Lee DeWyze, left, and Crystal Bowersox perform the finale song of the night Saturday at Mountain View, Ca.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ca. — Came to this concert with an open mind, although I was part of the majority in thinking Season No. 9 was not the one that American Idol would put on its resume as one of the best season’s ever.

Not one of the Top 10 had given me cause to think about digging deep into my wallet to buy their CD … at least not yet.

So, here I am for the first time ever at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. I didn’t walk around to see the body of water graced by the facility’s presence, but I am sure there was something wet nearby. What I did see on the drive into the parking lot was the main hub for Google. That didn’t mean a thing, just thought you might like to know.

So, I plopped into a $70 seat just about ringside and prepared myself to be entertained.

Here are my random thoughts:


10 – Didi Benami

“Lay It On Me” – The Rescues

“Terrified” – Katharine McPhee

As far as opening acts go, Didi was fine. Not as energetic as Michael Sarver was a year ago, but she actually sounded somewhat better than she did on the show, which wasn’t good at all.

In fact, there were at least three others – including Lilly Scott – who deserved to be in the Top 10 ahead of her. But there she was singing a couple of songs I had never heard before, but doing them well nonetheless.

I could see Didi being a one-hit wonder somewhere along the line and then playing a bunch of local clubs wherever she winds up living.

Would I buy her CD? Nope.


9 – Andrew Garcia

“Straight Up” – Paul Abdul

“Sunday Morning” – Maroon 5

We wound up with two minorities in the Top 10 and Andrew was one of them. Despite the fact that the sound system was over-the-top loud, Andrew still sounded much, much better than he did on the show. “Straight Up” has become his anthem of sorts, and it suits him well.

Andrew is one of those finalists who can go either way – either he can become shockingly popular (he must get the right management and the right songs) because he has the stage presence and the ability to connect with an audience; or he could fade into obscurity real fast.

A little luck here and there and yes, I might even find myself buying his CD one day.


8 – Katie Stevens

“Here We Go Again” – Demi Lovato

“Fighter” – Cristina Aguilera

Katie’s 17 years old. Off-stage it’s apparent. On-stage is a different story, she could pass for 25. The voice, the stage presence are that of a veteran.

If they put artists on the stock exchange I’d buy a few shares of Katie’s stock, that’s how confident I am that she is going to succeed. Buy her CD? Hell, yes.


7 – Tim Urban

“Better Days” – The Goo Goo Dolls

“Viva La Vida” – Coldplay

For obvious reasons, no one has ever squealed like this for me when I walked into the office. The kid has an appeal, but a voice? If Coldplay were no longer with us they would have been turning over in their graves if they would have heard his rendition of VLV … and Lord only knows what St. Peter would have said about Tim’s style.

He’s harmless and really should be a spokesman for a toothpaste company. Would I buy his CD? Nope. Would I buy the toothpaste he would endorse? Absolutely.


6 – Siobhan Magnus

“Paint It Black” – The Rolling Stones

“Spiderwebs” – No Doubt

“Stockholm Syndrome” – Muse

Two facts are very apparent about Siobhan when you see her perform in person – No question she is this season’s female version of Adam Lambert; her voice is off the charts.

Forget the signature “scream” notes. Just listen to the girl sing. The “scream” overshadows her singing and it all seems to be natural.

Being a Baby Boomer I didn’t know the final two songs of her set, but, of course, I did know “Paint It Black” and I just can’t imagine Sir Mick not enjoying that take on his classic.

One day Siobhan will morph away from the goth look she enjoys and the fascination with the world of the macabre (at least I hope so) and she’ll blossom as one of the most talented artists of her generation.

All that is possible if she’s willing to work for it.

Would I buy her CD? Siobhan, just make it, my credit card awaits.


5 – Aaron Kelly

“Somebody Like You” – Keith Urban

“Walking In Memphis” – Marc Cohn

“Fast Cars and Freedom” – Rascal Flatts

You kinda liked him on the show, you kinda didn’t. In person, if you enjoy country music you will love him. For 17 … well, he is a male Katie Stevens in that regard. No way would you pigeon-hole him into the teenage category.

He’s talented, already knows how to work the stage and best of all, he has one of those “natural” voices. Don’t know if he ever took a voice lesson in his life, but I doubt it.

