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Idol Thoughts — 05.25.10

It was a night Crystal Bowersox did everything she needed to and a night Lee DeWyze did somewhat less than he could have.

It was the night American Idol‘s Top 2 went head-to-head at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

And it was a night that I give to Crystal Bowersox. But who’ll get the Idol crown tonight? For that prediction, stayed tuned until the end of this blog.

Each singer sang three songs last night: one of their favorite songs from earlier in the season; one picked by Idol producer Simon Fuller; and a song that’ll be their first single if they win.

I’m not sure who picked the third songs (probably also Simon Fuller). But this is where Idol producers diverted from their formula of past seasons. The single has always been an original, although often schlocky, song written for the winner to sing. The songs in the past have been fairly “cookie-cutter” and not necessarily the best jump-off point for a singer’s new career. So I’m glad to see the show trying something different. Even so, the idea of a “first single” has become less meaningful ever since the show started selling studio versions of all the Top 12 songs. The real excitement for Crystal and Lee comes in about six months when the first single from their first album gets released.

Here are my rankings of the last night’s finale performances

1) Lee DeWyze – “Beautiful Day” by U2 (Lee’s single if he wins) – Right from the get, I have to admit my bias. My pick here is heavily influenced by my work in the radio biz…and my personal taste. This was the performance last night that I’d most enjoying playing on the radio. For that matter, the song last night I’d most want my iPod to shuffle into. On Lee’s third song of the night, he finally got his nerves under control, which were noticeable and palpable up to this point, and things came together. Lee stayed true to the original while hitting some nuanced vocal differences that spotlighted both Lee’s unique sound and the gorgeous arrangement of the song. The only downside, I couldn’t feel Lee’s connection to the song.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Up To The Mountain” by Patty Griffin (Crystal’s single if she wins) – Okay, to be totally honest, my first reaction when this came on last night was, “Huh? Did someone die?” It seemed a little light on levity and heavy on gravitas–especially for a “single.” But with subsequent listens, this has become one of my favorite Crystal performances. She delivered a controlled yet nuanced vocal and seemed really connected to the song. Not to be Debbie Downer. But I still prefer Kelly Clarkson‘s version with Jeff Beck from Idol Gives Back in 2007.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “Black Velvet”  by Alannah Miles (picked by Simon Fuller) – I’m with Simon Cowell on this one. I kinda dread this song–for being so obvious, such a “bar band/audition” kinda song. But Crystal did something with it, made it her own and gave us her most confident guitar-less performance of the season. Yes, she looked a little uneasy at first as she attempted to descend the staircase in her L.B.D. as she sang. But by the end, she seemed to be having fun and interacting with the crowd, which is important because there’s been plenty of times this season when it’s been hard to tell if she’s been enjoying this whole process.

4) Crystal Bowersox – “Me And Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin (Crystal fave from earlier this season) – Crystal’s first song of the night showed that she was comfortable and confident in front of the 7,000 people at the Nokia (significantly larger than the usual Idol audience at Television City). This was solid, if, literally, something we’ve seen before. I gave the edge to her “Black Velvet” for showing us something different.

5) Lee DeWyze – “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel (Lee fave from earlier this season) – This was the first indication Lee might have an off night. Nothing wrong with this version. Except that it wasn’t as good as the first time he sang it on the show. I went back and “A/B-ed” both versions. Lee sang this with much more passion and purpose during “Inspirational Song Week.” This was a good song choice; the song’s kinda his “underdog” theme song. In a way, the song here should’ve been “Hallelujah,” if the idea is to go with a singer’s best effort of the season. But that would’ve meant ended last week’s show and starting this week’s show with the same song. I’m sure show producers either did or would’ve put the kibosh on that.

6) Lee DeWyze – “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. (picked by Simon Fuller) – Uggg. Terrible song choice for Lee by Simon Fuller. The result was an ill-fitting, low-energy effort that played into the general criticism that this season has been nothing spectacular. Lee seemed to be inside his own head as he performed this. I wouldn’t want to say I know what was going on inside. But on the outside, it seemed like Lee wasn’t enjoying the moment.

So, who wins tonight? One of my contentions (I have many, mind you) is that people watched the show last night already knowing who they’d be voting for. That’s a good thing for Lee, who definitely had an off-night, because his fans will remember “Hallelujah” and not “Everybody Hurts” when they vote. I also suspect Lee’s a bigger hit with Idol‘s notorious “power” voters and texters–people who vote hundreds of times compared to more casual viewers. The fact that the judges seemed to pummel Lee, while praising Crystal, will actually energize his supporters to vote hard. I’ve also said in this blog that going into last night, Lee was the actual front-runner. (That’s contrary to what most of the media has been reporting.)

