TAMPA — With all due respect to homegrown hulk Michael Lynche (whom I love, adore, respect; please don't hurt me, dude), this past season's crop of American Idol warblers sure didn't help stop the show's slide into the pop-culture dumper.
There are myriad things wrong with Idol, and not even J.Lo's superheroic tuchus, which might wind up in a judge's chair, will change the fact that phenomenons in general are ultimately built to fade.
But it might have stopped some bleeding if the contestants — 10 of which from the ninth season were at the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday — had a bit more charisma. It's bad when you're longing for the dulcet tones and lightning-struck hair of Amanda Overmyer.
In ye olden days of the Idol tour, group sings dominated. Now it's mostly about the solo spotlight, shoving 'em out there in doinking order. That meant Didi "Pepsodent" Benami was first — all teeth, breathy range, a pretty parking brake on the enthusiasm of 7,215 yelping tweens. Andrew Garcia's jam-rock tweaking of Paula Adbul's Straight Up remains a fun novelty, but the stage swallowed him up like Monstro the whale.
As for Katie Stevens and Tim Urban — well, they were smart to show a lil' skin. Sleight of hand, baby!
It was sloggy, but thank the loony bin for Siobhan Magnus. Before Aaron "I Swear He Just Bagged My Groceries at Publix" Kelly smirked onstage, the punked-out Magnus gave the crowd its first goose, a metallic take on Muse's Stockholm Syndrome.
As Simon might say: best performance of the night.
Looking sharp in black suit and red hankie — and going down on one knee to seduce the throngs — St. Petersburg's Lynche purred, "So good to be home" after killing with This Woman's Work, eliciting the biggest shrieks of the night. He's a good soul singer, making India Arie's Ready for Love and Justin Timberlake's My Love full-body swooners.
So-pretty Casey James is a truly wicked guitar picker, but his voice is growly generic; his duet with Lynche on Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? was far better than his alone time. Crystal Bowersox, the group's most distinctive talent, is best enjoyed with coffee and Birkenstocks, but her voice is so pure, (especially on Janis Joplin's Piece of My Heart) it owns whatever room its in.
Finally, unassuming, possibly sleepy champ Lee DeWyze uncorked a few safe classic rockers, including a surprisingly lovely Rocket Man. The show closed with all-together-now group sings: a crummy Bon Jovi song and Kelly Clarkson's My Life Would Suck Without You. There's a joke there, but hey, Idol has been good to me, too.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog can be found at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.