Harry Connick Jr. was on hand to guide American Idol's five remaining contestants through their performances of Frank Sinatra tunes, and, well, I felt bad for ol' Blue Eyes' daughters, who were sitting in the front row. Although most of Connick's arrangements — yes, in a very nice touch for the show, Harry wrote and performed the arrangements with his own band — were excellent, not all the singers were up to them? So, who did the Chairman of the Board proud?
Harry Connick Jr. must be commended for really taking the time with the contestants this week. (As he aptly joked, "Did you see Shania Twain up in here doing this?" referencing the hours he put into crafting the arrangements.) If only some of the singers had been as inspired. Let's break them down.
Aaron Kelly, "Fly Me to the Moon"
Aaron's performance was just OK. He hit his notes, but he wasn't at all convincing as a crooner. Even though he usually comes across as much older than he is, this performance actually made me realize how young and disconnected from Sinatra's era he is. And I've always said he needs to work on his stage presence.
Judging the judges: C Ellen and Randy over-praised Aaron's vocals (Ellen called them "beautiful"), while Kara said he needed charisma to fill up the stage and Simon said it lacked conviction.
Casey James, "Blue Skies"
Oh, boy. I've become a big fan of Casey, but he was way out of his league. He looked uncomfortable without his guitar (reminding me of his just-OK guitarless and shirtless first audition) and the vocals were just all over the place. Harry defended Casey, saying his rehearsal was much better. And as unneeded (and probably unhelpful) as that comment was, it wasn't as bad as Kara comparing Casey's vibrato to a lamb baaing. (Also: Where has she been? Did she not hear him in full Eddie Vedder form on "Jealous Guy" a few weeks back?)
Judging the judges: B+ Randy said it was Casey's worst performance and Ellen said Casey was stiff. Simon said Casey appeared embarrassed and was not fantastic.
Cystal Bowersox, "Summer Wind"
Crystal may have had a strong personal connection with this song, but for the second week in a row, I didn't connect at all with Crystal's performance. Again, the vocals weren't the problem, but just the overall mood of the performance. Although I welcome seeing Crystal do something outside the busker routine, I'm actually looking forward to seeing that again next week. Worse, Simon lectured Crystal on being in it to win it.
Judging the judges: B Randy said it was sleepy and Ellen wanted Crystal to loosen up. Simon thought it was too jazzy in the first half while Kara praised her solid phrasing.
Michael Lynche, "The Way You Look Tonight"
I really liked Big Mike's performance, and he was clearly more in his element than all the preceding singers. His smooth vocals worked beautifully on Connick's arrangement, and his natural stage presence made it even clearer just how uncomfortable everyone else had been just standing still with their microphone.
Judging the judges: A Randy said the vocals were unbelievable and Ellen loved how easy the performance was for Mike. Simon said Michael put himself back in the game.
Lee DeWyze, "That's Life"
I've been pretty tough on Lee, mostly because he's an artist I really want to like. This time, I loved what he did. Lee managed to make the song not sound like the hundreds of other versions I've heard, but he also didn't make it unrecognizable. (It also helped that he hit all his notes). Well done.
Judging the judges: A Randy said he stayed true to his rocker self while Ellen said if the show had been the finale, Lee would have won. Simon said Lee gave it 110 percent and Kara said Lee should begin to believe that he has a shot at winning.
Who did you like? And who do you think is in danger of going home?
Harry Connick Jr. was on hand to guide American Idol
's five remaining contestants through their performances of Frank Sinatra tunes, and, well, I felt bad for ol' Blue Eyes' daughters, who were sitting in the front row. Although most of Connick's arrangements — yes, in a very nice touch for the show, Harry wrote and performed the arrangements with his own band — were excellent, not all the singers were up to them? So, who did the Chairman of the Board proud?