"American Idol" Episode 36 of Season 9: The Top 5 Sing

5/05/2010 Posted by Admin

Television: American Idol

The Top Five Slow Down

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

As excited as I was for Frank Sinatra night on "American Idol," I expected it to be rough across the board. The contestant most capable of doing justice to his music, Katie Stevens, left weeks ago, and Sinatra’s music isn’t very well suited to the voices and musical stylings of the remaining five.

The result? Mixed. No one was terrible, and for the majority of the episode, I didn’t think anyone would be incredible. For the most part, the contestants sang decently, while showing just how uncomfortable they were in tackling Sinatra’s hits. In most situations, I feel the song choices were completely off, and the big band arrangements were just too big. This isn’t surprising, as it’s been the most constant theme in this season of "American Idol."

Harry Connick Jr. was an entertaining and spot-on mentor this episode, taking his mentor duties to the next level by accompanying each contestant on piano, which to me, made the whole night seem a little more special and worthwhile.

The highlight of the night was easily Lee DeWyze. This was his “game changer” performance, since to me, he went from “Guy who stands a decent shot of winning the whole thing” to “Guy who deserves to win the whole thing” with his rendition of “That’s Life.” Best of all--I had counted him out with this theme. This guy sings Nickelback – in what universe does he do the best Sinatra rendition?

Big Mike was close behind in my book, with a beautiful version of “The Way You Look Tonight.” Donning a suit and a rat pack inspired fedora, Big Mike was the only contestant who remotely comes close to having Sinatra’s swagger and the only contestant who can really convincingly sing a love song. He didn’t seem awkward and uncomfortable on stage, which immediately set him apart from the others.

Crystal Bowersox was very middle of the pack. She chose to sing “Summer Winds” based on personal reasons, and I think it was perhaps the most poorly chosen song of the night. I’ve just come to expect better out of Crystal Bowersox, knowing exactly what she’s capable of. It’s like when the number one student in the class has an off day and gets a B- on a test. It’s still better than average, but a bit of a disappointment.

My one serious gripe with Crystal is that she constantly talks back to the judges. The judges have totally been in her pocket, since until recently, she’s been leading the pack. Yet she feels the need to use her Ryan Seacrest brand of sass in being defensive and somewhat rude to the judges who really just have her best interest in mind.

Aaron Kelly gave a decent performance of “Fly Me To The Moon.” I was expecting him to be just about the weakest of the night, solely because I doubted he’d be able to have the emotional connection to Frank Sinatra’s music that the others would. He impressed me. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as what he’s done and what he’s capable of, but it wasn’t bad, and that’s what matters.

The judges were too harsh on Casey James, but his version of “Blue Skies” was just weird. Frank Sinatra is about the voice and connecting with the audience on a visceral, emotional level with his voice, and Casey’s voice is probably the weakest in the competition. Casey makes up for his voice with his guitar skills and performances, and last night, sans guitar, he was truly out of his comfort zone. All things considered, I knew this would be a huge struggle for him, but he didn’t do that terribly. As Kara pointed out, he held notes, but has a bleaty, awkward vibrato. If he’s around next week, he has to pick up his guitar to have a prayer of making it to the Top 3.

If there’s a Bottom Three, based on these performances alone: Casey, Aaron and Crystal. If there’s a Bottom Two: Casey and Aaron. I’m rooting for Casey to pull through.

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