Despite the end-of-days scenario in which Tim Urban sang a reggae rendition of “Under My Thumb,” the world did not end in fiery cataclysm during American Idol’s Rolling Stones night on Wednesday.
Stones night had disaster written all over it. The song choices alone could have done us all in: Imagine the Didi Benami version of “Street Fighting Man” and you can see why.
But somehow the contestants rose to the Stones challenge without looking ridiculous... and in most cases they even exceeded expectations. The one notable disaster, Siobhan Magnus’ performance of “Paint It Black,” was somehow not noted as such by the judges. They actually praised her! And although Siobhan is one of my favorites and I hope she has a long run,I also wish she would stop screaming at the end of songs.
For those of you keeping score at home, the contestants sang eight songs from the 1960s and four from the 1970s. Average year: 1969. And people wonder why the Stones and other classic rock bands don’t play their more recent songs when they tour.
Paige Miles: Maybe she needs laryngitis more often. Because she had just a little grit mixed into her vocals and it added an edge that she's lacked. Paige sassed it up and just killed “Honky Tonk Women” for her best performance in a long time.
Lee Dewyze: He’s working the Dave Matthews vibe pretty hard but also settled into a pop country groove on “Beast Of Burden” that should score points for him. Good yearning and emotion on the “pretty girl” section of the song. Or as Mick would say, “pri-taay.”
Katie Stevens: A quick bit of advice for Katie: Don’t let your friends hold up and wave cut-out pictures of your face on sticks. And just so you know, Connecticut is already on the map. Geography aside, she did a surprisingly good job on “Wild Horses.” She started off in a lower register and turned in a polished vocal, even if it was more pure performance than something from the heart. As for her dress, all I can figure is that she thought the Rolling Stones had something to do with Grease.
Crystal Bowersox: Solid as always though not as compelling as she has sometimes been. I did like seeing her dad, a serious and emotional dude, and he was a reminder that her music emerged from a real place.
Casey James: He looked the part—a little bit country, a little bit rock-and-roll, as the Osmonds might put it—and in the end he is from a town called Cool. He sounded strongest on the chorus and meandered a bit in other sections of “It’s All Over Now.”
Lacey Brown: She is somehow more compelling now that we know both of her parents are pastors. A good vocal and a nice string arrangement. But while her performance of “Ruby Tuesday” occasionally suggested she could be a real song stylist, it didn’t always come across as authentic.
Michael Lynche: While watching him move on the stage during “Miss You,” one thing became clear: Mike is no Mick. I’m not sure he really understood the song, either. But the big fella wants it, that's for sure.
Didi Benami: She came out looking hotter and showed some previously unseen range and potential on “Play With Fire.” She struggled on the chorus and mangled the ending. Worse yet, by the time they replayed a cut from the song at the end of the show, I barely remembered it.
Aaron Kelly: What, no “Midnight Rambler?” I had anticipated he would do “Angie,” and it worked for him. Unlike last week, he didn’t pretend to be a grown-up, and sang the song like the kid that he is. The tune's simple longing and emotion worked for the 16-year-old.
Andrew Garcia: “Gimme Shelter” is a song filled with paranoia and foreboding, neither of which came out during his soft performance. He was fine, although the scariest thing about his segment was that his father thought Andrew would grow up to be a custodian. That was one inked-up old guy, by the way.
Siobhan Magnus: Siobhan's performance wasn’t just a train wreck. It was a train wreck that was run over by tanker truck. Her freaky, arty family was exactly what I expected. Unfortunately, I also expected that she might be reading too many of her press clippings and would then turn in a performance like her “Paint It Black.” C’mon Simon, tell me that wasn’t indulgent.
Tim Urban: He said he wants “to be known as Tim Urban, the individual.” He has exceeded his wildest dreams, because I would describe him as "Tim Urban, the singular."