Shania Twain. Country crossover superstar who’s lived for years in a chateau in Switzerland and seemingly “retired” from music way before her time. Meanwhile, we’ve since learned her husband and musical partner, producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, was having an affair with their secretary/chateau manager. Mutt divorced Shania to be with his mistress. Then Shania started dating that woman’s ex-husband!
Damn! What was really going on at that chateau? Sounds like that would’ve made a hell of a reality show.
As for the “Songs of Shania Twain” episode of American Idol last night, it wasn’t nearly as compelling or intriguing. But it was great seeing Shania again, who mentored this week and who was a guest judge earlier this season during the Chicago auditions. Yes, since her divorce, we’ve seeing much more of Shania than in recent years–which is always good news for my eyes.
So let’s go to the rankings and see who impressed me much, and the ones that don’t:
1) Casey James – “Don’t” – Casey got the message. That appearance in the Bottom Two last week was America saying, “Give us something different, change it up!” The thing that pushed Casey to the top in my rankings this week was “salesmanship.” He really reached inside and sold this sit-down, acoustic-guitar ballad. Yes, the song challenged Casey’s vocal limitations. He made sure not to push too hard for notes that are beyond his grasp. Smartly executed. This one goes on my iPod.
2) Lee DeWyze – “You’re Still The One” – Love this guy’s voice. That’s the only reason I’d rank this performance this highly. Lee stayed kinda close to the original arrangement. Even so, I thought he struggled a little to stay in key. After hearing the nice changes he made to the very end of the song, I kinda wished he would’ve re-vamped more of it. This was not his best, and I wasn’t entirely sold on Lee as “The Love Song Guy.” But tonight, it was good enough. The others listed below could’ve stepped up on this list. But didn’t quite get there.
3) Aaron Kelly – “You’ve Got A Way” – Finally a theme week that plays to Aaron’s strengths. And Aaron delivered a solid version of this country ballad. Of course, that was to be expected. This is exactly the kind of music he should be recording. Aaron will snag a few extra votes this week by making sure everyone knew that he was “thinking of his mom” when he sang. Based on a couple recent Bottom Three appearances, those extra votes will probably come in handy.
4) Michael Lynche – “It Only Hurts When I Breathe” – Big Mike went “Luther Vandross” on this song. Nice-sounding results. Well-played. I’m rooting for this guy to do something that I want to put on my iPod. Hasn’t happened yet.
5) Crystal Bowersox – “No One Needs To Know” – Yeah, wow. I thought this was a mess. And Crystal’s usually at or near the top of my list. Some of the problems were out of Crystal’s control. The group of musicians performing with her didn’t seem to be on the same page. The playing was sloppy and the background vocals were doing their own thing, not following Crystal’s lead. Nevertheless, Crystal’s responsible for the song choice, which could’ve been much better. Honestly, too bad for Crystal she didn’t get to “Don’t” before Casey did. Crystal needs a song like “Don’t” that reveals some vulnerabilities–that something matters to her on a personal level. I think Crystal’s going to need a moment like that to keep the momentum going before the inevitable anti-Crystal backlash kicks in. And believe, it’s coming. This is Idol. And that’s how this thing goes.
6) Siobhan Magnus – “Any Man Of Mine” – Overpraised by the judges last night. It’s like the judges were told the show’s running late, be quick with your comment, and just decided to say, “Yeah, whatever, it was good.” It wasn’t. I think Siobhan’s performance, while more fun to watch than Crystal’s, lacked the sass of Shania’s original. Lately, Siobhan’s vocals haven’t been living up to what I originally thought they were. And the return of the screaming big note at the end of the song? Totally unnecessary. But, I suspect there’s a ton of Idol viewers who are not country music fans. For a bunch of those people, I’m guessing Siobhan’s was the performance of the night.
It’s interesting that the guys fared better with the Shania songs, and that the two women came up short. That’s counter-intuitive. But that is what is was.
Now for some predictions. I honestly forget if they do a Bottom Three this week. I think so. With only six left, that’s half of them in “the bottom.” So I think this week in particular, almost anyone could end up in there. Here’s what I’m feeling. Bottom Three tonight: Michael Lynche, Aaron Kelly and Siobhan Magnus. Siobhan gets sent to safety. Between Big Mike and Little Aaron, Michael Lynche exits.
Of course, this is the third time this season I’ve predicted a Big Mike/Aaron Kelly showdown, and it hasn’t happen yet!
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