Here’s a thought: One day you will see him accepting a small statue on the Country Music Awards show.

Would I buy his CD? Put a nice crossover number in there Aaron and I probably will.


4 – Michael Lynche

“Woman’s Work” – Kate Bush

“Ready For Love” – India.arie

“My Love” – Justin Timberlake

It seems like fans of Idol either really like Mr. Lynche or they don’t. No middle ground.

He can sing, but it’s just hard to tell where that voice really fits. R&B? Soul? Rap? He tried them all on Saturday night and nothing really worked.

Maybe it was the setting, maybe it was the energy all around him that he just couldn’t absorb, maybe … now how do you say this … it was his size.

On the show Big Mike appeared, well, Big. In person, Big Mike is Huge. He once was a football player and it’s too bad he still isn’t plying that trade and singing in the shower. I think he would have been one helluva pro football player.

Size on the football field translates, size on a singing stage, normally doesn’t. Unless, of course, you are the second coming of Ruben Studdard.

Would I buy Michael’s CD? You probably think, no; but it really would depend on the path he took with it. Toss more Marvin Gaye on the fire Michael, and you just might win me over.


3 – Casey James

“I Got Mine” – The Black Keys

“Don’t” – Shania Twain

“Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” (with Lynche)

“It’s All Over Now” – The Rolling Stones

Ah, Mr. James. Heart-throb of Season 9. Got Ms. Kara all atwitter and you gotta wonder — if indeed she is gone as a judge — if that give-and-take with Casey didn’t at least hasten her departure.

His fan base is solid and so is a recording contract. Now all he needs to do is hit the road.

How good is he? Well, Bucky Covington finished No. 8 in Season 5 and Casey is marginally better than Bucky. It was really hard to gauge his singing talents on Saturday – the sound system was go loud and much of his performance centered around his guitar strumming talents, not his voice.

So, would I buy his CD? Nah, if I’m goin’ for Country I’m headed to Aaron’s corner of the store.


2 – Crystal Bowersox

“What’s Up” – 4 Non Blonds

“Come To My Window” – Melissa Etheridge

“Up To The Mountain” – Patty Griffin

“Piece Of My Heart” – Janis Joplin

Ten performers on Saturday night and if there was one who absolutely, positively, did not surprise anyone it was Crystal. She came off exactly as billed on the show: talented, stage saavy, aware of where she is headed in this business.

Can’t say that I’m a huge fan of any of the songs on her set, but she sure made them sound good.

And I am kinda glad that she is going with her original pre-Idol stuff for a debut CD. It’s a gutsy move in a way, but then it is Crystal and I doubt she could make a CD not worth listening to no matter the songs.

As I listened to her sing Joplin’s song I thought how cool would it be to just walk down Haight Street with Crystal?
Would I buy her CD? Show me where to get in line.


1 – Lee DeWyze

“Beautiful Day” – U2

“Rocket Man” – Elton John

“Hallelujah” – Leonard Cohen

“Treat Her Like a Lady” – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose

“Use Somebody” – Kings of Leon

Lee, buddy, what in the name of Sherwin-Williams are you thinking? If you will allow me to use a baseball metaphor, you picked four songs that were like pitches thrown right into your wheel-house. In other words, you should have knocked them all out of the park.

Saturday night, lad, you whiffed.

Was it because you were recording in L.A., arrived late to the venue and were just out of sorts? Let’s hope so.

But like any good restaurant reviewer, we’ll give you another chance. but that performance on Saturday lacked, well, just about everything – life, vitality, connection … and you missed notes all over the place.

I had long ago felt that Kings of Leon song was perfect for your raspy voice. Maybe you knew they were singing their signature song just up the road in Golden Gate Park at about the same time and you got nervous, but your version didn’t work.

That wasn’t the performance of an Idol winner. You are extremely likeable and I think folks genuinely root for you, but you need to step up your game and soon.

Would I buy Lee’s CD? Well, I downloaded a couple of his songs during the season from ITunes and I do like his voice. So, the answer to that is yes. But would I pay to go see him in concert? Not yet…


So, there you have it. One man’s critique of the Mountain View concert.

Click HERE to see photos from the show.

Coming next: Based on that viewing, how the public should have voted in Season 9….