It’s “Idol Gives Back” week on American Idol and the Top 7 will be performing songs that inspiring them. Let’s hope they inspire us as well. The good news is that Alicia Keys will be the guest mentor, so hopefully, the Idols will listen to what she has to say. Stay tuned for my live blog coming up at 8 p.m.
Ryan enters via the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. Didi and Lacey are in the house. Ryan intros the judges – no voiceover man tonight, we’re on a one hour schedule! The Top 7 come out to a rolicking applause.
There’s a video package on Alicia Keys. She’s won 12 Grammys and sold over 30 million albums worldwide. Alicia meets the Idols and tells us she tried to try and get the contestants to bring out the emotion in their songs. Alicai has also been a champion for people with AIDS. Alicia says “Idol Gives Back” is her favorite show. She hopes she can inspire the Idols to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Casey James – “Don’t Stop” (Fleetwood Mac)
Alicia wants Casey to connect with the song. She wants the audience to say they love Casey, not the song. Casey’s got a new “do.” He definitely puts a little more spark into it and gives us a nice guitar riff to boot. He’s relying on his vibrato a bit too much, but overall, it’s peppier than the normal Casey performance.
Girls in the audience have fake guitar signs with Casey’s name on it.
Randy says it was good, but not his best. He’s still looking for something more special and different. Ellen likes the guitar playing, but says she has to get tougher. She doesn’t think anyone will be talking about this tomorrow because it wasn’t great.
Kara says this was like jam band and not showing what makes Casey different. She’s frustrated. Simon is amazed he chose the song because it wasn’t “particularly inspiring.” He says there was no originality and that it was a “lazy song choice.” The audience boos.
Casey says he’s not surprised by the judges’ reactions. He says he loves the song and Fleetwood Mac. He’s got one of Linsey Buckingham’s guitars.
Lee DeWyze – “The Boxer” (Simon and Garfunkel)
Lee gets a little one-on-one with Ryan. He looks nervous. Ryan asks if Lee has been in touch with Andrew. He says he’s supporting whatever Andrew is doing. He says he chose this song because he listened to this music when he was a kid and this type of music got him into playing guitar.
Alicia has Lee speak the words and urges him to become the boxer. She says if Lee can bring people into him, he will make them feel something. The arrangement is a bit too fussy – strings and things. Might have worked better acoustically. He definitely is feelin’ it, but there are too many “La, la, las” in it and he goes completely off key during them. He knows it too!
Randy says he’s one of Lee’s biggest fans because this season is about artists (really?). He thinks Lee is ready to make records and have a great career. Ellen says this was a beautiful song choice, and Lee’s getting better and better.
Kara says this was Lee’s “moment.” She thinks this shows the difference between when someone connects to a song and when someone does not. Simon says the difference between Lee and Casey is “staggering.” He says Lee made the song sound as if it were written a week ago. “Brilliant.”
Am I missing something here? Lee wasn’t that much better than Casey, but from the judges’ reactions, you’d think Lee was the second coming of, well, Kris Allen, or something? Why the heavy Lee pimpage all of a sudden?
Captain Sully, the pilot who landed in the Hudson River, is in the house.
Tim Urban – “Better Days” (Goo Goo Dolls)
Alicia says this could be Tim’s own song and it feels really good. Tim’s voice sounds rather shaky to start. He talk/sings it and is completely off pitch. This is a dumb (I said it, dumb) song choice. He warbles, he wobbles, and crashes and burns in my estimation. Awful, simply awful.
Randy says this song was an interesting choice and it was just “OK, good karaoke.” Ellen says Tim is like the soup of the day – sometimes she likes it, sometimes not. Today she didn’t.
Kara says this is Tim’s “lane,” but it wasn’t his best performance. Simon says if this was the first time they’d seen him, they’d be very impressed. He’s having trouble believing it and thinks it might have been a step too high. “It was a little bit of a let down,” he says.
Aaron Kelly – “I Believe I Can Fly” (R. Kelly)
Aaron’s been singing this song since he was five. Alicia wants him to cry at the end! Another nasally start. The song is waaaay too big for Aaron. The swaybots like it, though. It’s very overdone and desperate. The song really shows how weak his vocals are. He tries to get to the big, huge ending, but comes across sounding like a kid singing at a school talent show.
Randy says Aaron picked a giant song, but that he did a good job. Ellen says there was a time in the 70s that she felt she could fly! She thinks he did a great job.
Kara says watching this was like watching something take off and he finally got there. Simon says this has to be judged in two parts – for his personality and the vocals. He says if he’d heard it on the radio, he would have turned it off in ten seconds.
Siobhan Magnus – “When You Believe” (Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston)
Alicia says Siobhan needs to “milk” her “money spot,” and urges her to pause and make it special. Another somewhat Broadway opening. Siobhan has weird fake butterflies pinned to her arms on vines or something. Her vocals are nice to start off, but then she kicks into the meat of the song, and loses it a bit. She does hit her “money note” and doesn’t scream. Simple and rather nice, but a bit drab.
Randy says Siobhan picked the hardest song of the night. It was just okay for him. Ellen disagrees and says this is more confirmation why Siobhan is still in the running.
Kara says this is not a musical, and every week, Siobhan seems to be showing that she’s someone they’d like to hang out with, not buy her records. Simon says this was not the right song and the “leaves” (the butterflies) were very distracting.
Siobhan tries to explain why she picked the song, and quite honestly, I have no idea what this girl is trying to say. She becomes more nonsensical every week. Plus the judges seem to be tiring of her as well.
Michael Lynche – “Hero” (Nickelback)
Big Mike gets some stool time. Ryan says Michael came into the show with a “play book” of 200 songs. He chose the song because it speaks to all of us to step up and be a hero. Alicia likes when someone takes a song and makes it their own. She wants Michael to take us on a ride. Michael wants the song to take flight.
At least Michael has kept to the theme… sorta. The arrangement is loaded with strings and extraneous crap, but his voice is strong enough to get over it all. Very dramatic, but interesting. He makes some strange faces when he sings, and ends up pointing to the sky like he’s in church, but actually, this was the best performance of the night so far.
Randy says he was worried about this one, but Michael held his own. Ellen thinks he did a great job. It wasn’t Kara’s favorite performance. His voice was all over and the song became unrecognizable. Simon says Michael sang it well, but mentions that the song is from Spiderman. He says this felt artificial and it didn’t quite gel for him. “I still think you’re going to be around next week.”
Jennifer Hudson Weight Watchers commercial – she looks amazing! Makes me ponder joining WW myself.
Crystal Bowersox – “People Get Ready”
Alicia thinks Crystal is special. Crystal says she picked the song because it reflects where she is right now. Alicia knows people are going to love this performance.
Crystal starts out a cappella. Her voice is definitely better. She’s wearing a gown. Crystal takes us to church on this one and I believe! She just sings it and means it, and in the end, she starts to cry. For real.
Randy gives her a standing O. Ellen says Crystal has never looked more beautiful and gets better and better. Kara thanks Crystal for taking a risk and putting her guitar down. “You just schooled all those contestants.” Simon says that was inspirational. He’s happy she showed some emotion. “For me, it was in a completely different class.” She tells us the mike stand is hers, the one she always uses.
Crystal says she cried because her dad is in the audience. Dad is totally cool with shades on. She blots her eyes with Ryan’s hankie, and continues to laugh/cry.
Best and Worst
This one is pretty easy – Crystal was the best of the night followed by Michael, Lee, and Casey. This leaves Siobhan, Aaron, and Tim as my bottom three. And, sadly, I think this will be the end of the road for Turban.