Tuesday, May 11, 2010

'American Idol 9' - Top 4 performance show recap

With the finale right around the corner, it's do or die for the American Idol 9 Top 4. This week, the Idols will sing songs from the movies and Jamie Foxx returns as guest mentor. The producers have also brought back the duets from last season. We'll see about that!  Let's get on with the show.

Ryan opens the show by telling us it's our job to see who gets to the finale. He intros the judges and lets us know that there'll be duets. The Top 4 emerged looking fairly relaxed and confident. Intro the movie/Jamie Foxx video package. Ryan says Jamie has a career "without boundaries." He's an actor and a multi-platinum artist. Jamie's got his head shaved and is sporting some chin whiskers. He urges the Top 4 to "get into another gear." "Take what you have and elevate it.

Jamie's in the audience with tee shirts he brought to the contestants. The shirts read Contestant and Artist. Once he hears them sing, he'll present them with either one of them depending on how he thinks they do! The objective is to be an "artist."  Tricky.

Lee DeWyze - "Kiss from a Rose" (Seal)

Jamie gets right up in Lee's face and says if he can't sing like that, he can't sing in front of 10,000 people. Jamie's fierce! At the end of the rehearsal, he gives Lee an "Artist" shirt. Lee's got the acoustic guitar out this week. He sounds very hoarse and somewhat out of tune. He doesn't stray far from the original arrangement and seems to be mumbling at times. Doesn't he know the words?  He gets better in the second half of the song, but it doesn't fit his voice and falls a bit flat for me.

Randy agrees with Jamie in that he's looking for who's in it to win it. He says Lee did nothing with the song and it was just okay. He says Lee should have chosen something more rock. "It was just okay." Ellen thinks more could have been done with the song, but she loved it.

Kara says that Lee had a great week last week. Someone screams, "We love you Lee." She points out that he got lost in the arrangement. But she doesn't think this takes away from the fact that he's still great. Simon agrees with Randy. He says there are plenty of song he could have chosen. "That was verging on karaoke," he says, and says Lee should get a "Contestant" tee shirt.

Lee says he enjoyed singing the song. He's not backing down one little bit.

Michael Lynche - "Will You Be There" (Michael Jackson)

Big Mike has some stool time with Ryan. Michael tells us there's a lot of pressure this week because your family and city are counting on you. A year ago, Mike made a goal to get in the Top 3 and he feels the weight of that goal. 

Jamie and Mike dance! The rehearsal doesn't go well and Jamie gives Mike a "Contestant" shirt. I love this song. Mike starts out on the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. He changes it up enough so that it doesn't sound a bit like Michael Jackson. The gospel background singers work real well and Michael sings with power and conviction. It's outstanding!

Randy says he didn't love it and wishes he'd chosen an R&B song. Ellen says you can't go wrong with the sound of a choir behind you and jokes about Free Willy. She says she thinks it's weird that his goal is to get to the Top 3 and not to win. She says this was a little bit predictable.

Kara says all she could think of were the songs he did that gave her goosebumps. She thinks Mike played it safe. He says he has more tonight. Simon doesn't know what Free Willy is! A discussion ensues about whales and Willies. "At least you gave it 100 percent, and I kind of felt that you meant it," he says before he is cut off.

Crystal and Lee Duet - "Falling Slowly"

Crystal and Lee are both playing acoustic guitar facing each other. Their voices blend rather nicely. I think Lee muffed the lyrics, though. Not good. It sounds like they are just jamming with each other. Nothing special and it seemed Crystal was much stronger of the two. Risky choice in that it was one of Kris Allen's best performances last year, but hey, who cares, right?

Randy says, "What a difference a couple of minutes make... that's how you do it." Ellen says, "You are the new Captain and Tennille." Kara says this was one of her favorite moments of the season. "You brought out the best in both of you." Simon calls it a "fantastic song." Really? I didn't think it was all that.

Crystal says Lee is her "musical crush," and she told him this when they were sitting next to each other at the audition in Chicago. Hmmm. What are the odds that these two would be together at this stage of the game and may well end up in the finale challenging each other. Interesting.

Casey James - "Mrs. Robinson"

Now this was predictable. Jamie asks Casey to seduce him! He wants Casey to understand the bigger picture. Casey gets an "Artist" shirt.

Casey's playing a mandolin. At least he tries to change it that much. He's in the pit with the swooning fan girls. It's different, I'll say that much. He blew the lyrics at the end just a little ("those who pay?") and his goatlike vibrato is up front and center. Just meh for me.

Randy asks why he chose this song. Casey says there are a lot of reasons. They all point to Kara! Heh! He says Casey sounded cool. Ellen says she wishes he'd had a "big boy guitar." She likes that he came back and did something different with the song. She turns it over to "Mrs. Robinson" (Kara). She says this is Casey fighting to stay in the competition. She thinks it was a good choice. She is surprised at how naughty Randy is. She explains the meaning behind the song and movie.

Simon says he didn't think the song or the performance had the "substance required for a night like this... I thought it was a little bit lazy... You could have made more of an impact." He thinks it was a weird song choice.

Crystal Bowersox - "I'm Alright" 

Crystal has stool time with Ryan. He wonders about her song choice. Crystal is a bit star-struck. He wants her to "raise those pretty blue eyes up." He gives her an "Artist" shirt.

Good choice for Crystal. It's right in her wheelhouse and allows her to be herself. Yup, she's back all right.

Randy says "You are definitely and artist." He likes that she tried to switch it up. Ellen says the performance got "Crystalized" and she made the song better. Kara agrees and calls her an artist. Simon says "After that performance, you Crystal, are back in the game."

Crystal's boyfriend is wearing American flag MC Hammer pants!

Michael and Casey Duet - "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman"

The boys are playing their guitars. Casey bleats out the opening while Michael makes funny faces. The song gets a little more shape when Michael's verse kicks in. Casey plays a nice Spanish lick on the guitar. Their voices don't sound horrible together and they give it an interesting kick. Better than I expected, actually.

Randy says he loved the guitar playing. "Nice one." Ellen says, "As a matter of fact, yes, I have loved a woman!" Simon cracks up. Kara says, "The duets tonight were incredible... better than the solo performances." Simon thinks they should give Jamie's artist tee shirts for the duets. I agree.

Jamie says it was a great night. He says it's an artistic challenge to make a simple song their own. He wants them to "let go" next week. He's looking for someone to go from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Best and Worst

I agree that the duets were better than the solo performances. By far. As for the solos, Crystal wins the night, followed by Michael and Lee. That leaves Casey out. We shall see.

Wednesday, Daughtry and Fantasia come home to Idol and Jon Bon Jovi performs. Daughtry on Top 4 elimination night! Heh!

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