Review: Songs of the Cinema
Before the show started last night, I was afraid that this season of American Idol had become so boring that not even a guest appearance from Betty White herself held the power to rejuvenate this group. Luckily, all it took were a couple of phenomenally sung duets to get me excited about our Final Four again. Also, I thought Jamie Foxx was an exceptional guest mentor, as all of his advice was geared around the concept of moving each of them from the realm of “contestant” to “artist” (worked great for some, not so much for others).
So let’s take a look at how the six performances of “Songs from the Cinema” stacked up:
CRYSTAL & LEE (duet) – Falling Slowly - Although the original version from the movie “Once” won the Oscar for Best Song, it never became a radio hit…but if Crystal & Lee were to release their recording tomorrow I think they’d have a smash on their hands. Facing each other while playing their acoustic guitars, they delivered emotional vocals (missing from Lee’s earlier solo outing) that steadily built throughout the song and came to a dramatic finish. Kara summed it up best by proclaiming it her favorite performance of the entire season. Grade: A
CASEY & MIKE (duet) - Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman - Initially I felt a little bit sorry for Casey & Mike, thinking there was no way they’d be able to make an impact following Crystal & Lee…and then I felt even worse when I realized they were singing this Bryan Adams song…but I was wrong on both counts. Looking dapper in their matching black suits, the gents served up spot-on vocals, excellent guitar playing, and seemed to be having a genuinely good time. And the song title gave Ellen the opportunity to tell her best joke of the night: “As a matter of fact, I have loved a woman.” Grade: A-
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX - I’m Alright – If you had told me last week that Crystal was going to take a Kenny Loggins song from the soundtrack of “Caddyshack” and somehow make it cool, I would’ve had trouble believing you…and yet that is exactly what happened. Ellen hit the nail on the head by noting “You took that song and actually made it better.” In the past couple of weeks Lee DeWyze has held first place in all the online polling, but last night’s stellar singing combined with a more humble side of her personality might be enough for Crystal to retake the lead. Grade: A-
CASEY JAMES - Mrs. Robinson - It’s too bad the judges’ critiques became so entangled in the lame Kara/cougar jokes (which Casey was very clearly not enjoying) because this was definitely the second-best solo performance of the evening. Stripping songs down for more intimate interpretations has worked well for Casey throughout the season, and he also changed up the melody just enough to make the old Simon & Garfunkel song interesting again. Grade: B
LEE DeWYZE - Kiss From a Rose - Conceptually, this seemed like a terrific song choice for Lee (it was actually suggested last week by one of the commenters on this blog), but a paint-by-numbers vocal rendition made it all too karaoke for this level of the competition. Not a good week for Lee to be slipping. Grade: C
MICHAEL LYNCHE - Will You Be There – Like Lee DeWyze before him, Big Mike played it way too safe and turned in a predictable version of this slightly corny Michael Jackson number. It also didn’t help matters that Simon attempted to make Mike look somewhat insane for selecting a song from a movie about a whale. Grade: C
BOTTOM 2 PREDICTION: Big Mike and Casey James
GOING HOME: I actually feel that Crystal is the only one who is totally safe this week; the other three are all in jeopardy. Lee DeWyze probably has enough goodwill built up to ensure his safety. And although I thought Big Mike was the weakest of the night (and the one I’d personally like to lose), I have a feeling that Casey is probably splitting votes with Lee, so my feeling is that we will likely be saying goodbye to Casey James.
Who is your favorite? (Vote in our poll on the right!) Who do you think will be leaving tonight? And what did you think of the duets? Sound off with a comment below!