First night on the big stage for season 9’s “American Idol” contestants, doing songs from the Rolling Stones, and the nerves seemed to be in check for the most part.
Siobhan Magnus seemed to be the best of the night, singing “Paint It Black.” She had the appropriately dark look and she sang it very well and seemed very comfortable on the stage. The only fear for her is, much like Adam Lambert last year, she seems to be developing a signature “scream,” which some may come to expect (which judge Simon Cowell also said), she may come to rely on but ultimately may become annoying. She looks like a natural on the stage.
Next, if not equally as good, was 16-year-old Aaron Kelly who sang “Angie.” I’ll admit I wasn’t sure about him either for Rolling Stones, or “Angie,” but he had his best performance yet. The song no doubt will also help his standing with the young girls. He was comfortable on stage and has a very good, soft voice.
Very close behind, however, were Did Benami with “Play with Fire,” Lacey Brown singing “Ruby Tuesday” and Crystal Bowersox providing her rendition of “Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Benami also had one of her best performances, showing an angry and dark side, and Brown took a Stones song I don’t normally really care for and made me like it. Her voice is a joy. Bowersox was, as usual, very good. She got a raw deal from judges Kara DioGuardi and Cowell who said she had been kind of acting like she had the competition wrapped up already and just showed up expecting to win. She’s never given that impression. Her performance probably could have been better, but it wasn’t cocky. It also was no different than any of her others.
The next level included the likes of Michael Lynche (“Miss You”), Casey James (“It’s All Over Now”) and Lee Dewyze (“Beast of Burden”). There was nothing exactly wrong with any of the vocals for these three, but their stage performance are becoming a bit of an anchor for them. I loved Lynche’s vocals again, and he still should be a front runner, but Cowell was right about his dancing: it’s corny. He’s just too big a guy to be doing some of those leg lift moves and flailing his arms. James was also fine on vocals, not great, but his guitar act would serve him much better with a band behind or around him, not as a solo act. In the same vein, Dewyze so far has offered no stage persona. He performs terrific interpretations of songs, but I think he and several others who rely on the guitar are at a disadvantage from the fact they cannot move around the stage. That means their performance needs to be even more personal.
Tim Urban sang a reggae version of “Under My Thumb” which the judges mostly hated but was actually pretty good. From monitoring comments posted on Twitter, all guys hate him, some girls hate him, but a lot of females think he is very good looking and sexy. That will help keep him around a while, but if he doesn’t start performing he will get the boot. Katie Stevens sang “Wild Horses,” which the judges seemed to like. To be honest, I missed most of it but she really shouldn’t have made it this far anyway and should be in the bottom three Wednesday night.
Likely joining her will be Andrew Garcia (“Gimme Shelter”) and Paige Miles (“Honky Tonk Woman”). I applaud Miles for a country version of that song and she did hit some big notes despite, evidently, suffering with laryngitis all week. Garcia was just forgettable.
When the votes are counted, Garcia or Miles will be going home, and it will likely be Garcia.