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American Idol: Top 11

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When it comes to truly great vocal teachers, there are really only two masters - Barbara Cook and Miley Cyrus. One has 80 years of life experience and is an expert in song interpretation; the other can pole dance. So it was a real coup for American Idol to get Miley Cyrus to be the celebrity mentor this week and share the wisdom of her 17 years.

Sadly, the fact that the Top 11 contestants were by and large awful really says how bad this year's crop is. Because if Miley Cyrus can't coax an extraordinary performance out of them then they are obviously hopeless.

And that's what we have this season. Crystal Bowersox and Siobhan Magnus and nine backup singers for H.R. Puffnstuf.

This week's theme was Billboard Number One Hits, meaning they could choose any song but "Jimmy Crack Corn." And still, a number of the contestants found the theme too restrictive.

As usual, the two-hour show had more padding than Eddie Murphy's fat suit in The Nutty Professor. It was 8:10 before the first song was sung. The interim was filled with grand entrances by the judges and Ryan, a mystifying standing ovation for Ryan (Standing O's used to be reserved for bravura performances; now they go to a guy whose sole talent is reminding us that "standard text rates do apply".), more introductions of the people already introduced, and searing questions to the judges like, "Why is tonight so important?"

Lee Dewyze started the night singing "The Letter". He did the Joe Cocker version, but Joe Cocker after massive doses of electro convulsive therapy. I bet Miley Cyrus has no idea who Joe Cocker is. Ellen compared Lee's performance to her favorite pen. What the hell is she doing there???

Paige Miles massacred "Against All Odds". She sounded absolutely petrified. Thelma Houston meets Barney Fife. I'm sure Miley Cyrus has never heard of either of them.

By now it was 8:30. Six minutes of singing in a half an hour. But we did hear about Ellen's favorite pen and how it sometimes dries up but then begins working again. There's no other judge they could have found?

Tim Urban -- Teen heartthrob/Judges' punching bag -- gave his best "Tom Cruise in 'Risky Business'" dance routine while attempting Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". In his session with Miley Cyrus, she said, "I don't think you're boring at all", to which he gushed, "Wow! That means a lot."

More risky business. Andrew Garcia was told by preeminent musicologist Miley Cyrus to take the bold stop of performing without his guitar. Yeah, like that's the problem. Barbara Cook might have observed that he just can't sing.

My guess is Barbara Cook in general would have given better advice but not looked as good in those short shorts as Miley Cyrus.

Aaron Kelly had laryngitis and tonsillitis and still sang better than practically anyone else. Astro Boy is the real deal.

Jesus, Kara is annoying. Even when she makes perceptive points (which she does frequently), she's just so whiny and insufferable that I envy how Elvis would take out a loaded revolver and shoot the television. "I don't think you know who you are as an artist and I..." BAM BAM BAM!

Crystal Bowersox can do no wrong. Even though she sang an on-the-nose cover version of Janis Joplin's "Me & Bobby McGee" the judges all plotzed. Kara whined that she needs to show more personality. BAM BAM BAM! My question: uh, WHAT personality? Crystal promises to show us a whole new side of her next week. Instead of singing Janis Joplin she'll be singing Leadbelly.

Big Mike Lynche chose Percy Sledge's overplayed-to-death oldie, "When A Man Loves a Woman". I love his falsetto.

Katie Stevens really benefited from fellow 17-year-old Miley Cyrus's advice. She gave Katie some good pointers on how to stand on stage and where to go for the best fake ID.

Casey James mimicked Huey Lewis' "Power of Love". Ellen thought it was the best vocal of the night. Seriously. What the fuck is she doing on that show? Miley saw him as a real talent. He saw her as jailbait.

Didi Benami has a baby doll voice that makes every song, no matter how dark or sultry sound like "Munchkin Land".

The pimp spot went Siobhan Magnus, now a member of Flock of Seagulls judging by her new do. She belted Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". She's still my favorite. I still love her. But enough of that loud piercing final note already. Yes, it's thrilling but save it for appropriate songs like the National Anthem or "The First Time Ever I Saw Your FAAAAAACCCCE!!!!!!!!!!!"

Paige, Tim, or Andrew is going home tonight. And Miley Cyrus is going to perform. If she's smart she'll ask Siobhan for a singing lesson. And a pole.

Read more from Ken here.