American Idol's final four took on songs of the cinema under Jamie Foxx's tutelage, and most of the performances were as uninspired as Foxx's second attempt at mentoring the singers. The one (slightly) bright spot of the night was the return of the contestant duets, which were a big hit in Season 8. They played less successfully this time, but they were a welcome improvement over the rest of what was offered.
Personally, I blame Jamie Foxx. OK, not really. He had nothing to do with song selection or arrangement as far as I could tell, but I didn't buy his shtick as a mentor this time around any more than I did a year ago. One difference: He made T-shirts that said "Contestant" and "Artist" and gave each contestant the one he thought they deserved after the mentor session ended. He probably would have been just as helpful to the singers had he not said a word and just handed them their shirt on the way out. OK, rant over. On to the singing!
Lee DeWyze, "Kiss From a Rose"
Add this song to the growing list of tunes Idol should ban. Lee sang it reasonably well, but there wasn't any original spark, and, again, the song has just been overdone. Plus, Lee hit his quota of bum notes. Foxx thought Lee was an artist, and he did remain true to what he does. It just wasn't a blockbuster. (Also: Doesn't Lee take like 13 minutes to answer Ryan's questions?)
Judging the Judges: B+ Randy said Lee didn't do anything with the song, but Ellen liked it. Kara said he was often out of tune (hey, she didn't say pitchy!) and Simon called it karaoke.
Michael Lynche, "Will You Be There"
I think starting the song so low was a mistake, even though Big Mike came up into his more comfortable register pretty quickly. He sang it well, even though at times, it felt like he was just holding long notes and not really singing a song. It was fine, but nothing special, and Mike was the only singer to earn a contestant T-shirt, even though he wouldn't take it.
Judging the Judges: B Randy said it was just all right and Ellen said it was predictable. Kara said Mike played it safe by picking a song he could have sang in his sleep, while Simon had way too much trouble figuring out exactly what Free Willy was about. (And no, Simon, it's not about a willy.)
Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze, "Falling Slowly"
The first of the duets was the better of the two — no surprise, considering it paired the two front-runners. I love the song, so I was pleased to hear it, but the harmonies were lacking and Kris Allen's version of it last year still stands as the best interpretation I've heard of the song on Idol.
Judging the Judges: B Randy loved it, Ellen called them the new Captain & Tennille. Kara said it was her favorite moment of the season and that they brought out the best in each other, the way duets should.
Casey James, "Mrs. Robinson"
After Casey was forced to seduce Jamie with his eyes, Foxx called Casey an artist. And he did a daring spin on the song. I'm just not sure the risk paid off. His vocals were OK, but I didn't love the mandolin arrangement. I fact, I found it almost as distracting as the audience's swaying arms.
Judging the Judges: F Randy was curious why Casey chose the song, and then made 100 jokes about Kara being Mrs. Robinson. Simon called it lazy, but Kara said he chose to be vulnerable, which meant he was fighting to stay in the competition. (For the record, I agree with Simon and to a lesser degree Kara, but Randy earns the F for the group.)
Crystal Bowersox, "I'm Alright"
Crystal's song choice was just as weird as the rest, but she delivered the night's best performance and her personal best in three weeks. I was shocked that she was intimidated by Jamie Foxx (who gave her an artist T-shirt by the way), but she's always comfortable and in control on stage, and tonight was no exception.
Judging the Judges: B Kara and Ellen said Crystal made the song better. Simon said Crystal was back in the game.
Casey James and Michael Lynche, "Have You Really Ever Loved a Women"
I really enjoyed Casey's classical guitar playing and some of the harmonies. (That last big note was a big pile of wrong, though.) Overall, I liked it, but I wasn't nearly as wowed by it as the judges were. I actually would have rather seen Casey do that as his solo performance instead of "Mrs. Robinson."
Judging the Judges: C Randy also loved the guitar work, while Simon and Kara agreed that the duets were better than any solo performances. Ellen said, yes, she has loved a woman.
What did you think of the performances? Who should go home?
's final four took on songs of the cinema under Jamie Foxx's tutelage, and most of the performances were as uninspired as Foxx's second attempt at mentoring the singers. The one (slightly) bright spot of the night was the return of the contestant duets, which were a big hit in Season 8. They played less successfully this time, but they were a welcome improvement over the rest of what was offered...