It could have been disastrous and cringe-worthy on Tuesday night, when FOX’s American Idol featured the Top 12 contestants singing songs from The Rolling Stones. But, for the most part, things went better than expected.
It’s always a risk when Idol hopefuls take on a musical genre outside of their comfort zone- especially when they attempt songs by one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time. I knew from the onset that a few of the contestants (Crystal Bowersox, Lee Dewyze and Casey James) would probably do okay with the Rolling Stones theme. The others, I wasn’t so sure about. But the stakes were high for the Top 12 and their performances showed it.
Michael Lynche, 26, Astoria, N.Y.- “Miss You”
Everything this guy touches turns to gold and this week was no exception. Big Mike’s rendition of this 1978 hit was genius. He gave it a bluesy spin and made the song his own. While most of the judges liked Lynche’s take on the song, Judge Simon Cowell viewed it as “corny” and “verging on desperate”.
Didi Benami, 23, Los Angeles- “Play With Fire”
This song is already slow and she slowed it down even more, but Didi performed a beautiful version of this 1965 ballad. Judge Kara DioGuardi liked the “sweetness” of Didi’s voice with the darkness of the song. I couldn’t agree more.
Casey James, 27, Fort Worth, Texas- “It’s All Over Now”
Whenever hunky Casey James brings his electric guitar out he gets a crazed look in his eyes. He put a total rockabilly spin on this tune and it worked. And with his electric guitar in tow, he made sure his guitar playing didn’t over power the song. He even got back in Kara’s good graces this week.
Lacey Brown, 24, Amarillo, Texas- “Ruby Tuesday”
This was a quirky performance that viewers either loved or hated. Brown was accompanied by a string quartet, which was interesting. She also changed up the arrangement of the song, adding a quick “Still I’m gonna miss you” at the end of each chorus. Didn’t work for me, but I still like Lacey.
Andrew Garcia, 24, Moreno Valley, Calif.- “Gimme Shelter”
The biggest shocker of this one was that Garcia didn’t have his guitar. He really belted out this song from the 1969 Let it Bleed album. But then Kara went into analyzing the song’s meaning (“War! Children! “) and concluded that Garcia had no connection with the song. Simon asked her if she expected Andrew to come on stage with a tank. I love Kara but why does everything have to be so literal with her when it comes to song meaning? Just let the guy sing. I thought Andrew did great.
Katie Stevens, 17, Middlebury, Conn- “Wild Horses”
I knew someone would sing this song, and sure enough, Katie grabbed it. It’s likely one of the few Stones songs the 17 year old actually knows (Simon pointed out that recently produced Susan Boyle’s hit version of it and you can hear the Sundays version in any grocery store). Katie’s deep voice worked well with the song and the judges all liked it.
Tim Urban, 20, Duncancville, TX- Under My Thumb”
Tim Urban took a major risk this week. He decided to do a reggae version of one of the dullest Stones songs in history. It didn’t work. At all. It will be a surprise if Urban isn’t the one sent home tonight. But then again, he does have the Joe Jonas vote going for him.
Siobhan Magnus, 20, Marstons Mills, Mass.- “Paint It Black”
Last week I speculated Magnus would sing this dark tune during Rolling Stones week. Is she that predictable already? Doesn’t matter. She nailed the song. Magnus started out slow then busted it out in the second half of the song. She was sure to put in a long note/scream at the end. Simon called it “the standout performance of the night”.
Lee Dewyze, 23, Mount Prospect, Ill.- “Beast of Burden”
I was so looking forward to Lee’s performance, but it was a little disappointing. He took a bland song and made it even more forgettable. Simon accused him of playing it safe. But Lee has one of the best voices this season, so his fan base will likely save him.
Paige Miles, 24, Houston, Texas- ” Honky Tonk Women”
This was a very unexpected song pick, in my opinion. And it was goodbye goody two-shoes, as Paige stepped it up. She sang her heart out on this Stones classic, even though it was later disclosed that she had laryngitis and hadn’t even gotten a real rehearsal in!
Aaron Kelly, 16, Sonestown, Pa.- “Angie”
Here was another surprise. Aaron Kelly proved why he deserves to be in The Top 12 (I had almost forgotten) when he performed a memorable rendition of one of my favorite Stones songs. Randy compared him to Justin Timberlake. While I wouldn’t go that far, I’d say this kid has a lot of potential and could be a star someday.
Crystal Bowersox, 24, Toledo, Ohio- “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
In one of the most anticipated performances of the night, Crystal Bowersox performed a country- twinged version of this song, another classic from the 1969 album, Let It Bleed. As usual her performance was good, although the judges accused her of being a little too confident that she “has it in the bag”. Bowersox denied that. As a tribute to axed contestant Lilly Scott, Bowersox wore a feather in her hair. All in all, a great end to a really good performance episode.
Wednesday night is the results show when one Idol hopeful will be sent home.
You can catch the next episode of American Idol on Wednesday night at 9:00 PM ET/PT on FOX.
American Idol, FOX TV, March 16, 2010