was the bomb!
Ellen: There you go! Unbelievable performance!
Kara: You brought the song into your world. Amazing!
Simon: I’ve always believed in you. I want you to go home and watch the show back and understand this night might be the night your life changed forever.
Ninth up: Crystal Bowersox (”Midnight Train to Georgia” Gladys Knight & the Pips) – She hadn’t played piano in years and you could tell she was a bit focused on that, which might have taken away from the vocal. But I enjoyed it, especially after she left the piano and just sang. I wish she had a few more big moments at the end to really let it pop. It ended too soon.
Randy: You did that song proud. I like the way you switched it up.
Ellen: You’re always great. That was another side of you. You are in it to win it.
Kara: I’m so glad you took that risk.
Simon: Your choice of song was sensational. The vocals at time were incredible. The problem was the backing vocals made it old fashioned. You were uncomfortable with the piano and overthinking it. Do not let this process suck the identity out of you.
Pimp spot: Aaron Kelly (”Ain’t No Sunshine” Bill Withers) – He is too young for this song. He has no edge but pretends to have edge. And it doesn’t strike me as sincere or real.
Randy: It was just alright for me.
Ellen: It was a good song choice.
Kara: I liked it. I thought you could go higher.
Simon: Compared to Lee as an example, the main course, that was a little like a cupcake. I’ve heard that song so many times. It wasn’t as good as last week because you didn’t believe it as much. But you’ll be back next week.
The polling from coveritlive.com. A real split decision with Siobhan!
Crystal 75% voting for sure, 13% good, not voting; 13% wants to go home
Lee 67, 33, 0
Casey 33, 60, 7
Siobhan 24, 41,35
Andrew 17, 67, 17
Aaron 14, 43, 43
Didi 14, 29, 57
Tim 13, 13, 73
Michael 8, 77, 15
Katie 8, 62, 31