If the girls were feeling disconnected from their lyrics on Tuesday, then the guys more than made up for it Wednesday. While I’ve continually said that this is a girl’s year, I have to admit that the show featured the strongest collective performances of the season so far. Even the “bad” performances were pretty good.
LEE DEWYZE — “Fireflies” by Owl City
Kara thought that Lee actually made “Fireflies” better, and I have to agree, though, in my eyes, any interpretation is an improvement upon the original. I liked the song roughed up a bit and didn’t miss the synthy notes from Owl City’s version at all. (Is that Casio supposed to sound like a firefly?) I wouldn’t call this a particularly memorable performance, though. In fact, I wouldn’t call Dewyze a particularly memorable contestant. I think he is a wannabe David Cook without the style. Ellen would beg to differ with me, however, as she noted that tons of girls have crushes on Lee regardless of his pitch problems. (I have yet to meet one.)
ALEX LAMBERT — “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne
Little Alex Lambert is, I think, my favorite contestant this year. He is definitely my favorite male contestant, anyway. Maybe it’s his “reverse moptop” (also known as a mullet), but does anyone else think he looks just a little like a young Paul McCartney, especially when he’s holding a guitar? Adorable! He has come leaps and bounds from that first deer-in-headlights performance and he just keeps getting more comfortable. He definitely seems to be the most vulnerable (don’t you just want to take him under your wing?!) but the irony is that Kara says vulnerability is what he’s missing. I see what she means; you must fully surrender yourself to the song in order to be a good performer. I’d like to see him do a faster, more fun song where he can move around stage a bit.
TIM URBAN – “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
I had to rewind the DVR and watch this performance again because all I could about the first time was Jason Castro’s standout moment from Season 7. Once I got back in the moment, I realized that Urban’s version was actually not that bad. Was it good enough to warrant Ellen leaving her seat to hug him? Uh, no, but that sure made for great awkward television. (And isn’t that part of the reason Ellen is there in the first place?) I don’t quite agree with Kara’s assessment that Urban is now “in it” and could be one of the top guys, and by “I don’t quite agree,” I mean “is she freakin’ insane?” Sheesh, slow your rolls, ladies. The guy has one listenable performance and you’re ready to put him in the Top 12. Could it be guilt over how the show has treated him overall? Hmmm …
ANDREW GARCIA — “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera
I think that Garcia has absolutely blown it. His Paula Abdul moment was weeks ago, and he has been floundering ever since, trying to live up to it. Guess what? It’s impossible. Part of the reason the Abdul song worked at all was because of her “Idol” connection. This week, he was obviously trying to replicate that success by choosing another supercheesy female pop song. To be fair, he did do what they’ve been asking him to do for weeks — surprise us. But I was a little too surprised by this song choice, flabbergasted even. I could not stop picturing Garcia sporting harem pants to match his glasses and neck tattoo. And I don’t want to know the proper technique for rubbing Garcia the “right way.” He’s gotten a free pass these last couple of weeks, but this performance may have been the nail in his coffin (or the cork in his genie bottle).
CASEY JAMES — “You’ll Think of Me” by Keith Urban
While Simon thought this was Casey’s second best performance (next to Bryan Adams’ “Heaven”), it was my favorite of his. I felt that he was actually connected to the song and there was a real sincerity. I bought it. I haven’t seen a whole lot of star power in James throughout the competition but this performance gave me a glimpse of what he could be. He seems to have taken Ellen’s note last week about being less stiff. Now if he can just get enough votes to survive until Shirtless Week …
AARON KELLY — “I’m Already There” by Lonestar
Thank you, Kara, for pointing out what really irked me about this performance. Why in the world was the youngest person left in the competition singing a song from the perspective of a married father? Why?! Simon said that it didn’t matter but I have to disagree. If you can’t connect to the song, then you can’t sell it, no matter how great you sound. And, BTW, Kelly didn’t sound that great on this song, plus his post-traumatic stress-type rocking wasn’t winning him any points, either. I think Aaron is talented but he needs to grow some confidence, lose the goat-bleating vibrato and ground himself (i.e. nail his shoes to the floor).
TODRICK HALL — “Somebody to Love” by Queen
This was yet another song that was reminiscent of a powerful moment on a Fox show, only it wasn’t “American Idol.” That’s right, it looks like Todrick is a Gleek, too. And why wouldn’t he be? He is in musical theater, after all. In fact, Simon said that this performance proved that he’s a Broadway singer. I said the same thing about Clay Aiken years ago … only you, Todrick, are no Clay Aiken. (But who is?) Yes, Hall can sing but his whole vibe just puts me off. It may have something to do with that whole alleged “Oz: The Musical” scam. Or maybe it’s because he has ties to Fantasia. (Have you seen her reality show? Sheesh.) Ellen thought Todrick’s cover sounded like a gospel song but I’ve gotta tell you, I’m still not a believer.
MICHAEL LYNCHE– “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush/Maxwell
Best. Performance. This. Year. I actually got chills watching this, and I wasn’t alone, judging by Kara’s tearful reaction. For me, this performance worked for the very reason that Aaron Kelly’s didn’t: connection. The vocal was impressive but the sincerity is what made it so undeniably moving. This song is all about coming into one’s own as a new father and that is exactly what’s going on in Lynche’s life right now. It’s a difficult song to sing but he pulled it off and his ownership of the stage (crazy big movements) proved that he’s got the kind of reckless abandon that’s missing in contestants like Alex Lambert. Big Mike’s on a roll and is clearly the one to beat.
The guys are all so different that’s it’s hard to predict who will be eliminated. My gut tells me that Tim Urban’s groupies may save him again this week. To me the most forgettable performer was Lee Dewyze — and I think that Andrew Garcia’s time is just about up.