While previous "American Idol" mentors have included Barry Manilow, Randy Travis and Diana Ross, the show took things a bit younger this week with Miley Cyrus coaching the top 11 contestants. The theme of the week was #1 hits, and, as Ryan Seacrest pointed out at the top of the show, "This pop princess may only be 17, but she has a lifetime of experience."
When Seacrest caught up with Cyrus in the audience, she admitted that she was worried about critiquing the singers because, "I'm a fan of theirs." But she didn't hold back, offering just as much praise as constructive criticism.
With Lee Dewyze, Miley took the season's lone rocker to task for his lack of charisma onstage. "Lee, I think, has an amazing voice," Cyrus said. "The only thing that is lacking sometimes is his stage presence." She also called out his straightforward arrangement of the Box Tops' "The Letter." "Give them a few notes they wouldn't expect from you," she suggested.
Cyrus had Paige Miles' number from the start, warning: "I think as long as she watches her pitch, she'll be great." We all know how that turned out, but Miley also had some kind words for the smiley singer. "Your voice is just as powerful when you sing really soft as when you belt it out," Cyrus said.
Tim Urban's Bieber hairstyle must have cast a spell on Miley, because she was putty in his hands. "I would give you two thumbs up," she told him after a run-through of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." "I think you rock." She also answered the judges' concerns about Urban being boring. "It's not the personality he's lacking," she said. "It's just adding riffs or switching it up somehow."
Aaron Kelly, who sang Miley's "The Climb" during his audition, got a thumbs-up from the singer herself on his version. When he started singing Aerosmith's "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," Cyrus' jaw dropped, which she later explained: "I made a face because I didn't realize how good he was."
Miley immediately praised Crystal Bowersox's "different" take on Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee." She did encourage the front-runner to take a few more risks at the end of the song. "There were some times when she hit those high notes that it sounded gospel," Cyrus said.
After Michael Lynche maintained eye contact with Miley the entire time he crooned "When a Man Loves a Woman," the pop star "had nothing bad to say" about the big teddy bear. "He sang that song to me the entire way," she marveled. "I couldn't do that. It's very nerve-racking to stare at someone and sing."
Andrew Garcia took some risky advice from Miley, agreeing to set his guitar aside so the performance wouldn't be so "stiff." "I feel like you could do it just singing and working the crowd. I think the chicks would dig it," she laughed. After he flubbed the lyrics to Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine," Cyrus had one last piece of advice: "Learn your words!"
Miley met up with fellow 17-year-old Katie Stevens and urged her to "remember who you are as a musician and why you love music." She also had three words for Katie as she tackled Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry" on the "Idol" stage: "Edge it up."
Cyrus was big on eye contact during her mentoring stint, and she repeated that advice to Casey James, relaying how important it is to her fans when she looks them in the eyes. "When I'm onstage, I always try to make eye contact with the people in the first few rows," she said. "If he does that and brings personality to it, I think he'll do great."
Didi Benami took advantage of her time with Cyrus by asking about stage fright. "Anyone that tells you that they're not nervous at all, you've got to be a little nervous," she said. "That's what drives you." But you just can't let the nerves "take over," Miley told Didi. As for the singing, Cyrus praised Benami's vibrato. "I think this is a really good song for her, because she can really showcase that," she said.
Miley admitted right off the bat that she was a Siobhan Magnus fan. "Siobhan stuck out for me," she said. "She's just got something very interesting about her." But Magnus was really excited by one of Miley's compliments: "Your voice has such a swagger to it."
How do you think Miley did as a mentor? Are you excited to see her perform on "American Idol" on Wednesday night? Let us know in the comments!
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