Tonight, Lee DeWyze is crowned the new American Idol. It will not be an “upset,” as many will call it tomorrow. However, there will be a perception that Crystal Bowersox was the better “artist,” and with these people, a sense that she was “robbed.”

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 05.18.10

Hallelujah! Someone finally answered Idol fans’ prayers for an “Oh, Wow!” moment, something that had been sorely missing this season.

That all changed last night on American Idol when Lee DeWyze took Leonard Cohen‘s song “Hallelujah” to the promised land. Lee’s epic performance solidified him as the front-runner going into next week’s finale.

Last night was crucial. I think the week before the finale is just as important as the finale (maybe more), and here’s why. When people watch next week, they want to know who they’re rooting for. So most people’s minds will already be made up. So last night was the last chance to really change some minds or win over new fans. Lee picked the best time of all to be peaking!

The Top 3 finalists performed two songs each last night: one they picked themselves; the other picked by one of the judges. I say each finalist did better on the song picked for them, which is telling. Even at this late stage, this year’s finalists still have some things to learn about how best to position themselves as artists.

Lee took a moment after his season-stealing performance to thank Simon Cowell for choosing “Hallelujah.” It seemed Lee may have had some initial reluctance about the song. Ironically, the thanks should be mutual. Simon owns the rights to the song. One U.K. news outlet even calls the song “Cowellelujah.” The song’s already put boatloads of cash in Simon’s bank account. Finalists on Simon’s U.K. show, The X Factor, have performed and recorded it. And Lee’s version will undoubtedly add to Simon’s “cha-ching.”

So “Hallelujah” for both of them: win-win.

It’s interesting. “Hallelujah” is one of those songs that has a larger-than-life reputation, but surprisingly little airplay on the radio in America. I’m not sure if I’ve even heard Leonard Cohen’s 1984 original of the song. There’s been notable cover versions by Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and k.d. lang. Yet, for the most part, radio silence. Maybe, this is the moment for that to change. If I was running a radio station, you’d be hearing Lee DeWyze’s version today.

So here we go, last night’s performances ranked:

1) Lee DeWyze – “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen – Reviewing what I wrote above, it seems I’ve already said quite a lot about this. Let me add that Lee got a ton of help from the Idol crew. The arrangement, the choir, the strings and the horn-section, were all spot-on. With the buzz trending toward the negative about this season, I’m guessing it was just important for the show to have this moment as it was for Lee.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney – I was glad Ellen DeGeneres picked this for Crystal. I remember singling out this song after the Lennon-McCartney Songbook Night a few weeks ago as being a song that should’ve been performed. Crystal, performing without her guitar, used this opportunity to demonstrate her full range, hitting big notes, raspy notes, and soft and sweet notes. Bonus points for not changing the gender references in the song. For starters, the word “man” needs to hit a single beat for the best emphasis. If she’d sang “woman” instead, the extra syllable would’ve made a mess of things.

3) Casey James – “Daughters” by John MayerRandy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi chose this one. Give Kara some credit; if she were Simon, she would’ve picked a song she wrote herself and earned some extra royalties! Casey turned in a solid, nice’n’soft version that featured more piano than guitar. As a song choice for Top 3 Week, Randy and Kara were able to insure Casey focused on his sensitive side at this crucial moment. The downside was the song’s not designed for a big vocal moment. So instead, Casey had a big “quiet” moment.

4) Lee DeWyze – “Simple Man” by Lynyrd  Skynyrd – When I went to bed last night, I actually had this ranked above Casey’s version of “Daughters.” When I listened again this morning, I revised my rankings. But it’s a close one. Lee picked this one himself, and I think it was smart move. The idea that Lee himself is a “simple kinda man” doesn’t hurt his case with Idol voters, who I suspect approve of his no ego, nice guy persona, much in the way the audience responded to Kris Allen last season.

5) Crystal Bowersox – “Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge – So all through this song Crystal had one of those harmonica holder/harness things around her neck. She blew a few notes at the beginning. And a couple at the end. Seemed like a long way to go for the little use it got. Meanwhile, I’m guessing Idol cameramen were running around trying to find an angle to shoot Crystal’s whole face. Ultimately, Crystal might’ve had a more transcendent performance with this song if she’d gone even more acoustic with it (even used that harmonica more) instead of staying close to the original. Crystal sounded better on the quieter beginning of the song. By the chorus, Crystal was, as the judges pointed out, “fighting the arrangement.”

