There’s definitely something happening out there. And what it is ain’t exactly clear. Because on Wednesday, American Idol belonged to The Weird Girls.
You remember them from high school: kind of arty, kind of cute, both accessible and a bit out-of-reach. They went about their business unconcerned with what The Populars thought of them. You imagined—okay, fantasized—that they lived some rich life away from school. You know, hanging at real coffeehouses with artists and musicians who hit on them and called them old souls.
But you never knew for sure. Then one day you got off the subway and there she was, in the tunnel, playing that guitar and singing the bejesus out of something like “Nothing Compares 2 U.” And it was love. Unrequited love, but still.
It’s too early in the Idol season to reach any broad sociological conclusions about the success of Siobhan Magnus, Crystal Bowersox, and Lilly Scott. But last night was a victory for Weird Girls everywhere—not to mention the Weird Boys who secretly adore them.
Lilly Scott: Oooh, this one had disaster written all over it. A girl with bizarre hair (did the color change?) from Colorado takes on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” a veritable anthem of the civil rights movement. I kept anticipating the cringe moment—and then, like Kara, I settled in and started looking forward to where Lilly was going to take the song next.
Crystal Bowersox: It was great to hear a comparatively obscure Creedence song like “As Long As I Can See The Light.” Crystal did her Bowersox thing, and right now she’s winning by playing by her own rules. How she’ll counterpunch when the competition gets more prescriptive will be her challenge.
Siobhan Magnus: First we learned that she gave herself a Mohawk and does motorboating lip trills before she performs. Then she went out and took on Aretha. The song proved a bit big for her, but she hit and held the high note—the Idol equivalent of Shaun White pulling off a Frontside Double Cork 1080.
Katie Stevens: For all of her mugging for the camera and bubbly affectations, she’s closet weird. And not because she can say “Give me a kiss” in Polish (the boys at the Gdansk shipyards no doubt voted early and often after that). Because she’s young, the judges want her to be contemporary. The problem is that she wants to Kristen Chenoweth, and not Miley Cyrus. Think about it: When they asked who she liked under the age of 20, Katie was completely stumped.
Katelyn Epperly: She proclaimed that her number would be “nothing super epic”—and it wasn’t. Climate scientists would tell you that the glaciers are retreating faster than her version of Coldplay’s “Mr. Scientist.” Right now she’s in the middle of the pack.
Paige Miles: She’s good and will survive. She fell into and out of grooves throughout the number, and Kara’s comment that Paige missed the point of the song was telling: She's a big voice still searching for a showcase.
Michelle Delamor: I’m not sure what the judges heard. As the resident diva-in-training, she’ll make it through—but her Creed performance wasn’t good. She also looked like she was playing a cumulus cloud at the school spring music festival.
Didi Benami: I go back and forth with her. She is distinctive and needs to show off what she actually does well, because versatility isn’t her thing. And she relies a bit too much on that little note catch in her nose, so much so that it has come to be known as a Didi-ated Septum.
Lacey Brown: I tried, Lacey, I really tried. I believed that you had some weird Texas alt-country thing going. But Idol is tough; even though you picked the right song for your voice, it just so happens that it's a lightweight, forgettable tune that is now famous as the anthem for Kiss-Cams at sporting events everywhere.
Haeley Vaughn: You said, “I don’t know how to not smile.” One suggestion would be to listen to last week’s “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” I have to say that “The Climb” was only marginally better—and at this stage, there’s no point in piling on any more.