We have to be honest here; our desks are still a little bit tear-stained over Lilly Scott’s surprising dismissal on last week’s American Idol results show. So it was with a heavy heart that we tuned into last night’s performances, where the contestants took on the songs of The Rolling Stones. Horrifying visions of Aaron Kelly or Katie Stevens singing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” haunted our thoughts, but there were surprisingly few missteps (even the aforementioned duo turned in solid performances).
We didn’t necessarily agree with everything the judges said (Crystal Bowersox OWNED the night), but, all in all, their comments were pretty much right on the mark. We’re not sure who’ll be heading home this week, but our money’s on Tim Urban or Lacey Brown. But, who knows. They’ve survived this long. Read on for the Top 12’s complete power rankings.
1. Siobhan Magnus Risk Level: 10 Payoff: 10 Total: 20
Siobhan Magnus turned on the drama last night with her haunting, theatrical rendition of “Paint It Black.” We weren’t super fans of the rendition, but the judges and the crowd loved it. The song began with a string arrangement and we couldn’t help but think it sounded like something straight out of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s next musical. Randy called it “hot” and Kara said it the “best interpretation of the night.” We’ve no doubt her quirky personality and off-beat song choices will keep her around for a few more weeks.
2. Didi Benami Risk Level: 8 Payoff: 8 Total: 16
Didi Benami seems to be coming into her own and her solid take on “Play With Fire” proved that she does have some soul to her voice. She achieved last night what she was hoping she would with her ill-fated version of “Lean On Me” a few weeks ago — with much more authenticity. The judges responded positively with Ellen calling it “amazing” and Kara commenting on how the dark arrangement contrasted in an interesting way with the sweetness of her voice.
3. Lacey Brown Risk Level: 9 Payoff: 6 Total: 15
Probably one of the most adventurous arrangements of the night, Lacey Brown turned “Ruby Tuesday” on its head with an almost chamber arrangement complete with a string quartet in the beginning. We were puzzled as to which Stones song it was until the chorus and the judges were split when it came to offering criticisms for her. Randy was “pleasantly surprised” while Ellen said it was a little “sleepy.” We think Lacey might be in trouble.
4. Michael Lynche Risk Level: 6 Payoff: 8 Total: 14
Michael Lynche had a lot to prove last night — his performance from last week had the judges, literally, in tears. And they jumped back on board the Michael train after he delivered a solid version of “Miss You.” He brought out the soul and funk in the song, complete with Michael Jackson-style falsetto “hee hees.” On the whole, the performance showed us Michael, the showman. And it was a smart move. Randy said that he “slayed it” and Ellen thought it was “amazing.” Only Simon dissented, calling the performance “corny” and “a little desperate.”
5. Crystal Bowersox Risk Level: 4 Payoff: 9 Total: 13
We thought Crystal Bowersox’s vocals were phenomenal as she took on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” but some of the judges disagreed. Her gospel-y take on the song sat comfortably in her mid-register most of the way through, but toward the end she really wailed — and gave us some genuine chills. But Randy didn’t think it was best performance and Simon said she was beaten by Siobhan. Don’t listen to the haters Crystal. We hope you go all the way.
6. Casey James Risk Level: 2 Payoff: 8 Total: 12
Casey James gave a perfectly solid performance with “It’s All Over Now.” He capitalized on his strengths with a bluesy take on the song that really made us remember what a great singer he is. He didn’t do much with the arrangement, but his straightforward version scored him some points with the judges. Kara said it was his “best performance” so far in the competition and Ellen thought it was fantastic. Again, only Simon disagreed, saying that he was hoping for “something more” from Casey.
7. Katie Stevens Risk Level: 3 Payoff: 8 Total: 11
We’ve been pretty hard on Katie Stevens for the past few weeks, but she had her best moment on the show last night with her power-ballad rendition of “Wild Horses.” It was very smart choice on Katie’s part (she probably only knows the song from Susan Boyle’s similarly slowed-down cover) and her voice sounded strong and controlled. The judges were impressed as well, with Randy calling it a “strong performance” and Simon saying it was the first time Katie “really connected with a song.” Of course, wild horses couldn’t drag us to the telephone to vote for Katie, but we thought she did a good job just the same.
8. Aaron Kelly Risk Level: 3 Payoff: 8 Total: 11
Tied with Katie Stevens for 7th place is Idol’s other resident teen, Aaron Kelly. Like Katie, we’ve pretty much hated on Aaron from the very beginning and changed our minds (slightly) this week. “Angie” was the perfect Stones song for Aaron and he displayed a good use of dynamics and control with his performance last night. On the whole, we still find him pretty darn forgettable, but he was a judges’ darling again: Simon said it was the best song choice of the night. Like it or not, we’ll be stuck with this kid for a while longer.
9. Tim Urban Risk Level: 9 Payoff: 1 Total: 10
Tim Urban tried to do the folk-with-a-pinch-of-reggae Jason Mraz thing last night when he took on “Under My Thumb,” but it fell way short. Unlike the judges (who were totally perplexed by the arrangement), we know where Tim was trying to go with this — he just never quite got there. The entire panel was pretty hard on him too. Ellen said it didn’t “wow” her and while both Kara and Simon applauded Tim for doing something different, Simon said that Rolling Stones fans would probably be turning off their TV sets after hearing the song. News flash, Simon: They never turned them on to Idol in the first place.
10. Lee Dewyze Risk Level: 2 Payoff: 7 Total: 9
Lee Dewyze didn’t do much to the arrangement with his performance of “Beast of Burden,” but he delivered some of his best singing on the competition so far. Lee tends to be slightly flat and frequently off-pitch, but last night he proved that he’s a competent technical singer, even if his performances are now verging on slightly predictable. Ellen thought Lee sounded “great” and Kara thinks that he’s “growing faster than anyone else in the competition.” Simon voiced some concern that the performance might be a bit forgettable, but confirmed that he does think Lee has an “incredibly good voice.”
11. Paige Miles Risk Level: 2 Payoff: 6 Total: 8
Paige Miles’ take on “Honky Tonk Woman” reminded us a bit of Tina Turner’s cover of the song, and she had some good vocal moments, but it wasn’t enough to impress the judges. To us, they seemed very underwhelmed, offering praise that came off as very half-hearted. Simon did say the she chose a bit of a “generic” song and that she “still hasn’t connected.” But, there were moments; and if Paige can have more of those, she might still be a contender.
12. Andrew Garcia Risk Level: 5 Payoff: 2 Total: 7
Andrew Garcia was probably the biggest disappointment of the night. After weeks of being criticized for his acoustic covers, he decided to go with a totally odd eighties arrangement of “Gimme Shelter.” This is the moment when Andrew should have tried a more stripped-down version of the song; we think he would have knocked it out of the park. We blame his failure completely on the judges, and their ridiculously conflicting advice (one minute their praising his originality, the next their criticizing it). Randy said it “wasn’t great” and Kara insinuated that Andrew had no connection to the song. Only Ellen showed Andrew some love, saying it was his “best performance yet.”