Project ‘Idol’: Idol Gives Back, Part 1

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READ MORE | Project ‘Idol’ recaps from each week

It was a night of inspirational songs for the Top 7 on “American Idol,” which is celebrating “Idol Gives Back,” where the show dedicates Tuesday and Wednesday to raising money for charity.

Wednesday night is a two-hour special with loads of guest stars (Annie Lennox, Black Eyed Peas), but Tuesday it was business as usual, and by that I mean taking classic songs are spreading them liberally with cheese.

Alicia Keys was the mentor and didn’t have much to add. What a shock. Obviously, that’s not a prerequisite to be on “Idol,” with Exhibit A being America’s favorite lesbian, Ellen. If “Idol” returns for a 10th season, my guess is she won’t be at the judges’ table.

imageCasey James: Please, please, please, Fleetwood Mac – for the love of all that’s good and holy – stop licensing your music to “Idol.’ Although I like Casey, he gave “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” a country rock feel, messed with the melody, and there were runs – runs for days. Runs like you’ve just eaten a KFC Double Down and the only toilet open is like the one in “Trainspotting.” I digress. Truthfully, Casey has become one-note. The guitar, the gravelly voice, and he just doesn’t have Crystal Bowersox’s musical chops.

Lee Dewyze: Deweezie chose “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkle, and – wait for it – I wanted to punch him in the face. He totally destroyed the classic melody and poured all sorts of emo angst on it, nearly rearranging the song out of existence. The judges were heaping praise on him for no apparent reason. Simon even called it “brilliant.” Paula must have snuck in the back door and tapped a little crazy dust in their cups, because it sucked ass. And not in the good way.

imageTim Urban: Teeth & Pecs sang “Better Days” by Goo Goo Dolls. It was a safe song, no vocal acrobatics necessary. He’s cute, got the Justin Bieber hair working, and a perma-smile plastered on his mug. The teens and tweens (and gays) love him, so although it was a karaoke performance, it wasn’t as bad as Deweezie. He’ll be around another week or two.

Aaron Kelly: Alicia advised him to cry (really, Alicia, seriously? That’s your expert advice?) during his cover of R. Kelly’s artery-clogging “I Believe I Can Fly.” Instead of giving it any soul or emotion, he spread his white boy cream cheese all over it. Flat, uninspired and like something from a high school talent show. Once again, the judges over-praised him for no reason, and Miss Seacrest called him “fearless.” Insert “bitch, please” eye-roll here.

imageSiobhan Magnus: What the fuck has happened to Siobhan? A few weeks ago, I had her pegged as a front-runner, and now she’s become this self-indulgent screamer, who has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. She chose Whitney and Mariah’s duet “When You Believe,” and it ranged from breathy to flat. When she went for the glory notes, they seemed incomplete. She wore a dress covered with little butterflies that Simon mistook for leaves. Pass the Cheese Whiz.

Michael Lynche: Chad Kroeger’s “Hero” was a strange choice, and since it’s a big crunchy rock song, Big Mike’s lame-ass guitar cover was weak. Kara – in a rare moment of clarity – said Mike’s tone didn’t suit the song, and she was exactly right. Still not the worst of the night, but he might be in the bottom by default.

Crystal Bowersox: Mama Sox, who reportedly was ready to quit the show last week, put down the guitar and put on her long, shimmering black dress for “People Get Ready.” She proved that even without the axe, she has the best voice on the show. It was the most honest, emotional performance she’s ever given. If she doesn’t win the season, there is no God.

Whether anyone will actually go home tomorrow night is uncertain. When they did “Idol Gives Back” a couple of years ago, they pretended like there was going to be an elimination and then, in the spirit of giving, let everyone stay.

Collin. Out.

imageCollin Kelley is a poet, Atlanta-based journalist and author of the recently released novel, “Conquering Venus.” Follow him on the Modern Confessional blog at


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