"A paint salesman. A high school student. A glassblower. A mother. A father. A construction worker.” This is either the lineup for the Village People’s new opening act or a pitch for a “Breakfast Club” remake.
Or maybe it was just Seacrest’s intros for our six “Idol” finalists!
In just a few short weeks, “Idol” has gone from “American Awful” to “American Average.” Yes, we have finally succeeded in taking out the talentless trash, so to speak. It’s been kind of like an episode of “Hoarders,” except without the vermin and collections of “vintage” fast food wrappers. But I sure will miss those Tim Urban moves!
It is gettin’ real, ya’ll! We are down to the Sexy Six (OK, make that the Sufferable Six) and as billboards all over L.A. have informed us, “There can only be one Idol.” (Side note: I especially like the billboard on Pico where they put a giant “X” through eliminated contestants’ photos!) With only a month left before Crystal Bowersox — er, I mean the American Idol — is crowned, every vote counts.
Last night featured a guest mentor that I — gasp! — actually approved of. As a Canadian who grew up in the sticks of Alabama (true story!), you don’t have to tell me what all the fuss is aboot when it comes to Shania Twain! Though she hasn’t released anything lately, Twain’s impact on country music is undeniable. She is clearly the Queen of Crossover and has paved the way for artists like Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum (who is performing on tonight’s results show).
I expected the Idols to massacre her songs, especially the guys, but they did quite well overall. I mean, this is the Sufferable Six we’re talking about here! Sure, the songs of Shania may not be as well-known as tunes from other theme weeks. But then again, Elvis and the Beatles weren’t exactly available to come sit in the audience and listen, either. There is an added pressure when you’re performing someone else’s song in front of said person. (Just ask Jessica Simpson. Remember that “9 to 5” trainwreck in front of Dolly herself?)
LEE DEWYZE — “You’re Still The One”
I’m still not sure whether this just started out majorly pitchy or whether Lee was trying to change the melody to “make it his own.” Whatever was going on, the beginning was bad. Really bad. It almost sounded like it was in a minor chord or something. You know minor chords; they’re the chords you hear during movies when the mood is (a) ominous or (b) mysterious. Once he got into the chorus, though, Lee hit his stride, making this tune sound less like the kind of treacle you’d hire Katie Stevens to sing at your parent’s 40th wedding anniversary and more like something, well, current. Though the chords would lead you to believe otherwise, there is no mystery here. Making old songs new again seems to be DeWyze’s specialty and if he can continue to do that he may well survive those foreboding elimination shows (during which they should probably start using minor chords). It is also worth noting that we saw one of Lee’s first attempts at a smile this season. True, it looked a lot like mouth palsy (Mary Jo Buttafuoco comes to mind), and Simon accused him of making “weird faces,” but it’s a start.
MICHAEL LYNCHE — "It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing"
There are so many reasons why Big Mike should stand out. He is an imposing presence with a larger-than-life personality who has both the backstory and the great voice. That’s why it makes no sense that he bores me so much. My guilt is relieved by the fact that his recent almost-elimination proves that I’m clearly not the only one. Simon didn’t like the drama of this performance, saying it was almost like Lynche were singing in a musical. (Even with “drama” he bores me!) I, on the other hand, love musicals and would love to see the Idols perform like they were in a musical. Play to the cameras more! Maybe do some jazz hands! Do anything to show us that you’re actually awake up there! And maybe try to look just a little excited that all your dreams are coming true! Lynche doesn’t have to worry about that, though. Whether he bores me or not, all his dreams will come true. As the only true R&B artist left, he will, no doubt, get a record contract and sail off into the sunset with his wife, baby and a protein shake.
CASEY JAMES — “Don’t”
James marveled at the fact that he was actually doing a “singing song.” Uh, you do realize which show you’re competing on, don’t you, Casey? Oh, never mind. Just sit there and look pretty. Actually, this was pretty good. I would never classify Casey as an amazing singer but he is a good singer and he’s nice to look at. I like that he toned down the guitar this week and made it more intimate. (Stools always scream “intimacy!”) It was something different than what we’ve come to expect from him for the last few weeks. Overall, though, the raspy thing is not really that original; he doesn’t bring anything new to the world of music. I think that his test, post-”Idol,” will be how good his original material is. If he can show us that he can write killer songs and still maintain that perfectly messy hairdo, then maybe we’ll have a star.
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX — “No One Needs To Know”
This is my absolute favorite Shania Twain song … and I think that Crystal absolutely ruined it, her worst performance to date. That being said, after how consistent she’s been week after week, she deserves to have one bad performance. (But, seriously, it was bad.) I get that it was a country kind of week, but this seemed a little inauthentic. Simon couldn’t quite put his finger on what it reminded him of but my thoughts immediately jumped to Splash Mountain (the Br’er Rabbit-themed ride at Disneyland). In fact, I half expected Crystal to throw down her guitar midway through the song and pick up a washboard (because you can’t sing and play the jug at the same time, duh). Apparently she was using this song to send out a not-so-subtle message to her (surprisingly clean-cut) boyfriend about settling down. I thought for sure this guy would be at home playing hacky sack and watching “Pineapple Express” but there he was in the audience looking like a young Republican. Crystal’s need for commitment surprised me, too. I thought it was free love and all that back at the compound.
AARON KELLY — “You’ve Got a Way”
This was my favorite performance of the night. Country ballads really are Aaron’s forte and the stool (again, “intimacy!”) provided us with a respite from his distracting “hip-sway” move. I’m not sure it will be enough to save him, though, as he seems poised to take over the position of “latest ‘Idol’ castoff,” if you know what I mean. Even Ellen seemed to be making a preemptive attempt to soften the blow: “Tomorrow’s gonna be real tough.” I was wondering how young Aaron, only 17, suddenly seemed to be able to fully connect to a song about love, especially when Seacrest so famously interrogated him on that very subject just weeks before. Well, turns out he was singing it to his mom, which was really sweet (and kinda creepy at the same time). Kara pointed out that he even changed the line about “making love” (thank God!). If she hadn’t, we would’ve gone to bed without speculating about a 17-year-old’s sex life (or lack thereof). Thanks, Kara! (I feel like I need to take a shower or something.)
SIOBHAN MAGNUS — “Any Man of Mine”
Siobhan has been my favorite for awhile now but she took a lot of risks last night. First of all, she sang what is arguably Shania’s best-known song and first number-one hit. I’ve heard this one sung better by drunks at karaoke. Siobhan probably has, too, (between glassblowing gigs) and that must be why she insisted on adding yet another pitchy scream where it wasn’t needed (or wanted). The one thing I will say for her is that at least she worked the crowd, going out into the audience and picking up where Tim Urban left off. Shania smiled and clapped like a good mentor but it looked a little forced to me. And would it have killed Siobhan to wear cowboy boots instead of those ice skates without the blades? The whole country thing seemed a bit costumey on Bowersox but I think that Siobhan could’ve pulled it off. I mean, her whole look is “costumey.” The judges’ accolades were shocking to me; were we watching the same thing? Regardless, I hope that she is around next week because her choices are always interesting.