Here we are with the "American Idol" Top 10 - the few, the happy few, the band of brothers (and ladies) - destined to be part of the cultural chatter at least through the AI tour this summer. What a long, strange trip it's been - and it may only get weirder tonight as we see what Tim Urban comes up with for R&B/soul night. I hope Usher shakes some sense into him.
1) Siobhan Magnus, "Through The Fire" by Chaka Khan
I thought Siobhan Magnus held it together for about 80% of this song, but every time she geared up for the chorus she went horribly off key. It hasn't been mentioned once by the judges, but she has this problem every week. And I know I've ragged on the dog whistle for about three weeks running, but I thought it worked really well in this song. It's still show-offy - and from her comments during the last elimination show, Siobhan knows it's show-offy - and when Kara DioGuardi said the best parts were the "screaming parts" I had to laugh because it's true. Side note: didn't Siobhan look like Anna Paquin tonight?
2) Casey James, "Hold On, I'm Comin'" by Sam & Dave
Usher! Don't encourage Casey James to rely on his guitar! He uses it as a crutch! What's going to happen during a theme week when he just shouldn't play it? If this were, like, Mariah Carey week, he'd be toast. That aside, I thought this was a fun performance, although I thought he was going to get dinged for sounding like a frat party cover band. (I actually don't think there's anything wrong with sounding like a frat party cover band, but I was surprised Simon Cowell didn't hemorrhage over it.) I actually think Casey should ignore the judges and just keep on keepin' on with the bluesy rock - except maybe lose the guitar.
3) Michael Lynche, "Ready For Love" by India.Arie
Can Usher be the new Simon next year? He's really doing a good job with the advice - a nice mix of useful and entertaining. Big Mike is my pick to win this thing for a number of reasons, the main one being that he seems to learn from week-to-week. It's like he actually watches his performance and tries to correct based on the judges' critiques - and he picks the right elements of their nattering commentary to follow up on. After the cheesetastic performance last week, he really tuned it down this week into something more subtle and honest. Nicely done.
4) Didi Benami, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffin
You knew from Ryan's Seacrest's pre-commercial break tease that Didi Benami was going to start damn crying again. I really loved Didi's torch singer styling tonight - great dress. And you know that if I compliment the outfit, I'm meh on the performance. I thought Didi was a little bit nervous and casting about for what aspects of her voice to emphasize. She was wavery and too studied until the big note. That being said, it was pretty bitchy of Ryan to push her to reveal her personal heartbreak to 25 million people when she obviously didn't want to go there. Stop being a Mean Girl, dude.
5) Tim Urban, "Sweet Love" by Anita Baker
Yay, the Usher smackdown! God, that was fantastic when Usher interrupted him - and Tim Urban was doing a straight-up version of Anita Baker's song. I can't imagine how Usher would have reacted if Tim did his normal insane bossa nova take on it, or something. You know that phrase "I'd listen to him reading the phone book"? Tim treats every song like he's singing the phone book - and not in a good way. He recites it more than sings it, and it's usually off key. Oh, and Ellen DeGeneres? There is totally drinking that goes on at home when Tim sings - but it's not a game, it's a survival instinct. And I love how Simon has just washed his hands of him entirely.