American Idol: So Long Siobhan

brent johnson gives a bittersweet perspective on siobhan magnus’ departure from american idol

So last night on American Idol, we got the shocker I didn’t think would even be a remote possibility until the final round: Siobhan Magnus was sent home.

Thing is: I didn’t feel as thoroughly dazed as I should have been.

Early on, Siobhan was my clear favorite. Her style was funky. Her voice was pristine and punchy, mixing Broadway with soul. And she clearly had the oddest personality the show has ever seen: quiet but quirky, a glassblower by profession.

Then, it happened: The judges compared her to Adam Lambert, another former funky contestant with a wail of a voice. And just like that, Idol did was it sadly does all too often: it pigeon-holed an artist with expectations that she was something from another planet.

For Lambert, the hype never seemed to play with his head. He had a striking confidence. He did what he wanted.

For Magnus, the hype seemed to rattle her. Suddenly, she shrieked at the end of every song. She appeared to care only about how high her vocals should rise. She was still flashing her tattoos, weirdly poofy hairstyles and shabby-glam clothing. But she was suddenly singing songs with hokey arrangements. She became like a punky wind-up doll.

Meanwhile, clear favorite Crystal Bowersox hasn’t fallen as hard to the hype obstacle. She continues to do her thing, consistently week after week — even if that thing is now a little boring: coffee-house rock with soaring notes.

In the end last night, I should have felt socked when Seacrest announced Siobhan — the girl who wowed with ‘Think’ and ‘Paint It, Black’ — was ending her Idol journey. Instead, it felt oddly expected — like, ‘Okay, you had your chance. But you slipped up. It was nice having you.’

Siobhan could have given Idol an interesting story: Strange girl with the shocking voice upends the competition. And the predicted Magnus-Bowersox showdown had the potential to be the best since McPhee-Hicks. I really wish we still had that chance.

Now? We’re left with a competition featuring a boring, geeky, annoying teen; a bar-band Ken doll who sometimes turns in a nicely arranged performance; a muscle-maker who is alternately smooth and cheesy; a Dave Matthews wannabe who screams like he’s really in Nickleback; and truly talented artist who needs to shake up her song selection every now and then.

I didn’t expect this. But I’m not scratching my head, either.

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