American Idol Season 9 is slowly approaching The Finals. We are now down to the Top 6 after Tim Urban was eliminated Wednesday night, at the closing of Idol Gives Back-slash-Results Night. Still standing and ready for next week’s Shania Twain week are Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche, Casey James, Siobhan Magnus, Lee DeWyze, and Crystal Bowersox. Three of these people have never been in the bottom 3 the entire season. Here’s a rundown and some sort of forecast of what they have done so far, and what could unfold in the next coming weeks on American Idol.
Aaron Kelly. This 17-year-old from Davenport, Florida has impressed the judges with his vocal strength and stage presence. He has not been consistently strong, though. He landed in the Bottom 3 for the first time after the Top 9’s performance of Lennon/McCartney music. He sang “The Long and Winding Road,” and Ellen DeGeneres said it was like a “long and winding song.” He tried up-tempo the following week. (Kara DioGuardi wanted to hear a faster song from him, Simon Cowell said it felt like he was doing the same thing over and over.) Singing Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes,” he was “different,” but he was generally more unimpressive than ever on stage, neither convincing as an artist or entertaining as a performer. The Aaron Kelly that the judges believed in was the young scrawny adolescent who surprised them with his rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” (auditions) and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” (Hollywood week). Even when he forgot some of the words, he still got in. They saw something special in him, and if Aaron Kelly sticks to the melody that suits him best (not just his vocal power, but also his performing skills), he could still make it through after the Shania Twain week.
Michael Lynche. Big Mile picks up everyone like a half-adorable, half-bullying big bear. He got a lot of screen time during Hollywood Week as his wife had gone into labor. Anticipation ran high for him in the midst of his Idol challenge, and everyone was happy to know that his wife safely delivered a baby girl. His Top 20 performance of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” drew some flak for being a male chauvinist’s theme, but he made up for it by singing “This Woman’s Work,” for which Kara DioGuardi gave him a tearful standing ovation. Like Aaron Kelly, the Lennon/McCartney did not do well for Big Mike. Simon Cowell criticized his “Eleanor Rigby” performance for being too theatrical when it shouldn’t be. It was his first time to be in the Bottom 3 and he got the least number of votes. The judges decided to use their one chance to save a contestant on Mike, and so he stayed on and outlasted Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens and Tim Urban. Mike has quite an unstable block of voters. He will compete closely with Aaron and Casey James for a spot following next week’s Top 6 performance.
Casey James. Kara DioGuardi asked him to practically strip during auditions week and he gladly obliged. This 27-year-old talented guitarist won more hearts when he sang “Heaven” on Top 24 week. He kind of lost steam in the following weeks, but bounced back with a good, heartfelt performance on Lennon/McCartney week with “Jealous Guy.” It was downhill again for him after that, until he found himself in the Bottom 3 with Aaron Kelly and Tim Urban on the night of Idol Gives Back. His problem has always been in his performance, never quite in his vocals, which is actually good. He could be a very charming demigod on stage but for some reason, he has been having some challenge in really showing a range of emotions when performing. He has always been too serious, too stiff, and generally boring. If he could come back with a powerfully convincing performance, he could snatch a spot in the Top 3 and outlast Siobhan Magnus on the show.
Siobhan Magnus. She is quirky, outspoken, unpredictable and she wowed the judges when she hit some ridiculous notes while performing Aretha Franklin’s “Think” on Top 20 week. She is the kind of performer that others could easily either love or loathe. Simon Cowell said she couldn’t be screaming all the time. Kara DioGuardi has been having some trouble in finding out the kind of artist that she could be. Her rendition of “When You Believe” by powerful divas Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston simply just didn’t work. She was safe, though, and one could only assume that it’s because she has somehow established a huge following. She may be tempted to go back to hitting crazy notes, but she also has to worry about delivering the regular notes that come before or between those high notes. There are times when she just really don’t sound good, but she has never been in the Bottom 3. If she loses her way any farther into the competition, she could get voted off ahead of Casey James.
Lee DeWyze. He used to be a paint salesclerk who, like David Cook, has released some albums in the past. After performing Cornelius Brother & Sister Rose’s “Treat Her Like A Lady,” Simon Cowell told him to watch what he’s just done on tape, and really believe that his life has changed forever. The acerbic judge has always liked Lee, and has told him once or twice that he’s got the most powerful vocals among the guys. Randy Jackson always tells him how he’s a big fan, Ellen DeGeneres said she was amazed by Lee’s consistently improving performance when he was already good right from the start. Last week, after his performance of “The Boxer,” Kara DioGuardi said it was his biggest moment so far. Despite his consistent “nerves issue,” he has never been in the Bottom 3. If he could show an authentic, believable performance of a Shania Twain song next week, he could very well secure a spot on the Finals with this season’s clear front-runner, Crystal Bowersox, whom he met and jammed with at the Chicago auditions.
Crystal Bowersox. People fondly call her “Momma Sox,” not just because she’s a young single mom to a gorgeous little boy, but she seems to be the one that the other contestants run to for honest opinions. She wowed everyone, including the rest of the contestants who made it through to Hollywood Week when she sang Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” with her guitar on stage. She was complete right from the start. She had powerful vocals that everyone just gets; she had a solid strange presence, she certainly sounded authentic, relevant, and current — these are the adjectives that the judges have so overused through the years, and it all works on Crystal Bowersox. A couple of times in the competition, her performance was way, way out of everyone’s league in her batch. For the first time on American Idol, Crystal Bowersox dropped her guitar and delivered an emotional “People Get Ready.” There was silence as she sobbed away the last word in the song. It was the week after news came out that she almost quit. (She later said she had doubts, but did not intend to quit.) Ryan Seacrest asked why she became too emotional, and Crystal said her dad was in the audience for the first time, and so she was thinking, as the lyrics of her song went, “thank the Lord.” She sang the first lines of the song acapella and the audience was just carried away. Simon Cowell said that in a strange way, he’s happy to see her emotional, as she also has a tendency to build a wall around herself when performing. Except the power of voice just cuts through those walls and so the audience still connects to her. She played the piano once on AI, and while she was not exactly excellent with the instrument she had not used in many years, she was still very, very good in her interpretation of “Midnight Train to Georgia.” There is no doubt that she will do well on Shania Twain week, and the only question now seems to be, who will she face off in the Finals? (I hope it’s Lee Dewyze.)
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