Last night the ten folks already guaranteed to be wagon carting to a town near you this summer sang for their supper, with equal amounts misery and joy.

You know what word I would use to describe this season? Soul. This season has just got so much soul. Katie Stevens? She's just oozing with it. And Aaron Tyler. Talk about a brother with soul! Man that kid is like if Barry White and Patti LaBelle got freaky one night at Laura Nyro's house and a baby happened. It's just really the souliest bunch of Idol contestants we've ever had. So it was great that last night's theme was "Soul and R&B," because it was really in everyone's wheelhouse. Celebrity guest mentor Ursher did a good job (honestly!) of coaching the kids, even if his so-smooth shtick was grating pretty much from the get-go. But, yes sarcasm aside, this was a really embarrassing crop of folks to tackle the likes of Anita Baker, Jimmy Ruffin, and Chaka-Chaka Khan.

Of all the also-rans (read: people who are not Siobhan or Crystal) only one of the performances really worked, and it was partly because it was a cover of a modern song. R&B Oldies just sound really clunky with the big cheesy band and the doo-wop background singers and twirling purple lights. We've already heard a million variations of these standards at various weddings, and the karaoke treatment just makes them seem even more brittle and boring than they kinda already are. But, oh well, it's probably a cheaper theme than "Songs Currently on the Radio" or whatever (or not? I don't know), so they do it and we have to sit and watch as Katie Stevens pretends to have a soul. It's urgly.

The Good
Were you standing around watching Idol last night (you have to stand while watching TV until you recover from the butt surgery) and all of a sudden felt a cold breeze on your legs? It was because your slacks just got boomed off. They just disintegrated into nothing, molecules shaped like musical notes. Yes, Crystal Boomerslacks did another nice job last night, this time sitting in front of a ragtime piano and then getting up and singing to us, naked and uninstrumented. And it worked! I mean, sort of. Once she got out and was just straight singing to us about midnight meat trains to Macon and whatnot it did feel a little awkward. She just sort of stood there, too close to the piano, and sang the rest of the song. It was a good example of why Idol performances with any sort of blocking tend to look silly. You have to hit the notes and remember the words and stay in time and remember where to cross and when? This is too much. These people aren't Mensa members (Sharon Stone could do it all in a second). They're contestants on America's Great Irdolstinks. C'mon now.

I talked to your Aunt Karen the other day and you know what she told me? She told me that your cousin Phil Dweezy did real good on the show. Isn't that good news? Yeah, he sang some kinda song about treating girls like ladies or something. And you know what I thought about when she told me that? I was thinkin' about Deb, you remember Deb? She was Phil's girlfriend oh... what was it? When he was sixteen musta been, so that'd make it his sophomore year of high school I guess. Anyway, she was from out in Krocksville and she was a real nice girl, had pretty kinda honey-blonde hair. Worked at the TCBY. Kinda bubbly. Anyway, it just made me think of her. I think they were pretty serious there for a while but then, I dunno, somethin' happened. She started making time with the football guy, Connie Mueller's son. What's his name? Branson or something. Oh yeah, Phil was real heartbroken. It was just a real sad thing for him, I think. Remember he used to mope all the time when we'd be over there for dinner or a barbecue or something? You know, he's always been sensitive. He gets that from your Uncle Stan. So I'm real glad he did good last night. I was telling Karen, I said "Keeks, just you wait. He'll meet a real nice girl from this whole thing." And before you know it they'll be married, I bet you that, I really do. And kids. Things really do move that fast, they really do. I dunno. Good for Phil, huh?

Big Mike sang well, but I still can't get over his sorta grandstanding theatrics. He's wayyyy too pleased with himself for someone who, realistically, is not going to have much of a career in the current market. But, whatever. He picked a good slow song and wrapped his voice around it well, so good on him. And good on you, Andrew Garcia, for finally picking the right song. It was that Chris Brown tune that people dance to at weddings nowadays. (Not at the reception. At the wedding.) Is there something awkward about singing Chris Brown tunes because Chris Brown is a jerk? Maybe. But I bet he didn't even write the damn song, so whatever. Anyway, Garcia did well and he beamed his Egghead beam and then his former Latin King mama went up and shot Ryan in the kneecaps and we all smiled.

