On American Idol last night, host Ryan Seacrest reminded us all that this week was the week for the very popular “Idol Gives Back”. With that, this week’s mentor is superstar Alicia Keys and this week’s theme, appropriately enough: Songs of Inspiration.
And really, couldn’t we all use some inspiration?
Here’s how I saw the contestants this week, and once again, first and second were very close and stood far away from the rest of the pack. It’s becoming quite apparent who is going to be standing in the Nokia Theater come Finals night.
1 – Crystal Bowersox – Crystal put down the guitar and sang People Get Ready by Curtis Mayfield. She sang the entire first verse a cappella and it had the desired effect, and it was quite simply, beautiful. She does seem to have a knack for selecting the right songs every single week. Her raw emotions toward the end of the song lent so much sincerity and honesty to the performance left no question that it was the best of the night, fully capturing the essence of what the theme represented. Yeah, like other performances there were a couple of times that she may have been technically not perfect. Maybe a little pitchy in a spot here, or flat in a spot there. But overall her performance is so pleasing to the ear, and the heart, that those little things just don’t matter. That’s why she’s leading the pack right now. Her true artistry overcomes the small things where the other people the small things still stand out.
2 – Lee Dewyze – Lee sang one of his slowest songs so far this season with Simon and Garfunkle’s, The Boxer. The lyrics to this song are fantastic, and certainly inspiring.
“In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains..”
How can you not dig that. Paul Simon is an awesome lyricist. OK enough about that. Back to Lee. Perfect song choice for his voice and he sang it beautifully. His best song to date, by a mile. He possessed all of the believability and connectibility that other contestants lacked. It was, inspirational. Hmm. What a concept. Lee seems to really get it.
At this point, no one in the competition is even in the same category as Crystal and Lee. 3rd through 5th is another race altogether. 6th and 7th is another galaxy.
3 – Siobhan Magnus – Siobhan went back to the same upper register for Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s When You Believe that was so successful for her during House of the Rising Sun. And I know I always say stay away from Mariah and Whitney, always. But I thought she actually sounded pretty good. Her voice is awesome here. Very dramatic changes in tempo and octave. Then she picks up on the glory note and it’s really quite spectacular. Her vocal runs are flawless, no screeching and great control. One thing about Siobhan: She might be the best pure singer still in this competition. She hits notes that the other contestants can only dream about. None of the judges like it very much except for Ellen. Kara is still trying to figure out what kind of artist she’s trying to be. I don’t think Siobhan even knows yet.
4 – Michael Lynche – Michael brought his own song from his own list, which at first was a scary thought. Until he said it was Hero. No, not the Mariah Carey version. The Chad Krueger version, which in case you didn’t know, is the theme from the Spiderman movie, and a great song. However, Mike didn’t sing it great. He doesn’t have the raspy, gravelly voice for it. His voice is really more suited for smooth R&B songs and he should stick to those. This song was had way too much of an edge for his style. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You just have to know who you are, and who you’re not.
5 – Tim Urban sang Better Days by The Goo Goo Dolls and it was mediocre at best. He has clearly found his niche in the ballads, but it was not nearly as good as last week’s Can’t Help Falling in Love with You. This started off poorly and never got any better. It was all over the place and never really found itself. It was almost like Tim wasn’t sure which way he wanted the song to go. On the bright side, it was still way better than he was several weeks ago.
6 – Casey James – Casey kicked the night off with Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop Believing. He had some nice guitar licks, but the vocals sounded more like he was trying to channel Michael McDonald from the Doobie Brothers instead of Lindsay Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac. There didn’t seem to be much of a connection between Casey and the music on this one, a prevalent theme that lasted throughout the night. Casey continues his steady decline over the past several weeks, and this was one of his worst.
7 – Aaron Kelly – Aaron tackled R. Kelly’s mega-hit I Believe I Can Fly, and the biggest problem was that the first half was kind of weak and plodding. The second half really got going and he started hitting the glory notes and the song really took off. There’s no denying that Aaron has a powerful voice, especially for someone so young, but he needs more control over it. Overall, the song really was too big for him, and he wilted under the weight of it.
I wouldn’t feel bad if it was either Casey or Aaron being sent packing at this point, but I think Aaron’s time may be up.