Usher mentors R&B Week on 'American Idol'
It's R&B Week on "American Idol" and this week's mentor, Usher, asks the 10 remaining Idolettes for "permission" to be brutally honest with them in order to help them become all they can be.
"Tonight is very important. They made it here but this isn't the finish line," Usher explains to the camera, for those viewers who still count on their fingers and toes.
"This is their time to shine and this is the stage to do it on," adds Usher, who we think is getting his best material off Hallmark cards.
Usher follows Miley Cyrus in 'Idol' mentoring. Isn't it great how, now that the show is super-safe and, some might say, with its best days behind it, the "contemporary" artists are turning out to mentor the Idolettes? No Rod Stewarts or Wayne Newtons this season, pookie!
Siobhan is led to Usher in the evening's first Mentored By Usher taped bit. She is wicked nervous because, she tells Usher, "I've been a big fan since I was, like, six years old." Ooh snap! Yes, Siobhan has just knocked Usher down a peg, and we like her the better for it.
"Have you chosen your wardrobe?" Usher asks her, explaining "you want to make sure you don't have too much going on." Siobhan's total disregard for any known fashion styles results in an outfit that is On My Way to Senior Prom from the waist up, and I Just Got Out of the Shower from the waist down. The look is finished off with silver lace-up boots. Siobhan's performance is also a mess and judge Randy Jackson pronounces it "all over the place" though he then goes on to say he likes the outfit so he disqualifies himself. Judge Ellen The Generous likens Siobhan's singing to hiking on a trail and getting really lost; judge Kara DioGuardi agrees. Judge Simon Cowell, who has had it in for Siobhan since the first week of competition, tells her it's her worst yet.
Usher likes when Casey James forgets the lyrics to "Hold On" (aka "Hold On, I'm Coming"), because he has "a swag" that says "I belong here." Casey predicts this is going to be a great week for him because he's good at singing blues and "you're not going to get any closer to blues than R&B."
Unless, of course, they do a Blues Week.
There are about four notes to Casey's version of the tune and he's in complete control of those four notes. Randy gushes about it being another hot night for Casey. Ellen The Generous thinks it generic. Usher, who is in the audience, raises his eyebrows dismissively. Kara says she thinks Casey's got more and she wants to see it. Simon thought it showed a "completely different side" of Casey. Seabiscuit asks Kara if she wants to see more of Casey's singing or more of Casey. "Are you kidding?" she snorts. Casey tells Kara "you're going to get exactly what you asked for" next week. The American Idol Decency Police unpack the teargas.
"Chicks dig a guy who can actually play a guitar AND sing," Usher advises Mike Lynche. He also wants Mike to play to the back of the room and make love to the camera like he, Usher, is going to demonstrate -- right now! "See what I'm doing right now?" Usher says as he makes eyes at the camera -- except he just winds up looking like a guy watching TV.
Mike is seated behind the judges when he performs "Ready for Love" and the show director does him no favor when he pulls the camera back to those shots of the Idol judges with their backs to Mike, creating this "you're dead to me now" undertone that's uncomfortable. Mike's tune is so slow and dull, but we zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
When we wake up, Randy is saying something about how exciting it was - not - and that Mike has this whole sensitive thing going on that Randy doesn't seem to entirely approve of. Ellen The Generous, however, loves it. Kara thinks he "mastered the intention of the tune." Simon says it's the first time he's taken Mike seriously.
Seabiscuit sends us to a commercial break with a promise that Didi Benami's meeting with Usher was like a Barbara Walters big-get celebrity confessional. Will Usher make Didi cry? After the break, we see the tape of Didi meeting Usher. She sings "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," and then starts to cry. Usher advises her to cry DURING the song because the audience will lap it up.
"I wanted to pick something that moved me," Didi explains to the camera. Now I'm worried it might be too much."
Save us, please.
Didi sings the tune. She is awful. Breathtakingly awful. Her voice is emotionally flat, though she tries to cue us to her great depth of feeling by wrinkling her forehead and finally bursting out with a Broadway-esque big finish. But she does not cry. Randy says she flatlined. "Way dramatic," Ellen The Generous calls it. "It's overdone, girl," Kara chimes in. Simon likens it to "one of those dancing shows that always have a singer murdering a song on it." Seabiscuit wants his Barbara Walters moment and begins to poke at the festering wound that is Didi, demanding she explain "Why were you in tears with Usher?" Didi dodges the question, whining, "You make me answer these uncomfortable questions!"
"I think it's important people know why," Seabiscuit insists.
The judges tell him to knock it off.
