It was Lennon & McCartney night and not only did the kids pretty much rise to the occasion, no one sang "Imagine"! How many times have we heard that song trampled? I am a little disappointed no one did " Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" and "I Am the Walrus" (I would have loved hearing Kara scold Katie Stevens for not making the lyric "yellow matter custard/dripping from a dead dog's eye" her own) but all in all a solid night.
And what would a Beatles song be like without a didgeridoo or the bagpipes? Both were employed last night. I worry that this trend to be original and surprising will escalate to where Crystal is playing a musical saw with her teeth and Lee is accompanying himself on the Exedrin Thumb Piano.
Aaron Kelly kicked things off with "The Long and Winding Road." I liked it better than the judges did. Simon blasted the arrangement. I can just imagine Phil Spector sitting with his fellow inmates in federal prison (those hardened criminals are just suckers for singing competitions), enjoying his one hour respite from being passed around like a lit joint, only to hear his gorgeous arrangement ridiculed on national television. Oh are those zany guys from cell block D gonna razz him for that!
Katie Stevens (another reason I'm sure the convicts are such Idol fans) gave one of her best performances, to date singing "Let It Be." Kara (who is starting to look alarmingly like Jack Lord) complimented her on rebounding after three sub-par weeks. Katie is growing on me.
Andrew Garcia sang "Can't Buy Me Love." A better choice might have been "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party So I'll Go." Andrew's not in the league of the front runners and even a Bowafridgeaphone or a gas tank orchestra would not help him at this stage.
Big Mike Lynche turned "Eleanor Rigby" into a Luther Vandross song. But then he turns every song into a Luther Vandross song. The judges were mixed. But compared to David Cook's amazing version of the song from season 7, Big Mike paled.
Simon is always criticizing the contestants for sounding like they're in a musical but where's the only place former Idol kids can get work? In Broadway musicals. Don't kid yourself Simon. You may think these young singers strive to be Kelly Clarkson. They'd kill to be Ethel Merman.
Crystal Bowersox gave the performance of the night with "Come Together" despite the fact that she had bronchitis. Her didgeridoo player hung in there with her and at one point he held a note so long I thought he was going to blow his liver out through the horn.
If this was 1966 Tim Urban would be a member of the Monkees and a bigger star than all the American Idols put together. But it's 2010 and I'm afraid he's going home soon after Andrew.
Casey James did a heartfelt version of "Jealous Guy." Here's my problem with Casey: no one that good looking should ever be allowed to sing the blues. What kind of anguish has this guy had to endure? Being stalked by Kara?
Siobhan Magnus always looks so cute -- except on show night. Then she turns into an audience member of a midnight "Rocky Horror Picture Show" screening. This week she came dressed as Madonna during her ill advised "Papa Don't Preach" phase. But I love Siobhan. Maybe it's because I once had a crush on Kim Darby but I do believe she's an extraordinary singer. After weeks of power screeching she backed way off and did a beautiful sensitive interpretation of "Across the Universe." If she doesn't win this competition she too is headed to Broadway. She'll be starring in "the Addams Family" by Halloween.
Lee Dewyze had the pimp spot and sang "Hey Jude." Since Idol is always looking for new ways to fill time (now they have exit interviews reminding us just how much we all miss The Weakest Link) "Hey Jude" is the perfect song because it can be sung forever. Lee was joined inexplicably by a bagpipe player. Ellen had the line of the night saying the kilted musician had veered off from his parade.
There was no celebrity mentor this week although if the kids wouldn't mind mingling with 200 rapists, murderers, and Goldman-Sachs executives, I'm sure Phil Spector would have been happy to give them all tips.
Follow Ken Levine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KenLevine