American Idol: Five Alive

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Somewhere in deep space, in the far distant future, two beings will be monitoring the universe for transmissions from other galaxies. Siobhan Magnus’ performance of “Any Man of Mine” will find its way through the darkness, and a high, piercing sound will cut the silence. One of the beings will say, “I have no idea what that was.” And the other will respond, “Neither do I. But at least it wasn’t pitchy.”

Once destined to make it to the final two on American Idol, Siobhan Magnus ended her run on a sad night that proved to me just why I never listen to contemporary country music. I had high hopes for Siobhan, ever since I learned she was a glass-blowing apprentice from Cape Cod. I’ve said it before: Talented and eccentric, she was exactly the kind of girl I would have loved from afar in high school. Having spotted and possibly obsessed about her shoulder tattoo, I would have searched out a first edition of Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies and secretly left it by her locker. Just to see that smile (high school was tough for me).

Of course, such idealization invariably leads to disillusionment. Early in the season, I loved what Siobhan did with Stevie Wonder’s “Living For the City” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Then she became famous for the Big Note, and that was her downfall. It became both a trademark and a crutch and Siobhan has enough talent that she didn’t need to resort to gimmicks. Yes, she consistently hit (and held) those notes, but they almost seemed to exist outside the songs she was singing. Meanwhile, her song choices no longer reflected her originality. A Mariah song? A Whitney song? “Any Man of Mine”? That’s all Kellie Pickler territory.

Here’s hoping that, freed from the confines of Idol and the wrath of the teen texters, Siobhan will again find her true voice. I’m rooting for her. In the meantime, here are a few more observations from results night:

The FCC must act now: Considering the vampire-themed Ford video and the endless Shrek promotion that dominated the early portion of the show, from now on results night should open with the advisory, “IDOLMERCIAL WARNING: The following program may contain graphic scenes of shameless shilling that may be unsuitable for viewers who fast-forward through commercials.”

When did Simon LeBon join Rascal Flatts? Their lead singer looked suspiciously like the Duran Duran frontman, years downstream from “Rio.”

The Sons of Sylvia must change their name: Disappointing. I was looking forward to a klezmer band. Back in my neighborhood, Sylvia’s sons were named Shmuley, Fyvush, and Yankel.

Someone needs to drive a stake through the heart of the vampire trend: Please, enough. We learned that Aaron Kelly has never been a vampire before, probably because he still has his baby fangs. I’m also wondering just what “pent-up darkness” the director was saying the Idols could tap into. Maybe Tim Urban had some, but not Big Mike.

Nothing says "romantic duet" like drink-fueled lust: I actually enjoyed "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum. Nice harmonies and everything, although the emotional longing was undermined a bit by the song’s drunk-dialing dynamic.

Shakira, the presidential historian: She’s definitely big on Theodore Roosevelt. Not only did she quote him last night, but he was also the inspiration for “Hips Don’t Lie.”

Which remaining Idol contestant is your favorite? Vote now.

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