Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GROTESQUE MUSIC, MILLION-DOLLAR SADBABY WON'T YOU KEEP ME HAPPY: It's "Stones Night: Male Edition" (yeah, that was wrong) on AI, which means that Adam is ceding primary recapping duties to me, one of those Rolling Stones fans who believes that the band didn't exist until 1968's "Beggars Banquet" and broke up after 1981's outtakes album, "Tattoo You." Feel free to comment below, and I'll be back after 10:00 Pacific Daylight (yay, Daylight Savings!) Time with my unfairly harsh criticisms. Sample: Casey James, you're no Mick Taylor!

ETA: After the jump: surprisingly few unfair criticisms!

Did you know that Ellen is exactly the same height as Randy? And Simon? And Kara? Weird.

Mike Lynche, “Miss You.” Some Girls was the Stones’s disco-inflected album, and this was a well-picked song. It was also a good, different arrangement, kind of Michael Jacksonesque to steer, smartly, away from any Jaggerisms. It wasn’t perfect; kind of over-exerted, but pleasant.

Didi Benami, “Play with Fire.” Our first Hot Rocks song, which will get you docked, and the first person to tackle a Mick-vs.-underbelly-of-jet-set-society song. A little jarring in that register, but once I got used to the altitude, it sounded competent. Some serious Law School Musical acting in the middle. Spacewoman wanted me to point out the menorah in Didi’s clip.

The Outlaw Casey James, “It’s All Over Now.” A canny version of a song that is a bit of a cheat – the Stones version may be the best known, but it’s a cover. Casey does it justice (I’m not fond of the Stones version, so maybe that’s just my preference for the straight blues take). Maybe it’s small and bar-bandy (as Simon believes), but it wouldn’t sound out of place on the Austin City Limits stage either. I don’t know if this would sell a lot of downloads, but I like it. I’m floored that we’re three songs in and nobody has embarrassed himself. Is Casey’s mom Arlene from True Blood?

Lacy Brown, “Ruby Tuesday.” Wearing an outfit stolen from Patty Smythe circa “Goodbye to You” but with a banquet napkin mod, singing a Hot Rocks song (docked!), using the Cyndi Lauper back-of-the-throat little-girl voice and the pageant hand motions – I don’t get it, and I’m not surprised.

K.D. Lang, “Gimme Shelter.” Our third Hot Rocks song (docked!), though I’ll bet Garcia actually owns Let it Bleed. This could have been interesting, given Garcia’s gang-scion background, and I don’t care one bit about Randy’s pitch issues, but it just felt a bit small, a bit tired to me. For once, I agreed completely with Kara. But how much of a wasted opportunity was this? I was really hoping Garcia would take on a Keith vocal like “You Got the Silver” or “Happy.”

The Dumbest Girl in the World, “Wild Horses.” Hot Rocks, docked! Katie promises to put Connecticut on the map. I had no idea that with some Elton John piano and modest strings this could be a passable adult-contempo weeper. Though she’s been reliably bad so far, Katie has a pretty good voice, unusually strong (though not necessarily accurate) in the lower register, and did a commendable job with a theme she clearly didn’t relish. Now my map now has all 50 states!

Tim Urban, from a bangs-loving family, “Under My Thumb.” Hot Docked!. This was one of the weirdest and creepiest fucking things I’ve ever heard.

Siobhan Magnus, “Paint It, Black.” Dockrocked! Not wild about the version, but it hit all the Idol compulsories. Great pipes on this girl. I wish she didn’t just stand there on stage and do the Celine Dion loose grip with the mic, but it all seemed to work.

Fake Name Lee DeWyze, “Beast of Burden.” I absolutely love this song, and it was smart for Lee not to mess around with it too much. It was the Blunt/Mayer sensitive-frat-sex-folk version, but that’s okay, because this pretty much was a sensitive-frat-sex-rock song in its own right back in the day. Simon: “I wish you would yell more, like that last girl. She yells, that one, she does, gov’nah.”

Paige Miles, “Honky Tonk Women.” Hotcked! Let me ask you: if you were going to go to all the trouble to change the lyrics, not just for gender , but also dumb stuff like saying “VIP” because you don’t want to say “divorcee,” why would you leave in the cocaine-and-sex reference (“she blew my nose and then she blew my mind”)? Baffling. Lyrics aside, this was a pretty solid country crowd-pleaser. Impelled to mention – best country version of this song? “Country Honk,” by some British band that none of these kids except for the hippies and the guy with the neck tattoo has ever heard of.

Haley Osment, “Angie.” My first thought, as soon as I heard the song title, was “no no no no no.” But this was certainly the best version of “Angie” that one could hope for from a boy who has never had to change the blades on his Mach 5.

