This week to start the show we were treated to a close up of Ryan’s shoes. I appreciate footwear as much as the next girl (and the collection of shoes in my closet would really back me up here) but I don’t think Ryan’s shoes created quite the drama that the producers were hoping for. Then again, a close up of the staircase of stardom was a little intriguing, so maybe it all worked out.
In any case, as Ryan clomped down the stairs next to one contestant at a time it became increasingly obvious that one member of the trio did not get the memo that tomorrow night was stand-there-stoic-like-a-Buckingham-palace-guard and tonight was be-loose-and-interact-with-Ryan-on-the-staircase night. Poor Lee. Ryan paused a beat too long to shake him out of his stare and thank goodness he did! Otherwise, we would have all thought that Lee was mad at us. Phew. Crisis averted.
As Ryan approached Casey on the staircase of stardom, I could almost see the wheels in his head turning…How many stairs above Casey would I need to be to be his same height? Need I remind you that the Casey and Ryan are not…how shall we say…equadistant from the floor? Oh, all right but only because it’s super fun.
For all of you that feel I’m being cruel, I feel compelled to point out that I am also of vertically challenged stature. So…takes one to know one?
Before we start the musak portion of the show the following things happened:
- American Idol decides that their viewers would be better off blind and decide to test the theory by shining a million gazillion watts of lighting through our television screens. I mean, I get that the show is musical so we could probably have heightened hearing if we couldn’t see, but seriously? Lay off my retinas unless you plan to compensate me for a visit to my friendly neighborhood eye doctor.
- Simon proves that he was never in the military by executing a lame salute
- Kara rocks a “smokey eye” (gotta give credit where credit is due)
- I become surer and surer as the time goes on that Randy is wearing a sweater that he’s worn another week. Isn’t it hot in LA? Shouldn’t sweaters be done with by now?
- Ryan announces that tonight the contestants will sing a song of their own chosing and also a song of judges’ chosing.
[Time out] Hey, if Zack Morris can do it, so can I…
This whole judges-choosing-a-song thing is a brilliant idea. I just take issue with it on two levels. (What? You didn’t expect me to let the opportunity to get this off my chest pass idly by, did you?)
1. I do not understand why they don’t implement this format one week earlier. Having judges double up to come up with song choice is kind of odd, right? And it also doesn’t seem fair that they can bounce ideas off of each other. It was also very interesting to see that Ellen was awarded one of the “solo picks” though she clearly had the least seniority of any of the judges.
2. I think the judge(s) that pick the particular contestant’s song should not critique the performance. Otherwise it comes off in one of two ways:
- Of course, I picked a great song and you sang it great and if you progress into the finale next week, you should remember that it’s all because of me and my brilliant song choice. Gifts are an acceptable form of thanks…have them sent to my dressing room. The one with the BIG star on it just to remind you that you haven’t made it as big as me yet. Maybe when you can choose a song like I can, you’ll make it in this industry.
- Well, I picked a great song but you didn’t do a great job singing it. I can’t be faulted for your obvious lack of artistry. I did my part and you didn’t hold up your end of the deal. Don’t blame me if you get booted off this week. I wash my hands of you.
Casey James – “Okay, It’s Alright with Me” by Eric Hutchinson
In my humble but always true opinion, Casey’s chances of cracking the top two is kind of like throwing a snowball in a volcano with boiling lava. Or in layman’s terms, his chances are um…not good.
I liked the vibe of this song and think that Casey stayed true to himself and his style. I was also encouraged to see him lose a bit of the perma-smile and trade it in for a more authentic facial expression and a teensy bit of movement. It was a little too choppy and “one note” to be awesome, but I thought it was better than the judges seemed to think. Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems like they were pretty hard on him.
Crystal Bowersox – “Come to My Window” by Melissa Ethridge
Ryan asked Crystal about her song choice and she said “…it’s a song about passion and love and things like that.” Let the record show that adding “and things like that” weakens any sentence.
Crystal upped the ante a little this week by breaking out TWO instruments to play on this song. I love that she played the harmonica, but it reminded me a little bit of a dental headgear. This song showed everything that Crystal does great – her musicianship, phrasing, personality, voice, etc. It really was a great choice for her. Have I mentioned that I love her microphone stand? Crystal didn’t get rave reviews from the judges, but I appreciated her ability to stand silently and take in their critique without explaining “her side”.
