Last night, the Top 9 on American Idol took the stage and tackled the Lennon/McCartney songbook.  Who stood out in the crowd and which contestants are in danger of landing in the bottom three?  Our Idol expert, Steve Thompson, tuned in to handicap the field and rank their performances.

Steve called The WBKR Waking Crew this morning and he and I chatted about the Top 9!  LISTEN!

From Steve Thompson:

Well, America. You picked a boring ballad singer named Aubrey to be the eleventh singer on the tour. If we have any more ballad singers on this show this year, I suspect FOX may have to change the show's title to American Snoozefest.I don't know if we had three terrible singers-- but depending on your reverence for or feeling of relevance about The Beatles-- not all were successful by any stretch of the imagination. I am ranking these performances tonight in order of personal preference-- stay tuned.

9. Lazaro Arbos sang In My Life. One of my favorite songs from any group in any genre. Not one of my favorite performances in the history of Idol. In fact, it is with great sadness that I report the death of music. Music died upon hearing Lazaro attempt a key change in the middle of what was once considered by your critic as one of the most beautiful songs ever written. This is what I've been saying for the last few weeks... I don't know if Lazaro will be able to handle criticism. (On a personal note, I used this song as a mantra when one of my best friends died many years ago. I might be able to listen to the real song again after this.)

8. Burnell Taylor sang Let It Be. Burnell doesn't know the song? Good grief! What would Paul McCartney say? Heck, what would Jaleel White say? Goodness, gracious I don't think the choir is helping him at all. Will someone please put him in a straitjacket so he doesn't do those weird hand movements? What did Nicki hear that I didn't hear? Is it the acoustics in the theater? Whatever. Not a fan tonight.

7. Paul Jolley sang Eleanor Rigby. Children, in the days before both youtube and MTV, we could listen to songs and actually imagine the story in the song as a movie. This, I think, is why I've always loved this song. To Paul's credit, he didn't sing it like the original song. Also to Paul's credit, he didn't try to do an avant garde version like Rare Earth did back in the 70s. (They turned this two minute or so song into a six minute progressive rock anthem. I'll bet it's hard to find-- but worth it.) Unfortunately, there are six better performances this evening. Paul might covet your votes.

6. Amber Holcomb sang She's Leaving Home. Mariah never listened to the Sgt. Pepper album. Seriously? One of the top five albums of all time (hey I'm going by Rolling Stone here-- but I'd have it in my top ten albums easily.) I wish Amber had included more of the actual second verse instead of the mash up of the second and the third. She did a nice job with this-- I'm just wondering if the fact that only Keith Urban seems to know this song will help her with the voters.

5. Candice Glover sang Come Together. "It doesn't matter if you understand the lyrics, just remember at the end everything comes together!" Ah, the wisdom of Jimmy Iovine. I was impressed that Candice didn't try to copy the original song and she didn't fall back on the screaming Aerosmith cover. While I'm not ready to board the train to Tina Turner status, I thought this was a good sign that we may not be stuck with ballads all season.

4. Devin Velez sang The Long and Winding Road as if he was Brian McKnight. I will be truly shocked if Devin is in the bottom three this week. While I'm not a major fan of this kind of reinterpretation, I thought Devin was mostly on the money and was back to how I viewed him back when he first started this season. Perhaps he just needs to stay away from Carrie Underwood songs from this time on.

3. Angie Miller sang Yesterday. Fantastic. The top three tonight were thisclose in my opinion. I enjoyed how well Angie performed this song. Another one of my all-time favorite songs and I thought Angie sang the best I had ever heard her when she wasn't seated behind a piano. Seriously. I was beginning to think her best performances were going to be in that Sarah McLachlan style of seated at the piano and singing. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. I was a fan of Sarah about two years before she became popular in America. The three or four people who ever heard my radio program at the Wesleyan station back in the early 90s will confirm this if they are willing to come out of witness protection.)

2. Kree Harrison sang With a Little Help from My Friends. What's great about this tonight is that she neither copied the original nor the Joe Cocker archetype we heard for six seasons as the theme from The Wonder Years. I don't like the fact that she went first-- but to her credit, the other eight are going to have to slay whatever dragon they have in front of them in order to defeat Kree. (I have no idea why I went all Tolkien with this analogy.)

1. Janelle Arthur sang I Will. I decided to give Janelle the #1 ranking because she firmly put herself back in the race for Idol with this performance. I give credit to Janelle for doing her own version of this song and not heavily relying on the great Alison Krauss version from the 90s. Reminiscent, in the best sense of the word, of a younger Dolly Parton.

I think we may lose another one of the guys again tonight. Burnell doesn't seem to have any support on the social media sites; Lazaro needs to be shown the door before he breaks down on stage from the next round of criticism he will receive; and the judges seem to be trying to throw Paul under the bus. I think Lazaro needs to go home-- but America loves a story of "courage." Burnell is in major trouble.

As always, we'll see...

@March 20, 2013 Stephen W Thompson