Last Night on American Idol, Lee Dewyze Did It His Way

LeeLast night on American Idol, crooner Harry Conick Jr graced the stage as the mentor for the week as this week’s theme was the Frank Sinatra Songbook. Now, I love Frank Sinatra as much as the next guy, in fact, maybe even more than some, but I really think that they need to bring this show into this century.

Are we really going to learn anything from the final five performers from their interpretation of ‘Ol Blue Eyes’ hits? I’m really not sure what the point is. In fact, this season’s themes in general have been lacking, with the exception of Lennon – McCartney Week.

We’ve had a couple of weeks of Top Billboard Hits, a Rolling Stones Week, a Shania Twain Week, an Elvis Week, a Songs of Inspiration Week, and a Frank Sinatra Week. And now we’ve just learned from other blogs that next week will be Teen Idols Week. Has this been a bizarre season or what?

What happened to Songs from the Year You Were Born? That was always a good one. Or how about a Motown night? How cool would that be? Yeah, maybe Big Mike would be awesome, but so would Lee and Crystal.

Anyway, here’s how I saw them last night, as they tried to bring The Chairman of the Board into the 21st Century:

1 – Lee Dewyze – In what is the best song choice of the night, by leaps and bounds, Lee sang That’s Life. From the very first note it was awesome and you just knew we were going to be listening to something special. We were not disappointed. Lee has the smokey, rough voice to carry it and make it his own, and that’s exactly what he did. Without question, this is his best performance and maybe the best performance so far in this entire competition. The only things missing were the tumbler of whiskey and the cigarette. With Crystal sliding the past couple of weeks, and Lee finding himself and shedding his former confidence issues, he may have just put himself in the lead spot.

2 – Michael Lynche – Mike came in full Rat Pack regalia, in his best Rat Pack outfit, and sang the old standard (is that redundant for this piece?) The Way You Look Tonight. He started a cappella and while it was slightly off, it still worked for him. This was a good song choice to accommodate his jazzy, R&B style and changed the arrangement, ever so slightly, to fit his style a little better. If nothing else, this guy does know what he’s doing up there. There were times in the performance that he was a little pitchy, but his run at the end overcame all.

3 – Aaron Kelly – Aaron dropped all country pretenses as he sang Frank’s mega-hit Fly Me to the Moon. The horns behind him kept him on track, and he sounded like he stepped out of a 1950’s soundtrack. His vocal runs were the best in any performance he’s had in this competition. His range was more open than we’ve ever seen. One of his best performances to date.

4 – Crystal Bowersox – Crystal, sans instruments and looking lovely in an evening gown and with her hair up, sang a slightly changed arrangement of Summer Wind. The changes brought the song a little more up to date but it still wasn’t a great performance. She started off slow and quiet and finished off strong. After several weeks of pure awesomeness Crystal didn’t have a strong performance for the second week in a row. Part of the problem may be that we have come to expect too much from her. Maybe a stint in the Bottom Three for the first time will serve as a wake up call to her and put her back in the finals where she belongs.

5 – Casey James – Casey sang the song Blue Skies, and after the first few notes, while there was some improvement, it was very pitchy and all over the place throughout the whole song. It was a mess. This was a big drop-off after last week’s great performance of Shania Twain’s Don’t. For maybe the third time in this competition, it appears that Casey has just mailed it in. It may be his last.