American Idol: About Lambert Night…

brooke bates looks at last night’s lambert-riffic elvis night on idol

I think the real winner on American Idol’s Elvis tribute last night was Adam Lambert.

Not only did he pay the best homage to the King with his tall jet-black ‘do, but as the first alum to come back as a mentor, he succeeded more than most industry experts (like, uhh.. Miley Cyrus?) in stretching contestants beyond their norms with blunt honesty — even telling Andrew and Siobhan that they were boring, finally — thus revealing their best traits and, in some cases, exposing the unavoidable flaws.

Adam got Crystal to trade in her autographed acoustic for a “bedazzled” electric on her jilting-beat rock-out of “Saved.” Though her
guitar was a little hard to hear, his brief advice for her to let her dreads down and shake them around pumped up the energy on her
performance as we saw her let loose and have fun — yes, shakin’ them
dreads — for the second week in a row.

Adam pushed Tim Urban out of his comfort zone, encouraging him to hit some falsetto notes in his sweet-as-a-puppy rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” which Tim successfully spiced up with a few melodic twists and experimental pacing.

After Lee DeWyze had heard multiple times from multiple people that he needed to smile and show some personality on stage, it was Adam’s repetition of it that finally got into his head. He finally loosened up — not enough for Kara, who used grunts and grabbing motions to, I think, indicate that he was still too aggressive and growly for her. But he had something in his face for once besides that blank stare.

Besides Siobhan, he was one of my least favorite from the start but I think I’m starting to get him. I do like the raspiness in his voice, and if he can lighten up a little more, he’ll be great.

And speaking of Siobhan, geez. She should have listened to Adam’s urging to speed up her sleepy version of “Suspicious Minds” and put a little more rhythm into it. The judges picked up on her split musical personalities — she has two speeds, in my opinion: 0 and 95. She’s either putting us to sleep with slow, unmelodious drags that don’t do anything to show off her chords, or screeching at the top of her lungs to squeak out high notes, wishing she could be as on-pitch and passionate as Adam Lambert. (I like when she mentioned to him that she’d been compared to him and he replied, “That’s a great compliment.” I don’t think he meant it that way, but priceless.) Her distressed reply to the unimpressed judges was that she doesn’t even know who she is as an artist; she’s many different people so of course she has different styles. That’s well and fine, but for Pete’s sake, just find a style that doesn’t suck.

Adam also got Katie Stevens and Aaron Kelly to toughen up a bit and add some passion and growl into their young voices. Katie came off a little overpowering, but at least it was something different than her sweet sixteen demeanor. I actually really liked Aaron’s performance. He’s had a soft spot in my heart all along, the little teenage cutie with a voice that’s bigger than him. Sure, “Blue Suede Shoes” might have been even bigger than that voice of his, but he tackled it with some interesting change-ups and a gruff in his voice that made it work. And neither one of them tried to make their choices into country songs, so props.

Casey was perhaps the only one who didn’t do anything different this week, but I’m not sure he needed to. After he blew us away with last week’s invigorated cover of Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” I think if he can keep up to par with that, he’ll stay ahead of most of the pack. He has sex appeal going for him, even if Kara has turned. He could just speak the lyrics of a song with those sexy lips and I’d vote for him. But I think he’s actually picked up his vocal game and stopped relying on his slick guitar skills. He’s actually singing now, and well.

Michael Lynche, we get it. You sing R&B ballads. You got lucky last week, and I’m afraid the judges wasted their save because last night was just eh for you. Ok, you can do cool black-guy things with your voice. But it was still a little boring. Pick up your game, boy, or go home to the baby whose birth you missed for a silly singing competition. (And why has no one made fun of him get for being a black guy with the last name Lynche? Wasn’t his traveling band family even called the Lynche Mob? No one has a problem with this?)

I couldn’t remember the ninth one while writing this, and I just realized it was Andrew.

That doesn’t really bode well for him, does it? It wasn’t just a forgettably sluggish rendition of “Hound Dog,” a song meant to rock — it was flat out bad, dawg. I like you a lot. I like your whole acoustic vibe with your weird little voice shaking up songs, but this one went in the wrong direction.

The best part of the night was again thanks to Ryan Seacrest, though. No, not having his mom on the show, which was still a high point, but him telling Adam, “Your tongue is more talented than mine.” Indeed.

Who should go home? In my opinion, Siobhan’s had her run, and Andrew has been falling further each week. More likely though, I think it will be Katie and Andrew who get booted off.

The front runner is still Bowersox, in my opinion. Casey’s in second, and Tim and Lee are creeping up behind.

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