Review: Songs That Inspire

April 21, 2010 9:01 am

Tying into this week’s Idol Gives Back, last night’s theme was Songs That Inspire, which guest mentor Alicia Keys graciously worked out with the Final 7.  It was a tricky evening, with the judges questioning whether some of the choices were actually inspirational or not, such as Big Mike’s selection from the movie “Spiderman.”  But since the finalists were only able to choose from a list of 80 songs that were pre-screened by the show’s producers, blame can’t really be placed on the contestants.  Thankfully, most of the performances were strong and tonight’s Bottom 3 will certainly be an interesting one to say the least.  So let’s to the reviews, going from best to worst:

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX - People Get Ready - This past week has been quite the wild ride for Crystal, as press reports emerged revealing that she almost quit the competition a few weeks ago due to stress.  In the emotional final moments of her performance last night it appeared that maybe she was starting to crack under that pressure, until she revealed to Ryan that seeing her father in the audience for the first time this season was what brought her to tears.  Crystal is normally such a cool chick who can almost seem a bit detached at times, so I think it actually worked to her advantage to have a more human, vulnerable side to her personality exposed.  Perhaps not being hidden behind an instrument this week helped make the difference?  Oh, and the singing was nearly flawless.  Grade: A

LEE DeWYZE - The Boxer - It’s getting hard to imagine that we’re not heading towards a Lee vs. Crystal finale, right?  Week after week, Lee keeps showing us exactly what kind of artist he’ll be in today’s music landscape, and although he may not be as vocally gifted as Crystal, in many ways he seems more mass appeal and marketable.  Also, he’s finally starting to relax, his self-confidence is growing, and he looks like he’s really enjoying himself.  If he takes Kara’s spot-on advice (“Keep picking songs you feel connected to”), there should be smooth sailing ahead.  Grade A-

AARON KELLY - I Believe I Can Fly - Although this was the song I was praying no contestant would select, I have to admit that Aaron gave it his own country vocal inflection and really worked it out for the song’s powerful second half.  His role is clearly that of a balladeer and hopefully he’ll stick with that for the rest of the time that he’s in the competition.  And I have to mention Ellen’s best joke of the night: “You know, there was a brief time back in the ’70s where I thought I could fly, too.”  Grade: B

SIOBHAN MAGNUS - When You Believe – She truly shocked me by going with this schlocky Disney trash, and I agreed with Kara when she noted “I don’t know who you are any more.”  But that being said, Siobhan delivered some of night’s most beautifully sung high notes without sounding the least bit screechy.  If only she could stay away from the rambling blather she descends into almost every week while defending herself from the judges.  Grade: B-

MICHAEL LYNCHE - Hero (from “Spiderman”) - Whenever Big Mikes decides to take a chance and venture into rock territory with song choices from artists like Maroon 5 or Nickelback, it just never really clicks for him.  He’s a gifted R&B stylist who needs to quickly get back into that zone or he could find himself in danger.  Grade: B-

CASEY JAMES - Don’t Stop - This Fleetwood Mac song’s opening line If you wake up and don’t wanna smile seemed hysterical coming from the always-beaming Casey James.  When he’s good, he’s fantastic (see his John Lennon cover of “Jealous Guy”), but when he’s not, it’s pure karaoke.  And PS – great guitar work will not win you American Idol. Grade: C

TIM URBAN - Better Days – Selecting a Goo Goo Dolls song probably made Tim seem more current to the younger voters, and that might be his only hope for staying around for another week.  This was by no means a terrible performance, and as Simon pointed out, Tim has grown leaps and bounds in the past several weeks.  But with only 7 singers left, Tim is probably the most vulnerable at this point.  Grade:  C

BOTTOM 3 PREDICTION: Michael Lynche, Casey James, and Tim Urban


What do you think?  Who is your favorite “Idol”?  (Vote in our poll on the right.)  Is there anyone who has a chance of derailing Lee and Crystal as the Final Two?  And who do you see going home tonight?  Sound off below with a comment!