A few people have asked why I'm not commenting on Idol this year...well, this year, it just seems rather...idle. I have not been very impressed with Idol for the most part. For what it's worth, though, I'll throw my two cents into the ring and try to summarize this year's field of contestants.
First, the guys....
Aaron Kelly...I wish he had waited a few years to audition. I don't think he has a brilliant voice, and for some reason, the 'smilyness' factor while he sings seems off-putting to me. I don't know how to pin it down, but I just don't buy it.
Alex Lambert...Call me horrible, but I cannot get past the mullet. I know, I know, it's an aesthetics issue, but it DID color the way I thought he was singing. When I closed my eyes, I found him more palatable than when I watched him sing. I don't know; he is an odd duck. He will certainly never become a video star, but if you could listen to him on the radio without watching him, I think it could work alright. Not a stellar performer, but a decent voice.
Andrew Garcia...Loved the Straight Up remake he did in Hollywood week, but I agree that he's never revisited that vibe since that happened. His voice is almost a caricature of itself...I like it sometimes, but sometimes I find it too thought-out and grating. I don't know where to file him yet.
Casey James...Should have fought off the image consultants with his bare fists. He is getting more and more effeminate and less impressive in his singing. I think his singing ability has steadily decreased since the first time they heard him, and there is absolutely zero spark there for me. I guess I don't get him.
Lee DeWyze...Probably one of the two guys to beat this year, as far as I'm concerned. I like his voice, I like his unpretentiousness, I like his vibe. I hope he stays true to his own image and doesn't listen too much to the image consultants or to the judges, for that matter. I do think he needs to have a great week soon to really solidify his spot. I think his vibe is stronger than his voice, though.
Michael Lynche...Probably the other part of the two guys to beat this year. His voice is probably unequalled in the men. Great attitude, likable, nice beginnings and endings, great tone quality, pretty great pitch most of the time, someone I would listen to on the radio, but would also like to watch perform. I think he's one of the few this year who has "it." Not "IT", like last year's Adam Lambert, but "it."
Tim Urban...is skating by on looks alone. Too bad, because he's cute and marketable, but doesn't know who he is yet and his lack of voice doesn't help that. Not sure how he made it this far, actually.
Todrick Hall...has the look, for sure. Is mesmerizing to watch. Not convinced on the voice yet, though.
And now for the girls...
Crystal Bowersox...Love the fact that she does not appear to care too much what people say about her hair/clothes/etc., but have noticed things have been getting tamed on her by the image consultants, and am watching closely to see how far she'll let that go. As far as musicality goes, she's one of the ones I believe when I'm watching. She seems mostly on pitch, I like her delivery, and she does seem to slip into the songs instead of singing them note for note. I would hope she is one of the girls to beat this year.
Didi Benami...is she still here?
Katelyn Epperly...the dot between her eyes is all-consuming for me...cannot concentrate when she sings because I keep looking at that dot. I don't know; it's just tough to get used to. I think she has an instrument, but she is renting rather than owning, you know? I just don't buy it. She doesn't get into her songs and she seems to be trying to sell her look rather than her voice. You can see her thinking while she sings, too, which was a curse of last year's contestants.
Katie Stevens...was one of my early faves, but is now becoming increasingly grating in an up-with-people-sort-of-way. I wish she had tried out about 5 years from now, after having lived on the streets or at least traveled or dated or something. I just think she's too young. Does she have a voice? Yes, but I don't hear a polished voice, and there hasn't been enough living and dues paying there for me to believe that she's singing to me. I am on the fence with her. Less smiling, more musicality would serve her well.
Lacey Brown...I want her to do well. I love her look, her story, all of it. I just don't see her making it much further. I think she could definitely be a great backup singer or something, but she does not strike me as a lead singer...of anything. She has a cool voice, but has not honed that cool quality and because of that, it is as sporadic as lightning.
Lilly Scott...quirky, odd, interesting. A cd I might actually buy. I don't know that she has the greatest strength in her singing voice, but as a package it's buyable. She does, however, know her strengths and therefore gets points from me.
Paige Miles...doesn't know how good she is. I agree with Kara's comments that singing Kelly Clarkson's tune with a smile did not work, but you had to agree that Paige can sing. She can really sing. She needs to work with someone who is clearly focused on just her, and start making better choices. She kind of had a deer-in-the-headlights look last week, and it was noticeable, but she needn't have. She has a great voice and once she channels it and stands by it, she will be a force.
Siobhan Magnus...my fave this year for the girls, and probably out of all of them. We refer to her as the 'autistic-y' one, not in a negative way, (believe me, with a kid with autistic tendencies, we would never do that) but in a 'she reminds me of Mel Tillis in that she only seems comfortable singing' way. I love her complete disregard for image, (YEA!) and her completely SPOT-ON pitch last week. That Aretha song is no small feat; for her to not just sing it, but to nail it, was amazing. I love how she is only really "on" when she has the mic up to her mouth to sing...forget the interviews and the fashion sense, this is a real artist here. I am rooting for her because I know I would buy that cd at the store. One of a very, very few I would shell money out for this year.
As far as Ellen for the judge, I don't really know that she has made much of an impact either way. No, she's not a singer, but neither was Paula Abdul. She is way less faky than Paula, which I appreciate, and my finger is not as tired this year because I'm not constantly forwarding through Paula's "you look great" rants. Ellen does appear a bit apologetic at times, and she shouldn't be, because as far as a stage presence, Ellen has it.
I doubt Idol will even survive without Simon, and I doubt I would watch it even if it did, but here's hoping they at least attempt to find someone of equal musical mettle. You may not agree with his delivery, but it's usually directly accurate and helpful.
I think Idol decided this year to get more "Indie Singers"...in fact, I can almost hear the board meeting in which this was discussed...but I think they kind of overdid that. Even though I tire of the "Star-Search" singers who (wait for it!) go for the big, 'signature' notes and kind of fluff through the rest of their performances, I do think an entire slate of mostly Indie singers is kind of exhausting. I feel like their hearts aren't in it, and I think it would have been nice to send Simon out in a stronger way. Here's hoping things perk up, and soon! (I do find it rather odd that most of the girls this year should really be trying their hand at modeling, rather than singing...have we ever had such model-y looking girls on Idol before?)