6) Casey James – “OK, It’s Alright With Me” by Eric Hutchinson – Song choice. Always so crucial. Especially on the week before the finals. I don’t see any benefit to picking this song. Strike that. No benefit to Casey. I’m sure Eric Hutchinson couldn’t be having a better day today! The judges said Casey was “playing it safe,” probably because this was similar to a lot of songs Casey’s done this season. I think “safe” is the wrong word. “Risky” is more like it. The week before the finals is not the best time to give the audience a song that manages to be both unfamiliar and more of the same. That said, no complaints on the vocal. I’m a fan.

Casey James goes home tonight. Lee DeWyze vs. Crystal Bowersox in next week’s Idol finale.

Those are my thoughts. Yours? Let me know!

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts – 05.12.10

So, last night Michael Lynche was eliminated (again) on American Idol. Here’s a few thoughts this morning, to use Ryan Seacrest‘s careful wording from last night, “in no particular order.”

First off, those Seacrest words were kinda an important detail last night. If you missed them, you might’ve assumed Crystal Bowersox was in the Bottom Two. We really don’t know. The finalists were sent to safety (and the Top 3) one at a time, starting with Casey James, then Lee DeWyze, then Crystal Bowersox.

We don’t know who got the most votes. We don’t know who got the second least. All we know is Big Mike got the lowest amount. Some Idol fans might be frustrated by that. I’m not. In fact, I kinda like knowing that I don’t know. It adds an element of surprise to the two upcoming weeks.

This brings up another thought. Is a Lee-Crystal finale a done deal? They seem to have been the front-runners for a while now. Is there anything Casey can do next week to change that? I don’t know the answer to that. I’d be curious what others think.

I see two sides. On the one hand, yes, they’re the front-runners and it makes sense. Casey’s been in the Bottom Two a couple times. Lee and Crystal have never been. On the other hand, the last two seasons have had guy vs. guy finales, making it seem the block of females who simply vote for their favorite “cute guy” have taken over once and for all. (And c’mon, you know that block of voters exists. Don’t hate on me for pointing it out.)

And let’s not eliminate one other scenario. Casey delivers an amazing performance next week, and America responds with well-deserved votes, sending him into the finale. I honestly like all three. So whatever happens, I’ll be sad to see one leave, but happy for the other two.

Nevertheless (here comes another thought), I think I’m on board with the growing number of voices out there saying this is one of Idol‘s most boring seasons. No Paula Adbul. Simon Cowell seems like he’s already moved on mentally to his next show, the U.S. version of X Factor. And after a season featuring contestants with pipes and big-to-solid personalities (Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta), this season’s Top 12 are a bit dry.

But I think it’s too easy (and too “fashionable”) to say this is the most boring season. The fact is Crystal Bowersox is unlike any Idol contestant before, not unlike how Adam Lambert was in his way last year. In some previous seasons, the likes of Bo Bice and Diana DeGarmo made it into the finale. Heck, Taylor Hicks won the thing! I’d hope even the biggest Crystal hater would agree she’s more talented than the likes of them.

Another thought, what’s the real point of the “Judge’s Save?” Is it to give a performer another chance to win the show? I say no. I don’t think anyone who gets saved will ever win Idol. There’s some fundamental reason why people weren’t voting for that person that won’t go away just because the judge’s override America’s decision.

Clearly, the save is a ratings gimmick for the show, thought of in some brainstorming meeting as producers looked for ways to freshen the show as ratings began to dip. Whether it’s helping ratings remains to be seen. The one thing The Save does do is help a performers recording career. No doubt Michael Lynche will sell more music now then he would have if he’d gone home six weeks ago.

A couple other things we learned last night: winning American Idol doesn’t guarantee you’ll sound great my to ears six years later (Fantasia Barrino, who wowed me back-in-the-day, but not-so-much last night); Finishing fourth on Idol doesn’t mean you won’t go on to be the show’s third biggest-selling artist (Daughtry, my fave then…and now); And that Bon Jovi rocks. I guess that last one was never really in question.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 05.11.10

I’m surprised by this. But as a theme week on American Idol, “movie songs” doesn’t hold up very well for me.

