America Idol Recap: The Top 9 and the Beatles: "I'm with the Bland"

A few years ago the Beatles gave in to the lure of American Idol, and allowed them to use their catalog. Each year since that milestone year, we've had a Beatles Tribute night, and last night was that night.

It's a double-edged sword. Some of the best material. Some of the biggest opportunities to fall flat on your face with a sub-par performance or cheesy Muzak arrangement.

So, how did our Top 9 do? Let's dig in.

1. Kree sang "A Little Help From My Friends" (more of the Joe Cocker version)

Kree has an amazing set of pipes. As had Carrie Underwood. Kree has a bit of an inexpressive face. As had Carrie Underwood. Kree is pretty much Carrie Underwood circa Season 4. I thought the vocal was pretty good, but that she seemed awkward and uncomfortable. It was not may favorite performance of her, although probably would have been if I'd closed my eyes and just listened.

2. Burnell sang "Let It Be"

First question: Apparently there is a new species, the Zebra-Cow. Second question: How many Zebra-cows died for that jacket? Back to business: This was an easy-listening gospel version of this song, and me no likee. What is he letting be? What is he trying to grow and learn from? What is he struggling to sustain himself through? What relief is mother Mary delivering to him? No clue. He looked very happy and self-satisfied during his rendition, and so did not capture the essential poignancy of this song.  He sounded fine. But I want more than that. They all sound fine. Strike two...two weeks in a row I have not been a Burnell fan.

3. Amber sang "She's Leaving Home"

I know the judges didn't see great value in this performance, but I did. I heard a new nice rich tone on her lower notes.  And for once she just sustained notes with a beautiful tone and well-controlled vibrato, without the need for melisma everywhere. I thought this was an important and heartfelt performance to ground her and establish more maturity. 

4. Lazaro sang "In My Life"

Unlike Nikki, Lazaro isn't reminding me of Ricky Ricardo with his brightly colored suit jackets. More like Jim Carrey in the Mask. Listen, Lazaro is adorable and even has a nice tone. Still. He's consistently pitchy. Yes, he warmed into it (because the key did get better), but he's just not as polished or ready as the others. Not at all. Not on the same level, adorable, inspirational, courageous though he may be. And he needs more powder. #sorry

5. Candace sang "Come Together"

Candace is my favorite two weeks in. Who's with me? Now, she didn't need that big ending, impressive though it might have been. She was all over that song. She totally showed her vocal and emotional range. The big ending felt tacked on and unnecessary. But other than that. Leading the pack.

6. Paul sang "Eleanor Rigby"

Paul made an attempt at an Adam Lambert-style approach to the song. He hasn't yet presented with that kind of edge, so I'm not sure it worked or felt authentic. I didn't mind it, and I thought it was more interesting than his usual pseudo smooth country approach. He's pretty, and his voice is pretty. Not enough to get him to the finals, so far, but perhaps enough to last another week.

7. Angie sang "Yesterday"

Angie really peaked when she sang her own composition at the piano, and followed soon after with a Colton Dixon song, also at the piano. These past two weeks have paled in comparison. Here's why I think that. She obviously has a great voice. That's not the issue. But I kind of feel like she's trying to be the angst-y offset her "pageant-ness" that Jimmy Iovine pointed out last week by be dramatic. And on her own song, and a emo-current song like Colton's, it worked. But applying that to other styles has not felt authentic. "Yesterday" is a poignant song, yes. But in a simple straight-from-the-heart way. I wouldn't call it emo, and I don't think it was served by the emo way she took the ending. Holding out that note on the last "wrong" was kind of a masturbatory travesty. And then taking it up an octave and messing with the melody just too much? Un. Necessary. I think she's safe, but I wish she'd check her drama one of these weeks soon.

 8. Devin sang "Long and Winding Road"

Devin has a very lovely voice and vibrato. This is one of my favorite Beatles songs, and I sang it in my own cabaret show lo those many years ago. So I'm intimate with the lyrics and with what *I* believe is the journey of the song (the Long & Winding Road, so to speak). Too much of that was sung without any real feel for the lyrics. It was pretty, but pretty meaningless.

9. Janelle sang "I Will"

This performance was very Dolly-like, and it made me like Janelle again. Not sure why she was dressed like a Grecian Goddess, because it didn't fit the song or the theme of the evening, but I guess it did read as pretty and pure as her vocal. (big plus: Less pitchy than she's been.) She redeemed her last two weeks with this one.

So, what's the Bottom Line for the Bottom Three?

Should be: Lazaro, Burnell and Devin, with Lazaro going home.

Will be: Burnell, Devin and Paul with Devin going hime.

But what did you think?

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