On an American Idol night when most of the contestants ranged from merely passable to downright bad, and when the show's judges were especially brutal, North Texans Casey James and Tim Urban both took some heat for their performances. But Urban took more heat.
The night's theme was " Billboard No. 1 Hits," a broad category that gave the contestants a chance to sing in any genre they chose. James picked Huey Lewis & the News' 1985 hit The Power of Love, changing it to a more electric-guitar-heavy arrangement and sounding, at points, eerily like Lewis himself. That went over well with some judges, not so well with others.
Randy Jackson said that James is probably the best musician to ever appear on Idol but showed doubts about the song choice even though he overall liked James' vocals. Ellen DeGeneres said she thought it was the best vocals of the night up to that point (James was the ninth of 11 performers), and Kara DioGuardi said he's on another level from the other contestants. But Simon Cowell said that James didn't do enough with the song. "It was like watching and listening to an '80s cover band," Cowell said.
That was kind compared with how Cowell treated Duncanville's Urban, who did Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love in a performance that included sliding across the stage and jumping into the audience. "It was completely and utterly pointless and silly," Cowell said. "You've got zero chance of winning right now." The other judges weren't much nicer: DeGeneres and DioGuardi both said it was like an audition for a High School Musical sequel, and Jackson said, "The dopest thing for me was the slide. ... The vocals were so boring."
Urban does have a fan in this week's "mentor artist," teen pop star Miley Cyrus, who told him in during one of the show's pre-taped segments that she doesn't think he's boring.
Urban did fare better than fellow contestants Paige Miles, whose Against All Odds was an off-key mess, and Andrew Garcia, who was simply out of his league trying to take on I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Both were hammered by all the judges, with Cowell telling Miles "I think that just killed you" and telling Garcia that he sucked the soul out of one of the greatest pop songs of all time.
ROBERT PHILPOT, 817-390-7872