Project ‘Idol’ Tuesday: Usher mentors Top 10

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The bloom is most definitely off the rose when it comes to Season 9 of “American Idol.” Critics across the country have proclaimed this the worst season ever.

Tonight, Usher showed up to mentor the Top 10 for a night of soul/R&B songs. Usher, of course, has a new album to promote. The theme brought out the best in some and the pedestrian in others.

imageSiobhan Magnus: Usher told her to tone down the weird clothes, which she totally ignored and added Princess Leia’s hair-do from “The Empire Strikes Back” for good measure. Her high notes were too sharp on Chaka Kahn’s “Through The Fire,” and she still managed to get in a couple of trademark screams, which, as Simon said, are a bit old hat now.

Casey James: Cougar Bait probably had lots of ladies in an orgasmic frenzy at home with his Clapton-esque performance of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On I’m Coming,” but Ellen wasn’t one of them. She thought he sounded generic, but like, Simon, I thought this was one his strongest performances to date.

imageMike Lynche: While Usher’s stare into the camera when advising Big Mike how to reach the audience at home was creepy, the audience members in the front row trying to sway their arms to India.Arie’s “Ready for Love” were even more so. It was a subtle, nicely sung ballad. He’s probably in the Top 3.

Didi Benami: I can’t think of “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” without thinking of Kathy Bates wrapped in cellophane in “Friend Green Tomatoes.” That said, Kathy would have done a better job with this than Didi. Dressed like she was on the way to senior prom, her tuneless and overwrought performance was terrible.
The awkward bit with Miss Seacrest grilling Didi about why she chose the song, Simon slamming “So You Think You Can Dance” and the wink-and-a-nod to the rumors of Seacrest and Didi dating was just weird. Ryan should take a page from the Ricky Martin playbook. Just sayin’…

imageTim Urban: Even if Tim had strolled out naked with a 10-inch dick in his hand, that wouldn’t have made up for his deer-in-headlights, lifeless cover of Anita Baker’s classic “Sweet Love.” Usher told him he wasn’t connecting with the song, and Ellen simply asked “Why?” Simon threw up his hands and said people were going to vote for him no matter what. He’s officially this season’s Sanjaya.

Andrew Garcia: Still chasing his “moment” from Hollywood week when he covered “Straight Up,” Andrew decided to do an acoustic and orchestral version of lady-beater Chris Brown’s “Forever.” I’m not a fan of Andrew (and certainly not of Brown), but this actually wasn’t bad. His over-excited mom was one “cuchi-cuchi” away from being Charo.

Katie Stevens: The pageant wannabe decided to slut up her look with some hoop earrings and a bit more rouge to cover Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” Vocally it was fine, but she didn’t sell it. She’s got theme park singer written all over her.

imageLee Dewyze: Deweezie covered “Treat Her Like A Lady” in an early-90s grunge sort of way. The judges were big pimpin’ him, and Simon said it was a game-changer for the show. Not quite, but it was his best performance of the season.

Crystal Bowersox: She promised a surprise last week and delivered by putting down the guitar, strapping on some stilettos and sitting down at the piano for “Midnight Train to Georgia.” She was a little rusty on the ivories, but the vocals were effortless and impeccable. She’s still the one to beat.

Aaron Kelly: Little Aaron sounded better in his rehearsal footage with Usher than when he performed “Ain’t No Sunshine” live. It was flat, and he seemed uncomfortable trying to “personalize” it as Usher suggested.

Who’s going home tomorrow night? Probably Didi, but Tim’s number is almost up.

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 collinkelley.com.

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