“American Idol” went from a pop competition to showcasing a world music edge on Tuesday night thanks to contestants Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze who introduced some unusual instruments to their performances of classics from the John Lennon and Paul McCartney songbook.
Crystal, a standout on the show for her originality, brought out a musician who played the didgeridoo, the native wood pipe from Australia, to add some extra flavor to her bluesy rendition of The Beatles classic, “Come Together.”
“Even though the didgeridoo thing was kind of distracting, you still won me over,” judge Randy Jackson commented. “I don’t know if it was your best performance, but I still loved it. You’re in the zone right now.”
Ellen DeGeneres, a Crystal convert, praised the Ohio mom’s incorporation of the unusual instrument.
“I loved the didgeridoo. I thought that was cool,” Ellen chimed in. “With you, the only thing I have to worry about is [finding] a new way to tell you how great you are… You never cease to amaze me”
Lee took on “Hey Jude,” and shortly before wrapping up his song, a bagpipe player — in full Scottish regalia, including a kilt, a furry hat and knee-high socks — walked down the “Idol” stage steps, joining the 23-year-old on the tune. While Randy called it “another hot one,” Simon was left baffled.
“I don’t know what you lot are drinking in the house; We’ve got didgeridoo players and then you come out with a bagpipe player. I don’t know what’s going on in there,” Simon said. “No disrespect to you, but I wouldn’t have done that. I think you were doing great and then the bagpipe player walked down the staircase and it was like he turned up on the wrong show.”
While Crystal and Lee certainly brought some excitement to Tuesday’s show, Tim Urban finally found redemption after several weeks of criticism (including for his smile) from the judges. The Texas cutie whipped out a rendition of “All My Loving,” which the judges found surprisingly excellent.
“I thought you did really well tonight with that song,” Simon said of Tim’s faithful version of the Beatles classic, which the singer performed while playing his guitar. “There [were] no gimmicks, it was just the right thing to do… it sounded current.”
Tim also got props from Simon for his positive attitude.
“You take the criticism like a man,” Simon said. “There’s no whining… You’ve handled yourself very well. I’m proud of you.”
The other stand out of the night was the easy-on-the-eyes Texan, Casey James. He opted for something different with his performance of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” With less instrumentation and a somewhat bare stage, Casey gave a raw and beautiful performance, according to the panel.
“What you showed tonight was a vulnerability,” Kara DioGuardi noted.
“Goldie Locks,” Simon began, referring to Casey’s nickname, “I think it was the performance of the night so far.”
Here’s how the rest of the pack did:
After a bit of luck in the form of a pre-recorded message from Sir Paul McCartney himself, who advised the contenders to “get out there, go for it and enjoy yourselves,” Aaron Kelly hit the stage with “The Long and Winding Road.” The performance was Aaron’s shakiest to date and the judges definitely noticed. “It was very old fashioned, it was very boring,” Simon said.
Katie Stevens, dressed in hot pink, tried out “Let It Be” and impressed the judges with vocal lines they thought were very strong. “There is no way you’ll be in the bottom 3,” Ellen said. “That was amazing.”
Andrew Garcia whipped out “Can’t Buy Me Love,” changing up the arrangement, but Randy said it came across, “a little corny at times.”
Michael Lynche gave an emotional performance of “Eleanor Rigby,” a song he performed with his family as a child. While he came across big and bold on the stage, he split the panel. Ellen thought it was “incredible,” but Simon said it was “over the top.”
Siobhan Magnus left her trademark scream at the door and toned down her vocals for “Across The Universe,” changing it up like the judges had suggested previously. It appeared, however, that their advice didn’t suit the 19-year-old as a quieter Siobhan performance was dubbed “a little sleepy” by Randy and “very polite” by Kara.
In related “Idol” news, a rep for Adam Lambert confirmed to Access Hollywood that the Season 8 runner-up will return to his old haunt to guest mentor the contestants for next week’s set of performances.