I never watch the audition episodes. I took a two-week break from nearly all non-Olympics related TV. Catching up with episodes of House and How I Met Your Mother. General apathy toward TV as of late. These are the reasons why I haven't seen a minute of American Idol Season 9 up until now, with the exception of "Pants on the Ground" which I've watched 84028 times.
I haven't even been following along on the internet during Hollywood Week or since the round of 24 started. I find it pointless to read up on a program like AI unless you're also watching the show. It's not like other shows where you can read a plot summary and get caught up -- you badly need to see and hear the contestants for yourself. So I literally have no idea who any of the finalists are. I'm coming in completely fresh.
Michael Lynche. He has a soothing, pleasant voice, but not one that's good enough to carry the "money notes". He's a "top eight" talent, someone good enough to hang around while the clear weak links get weeded out, but not a serious contender to win (BTW, I'm writing these comments as I watch the show, I haven't seen anyone else perform as I write this). I see that nothing has changed with the judging this season, and only Simon can see the truth for what it is. This show is so screwed when he leaves.
Didi Benami. Here we have the Megan Joy Memorial "tall pretty blonde girl with freaky voice" Contestant. Except she's talented!
Casey James. It would be great to see a non-douchey (Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry) rocker go far in this competition. And as the saying goes, "he knows exactly what kind of artist he wants to be."
Lacey Brown. I loved the string-heavy arrangement of "Ruby Tuesday", and her half Texas twang, half freak folk voice is alluring, but she didn't show much range, and the "still I'm gonna miss you" line was a mess. This could go either way.
Andrew Garcia. The slivers of talent are there, but the choruses were a mess and it's a really poor idea to try to condense "Gimme Shelter" into two minutes.
Katie Stevens. During the interview portion, Ryan talked about how the judges had pushed her to adopt a younger, hipper style. "So what will you be singing?" "Wild Horses" I groaned.
Waiting for Simon's "beauty pageant" comment ...
Tim Urban. I certainly wasn't expected a reggae version of "Under My Thumb" from the third Texan contestant of the night. Simple, catchy -- this could be a hit. The judges are smoking something fierce if they think this didn't work. I guess they've never listened to Jason Mraz or last year's AI winner Chris Allen.
Siobhan Magnus. As far as WTF-y versions of "Paint It Black" on AI go, this one was even more screwy than Adam Lambert's last year. Her tendency to oversing the high notes is also Lambert-esque (so it's no surprise that the judges love it) and those "hot for teacher" glasses completely hide her hotness. Still, she seems like a terrific talent who had a off-week.
Lee DeWyze. New to AI: a Dave Matthews wannabe. Solid but totally unspectacular. Just like the real Dave Matthews! This guy could sell records.
Paige Miles. I have to hand it to her, it's really really difficult to sing "Honky Tonk Women" without embarrassing yourself. Minus a billion points for reversing the sexes in the lyrics ("I'm a honky tonk woman/Give me a honky tonk man"), I hate when people cover a song and do that. I think this was my favourite performance thus far.
Aaron Kelly. Wait, his mom's name is KELLY KELLY? I'm going to have trouble taking this guy seriously now. And fortunately, he makes it easier for me by wandering aimlessly around the stage to the already hideous "Angie". The kid can sing though. He needs to find a decent song though.
Note to Simon: I also have no idea what Randy was talking about when he referenced Justin Timberlake. Doesn't Randy just throw out random arists with vague similarities to the person on stage and dress it up as criticism? He does this with genres too, e.g. "I liked the rocky, soul-y, blues-y thing you do doggg" Once again, with feeling: this show is screwed when Simon leaves (although Simon's been on autopilot for a couple of seasons too).
Crystal Bowersox. She's the starcrossed kid who obnoxiously talks about writing songs about "her teenage experiences" along with a showbiz dad who never made much of himself, lives vicariously through his daughter and wants nothing more than to make her a star. Every year I write about AI never managing to find a rocker chick in the modern day Pat Benetar mold, or in more contemporary terms, someone with the look, youth, talent, and confidence that made Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne into huge stars (they came close last year with Allison Iraheta). Is it any wonder why she got the show-closing slot tonight?
Crystal HAS to be the winner of American Idol Season 9. Nobody else is in her league.
Overall, this is a really talented group, so I retract my "top eight" comment about Michael at the start. In most years he'd be good enough to hang on for a few weeks, but this year he's a forgettable 12th best. I have a feeling he's not the one going home though.
I don't think there's ever been someone as far ahead of the field as Crystal at this stage in the competition. Maybe Carrie Underwood or David Cook.
UPDATE after watching the results show: Lacey wasn't the worst last night, but hey, it's looking like a tough year. If you're fighting for second place, that is.