Lee Dewyse – “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
I definitely want Lee to win the whole enchilada…but I’m also compelled to keep it real. Two things about him drive me absolutely up a wall:
1. The fact that the phrases in his songs are so short. Carry a note, Lee!! Get some breath support for goodness sake!
2. The fact that he doesn’t know how to articulately speak on camera. He’s kind of like one of those friends (we’ve all had them at one time or another) that when you ask a specific question you get waaaay more back story than you wanted. And of course, you care about your friend so you listen politely and try to be interested in the long and winding story that has taken so many twists and turns you don’t remember your original question, but really what you’re thinking is “Um, can you just simply and succinctly answer my question? I have things to do!” This is why I love those girl groupies that shouted “We love you, Lee” interrupting a line of dialogue that was nowhere near the end. In effect, what those girls were saying was, “We don’t care what you say as long as you look good”. And while I wouldn’t go THAT far I do acknowledge that Lee has some media training on the horizon. Hopefully.
That said, during his performance Lee looked a lot more at ease this week (by the end of this thing, he’ll be comfortable on a stage!) and I really loved the song. I deemed it “download worthy”, after all. I was, however, a bit put off by the amount of product in his hair. Or perhaps he was in a downpour rainstorm indigenous to Southern California? I guess we’ll never know.
DING! Round 2 – The Judges Pick
Casey James – “Daughters” by John Mayer
Coming off of a rather moving montage video of hometown visits of years past, I have to say this clip of Casey’s visit to the AT&T store in his hometown location was the least impressive hometown visit of all time. Maybe it’s his easygoing, ride the American Idol wave as far it will go demeanor, but he seemed like he didn’t really care to be there and when he received word that Randy and Kara (bless their hearts) had chosen John Mayer’s “Daughters” to perform he asked for a guitar so that he could practice. Hey, Casey? All those people came out to see you. Maybe you should save your practice for another time.
Also, let’s not underestimate the songs of John Mayer, people. They sound easy-breezy-Cover Girl but they take a lot of skill to remain on pitch and a good amount of a certain type energy behind each lazy-sounding note. I thought it was a good version of the song and was pleasantly surprised that there were only slight pitch problems. Sure, it wasn’t a shining moment for Casey, but I thought he did what he could with the song he was given.
I do, however, take issue with Kara’s comment that the reason she and Randy picked the song is because Casey’s audience is women and girls? Dude, Kara, even Ellen was totally giving you the “what the heck are you talking about” look. C’mon now, guys like rock songs, too. And don’t even get me started on Simon and Kara’s exchange. While I see points on each side of the aisle, these two will have to work things out for themselves.
Crystal Bowersox – “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney
Another solid performance from MamaSox. I thought it was a good move for her to use the stage more fully and go guitar-less. Again, by doing this I noticed her vocals a lot more and it struck me that she was powering through the pinnacle of the song, she was strolling along stage making it look easy to sing. Granted, she had no idea what to do with the non-microphone wielding hand/arm, but still. Crystal makes things look easy that, well, aren’t. She’s one talented girl.
Lee Dewyse – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
Really, Simon? We’re going to pull this song for Lee to sing? Not only have we heard the song from Jason Castro last season, we’ve also heard the song already THIS season. I think it was a mistake to do a song that is swiftly becoming as overdone as my crescent rolls last Thanksgiving. I also think the choir was a huge mistake and detracted from the brilliant vocal that young Mr. Dewyse was laying down.
But the performance? One of the best of the whole season. I’d say right up there with Siobhan’s “Paint It Black”. He didn’t get lost in all the hoopla around him and he showed just how amazing his voice is when he has the confidence to commit and go for it. I can’t be sure, but I’m thinking that Lee received the only standing ovation of the night. And it was well deserved.
As the judges gave rave review after rave review, poor down-on-himself Lee looked shell-shocked and didn’t even know what to do with the judge’s comments. And that’s just sweet. And the reason why I think he’ll take the cake on confetti night next week.
So, I guess the question is…has America taken leave of its senses, or will the obvious choices of Lee and Crystal grace the stage for the finale next week? Only time will tell…