I'm glad the judges used their save on Michael Lynche last week. However, that means two go home tomorrow, increasing the likelihood of another "shocking result."
My picks for the Elvis show tonight:
- Crystal Bowersox ("Saved") - As usual, the best of the night. Her only problem is that she's performed so well each week that she doesn't get bonus points for improving over the previous week that some contestants do.
- Siobhan Magnus ("Suspicious Minds") - I liked both halves, unlike the judges. To me, the first part set up the second just as it was supposed to. I listened to it again to try to hear the notes Simon thought were off, but only one seemed to be ever so slightly off to me. My only complaint would be that she tends to get a nasal tone to her voice at times. In the top 10, she was torturing high notes on Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire". In the first top 9 (Lenon/McCartney), she gave a decent, but very boring rendition of "Across the Universe". I think this was her best since the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" (top 12), though Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" (top 11) is a close contender. She definitely peaked with Aretha Franklin's "Think" (top 20), and I'm hoping she can repeat that level of performance in weeks to come. I think that all depends on song choice and whether she can effectively work in some glass-shattering high notes without going overboard.
- Lee DeWyze ("A Little Less Conversation") - Good, solid performance with a lot of energy. All the whinging by the judges about his facial expressions is getting tiresome and distracting. Who cares? If he sings well, then he sings well. This week, he was much improved. The past several weeks he's done OK, better than most of the men. I did appreciate his boldness last week having a bagpiper, though I wouldn't have brought him down that staircase in such a melodramatic fashion (putting him off to the side would have been more appropriate). It was great to see the reaction of the judges to that stunt, though.
- Michael Lynche ("In the Ghetto") - Michael gave a very moving performance. I've always liked the melody of that song, but the lyrics (written by Mac Davis), when sung by white men like Elvis, seem patronizing and dripping of white guilt(*). Still, I don't want to read too much into Michael's choice to do that song, especially since he said the Crystal recommended it to him. Last week, I thought Michael's "Eleanor Rigby" was very good, almost great (he did go over the top at the end). I thought his changes to the original were very creative and interesting. I couldn't believe he was dead last in the vote.
- Tim Urban ("Can't Help Falling in Love") - Nice voice. There were a few places where I think he should have used his strong voice rather than quiet voice, but he showed real talent. It's a shame he was cursed with a face that makes him look confused or dull at times, even when he apparently isn't. He has been improving, which is making VFTW look even more pointless. I understand why they did, but they would be a bit more credible today if they had gone with Andrew Garcia or Aaron Kelly. Not that I want them to look more credible, mind you.
- Casey James ("Lawdy Miss Clawdy" by Lloyd Price) - Good, but not exceptional. He needs to watch his vibrato as he's going to start sounding like a goat if he's not careful.
- Katie Stevens ("Baby, What You Want Me to Do") - I'm always a bit ambivalent about Katie. The song lyrics were too mature for her, in my opinion. Her voice was great, as usual, but I've always been a bit bothered by her appearance. I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but she looks like a very spoiled girl. In her interviews, she doesn't come across as egotistical, though. And, I can't deny her voice.
(*) In retrospect, the "child needs a helping hand" meme in 1960s was a driving force behind welfare. That has translated into government institutionalized single-parent motherhood with built-in disincentives to have a two-parent household or to escape the ghetto. This "helping hand" only feeds the cycle, which is ironic since Mac Davis originally titled the song "The Vicious Circle". The best thing the politicians did in that era was to end Jim Crow, which was government institutionalized racism, but they should have left things at that.