Sure, it’s a way to put some limits on what song the contestants sing. But genre-wise, movie songs can be every and any genre. So musically, it really isn’t a “theme” at all.

On top of that, I never feel any connection between the performance on the Idol stage to the films the songs are from. Maybe they could show some footage from the movie on the screen behind the singers as they perform? Just thinking out loud. I’m sure that costs money Idol producers would rather not spend.

For that matter, it’d be somewhat dubious to resurrect some of last night’s movies. Helping a giant killer whale find freedom? The second worst Batman movie? A 40-year old AFI Top 100 classic–that 80% of Idol‘s audience has never seen?

Jamie Foxx returned last night. With success in both the films and music, you couldn’t book a guest mentor that makes more sense. Even so, there was a tinge of “been there, done that” seeing that Foxx was on just last season. Foxx got in the finalists faces (literally) and pushed them to be “artists,” not “contestants,” even bestowing tee shirts to the singers with those words on them at the end of his time with them. Big Mike seemed a little put off when Foxx tried to hand him the “contestant” tee. Mike said no, he wouldn’t take it. Foxx didn’t argue. Hey, it’s “Big” Mike…probably wasn’t the right size, anyway!

In addition, the duets were back last night. To save the night, I should say. They turned out to be the highlights. I guess I’m not surprised. On a season where there’s been a shortage of personality, there’s a better chance of getting some when you double these finalists up. Here’s everything ranked, individual and duet performances all together:

1) Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox – “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (from the film Once) – Probably my favorite performance of the entire season. This really worked. Lee and Crystal sang as if something really mattered. Not that they don’t on their own. They do. But the passion was stronger here than ever before. I’ve always felt the best duets allow the individuals to spotlight their vocal strengths while finding some shared, harmonic area. Lee and Crystal nailed that. They made a strong argument for a Lee-Crystal finale.

2) Casey James and Michael Lynche – “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” by Bryan Adams (from the film Don Juan DeMarco) – Another solid duet with some tight harmonies and skillful guitar-work from Casey. Although after singing the opening verse, it seemed to me Casey became Mike’s back-up singer; Casey sounded lower in the vocal mix. That said, “Big Mike” was clearly better suited vocally for the song. And Mike made the most of it, getting more mileage out of his singing here than on his solo song.

3) Crystal Bowersox – “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins (from the film Caddyshack) – Hey, at least it wasn’t “Footloose.” Can you imagine someone doing that? I can. He name is Tim Urban, and he got voted off weeks ago. So, this was kind of a cheesy song choice for Crystal. I’m guessing Crystal loves the comedy goldmine that is Caddyshack (as should everybody!!). As such, Crystal probably has fonder thoughts about this song than are really deserved. On a night where the other finalists’ solo efforts came up short, Crystal made the most of this one, giving it an energetic, bluesy-rock, Janis Joplin vocal.

4) Casey James – “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (from the film The Graduate) – Oh, c’mon! You know Casey was talked into performing this song by someone behind-the-scenes, right? So the show could play up the whole “Kara DioGuardi is Mrs. Robinson” storyline. Hey, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But outside of that particular  storyline on AI9 (like in, you know, the real world), I’m not sure how Casey doing this song is relevant. At least that’s what I was saying as I was tapping my toes and diggin’ this sit-down, ukulele version. It all came together and worked.

5) Lee DeWyze – “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal (from the film Batman Forever) – This is a complicated song to sing. If you don’t believe me, you try and sing it! The vocal range needed is huge. Bigger than what Lee has. So he did what he could. I happen to love his voice. So I enjoy even a lesser Lee performance. This was a lesser Lee performance. Good thing for Lee he had the duet tonight.

6) Michael Lynche – “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson (from the film Free Willy) – My problem with Big Mike is this. He usually sounds good. Just fine. Nothing really wrong. And yet, I’m just not excited by it. Ever. Well, maybe not ever; “Woman’s Work” was great. So my problem with Big Mike seems to be…I’m not a fan. And it’s beginning to look like that’s not gonna happen. But there’s absolutely nothing about what he’s doing that offends my musical senses. Odd moment: we learned that Big Mike’s goal is to make the Top 3. Really? Not…to win this?

Here’s some predictions. Yep, I continue to make them, even after three consecutive misses! Hey, Shaq doesn’t stop shooting free throws, does he? The Bottom Two tonight seems clear: Casey James and Michael Lynche. Not making the Top 3: Michael Lynche.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 05.05.10

So, the Top 5 on American Idol learned their fate last night on, of all days, Cinco de Mayo (cinco = five). And as fate would have it, the one guy who could’ve used a tequila shot the most just happened to be the only one who can’t drink legally: Aaron Kelly.

