Idol Gives Back, and Alicia Keys as this week’s mentor, and Inspirational Song week. Yes, [[American Idol (2010 Series)|American Idol]] is encouraging our final 7 hopefuls to sing huge songs of hope and inspiration! That means this is a crucial week, because these songs are roughly the same style as your typical “winner’s song”. I mean, Chad Kroeger’s Hero? Classic, man. Classic.
There’s not much mucking around on stage this evening, although why is Siobhan Magnus dressed up like Poison Ivy from the Batman films? She’s not so much wearing that dress as growing it.
Anyway, straight into the first act…
I really feel compelled to call Casey “Jessie” every week. He brings on a version of Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop. Alicia’s advice is “You don’t want to have people saying I love that song. You want them saying I love him.” Vocals feel a little sharp at the start, and it’s definitely not my favourite performance of Casey’s. Great guitar playing, but I felt the focus on the vocals slipped.
[[Randy Jackson]]: It was a good performance. It wasn’t your best performance. I feel like every week we see the same thing from you. I understand that’s who you are, but I’m just looking for something a bit more special. Step out of that comfort zone a little bit, give me something else. I know you’re the bluesy rock guy, but give me a little something else. [[Ellen DeGeneres]]: Great guitar playing, I’ll start off with that. I have to be a little tougher now – we’re getting to that point where you have to be great. Someone’s gonna have to go home every week. And you’re consistently good, but I don’t think anyone’s going to be talking about that tomorrow. I think you have to be great right now, and it wasn’t great. [[Kara DioGuardi]]: What’s so difficult with you is that…Jealous Guy, you were amazing. You were sensitive, you showed vulnerability, you showed your range. And then you come out tonight and it’s like Jam Band. You’re like “Watch me I can play, the crowd’s going..” but that’s not showing us how you’re different. You made yourself like everybody else tonight. I’m so frustrated about that, but I still believe in you. [[Simon Cowell]]: I’m just amazed that you chose that song, because the theme this week was inspirational songs, and that wasn’t particularly inspiring. Zero emotion, and you just stood there, played the guitar again, sang the song pretty much like the original which meant that there was no originality. I thought it was a lazy song choice.
DeWyze is singing the Simon & Garfunkel song The Boxer, which is great because I’m going through a Simon & Garfunkel phase right now. This is a bold arrangement compared with the original. Gone are the trademark S&G harmonies, replaced with piano and a string section. Lee’s vocal delivery has surpassed Casey’s throaty blues. Nice, subtle performance.
Randy: You may not even realise this, but I’m one of your biggest fans. You know why? ‘Cause I think this season the show’s really different and it’s really about artists this year and I think that you are a great artist ready to make great music. And I think you’re gonna have a big career. Really good job. Ellen: First of all, beautiful song choice and you have so much soul and depth that we’re seeing more and more of. And that’s what I’m talking about. We’re seeing better and better from you which is surprising, ’cause I already think you’re great. Best performance by far, I think. Kara: Simon said a few weeks back that you had your moment, but I think you had it tonight. I also think that it shows clearly the difference when somebody feels connected to a song and performs it and when they don’t. My advice is keep picking things you feel connected to, because it takes you to another level. Simon: Even though we’re only two in, that was the best of the night. The difference between you and the first performance is staggering. That was sincere, it was emotional, it was inspirational. I’ve never been a massive fan of that song, but you made it feel as if it was written a week ago. I thought that was absolutely brilliant. Good for you.
Tim sings Better Days by The Goo Goo Dolls, after a little pep talk from Alicia Keys. Not a song I know, so I’ll have to judge it on its own merit. Oh, Tim, you’re so pretty. Are you growing your hair? I liked the early Tom Welling cut. Don’t let it get too long.
Not much of a climax with this one, despite virtually copying the arrangement from Lee DeWyse’s song a moment ago. Passable, but unremarkable.
Randy: For me, this song was an interesting choice for you. Goo Goo Dolls are a great band, and that guy’s an amazing singer. And it was just okay, good karaoke for me. You didn’t do anything with it, it just kind of lay there and sounded…okay. Ellen: Tim, for me you’re like the soup of the day. Sometimes I like the soup, some times I don’t like the soup. But today, I didn’t like the soup. Kara: Tim, you’ve finally found your lane. You’re in it, but it’s kind of a new Tim from what we’re used to. I think this is where you belong, but it wasn’t the best execution. You’ve still got something and at times sound very commercial. But it wasn’t your best performance. Simon: Tim, if this was the first time we’d seen you, we’d be quite impressed. But it was only three weeks ago you were jumping all over the place to Crazy Little Thing Called Love. So I’m finding it quite difficult to believe this. Last week I did, but this may have been a step too high for you in terms of actually believing in the performance. Having said that, you have improved over the weeks, but it was a little bit of a let down.
Aaron takes on another Kelly’s song – I Believe I Can Fly. Ryan says it’s a song he’s been singing since he was five. So, that was last week, wasn’t it?