Crystal Bowersox, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Hdrockd! That was the best sounding version of the night. A little obvious, not very adventurous, but really – can you even have a coherent competition where one contestant wants to have Disney night, one does a weird reggae-lite crooned song pro-misogyny polemic, and another one effortlessly carries the torch for classic stoner rock? The show is weirder now than when it was 100% square.

So I have to say, I completely expected a train wreck, like the Beatles, Rat Pack, and Michael Jackson nights. Instead, the Stones were a perfect theme – both broad and familiar enough to play to almost everybody’s strengths. And I say that even though there were eight (!) Hot Rocks songs and zero (!) non-Hot Rocks songs from the greatest three-album run in rock history, Let it Bleed-Sticky Fingers-Exile. I would have bet money on someone doing, as I said to Adam and KCos, the Justine Bateman version of “Satisfaction” (I guess that will be in the group sing). I don’t know who won the night, but really, only Tim Urban embarrassed himself; I guess I’d put Didi and either Lacy or Andrew in the bottom three with him.


  1. I'm still trying to unhear that reggae "Under My Thumb".  Oy.

  2. I cannot remember a song being as grieviously misinterpreted as what Tim Urban did to "Under My Thumb" by way of Mraz.  Wow.  Subjugation of women never sounded so happy.

    And then the Siobhan wail.  Wow.  More to come.

  3. Carmichael Harold10:19 PM

    <p>I had to listen to Siobhan twice.  The first time, I was only half paying attention and it seemed a mess. The second time, though, it seemed like almost a goth reinterpretation with her plugging into the darkness of the lyrics and the rawness and wail at the end made sense.  I'd guess this is probably a standard reworking, but I hadn't heard it before, and I have to appreciate anytime someone can get me to rethink a song I've heard hundreds of time before.

  4. Siobhan was the best obvs, but Lee and Crystal were plenty good.  Tim belongs on his own planet of suck, but I can't say that Aaron or Lacey were much better.  (Dear Lacey: Weird phrasing is not the same as interpretation.)

    I thought Big Mike's performance was weird -- "Miss You" is a song about lust and yearning, and you can't be the New Daddy singing it like it's a Terence Trent D'Arby b-side.  And in general, I thought a lot of singers missed the menace required in singing a Rolling Stones song -- including Andrew.

  5. Heh, I also had to watch Siobhan twice, and damn, that worked well.  I don't know what that note was, but the whole song worked towards it.  Definately worthly of the Lambert comparsion.  But is it a standard reworking?  I can't belive that that radical an arrangement was just come up with this week, but in a 5 minute google search, I'm not finding it's antecedent. 

  6. "Wild Horses" has always bored me somewhat, but Katie Stevens neutered it to cruise ship levels.  Wow.

    Siobhan totally got that song.  If the Stones were going to sing it today, that's how they'd sing it.  Especially if they'd ever bothered to listen to a Tori Amos album.

    I think Garcia goes home - if the perception is that he's been in freefall since Hollywood, this did nothing to reverse the pull of that gravity.

  7. Oh, and I want to give major respect to Katie for not trotting out her grandmother in her family interview.  *cough* Gokey *cough*

  8. Paige is not old enough to actually drink, much less old enough to sing about "drinking someone off [her] mind."  Poor, poor song choice.  She even looked confused during the "He blew my nose, then he blew my mind" line.  Has no one explained to her what it means?  Did they and she couldn't back out of singing it, so had to fake innocence?

    The only thing I worry about for Bowersox tonight is that she's already starting to feel repetitive.  She needs to do a straight up ballad or something soon.

  9. Paige also changed the "laid a divorcee" line into "met a VIP," it sounded like.

  10. Paige sang the Ike and Tina version of Honky Tonk Woman.  Her line was "I paid a VIP", Tina's was "I laid a VIP" and the original is, of course, "I laid a divorcee".  I wouldn't be surprised if the laid-to-paid change was courtesy of the producers or network.

  11. isaac_spaceman2:34 AM

    I believe it's "played a divorcee."  And apparently I liked Stones night more than most. 

  12. Eric J6:42 AM

    I'm just disappointed no one did "Star Star" or "Schoolboy Blues."

  13. Chris7:05 AM

    LOL, We said the same thing about Casey's mom.  We were wondering where Mary Ann was!

  14. kevbo nobo7:28 AM

    Great night for Siobahn to show off her Gorey tat.  I knew Urban was a maroon the way he read "HAllelujah" like it was "Mary has a Little Lamb"-- now he's a maroon gone rogue that needs to be put out of his misery.  Thought Didi did her best yet- though her attempt to be sinister was merely cute.