Fate kinda sucks, sometimes. But, keeping with the theme of Sinatra Week, “That’s Life.” More about Aaron’s departure in a moment.

I believe a sort of travesty was avoided last night. Of all the finalists, Casey James got screwed with the most by the change of format Tuesday night.

I’m talking about the contestants having to sing Harry Connick Jr.‘s arrangements and perform with him and what was largely his band. Don’t get me wrong. I still believe that was an awesome exercise and learning experience. And I believe the next American Idol should be able to navigate a night like Tuesday and shine.

But it was horrible timing for Casey, who’d just spent two weeks in the Bottom Two, and who had to change his style as an artist the most to accommodate the structure of the Harry Connick Jr. mentoring. Tuesday was the first time this season Casey’s had to perform without a guitar in his hand. Keep in mind, that’s what Casey does. That’s his whole thing. It’s not a minor change.

Seems to me, they should’ve found a way to incorporate Casey’s acoustic guitar into that arrangement of “Blue Skies.” But they didn’t, and wandering around on stage trying to be the crooner he has no desire to be, Casey looked awkward and unsure of himself. It affected his performance, which was arguably his worst.

It’s no wonder, with those consecutive appearances in the Bottom Two, and the awkwardness of Tuesday, that so many in the “Idol Blogiverse” (including myself) were predicting that Casey would would packing his guitars this morning and heading back to Texas.

Oh, who were those bloggers? Ummm, virtually 100% of all the big ones: James Cantiello (MTV), Steve Gidlow (In Touch Weekly), Jessica Herndon (People), Joseph Kapsch (Zap2It.com), Brian Mansfield (USA Today), Shirley Halperin (L.A. Times), Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo), Ann Powers (L.A. Times), Rickey Yaneza (Rickey.org) and Mara Reinstein (Us Weekly). Good on ya, Michael Slezak (Entertainment Weekly), for getting this one right!

How Casey ended up in the Bottom Two when he had performances I ranked as strong, but escaped the Bottom Two when he had his worst, is another of those Idol “Unsolved Mysteries.” But I’m glad he’s still around. He’s one of my faves, and deserves at shot a making the Top 3.

As for Aaron Kelly, he’s got a very recordable voice. At 17, this may or may not be “his time.” But surely as he seasons and develops his persona, he’s got a legit shot at recording some music that sells. My guess is he’ll go down the “New Country” road, making music that falls squarely between Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift. Seems to me, that’d be a strong move.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 05.04.10

Seems like the turnaround time on these American Idol “theme nights” is getting shorter and shorter. Yes, Idol producers, you can call it something different. But I know that “Beatles Night” and “Lennon and McCartney Songbook” are the same thing. Same goes for last night’s “Frank Sinatra Night,” which comes fairly quickly after last season’s “Rat Pack Night.”

This is more an observation, and not really a complaint. There was something very satisfying, and a little different, about last night’s episode. And all the credit for that goes to guest mentor Harry Connick Jr., whose hands-on approach to the gig was the equivalent of a sit-down restaurant to the normal fast-food mentor.

Connick told Idol producers he wanted to arrange and score the contestants’ songs and perform with them, along with several members of his band, on stage. They said yes. And the end result: Harry Connick Jr., with his easy-going charm, humor, and superb musicianship and showmanship, was the real winner of the night.

The usual routine with Idol guest mentors is the famous singer meets with contestants, listens to them sing their song, and offers a suggestion or two. Connick’s approach was far more entertaining–and valid.

For starters, this sort of collaboration is what’s ahead for a few of these Top 5 finalists. When they go in to make their first album, they’re gonna need to be ready to follow the directions of the expensive producers that have been brought in to create potential hit songs for them. And in the real world, when it comes to performing standards like these Sinatra songs with a big band, this is the normal route. Singers usually defer to the expertise of their band leaders when it comes to the arrangements.