Yep, Aaron’s back to doing slightly country-tinged versions of pop classics! The vocal’s pretty duff at the beginning, but he handles the key change fairly well. He’s capable, but like another blogger said last week…we can’t see ourselves owning an Aaron Kelly album anytime soon.
Randy: You picked a giant giant song. The arrangement was a little funny and strange for me. I’ll tell you what man, you’ve got a huge voice, you definitely have pure vocal talent and I think you did a good job with such a giant song. Ellen: There was a brief time in the 70’s when I believed I could fly. I believe you can fly and you’re on your way. You have a big voice. That was a tough song to take on and you handled it real good. Kara: Watching that was like taking off. It was like uh..uh..uh, but you got somewhere down the runway and you hit it and started flying. And that was exactly what it was like for me. By the end it was like “alright, he got there”. Simon: I think we kind of have to judge this in two parts, which is you, knowing you, liking you, and having the guts to take on a song like that. You really gave it your all. Then in the real world, if we’d heard that on the radio, I’d have turned it off within 10 seconds. Because it wasn’t very good. You kind of made it quite good.
So Siobhan takes on not one, but two divas – it’s the Mariah/Whitney hit When You Believe, best know in the UK for being the song which launched – and then promptly sank Leon Jackson’s career after X Factor. Ha ha.
Siobhan’s singing this in her Poison Ivy dress. Let’s hope she gets to the end of the song before Batman gets here. Arghhhhh…my ears!!! Christ, make it stop. After a promising start, Siobhan begins with the butchery, trying out some jarring new keys to sing the song in. Not the one the band’s playing in though. Terrible. Proves that she can only really do this when the song has a big scream somewhere in it.
Randy: You probably picked arguably the toughest song of the night. By Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey – amazing stylised singers. Man, I don’t know why you picked it, but it was just okay for me. Just okay. Ellen: I disagree, I think that’s more confirmation why you’re here. Kara: Technically, it may have been really well sung. But my problem is, it’s not a musical, and it started to feel very dramatic. And if I was listening to the show every week and listening to your responses, I’m starting to feel like I’d want to hang out with you more than buy your record. Simon: I agree with Randy, I don’t think that song was right for you – I thought the arrangement was very old fashioned, too much happened too quickly, the leaves distracted me. Are they butterflies? They look like leaves. I just found the whole thing a bit odd and all over the place.
It’s Big Mike’s turn to play for us tonight, and he’s giving us Chad Kroeger’s modern rock classic, Hero. This is going to be great for him, judging from his rehearsal with Alicia Keys.
Very soulful vocal straight out of the gate. Tell you what, he sounds a bit like Seal on this, doesn’t he? Overtones of Kiss From A Rose? I don’t think the song climaxes as much as it could do, and that’s mostly due to the limitations of Mike’s voice – he’s not a rocker.
Randy: Honestly, I was really a little worried about this song choice for you, because a lot of these songs that are band songs are really more about music than they are about vocals. But I tell you what, you held your own with it dawg. It worked out. Ellen: We’re short on time, so I’ll just say that I thought you did a great job with it. Kara: I’m sorry Mike, it wasn’t my favourite performance. You don’t have the tone for that voice and it was all over and the song became unrecognisable. Simon: I thought you sang it pretty well, Mike. But once again, the theme tonight is inspirational songs, and that was about Spider-Man, wasn’t it? (No! It was about being a hero!) That’s kind of what bothered me – it felt a little bit artificial to me. Compared to last week, where I thought you were sensational, this didn’t quite gel for me. But I still think you’re going to be around next week.
Closing out tonight’s show is one of my favourites, Crystal Bowersox. She’s singing People Get Ready, and this time it’s just her and her voice. Not quite a perfect vocal at the beginning, if I can be so bold as to say so, but Crystal vindicates herself wonderfully and then breaks down in tears at the end.
Randy: Been a fan since day one. That is how you do it. That was unbelievable, gotta give you the standing. Ellen: You have never looked more beautiful. You just get more and more beautiful. You just keep on growing and evolving and getting better and better. And whatever that thing is I love it. (It’s her mic stand from home). Kara: Thank you so much for taking a risk and putting your guitar down. You’re on another level tonight. And Mama Sox, you know why they call you that? Because you schooled all those contestants. Simon: That was inspirational. And you know what Crystal? In a strange way, I’m kind of happy to see you emotional, because you have kind of closed down a little bit. All of us felt that this song meant a lot to you. You sang it fantastically, and for me it was in a completely different class to everything we’ve heard tonight.
Un-Inspiration week in summary:
There can only be one winner: Crystal Bowersox trounced the competiton hands down tonight. Nobody else came close.
The Weakness: Lots of weakness tonight – Tim Urban is back to disappointing us again, Siobhan Magnus exposed her weaknesses, Big Mike and Casey James made some bad song choices.
Most improved: I think Lee DeWyze leapfrogged Casey in terms of vocal delivery tonight. Exciting performances remain optional though.
Meh, don’t really care: Simon’s most spot on comment was about liking Aaron Kelly, but not really caring about him as a performer. Kara said something similar about wanting to hang out with Siobhan Magnus, but I’d prefer some kind of restraining order.