American Idol: The Fab Four Emerge

For some reason, American Idol makes a big fuss out of the Top 12 even though it's really only the Top 10 that counts.

The show is shameless in its willingness to fabricate drama and tension, as Ryan Seacrest and the judges did last night by repeating over and over that only the final ten contestants will embark on the summer tour. Simon equated elimination at this stage to hitting five lottery numbers and then missing on the sixth.

It used to be that the Top 12 all hit the road, but apparently even the girls who wave their arms and sway and shout out things like “WE LOVE YOU TIM, WHOOO!!!” have a limited tolerance for another round of Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson songs. Those contestants who reach the Top 12 will always be able to tell their grandchildren that, yes, they were in fact finalists on American Idol back in the day. But instead of spending the summer ordering room service and riding around in white courtesy vans, they’ll be back at the Piggly Wiggly by day and scrounging for gigs at the Strom Thurmond Lounge at the Extended Stay America Hardeeville City Centre by night.

But the reality of this year’s Idol is that, tour opportunities aside, there’s really not even a Top 10. Instead, we’re down to a Four Tops of Siobhan Magnus, Crystal Bowersox, Michael Lynche, and Casey James. Others will have their moments, but it’s hard to imagine anyone displacing these four—especially the two women. Here’s how things are looking after last night.

Fab Four

Crystal Bowersox: What I love about her is that she succeeds on her own terms and maintains her dignity in the process. She got into a nice run on “Me And Bobby McGee” that didn’t exactly make anyone forget Janis Joplin but sounded spirited, respectful, and not overly derivative. The only cautionary note was that Crystal was told to put down her guitar, and she coyly said she was planning something new for next week. And a word about Simon: I had planned to bash him for even suggesting that Pink’s version of the song was better than Joplin’s, because it’s not. But after watching a clip of Pink singing “Bobby McGee” at a tribute to Kris Kristofferson, I have to say she was pretty darn good.

Siobhan Magnus: Okay, I hammered her last week. You know, train wreck, truck hitting it, etc. Her “Paint It Black” just wasn’t all that. But on “Superstition," Siobhan rocked a real talent. That said, whether it’s the now-predictable big note (thanks, Simon!) or the improbable Sanjaya-meets-Sixteen Candles hair, she should stay clear of gimmicks.

Michael Lynche: Both Mike and Idol worked the birth of his baby for all it was worth, and the early hype obscured a few basic facts about him. He absolutely loves to perform and taps into genuine emotion. Mike’s ease has made him instantly familiar, and when you combine that with the soul groove he settled into on “When A Man Loves A Woman,” he becomes hard to deny.

Casey James: I almost didn’t include him in this top tier, but he still has a shot. The Idol format constrains him and may have been the reason for his choice of a blandly passable song like “The Power of Love” last night. His guitar-playing is solid, and if you listen to his voice you can hear the timbre of Bob Seger and echoes of classic American rockers.

Tier Two

Aaron Kelly: He performed an Aerosmith song and it wasn’t “Love In An Elevator?” Where are the musical gods when we need them? Yet you still have to give the Boy Wonder credit. He has earned his place, and with the backing of high school girls and soccer moms everywhere, Aaron should last deep into the competition.

Katie Stevens: She seems to have dropped a lot of her cutesy mannerisms and appears ambitious enough to do whatever is necessary to stay alive. The fact that the judges now think she has listened to their advice will help, and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was a good choice for her.

Lee DeWyze: Alex Chilton, who died last week, was a true American Idol and lots of folks have lamented that nobody on the show even brought up his name—despite his classic vocals on The Box Tops' version of “The Letter.” To quote a friend, “That’s a little asking a lot” from a show like Idol. Besides, with all of its horns and wailing back-up vocals, DeWyze’s version of “The Letter” was straight out of Mad Dogs & Englishmen-vintage Joe Cocker. Minus the sweat and spasms.

The Foregone Four

Andrew Garcia: Dude can’t catch a break—and maybe doesn’t deserve one. The camera even missed his moonwalk during “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Not sure he has anything left in his apparently limited arsenal.

Didi Benami: She tried torching up “You’re No Good,” strayed out of her narrow comfort zone, and couldn’t recover.

Paige Miles: Miley Cyrus made one big mistake in her advice last night when she told Paige that her voice was still strong when she sang softly. Paige was uncomfortable from the start and her heels weren’t the problem. Due to the nature of Idol voting demographics, she is almost certainly the one to go this week. Even if a certain contestant is still more deserving of ouster.

Tim Urban: He increasingly reminds me of a young George W. Bush.

Who are your top four contestants? Who do you think has a real shot on American Idol this season?

 
Comments (12)
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totaly agree sibohn and crystal are more talented than all of them but may b i replace casey with lee

and about andrew , if he found the right song that will help him to go to the top four , but i dout that
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I think Crystal is the BEST!
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I love Lee, Crystal and Siobhan for the top three. .
How could u put Casey and big mike in Fab Four. . No Way. .
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I love Crystal! I also like Siobhan and Casey, so I like three of these top four. I just can't stand Michael because I think he really over-does all of his songs! I think these tiers are pretty accurate, though I would switch Didi and Katie.
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Why does he remind you of a young Bush? That doesn't make any sense to me.
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I have almost the same top four picked, with the exception of Aaron Kelly instead of Casey James. My choice to leave this week would be Andrew Garcia. It sounded like he was half talking instead of singing!
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If my neighbour was making the same noise as siobhan I'd call the emergency services! She's fine right up to the moment she starts to screech, then I just want it to stop! She sounds like my friendly neighbourhood foxes mating calls.
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I don't like Casey James at all. I find him boring and not very interesting... I like Crystal, Siohban, Lee, and Didi. I used to like Andrew Garcia, but he's gone downhill. Also, I don't understand how you think that Siohban had a trainwreck las week with Paint it Black... IT WAS SO AMAZING.
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I just don't see the appeal of this show at all.
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there's no "sausage fest", out of the 8 winners, 4 have been guys. which means 4 are girls, it's split even. and i fail to realize why, and i'm guessing, tim is "more deserving of ouster", sure he's not the best but i think he's better than the other guys except casey, i don't like the rest at all. the only girls i like are crystal and didi. the judges are starting to annoy me, they assume since they're on top 12 that everybody's going to be perfect and would have worldwide success right now. that's ridiculous. and i'm so sick of hearing kara blabber on about her "moments". all that's doing it making everybody aim for it and then crash and burn. and i'm sorry, but i just don't like siobhan or michael. at all. crystal's the only one i could see winning, and hopefully she'd fight them and make a record she would be proud of and not get screwed around into making some piece of crap album like some winners have.
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Siobhan Magnus...we need a lady...it's a sausage fest of idol winners out there
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katie stevens!!!!! my absolute favorite!!!!
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