We begin today’s American Idol recap with a fond farwell to Siobhan Magnus — glassblower, moth whisperer, power belter, and possible woodland faerie. You may have loved her. You may have loathed her. Or, like me, you may have been holding on to threadbare hope that Siobhan would return to the magnificent early-season form she displayed on ”Paint It Black” and ”House of the Rising Sun.” But whatever your feelings about this season’s resident quirky-chick contestant, there’s no denying her absence is going to drain a little color from the final eight episodes of this strange and frustrating Idol season.
I mean, it’s not like we can count on Lee DeWyze or Michael Lynche to stray far from their standard-operating black, gray, and/or olive color palette. It’s not like we can count on High School Student Aaron Kelly to offer backstage zingers like Siobhan’s direct attack on Simon Cowell’s fashion: ”For someone who wears the same V-neck every day, he sure has an awful lot to say about my style!” And it’s not like there’s anyone left among the five remaining contestants who’s only tangentially aware that he or she is participating in a live television broadcast.
Seriously, did you notice at the end of tonight’s episode, how hard Ryan had to work to get Siobhan to disengage from hugging it out with her mom and the rest of her entourage, and to focus on the work of providing a TV-friendly denouement to her full-throttle sing-out to Aretha Franklin’s ”Think”? The trademark Siobhan glory shriek was in full effect on her take-no-prisoners final performance, but this time around, The Note was in proper alignment, and sounded pretty stellar. ”You’re still our star,” Mama Magnus whispered sweetly to her daughter, a sentiment that surely drew ”Hell yeahs!” from Siobhan fans everywhere.
And yet, how did the girl who once looked like a mortal lock for the top three wind up finishing behind the once-eliminated Big Mike and the perpetually unspectacular Aaron? For starters, there’s song choice. Future Idol contenders should bear in mind that ”Any Man of Mine” is now 0-for-2 on the show, having also led to unimonikered Mandisa’s exit back in season 5. Perhaps more damaging, though, was Siobhan’s backward momentum over the last five or six weeks.
Even the biggest Siobhan booster can’t make the case that ”Any Man of Mine” was in the same league as her Rolling Stones cover in top 12 week. Nor is it up for debate that last week’s turgid ”When You Believe” was on par with that haunting semifinal rendition of ”House of the Rising Sun.” And that’s a major problem on a show where viewers often demand to see ”growth” above all else. Indeed, if you’re not learning and improving on a weekly basis — or if you dare to peak too early — then it’s only a matter of time till the backlash begins.
NEXT: Dig a little deeper, Lee