  15. kevbo nobo8:15 AM

    <span>Oh, Isaac- good call on Country Honk.  Love that song, but it makes me feel wistful because it reminds me that Gram Parsons made one of the classic historical blunders- no, not "getting involved in a land war in Asia"-- making Keith Richards your pharma-mentor</span>

  16. Fred App8:21 AM

    I think you're being generous by calling "Miss You" a song about yearning. It's a song about a Rolling Stones band in danger of being over the hill trying to cash in on the disco craze. Of the entire Stones songbook, that was one song I wanted least to hear, so I was glad it was reworked into something bluesier.

    Isaac: Even someone who doesn't acknowledge pre-1968 Stones should understand that Casey James is no Brian Jones, not Mick Taylor. I thought his version wasn't bad, but I think he's becoming too in love with his guitar playing and featuring it at the expense of his singing, which may come back to haunt him.

    I liked Lee and Crystal a lot. And although Siobhan's version was definitely Lambert-like (I made that comparison to the wife even before the song finished), I don't hate her the way I hate Lambert -- mainly because it seems less an affectation with her.

  17. Paul Tabachneck8:22 AM

    Siobhan.  WOW.  That... See, that waltz thing started, and I was thinking, "This is the kind of thing that will kill your chances if it goes on for.... Oh, you're gonna kick it over to the rock version?  Awesome, but that's going to get you dinged for singing in the vanilla octav--- OH.  OK.  It's time to win.  Sorry, I wasn't aware."

    I really hope she has more tricks to pull out of her sleeve, because I don't know how much more she can do.  Maybe she needs to pull back for one.

  18. Jenn.8:47 AM

    All in all, I thought that most of them were fine.  Not great, not awful.  Which may not make for the most exciting episode of Idol, but was better than I'd expected given who made it through to the Top 12.  I thought that Andrew, Tim, and Katie were the weakest performers, and I also just don't like Aaron's voice.  Also, I don't really recall what Lacey sang or how she sang it, so that's not really a good sign, is it?

    My favorite was Crystal's Satisfaction, which I thought had a really nice build.  I actually didn't even recognize the song until part way in, which was surprising given how well known the song was.  I enjoyed Siobhan's Paint It Black until the scream.  I thought that the arrangement made sense---it just seemed like the scream was off, note-wise, unlike the note in Think.  [Also, and for the record, if she starts inserting screams, even in-tune screams, into every arrangement, I'm not going to be a very happy camper.  One year of Adam Lambertian Screeching was plenty for me.  Thx.]  My third favorite would probably be one of Didi (a little off on the verses, but really liked the chorus) or Lee (a pleasant version, but crafted to have very, very, very little range).  I also was impressed with how well Paige did given her laryngitis, and she and Big Mike were my favorite in terms of performing and using the big stage.

  19. Cecilia9:00 AM

    I completely agree with Isaac about Honky Tonk Women. I hate when they change the lyrics to fit gender (not to mention other things). I promise not to think you're gay if you sing from a male perspective. And if you can't handle that, don't sing that song!

    I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one who thought that Siobhan was going for the whole thing on purpose. Like Carmichael Harold, I didn't quite get it at first, and then I realized that the whole performance had been thought out.

    Even though I hated a lot of the performances (Garcia just neutered everything intense out of "Gimme Shelter," Tim and Lacey were weird for no good reason, Aaron was out of tune), I still somehow thoroughly enjoyed watching the night.

  20. isaac_spaceman9:34 AM

    I wrote the "no Mick Taylor" line before watching the show, without knowing what song he was going to do.  I do know the difference between the two. 

  21. I like Aaron.  He has a likeability and a vocal ability far superior to his peer on the show, Katie. I don't find her very likeable, and, in my opinion, she annihilated Wild Horses. I don't find her voice pleasant. I was surprised the judges were so kind.  I had low expectations when Aaron chose Angie, but I thought he did pretty well with it.   He's no Crystal, or Siobhan, or Lee, but I prefer him to Katie and Lacey, both of whom surprised me by surviving to this week. He sings well, and he doesn't have dead eyes.  (And, yeah, ok, fine he kinda reminds me of one of my kids.)

  22. jessica10:34 AM

    i was not wowed by any of the performances... at least not in a good way. I'm fine with Crstal and her boring/predictable song choices, and I was totally with Siobhan until she terrified me with her scream, but nothing shocked me more than the revelation that Aaron's mother is named KELLY KELLY!!!

  23. Ack.  I mislabeled what Crystal sang (You Can't Always Get What You Want).  I had typed up a post, and then accidentally refreshed instead of posting, so I ended up hurriedly retyping it up.  D'oh.  [slaps head]

  24. Anonymous11:36 AM

    I didn't see the tattoo up close - Gorey as in Edward Gorey?  That would be awesome.
    So agreeing on Urban being a maroon - best description yet of how he butchered "Hallelujah."

