American Idol put on its white polyester suit tonight, threw in a light smattering of glitter, and tried to channel Elvis Presley by way of Adam Lambert. Yet while the songbook in question was chock full o’ gems, and the guest mentor was able to swiftly zero in on what’s been ailing the season 9 combatants, most of the evening had the distinctive scent of a Bounce fabric-softener sheet. Which is to say that the telecast was tailor made for folding the laundry. [SPOILERS AHEAD, west-coast pals!] Honestly, was there any benefit to looking up from one’s intense sock-pairing activities to soak up the pablum of Andrew Garcia, Aaron Kelly, or Katie Stevens? And while front-runners Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox continued to separate themselves from their competitors — like the clean laundry from the sullied — last week’s standout Casey James took one step into the Swaybot pit, and one step backward in momentum. (The good news? Exec producer Ken Warwick made good on his promise to me to stop obstructing our view of the performers by having the Idol cameras shoot above the hands of those swaying ghouls!)
Meanwhile Big Mike absolutely nailed his number (meaning he probably won’t suffer the embarrassment of going home one week after earning the Judges’ Save); Siobhan Magnus received criticism that seemed based more on her personal potential than on how her performance compared to her competitors; and Tim Urban did the figure-skating equivalent of nailing a series of perfectly unobjectionable single axels. Huzzah, Tim! You will live to see another week. Disco, perhaps?
Finally, with an 88-minute running time, the judges kept their comments positively spartan, and mostly totally useless. Randy Jackson, please define “in the zone.” Ellen DeGeneres, if all nine singers are “great” or “fantastic,” why bother sitting behind the judges’ table and offering feedback? And Simon, sometimes Kara DioGuardi has a point — like when she tried to tell Lee his “A Little Less Conversation” would’ve benefited from a flirtier, sexier vibe. There, you have your notes for next week. America, 1; Swaybots, 0; Judges -1.
On that note, I’m off to work on my full-length TV Watch recap. (UPDATE: Click over now to see Michael Slezak’s detailed American Idol Elvis Night recap.) In the meantime, check out my Idolatry interview with Didi Benami, and follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak, where you can get all my Idol-related commentary and exclusive news.
Tonight’s Set List
Crystal Bowersox, “Saved”
Andrew Garcia, “Hound Dog”
Tim Urban, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
Lee DeWyze, “A Little Less Conversation”
Aaron Kelly, “Blue Suede Shoes”
Siobhan Magnus, “Suspicious Minds”
Michael Lynche, “In the Ghetto”
Katie Stevens, “Baby What Do You Want Me to Do”
Casey James, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”