Seabiscuit reminds the audience Didi had auditioned for "Idol" in memory of her dead girlfriend adding, "we'll leave it at that." Yes, Seabiscuit, plays the Dead Friend Card for Didi.
"They're calling you Teflon Tim," Seabiscuit tells Tim Urban -- because, of course, he's so very bad and yet, little girls and middle-aged women keep voting him into the next round of competition because they think he's dreamy thanks to those photos of him showing off his abs and pecs that are floating around the Web. Usher tries -- he really tries -- to break through Mr. Abs-Fab's thick skull. No luck. The love Tim's feeling has all the strength of a man's love for a bowl of cornflakes first thing in the morning. Once again Tim butchers his tune, "Sweet Love," with his trademark wide-eyed "Who, me?!" look, and his head cocked to the side to denote sincerity.
"At least you sang in tune, mostly," says Randy. Ellen The Generous calls him "adorable" twice for all those participating in this year's "American Idol" Drinking Game, and also notes he was mostly in key, though she takes issue with his having slunk towards the judges while singing, like he was trying to sneak into someone's bedroom. Kara pronounces it "Broadway at times, Vegas at times" and wonders why he keep making himself so non-commercial, non-young and non-current. Tim laughs. "Why are you laughing?" Kara snaps. "I'll tell you why," Simon jumps in. "Because I don't think it makes any difference whatsoever what we say. It was a completely in appropriate song -- like a mouse picking a fight with an elephant. But it doesn't matter because you're going to smile, the audience is going to vote for you and you'll be here next week - so, well done!"
Andrew Garcia puts on a sharp suit, gets out his guitar, sits on a stool, and performs an acoustic version of "Forever," in his Playing Guitar Alone in My Bedroom way. No eye contact with the camera, like Usher had suggested -- sorry Usher. But Andrew pushes his envelope a foot or two which sends the judges into ecstasies, though Simon can't resist adding that his problem with Andrew now is that he's boring as a person. Somewhere in there the judges have discerned an artist and they are very proud of their accomplishment. The producers give Andrew an extra push by bringing in an Audience Moment: Andrew's mother is asked to come on stage, to chide Simon. Mama has an excess of personality and rushes the stage. "That's my mama -- she's crazy," Andrew says. Instant back story -- thank you producers.
Katie Stevens tells Usher they've already met -- at Epcot. She says she walked up to him and asked: "Are you Usher?" when his bodyguard unfortunately intervened, cutting off their budding relationship.
"You don't get any point cause we've met," Usher says. Snap! Usher then refrains from warning her off an Aretha Franklin tune, by way of paying her back for having had the effrontery to approach him at Epcot. When she performs "Chain of Fools"for the judges, Randy pronounces it "disconnected," while Ellen The Generous dodges the performance entirely, focusing on her Snookie Pouff. Kara thinks it made her look old and Simon says she sounded like someone on "Star Search." The judges argue for a longish spell as to whether Katie is a country singer, or R&B. But Katie tells Seabiscuit she's not listening to any of them anyway -- spoken like a true child beauty-pageant queen.
"You have an incredible voice, man," Usher tells Lee Dewyze after Lee confesses his self-doubt to Usher. He also confesses his self-doubt in his video clip. But then his performance of "Treat Her Like a Lady" is his best in a while and the judges effusive. "This is the night your life may have changed forever," Simon says. What will Lee's story be next week?
Coffee-house singer Crystal Bowersox has promised she's going to really shake things up this week as she sings "Midnight Train to Georgia." By "shaking things up" she means "playing the piano." Only she hasn't played in ages, so she keeps looking at the keys like she's taking a lesson. When she gets up from the piano we're relieved until we get a good look at the horrifying short, tight dress, black leggings, stiletto heels, and heavy makeup. Randy, Ellen. Kara praise her but Simon warns Crystal she has, until tonight, been an artist "who knows what she should be doing," and that she should not "change into something which you're not." Crystal sticks her chin out and insists she is a multi-faceted person and artist, and enjoyed wearing the stilettos. Nobody enjoys wearing stilettos. She's become a fake and a fraud. 'Idol' has done this to her. Sigh.
Usher makes Aaron Kelly practice the "I know, I know, I know, I know" bits to "Ain't No Sunshine," to get the "theatrics" right, during the mentoring process. Which Aaron then ignores when he sings it for the judges on the show. Instead, Aaron sings it like, "I know, don't tell me, stop nagging." Nonetheless, the judges who pronounce his performance okay, except Simon who likens it to a cupcake.
"People like cupcakes," Seabiscuit whispers lovingly into Aaron's ear.
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Lisa de Moraes
March 31, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: "American Idol"
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