brent johnson is frustrated with the current season of american idol, in particular, the latest, top 12 determining show
Two nights ago on American Idol, I watched this season’s oddest performer deliver something stunning: the season’s best performance.
Siobhan Magnus — a quirky woman who literally is a glass blower by profession — sang the Animals’ 1964 classic ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ … first a capella … then with just a guitar backing … then with swirling strings and belting vocals. It was different, it was exciting.
But Simon Cowell — usually the clever voice of reason on the show — hated it. And it got me thinking: Something is off this season. ‘Idol’ just doesn’t seem right anymore.
Last night confirmed it. America voted, and out the door went the versatile Katelyn Epperly, the pleasantly husky-voiced Alex Lambert and the interesting, genre-bending Lilly Scott (a contestant I fell for because she had the balls to sing The Beatles’ ‘Fixing A Hole’ on ‘American Idol’). These were three contestants whose talent clearly stood out. Three contestants who I thought had a good shot to make the Top 5 — if not win. But America didn’t want them in the Top 12.
Some of the people they did keep around? The wooden, off-key Tim Urban (who delivered a solid acoustic rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ last week, but still is the show’s worst contestant). The dull Paige Miles. The too-young Katie Stevens. The horribly cliched and way-too-young Aaron Kelly. And Casey James — a long-haired would-be heartthrob who thinks too highly of his ability to rock, or lack thereof.
The key, of course, to making it on this show is to have enough talent to sing a song well and be likable enough for teenagers and Oprah fans to like you. That explains why people like Urban and Stevens are still around. But I’ve never seen three such deserving contestants shot off the show so quickly, all in the same week.
There’s still hope. Dreadlocked Crystal Bowersox has enough grit to her voice and enough coffee-house credibility — by Idol standards, at least — to become an out-there favorite. Although there is something about her I don’t like — maybe an attitude that makes her seem smirky and phony.
Big Mike isn’t bad — but I don’t think he has the stuff to go all the way.
And now that Epperly is gone, my favorite contestant is Magnus, who has a booming-yet- controlled voice that betrays her nerdiness. And her nerdiness is fun, to boot.
But maybe the weirdness of this season is another sign that Season 9 might be the last — or at least the end of the show’s glory years. Simon is on his way out, Ellen isn’t adding much comedy — and Kara is literally breaking down into tears.
I miss Taylor Hicks.