So, how did the Top 5 do? Here are their performances ranked:

1) Lee DeWyze – “That’s Life” – I flip-flopped my Top 2 after about the third listen to each of their songs. Ultimate Lee won out for “completing the assignment” while retaining his own “voice.” Lee was the only one who really manged to stay himself last night; the others took on the persona of the music they were performing. Lee did have a couple moments where he was off-beat with the big band performing behind him. I’d chalk that up to being a little uncomfortable with singing someone else’s arrangement, seeing as doing his own arrangement is kinda Lee’s “thing.” Lee also had a break-through night in getting the audience behind him. This performance was a crowd-pleaser on a level Lee hadn’t hit yet. That’s huge step forward for Lee, with the finale on the horizon.

2) Crystal Bowersox – “Summer Wind” – I can’t say for sure why Simon Cowell was so critical on Crystal last night. I can only say I believe Simon’s being disingenuous. There’s no way he didn’t appreciate this performance. Crystal’s voice was pure and her phrasing the best of the night. Sure, the big vocals of the second half of the song were more impressive than the quieter first half. But Crystal’s explanation of why she approached the song that way demonstrated that she “gets” this kind of music. She was right. Lee and Crystal go on my iPod this week. And I have to assume Simon’s up to something. Either making Crystal feel like an underdog again to get her enough sympathy to catapult her to the finals. Or (yikes), trying to sabotage her chances. You have to wonder what Idol producers are thinking right about now when it comes to a possible Crystal album. What kinda album would that be? And can it be the huge commercial pop success that they want it to be?

3) Michael Lynche – “The Way You Look Tonight” – Big Mike benefited from Connick’s best arrangement of the night. But that’s not to short-change the vocal, which was solid, and the presentation (old-school suit and fedora), which was fun and fitting. Good stuff. Not in danger of going home tonight.

4) Aaron Kelly – “Fly Me To The Moon” – At 17-years old, Aaron probably had the biggest hurdle in front of him last night–convincingly performing these standards from an ancient era. Fortunately, he picked a very accessible Sinatra song, and turned in a solid performance. There wasn’t much sizzle. And I agree with Simon that he was a “mouse” to Sinatra’s “lion.” But as anyone who’s tried to get rid of a mouse can tell you, they’re pretty crafty.

5) Casey James – “Blue Skies” – Rough night for Casey. Being stripped of his guitar, and having to follow someone else’s musical direction, really screwed with this guy’s head–and his performance showed it! Casey looked awkward and uncomfortable on-stage and seemed to wander without purpose as he sang. You could almost see on Casey’s face as he sang a sort of resignation to his fate; that with appearances in the Bottom Two the last two weeks, this was not going to end well for him. Regardless, Casey’s been one of this season’s faves at our house. So we’ll be looking forward to what he does next.

Predictions for tonight? Well, I kinda just made them. But to formalize, the Bottom Two tonight will be Aaron Kelly and Casey James. And it’s the end of the road for Casey James.

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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Idol Thoughts — 04.28.10

If Siobhan Magnus had the personality of Lacey Brown or Didi Benami, she would’ve been voted off American Idol weeks ago.

There, I said it. Somebody has to step up with a reality check.

In the blogiverse this morning, I’m seeing a lot use of the words “shocker” and “shocking” to describe last night’s ouster of Siobhan. Unexpected, yes. But hardly “shocking.”

If you were gonna make a wager, you probably would’ve felt safer saying it’d be Michael Lynche, Casey James or Aaron Kelly. But the here’s the deal. Siobhan’s performances have been uneven, self-indulgent, and have failed to show growth. These are all the ingredients that lead to someone getting voted off.

“Paint It Black” was Siobhan’s “Straight Up,” to compare her fate to this season’s Andrew Garcia. Her version of that Rolling Stones song was the shining moment that earned her the goodwill with voters that sailed her through the weeks that followed as she floundered.

In my opinion, “Paint It Black” also revealed the correct musical road for Siobhan, a road she seemingly didn’t want to travel. “Punky” and “rocker” is who she is a person. And that’s what she sounds the best doing. But for some reason, Siobhan sees herself as an R&B diva. I think. I’m a little unclear, because over the last several weeks, it’s been clear Siobhan herself is not clear who is she as a recording artist.

So, I’m OK with last night’s verdict. I won’t be joining the hysteria. This was not a “shocker.” It was just. Even so, Siobhan’s personality will be missed. She basically was the only finalist with one this season! She was an Adam Lambert “lightning bolt” in a cast of Kris Allen “nice guys.” Unfortunately, Siobhan didn’t have the vocal prowess or nuance of Lambert–or Allen. Or we’d be seeing her next week.

(Add unnecessary, self-indulgent, long scream to end blog here.)

Greg Valentine
check me out on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gregvalentine

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