American Idol Recap: Who was Soul Sister (or Brother) No. 1?
Last night's soul/R&B challenge on American Idol was secretly the toughest round in the competition. In a game where adult judges mock teen contestants for seeming old-fashioned, "soul" music felt like a set-up for Idol disasters. Hear this: Soul is not a hot-seller on the Billboard Hot 100. Hip-hop, pop and some R&B are always represented, sure, but never soul -- not since the heyday of Lauryn Hill and D'Angelo. Therefore, the 10 remaining contestants had to choose soul standards carefully in order to seem relevant, but still, only a few earned Simon's saucy wink of approval. We rank their performances worst to first after the jump.
10. Tim Urban, "Sweet Love"
Soon Tim will just respond to the judges' weekly insults with hilarious confessions. "I didn't even mean to join the competition!" he'll exclaim. "I work at Quizno's and walked in the wrong door. See you in the final two!" Applause! His votes triple! Embarrassing vocals are forgotten and replaced with cartoon hearts sent from America's groin. The man whose singing sometimes approaches "in tune" isn't getting better; he's just limiting his bleakness to a dinkier range. He's cute, he's McFly and he's untalented. Let's try not to make him the American Idol, guys.
9. Casey James, "Hold On, I'm Comin'"
Once every three weeks, I'm a practicing Casey James zealot. I deck my dreamboard in paisley, rate the all-Americanness of his rockabilly grin (9.7 out of 10 at last count), and adore his consistent vocals. During the other two weeks, I remember that Casey is desperately static. Who told this wheaten-haired troubadour that we care about a nondescript '60s soul number? Or his electric guitar? There's no need for Hendrix-style riffs when Rickey Minor books 300 guitarists, banjoists, back-up shriekers and capuchin monkeys for every performance. Unfortunately, in his own sad way, Casey outdid himself this week -- he delivered his most forgettable performance yet.
8. Katie Stevens, "Chain of Fools"
Get this: Katie Stevens chose an overplayed standard. "Chain of Fools" requires only a big voice and an iota of self-possession for success. Whoops: Guess which of those ingredients Katie forgot to pick up at Limited Too. Ms. Stevens has a fine voice, but she's pointless in this competition compared to the inventive Crystal Bowersox or the nervy Lee DeWyze. We're looking at a girl who expects pitch alone to vault her skyward. So, my bad -- maybe she does have a lot of nerve.