American Idol: Big Mike Rocks the House

lyncheNot to say that it was a strange night on American Idol last night, but one judge, Ellen DeGeneres ran around the table and hugged one contestant and another contestant made another judge, Kara DioGuardio cry. And at another point, Simon Cowell cut Kara off at the knees, mid-critique, and told her that was she was saying was absolute rubbish.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, two guys who were certainly on their way home made great strides in redeeming themselves while two other singers who were previously fairly safe all but wrote their tickets home. Yeah, a pretty weird night.

So, who is moving on to the Final 12, and which two guys are being sent home with nothing more than great memories? Oddly enough, last night gave us what might have been the best night of performances by the guys, overall. There were a couple of outlayers, in both directions, but several fell in the middle. Shouldn’t be hard to see who is going home.

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Michael Lynche – Big Mike is quickly establishing himself as the lead male candidate. And last night, he set the bar very high. His rendition of Maxwell’s This Woman’s Work brought down the house, and was so obviously from the heart that it made Kara cry. His falsettos were clean and smooth as he moved in and out of them with a grace and ease that sounded like he’s been doing it for years. His voice moved up and down octaves like a pro. This one’s going to be tough to top.

Todrick Hall – Last week, Randy asked Todrick to just sing a song for once. Well, he took Randy’s advice and did just that, and it paid off in a big way. Yeah, it was theatrical, but Queen’s Somebody to Love can’t be anything but theatrical, and Todrick has a theater background, so it was a perfect fit. And the important part is that he rocked it. And it ain’t easy to sing Freddy Mercury. For those of you new to this blog, let me tell you now that Freddy Mercury is one of my all-time favorite vocalists, so for me to say that someone did a good job singing a Queen song, well, that’s saying something. He backed off a bit on the chorus, maybe he didn’t trust his voice enough, but the rest of the song was very, very good. He saved his ass because he was going home if he didn’t do something big.


Casey James – The one problem I’m starting to have with Casey is that he’s starting to sound the same every week. This week he sang Keith Urban’s You’ll Think of Me, and it sounded good. It didn’t sound like Keith Urban at all, in fact, it barely sounded country, which is one of the things I liked about it. I definitely agree with Randy’s assessment that he wants to see more edge, more Stevie Ray Vaughan. That would really show us what this guy can do. Quite frankly, he has a great voice, but he’s getting kinda boring.

Tim Urban – OK, this shocks me as much as it shocks you. I have been on the “Send Tim Urban Home” bandwagon since Day One. But last night, he had his “Moment”. He bravely took on Leonard Cohen’s superhit Hallelujah, and actually did a good job with it. OK, it wasn’t Jason Castro good, but it was good and it was easily his best performance in this show. The beginning was actually excellent. By the 2nd chorus he had lost his steam and was going downhill fast. It was good enough that Ellen ran across the stage to hug him because she’s been giving him such a hard time the past few weeks. It was certainly good enough to keep him in the competition for another week. And he desperately needed it, because he was on the fast train home.

Alex Lambert – Alex’s biggest issue continues to be that he lacks confidence and he is so timid. Again it showed while he sang Ray LaMontagne’s Trouble. Plus, he continues to sing songs that are very quiet and not very demanding. He needs to take the bull by the horns and shake it around a little. Again, not a terrible performance, but nothing great either. Not a lot of range, but he stayed in tune throughout and stayed true to the original. In a word, boring. What will save him right now is that is worse singers still in this competition. That won’t always be the case.

Lee DeWyze – What makes Lee’s performance of Owl City’s Fireflies so good is the tone of his voice. It’s just very cool. He still has a problem with pitch control, and he still has limited range. And I still want to hear him sing something a little different. This is now the third week in a row with similar music. Enough already. Take a risk. Do something way out there. Surprise us. He may be the next one to go, but not this week.

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Aaron Kelly – Well, here is a shocker. Aaron is singing a county song. Really? Talk about limited ability. This week, Aaron takes on Lonestar’s cross-over hit, I’m Already There. He started the song off-key and just never really recovered. At one point, it looked like he was going to, but then he got off key again in the second verse. He just never connected with the song. His voice was powerful and on target during the chorus, but then faltered again. During the judges’ critiques, Kara was in the middle of saying that the reason that he couldn’t connect with the song was because it was about a man with a family who was on the road who was calling home to talk to his wife and kids and Aaron is only 16. Simon just looked at her and said, “Kara, that is absolute rubbish.” It was a classic Idol moment.

Andrew Garcia – This one isn’t easy. I really like Andrew and really believe with the right song choices he can go far. But, his performance last night of Christina Aguilera’s Genie in a Bottle just was not good. He tried to strip it down, like he did with Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, but it just didn’t have the same affect. This was flat and lacked the verve the original possessed. It picked up in the last ten seconds, when he really started to get into it and stopped trying so hard and enjoy himself. He should have done that the whole time. I’m afraid his well earned mileage from Straight Up may have finally run out.