  25. tortoiseshelly12:12 PM

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say my favorite performances last night were Didi, Casey and Aaron. (Please don't shoot!)

    I really like Siobhan, and I think her performance was good, but not in a clear favorite way, if I'm being honest. The scream killed it for me.

    Crystal is suffering in my mind by comparison to her prior performances - in particular her Hollywood performance of "If It Makes You Happy" which is still her standout for me. Since then, at least until tonight, I think she's way outperformed the others but not really made me stand at attention. It may be unfair, and it may relate to the growth arc narrative that we talk about here, but I guess I need to see her top herself before I'm going to be WOWED again.

    Didi has had two really good performances in a row - Rhiannon and Play with Fire. As for Casey, I really like the scratch in his voice, and I think if he chooses (or reworks) songs to fit into the Texas blues/rock style he prefers, he'll do well. I do wish he looked a little more confident on stage, but it's not a dealbreaker for me - yet.

    Aaron actually took me by surprise last night. I wasn't expecting to like what I heard from him, but I did. I don't think he's a frontrunner by any means, but he has some potential.

  26. Aimee1:00 PM

    I want to like Lee DeWyze.  I think he's got a good voice.  But man, he just makes me snooze.  I never heard Beast of Burden sound so sexless before.  Blah.

    I loved Siobhan, including the NOTE.  But then again, I loved Glambert, too.  I don't mind some screaming, if it's well done, and she did it well.  I liked Didi.  Katiebot frightens me.  I don't get the love for Big Mike, he just sets my teeth on edge and I can't look at him.  Crystal's still my favorite, but I agree she needs to shake things up a bit.  She's great, but she needs to not be predictable.

  27. Watts1:31 PM

    Siobhan's screaming worked for me, only in the context of the song.  There's so much anger in that song and only a wail will do sometimes.

  28. Jim Bell1:46 PM

    Me three.  I mean twice.  I think it was interesting in the same way Lambert's interpretation of Ring of Fire was...  She is awesome though.

  29. Googling both versions strongly suggests it's LAID A DIVORCEE, which also makes more sense.

  30. Jenn.5:27 PM

    See, my problem with that note in Siobhan's performance was that I didn't think that it was well done.  Well-placed, but really off, vocally.  The boyfriend likes Adam Lambert, and he was appalled by the high note.  [He also thought that she was flat through most of the beginning part.] 

    Speaking of the boyfriend, he was a wee bit bitter that Simon didn't go after Tim Urban last night. 

    BF:  Maybe he'll do a bird song.  Then Simon will finally trash him.  [Pause]  See?  I listen!

  31. Genevieve8:21 PM

    But if Simon went after Tim, his fans would go crazy dialing to keep him in.  This way, maybe not so much.

  32. I really liked Lee and Didi last night, and to a slightly lesser extent, The Outlaw Casey James. I agree that he needs to work on his confidence. I just really like the sound of his voice. BTW: I love that nickname. Well done!

    Crystal was just OK for me last night. Solid but no "wow" factor this time. Obvs still want her to stick around. 

    I like Siobhan but I'm just not sold on her yet (but there's time). I love the that song and I didn't mind her arrangement too much - except that note where she was off (that's how it sounded to me). Bottom line: I didn't hate it the way I loathed Lambert's Ring of Fire. I was just sort of meh with a dash of curiosity about what she'll do next week. I am a little concerned about the fact that she is apparently a big Courtney Love and Hole fan. 

    Everyone else was pretty forgettable for me. I like Katie and her voice but it just isn't coming together right. Also, that Disney songs thing? Yikes! I really wish she had waited a couple of years to audition. I know she said her grandmother was one of the reasons she tried out this year, but I think so far this is mostly just a wasted opportunity for her - one she could have done something real with in a few years. 

    Tim, Lacey, Paige or Aaron could go home tonight and I won't much care.  Boot Katie or Big Mike and I won't lose any sleep over it either, though I'd prefer Big Mike stick around for at least a few more weeks. I actually had to scroll back up to this post to see who I was forgetting (Andrew Garcia) so that doesn't bode well for him. As long as Crystal, Casey, Lee, Didi, and Siobhan stick around until the final weeks, it doesn't matter to me how the others go. Although my ears would appreciate Tim heading home tonight. 

    I think I heard a rumor that David Cook is performing tonight. Now there's a performance I can get excited about!

  33. kevbo nobo7:16 AM

    Yeah.  Mrs. Nobo is a Gorey fan so I recognized the style right away.