The Bad
Hahahaha EVERYONE ELSE. Well, no, that's not exactly true. Siobhan Magnus, an enchanted dragonfly's wing come to life, wasn't really Bad per se, she just wasn't very good. Oh sure she hit a few pleasant notes here and there, but for the most part it was a big old muddy muddle. And Simon is right about that screeching thing. It has gotten old. Way old. Also? I did not like her petulant attitude during her judging. Sioby, I know you've had a lot of praise for the past few weeks, but that doesn't entitle you to always get good reviews. I don't know. Before she always seemed like this clueless moonchild and in that moment it was like "Ohhhh, you're actually a show diva. It begins." Or maybe it began long ago. Who knows. Either way, it was unbecoming.

Katie Stevens is such a bug, isn't she? A robotic bug. I bet if you met Katie Stevens right now she would be a straight up nightmare. Just breezy and dismissive and totally above it. I think Katie Stevens fancies herself some sort of Selena Gomez-esque minxy teen chanteuse. Katie Stevens has cold, hard marbles of ambition in her eyes and it is terrifying to look at. If Katie Stevens were to fall down the stairs at the high school, it would probably be OK to laugh because she is so horrible to people all the time, so she had it coming. There was always a kid or two in school like that. ANYWAY. She sang "Change of Life" from the hit musical Menopause: The Musical and it was borrring. She was wearing stripper heels, pleather tights, and, judging from her abundant jewelry, had just robbed a Claire's. And then the judges liked it! They liked the terrible Stevensbot! Maybe they were trying to get her voted off? You know, trick the voting bloc by creating an illusion of safety? It'd be a wily strategy. (Though, for all of our guessing there's never really been any proof that the judges do in fact strategize that way, has there?)

Casey Johnson is basically what would happen if an avocado came to life, so we needn't concern ourselves with his tomfoolery. Didi Bikini I want to like, and I actually do to an extent, but last night she sang "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" and it was like watching toast sing. It was like watching a dry piece of toast put on a pair of sunglasses and sing a slow song. It just didn't work. And her stab at style was off too. I like the idea of a Veronica Lake hairdo and a slinky nightclub dress, but Bikini's hair was brassy and the dress was cheap and (I think?) animal print, so it just didn't quite get there. Nothing about Didi Bahamas quite gets there, and that is a shame. She's the Kat McPhee that never was. She's the dream, deferred.

Who else is even in this competition? Oh, right.

Baby Boy
If Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly were to buy a yacht together, I think it would have to be called the S.S. Sillypants. If Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly went on vacation somewhere together, it would be to a lollipop farm in Uruguay. If Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly bought a car together, it would be a white first-edition Dodge Neon. They are so silly! Aaron is getting this little swagger going that is just painfully ridiculous. When he was singing with Ursher he totally busted out the Song Hand! Aaron. Oh, Aaron. Tiny field mice like you cannot employ the Song Hand. You must stand perfectly still and smile the whole time and that's it. There will be no Song Hand. And there certainly will be no "Ain't No Sunshine." Aaron. "Ain't"? Tiny sea otters (oooOOOoooo!) like yourself do not say "ain't." They use good grammar and say nice things. There is always sunshine for Aaron Kelly. Do you understand, son?

And Tim Urban. Can you plumfucking believe that Tim Urban looked at the entirety of R&B and soul music and picked an Anita Baker song?? "Sweet Love." Ha! My mom used to listen to that song on Magic 106.7 with us in the car on the way home from the supermarket. She didn't pick it, it was just on the soft rock station a lot in those days. Why did Tim Urban think that singing "sweeet loooooove" was a good idea? Saying "sweeet loooove" is not really what his tween voters are wanting, I don't think. It's a little too sensual or something. "Cuuuuute kissessss" would have worked. Or "Footballll uniformmmm" maybe. But "sweet love" is like make out music from a Will Ferrell movie or something. It's sort of a joke. Sweet love. Tim. What were you thinking?

I think that's it. Do you feel those rhythm and blues? Do you feel a swell in your soul? I don't. Mostly I'm eagerly anticipating Tim Urban singing "Dance: Ten, Looks: 3" for Broadway week. (There will probably not a be a Broadway week.) At this point Tim may as well sing "tits... and asssss" because he just sang sweeeet looooove and it was hysterically embarrassing and he's got nothing to lose. And neither do we.