Eleven seasons have made American Idol quite stale.

I watched the top 13 perform tonight and when I wasn’t underwhelmed with the contestants the judges were raving about, I was just bored. The show’s kind of a mess now. Nothing really new or exciting can ever happen. Idol created the singing competition genre, but it certainly hasn’t been able to make it evolve.

On tonight’s episode, the top 13 (seven guys and six girls) performed – or attempted to perform, at the very least – the songs of Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. In my years of watching Idol, one thing that the contestants were always told after they inevitably butchered “I Have Nothing,” “I Will Always Love You” or “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is that Whitney is just too good and no one can do her justice. They’re advised to stay away. Why, then, would they arrange for the female contestants (all white, by the way) to sing Whitney’s songs? The boys didn’t fare any better: they all thought they can sing Stevie Wonder’s songs like Stevie, and that just wasn’t the case for most of them. Mary J. Blige was the guest mentor and  I just love her so much (that’s all I have to say about that).

The great thing about a top 13, though, is that there are probably nine people who could get eliminated on Thursday and it wouldn’t faze me in the least. Here is a rundown of what I think were the best and worst performances:

Top 3

Joshua Ledet’s take on “I Wish” got the show to an energizing start. He has a raspy, soulful, gospel thing that I’m really into.

Hollie (ugh) Cavanagh’s “All the Man that I Need” was surprisingly great. Actually, it was my favourite performance of the night.

Foolish is the girl who would attempt “I Will Always Love You.” Jessica Sanchez did. It wasn’t perfect (not even close) but it was pretty good. She does get bonus points for courage.

Bottom 3

Woah boy. Where do I start?

Jermaine Jones’ rendition of “Knocks Me Off My Feet.” He has a very deep voice. I would have gone with “My Cherie Amour” for him.

Shannon Magrane’s attempt at “I Have Nothing” was a little pathetic. It’s a big song (like most in Whitney’s repertoire) and she messed up the big note. Skip to 1:50 and hear for yourself.

A tie for the third spot in my bottom 3: Erika Van Pelt’s butchering of “I Believe in You and Me” which the judges loved (I don’t think we were listening to the same thing) and Elise Testone’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Testone was advised to change songs. If you watched the show live, you got to see her practice “The Greatest Love of All,” which she also sang horribly (but we only saw a few seconds, thank God).

Other thoughts on the performances

Other contestants that didn’t do horribly tonight were Heejun Han’s “All In Love Is Fair” and Skylar Laine’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” Phillip Phillips’ “Superstition” was fun, but I suspect the novelty of his quirkiness will wear off soon.

The rest of the performances, to be frank, were forgettable. Seriously, I am actually looking at the rest of the top 13 on americanidol.com and I cannot for the life of me remember what they sang. That’s a lesson to the contestants: be good, or be really bad. At least you’ll be remembered.

I’m a little disappointed and surprised that no one attempted Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” or an acoustic version of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.” If having six amateurs sing her songs was Idol producers’ way of honouring Whitney Houston, I hope they don’t go to bed tonight thinking they did her justice.


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