Dish Of Salt: Wednesday TV Dish (Backstage With ‘Idol’s’ Top 10)
First Published: March 31, 2010 3:59 PM EDT Credit: FOX
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The Top 10 performed on “American Idol” last night and I was inside the studio for all the action. Plus in an “Idol” first, I had a chance to talk with the contestants backstage after their performances. Here’s what went down….
The energy inside the “Idol” studio was off the charts last night. The crowd was raring to go and gave guest mentor Usher a wildly enthusiastic welcome as he took his seat just two minutes before airtime. I like Usher, but truthfully I was more excited when I spotted Jane Lynch (aka Sue Sylvester from “Glee”) take her seat about eight minutes before show time. Chris Rock with his wife and his two cute daughters in tow also got the crowd going.
Siobhan Magnus started off the night with Chaka Khan’s “Through The Fire” and in case you are wondering, yes it sounded as bad in the studio as it did on TV. Several of her notes were cringe worthy and Simon Cowell actually laughed at one point when she went for a high note that didn’t quite land. I’m guessing that’s why he commented to her, “I’m getting quite bored of the screaming at the end.” Backstage, Siobhan told us (myself and two other writers) she struggled with the R&B theme this week. “I felt like I did what I could. It was a hard week overall,” she explained. Siobhan said she fell into the trap of listening to what other people have been telling her to do. “I lost track of being completely Siobhan. It was like Siobhan compromised. I feel like I need to do what I feel good about from now on,” she said.
After the commercial break, we were treated to a little backstage footage with the contestants, a new “Idol” twist. The contestants were mixed on whether or not they thought it was a good idea. “It depends on how well you did after the performance. Some people are more in the mood to do an interview that others,” Siobhan explained. However, Michael Lynche liked the new backstage element. “I like the honesty behind it,” he said. “It’s cool for people to see what really goes on for us.”
Next up to sing was Casey James. As always, he brought out his electric guitar to sing the Sam & Dave classic “Hold On, I’m Coming,” which he told us backstage is the ringtone on his phone. “I love that song so much,” he said. “And as soon as I saw it I knew that was it.” Simon had a huge smile throughout the performance and the audience was rocking out as well.
During the commercial break, the stage hands got Michael Lynche ready for his performance behind the judges’ table. As his taped package with Usher played, the judges sat looking at Michael but just as he began singing, they turned around to watch their monitors. Michael sang “Ready For Love” by India.Arie and it was by far my favorite performance of the night. Backstage, Michael had high praise for Usher as a mentor. “I think he really tailored every comment and advice for each one of us,” Michael said. “The man like really did his homework on us and came in and really had something good for each one of us.”
I think it’s apropos that Didi Benami sang a song about being broken hearted because I think that’s what she will be again this week when she is eliminated. The dress was bad, the song was bad, the performance was bad. At one point when Didi hit a bum note, Kara DioGuardi actually jumped back from her seat. The judges slammed her with Kara telling her she had lost her way but backstage Didi was all smiles. “I’m good. I’m happy. I loved what I did. I did it with all my heart,” she said.
During the next commercial break Chris Rock taped a quick donation spot for “Idol Gives Back” as the stage was set for Tim Urban. As Tim butchered Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love,” Simon looked absolutely tortured (at one point, putting his hand on his forehead almost in shame.) During the judges’ critiques, Tim just stood their laughing. Backstage he explained why. “Simon finally caught on that I’m not worried about what they are going to say to me and I don’t know, but apparently America is not either. It’s not really about the judges. You either like what I did or you didn’t.” Well Tim, “America” in this case is a bunch of tweenyboppers because I can tell you that the adults are done with you and we didn’t like what you did.
Andrew Garcia was up next and it’s during his taped piece with Usher that I’m blown away with how good of a mentor Usher is. That moment he took off his sunglasses and made Andrew look into his eyes showed how much he truly cared about giving the contestants some constructive feedback. Backstage Andrew joked, “He looked in my eyes and I was like ‘I’m gonna marry this fool!’” The crowd loved his acoustic performance of Chris Brown’s “Forever” and Andrew finally proved he deserves to be in the Top 10.
Chris Rock returned to the stage to tape something else for “Idol Gives Back,” as the crew got ready for Katie Stevens to perform “Chain Of Fools.” Her vocals were good, but I agreed with Ellen DeGeneres that she needed to pick a more current song. Backstage, Katie seemed happy with her performance and was grateful Usher was kind to her. “It’s really awesome when you have somebody who wants you to succeed so badly that they are there to give you any help you need,” she said.
Lee DeWyze blew the crowd away earning a standing ovation from most of the audience for his rendition of “Treat Her Like A Lady.” Although when I watched it back on TV, I thought it sounded way better in the studio. So I’m wondering if the audience was puzzled when Simon told him of the performance, “This is the night your life may have changed forever.” Backstage, Lee took that comment in stride. “It’s cool of him to say that but there is still many more weeks to go,” he said. “That one moment is not going to change, you know, next week or the week after that or the week after that. I still have to get better and I think everyone feels like we could all improve every week. So for him to say that just kind of reassures that maybe I’m going in the right direction.”
Although backstage Crystal Bowersox told us the stiletto heels she was wearing were comfortable, watching her walk across the stage during the commercial break she looked like a little girl learning how to ride a bike with training wheels - a bit wobbly! The ladies sitting next to me were laughing the whole time. Her vocals on “Midnight Train To Georgia” were great, but she looked completely uncomfortable singing and playing the piano and even more uncomfortable when she got up and sang sans her always present guitar. While the other judges praised her and ignored the uncomfortableness, Simon as usual laid it all out there truthfully. “Do not let this process suck the identity out of you,” he warned her. I think Crystal’s guitar will be back next week. When asked how she felt about having to do interviews after her performance she admitted, “I just want to see my family.”
Last to perform was Aaron Kelly who sang Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” a beautiful song that has been performed many times on “Idol.” Backstage, Aaron said he only knew that Kris Allen had performed the song last season but didn’t know about any others. “I didn’t go back through because when I pick a song I don’t want to copy anybody,” he explained. “I want to do it my own.” Kris’ version was way more powerful but Aaron did a decent job and should be back next week.
Starting next week, I’m told we will be allowed backstage with cameras to chat with the contestants. So cross your fingers for that to happen.
Prediction to go home: Didi Benami
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