With six contestants left and very little excitement to look forward to, Idol has cooked up yet another bravura theme week which they officially insist on calling Shania Twain Songbook Week but we all know it's basically Country Week by another name. Will they ever have a week of music from this century and of any relevance, I wonder? I'd like to hear Crystal attempting to cover Just Dance. Yes, I'm easily amused. Read on.
Seacrest introduces the last six by listing their jobs which is how I find out that Crystal is “a mother” and Michael is “a father” because, you know, that stuff was extremely hush-hush info before and those are legit jobs. If you have a kid, on AI your job is “parent”. I also find out that Idol Gives Back raised 45 million dollars last week which begs the question: Why doesn't Idol get out of the coffee-shop-crooner-search business and into the non-profit telethon industry? Perhaps after next season tanks...
A show of teeth
Shania is in the audience and she thinks the guys are going to be challenged singing her girly songs. She also says other things but I'm distracted by the fact that she appears to be wearing weird high-waisted jeans that just scream 1992 along with big, curly, country hair. Theme week is a theme week is a theme week.
Her first face to face is with Lee who comes surgically attached to his guitar as per usual. He wants to sing “You're Still The One” in the same exact way he sang whatever he sang last week and the week before and the week before. You've seen one performance, you've seen them all. Shania wants him to lay off the strings and start off with just a piano in the background. Lee lasts about 10 seconds before he starts strumming on stage even though nobody can hear his playing. As for the vocals: flat, pitchy, whiny, unexciting and about as memorable as last week's senior citizen Bingo night at your local Y. Wanna pay good money to see this wonder of a Cook/Nickelback/Daughtry/etc. copycat in concert? He'll be coming to a very large arena near you soon with the just announced American Idols Live Tour. It will be an... echo-ey affair.
What the judges said:
Randy claims this is one of his favorite songs but Lee was pitchy. He then goes on to ramble about how Lee still found his sweet spot by making the thing his own and he did good. Now which is it, Randy? If he's pitchy, he's not good. If he's good, he's not pitchy. Can't have it both ways, dude! Ellen smiles sweetly and says he made the song his own and he's cute. No details on how exactly Lee made the song his own but then I wasn't expecting any. Kara thinks Lee made the song sound relevant and thinks he actually cracked a smile. Wonders! I'm sure Shania loved hearing that one. Simon says ditto on the perfect song for him but he detected some sort of pained grimace on his face that Simon doesn't think quite qualified as a smile.
Big, wet and girly
The one thing that Michael isn't is a country singer. His pick for the week is “It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing” which is probably another song about being a woman. Shania tells him he could sing the phone book which is blatantly untrue since there is no official phone book music therefore if I made something up, I could sing the phone book as well. Oh, I know that's not what she really meant but I reserve the right laugh at tired, false praise that nobody takes seriously. The rest of her advice about the song is about “feeling it” which Mike takes to mean, basically, business as usual. It's the same cheese he delivered last week only this time he ditched the guitar and is starting off sitting on the big purple lit stairs.
What the judges said:
Shania sways in the audience to her own song and Randy says something about how there's a big open space for Michael in his future. Yes, I agree. It will be very big and very open. He will be able to see for miles and miles around. Ellen was nervous but thought Mike was like Luther Vandross singing. Kara thinks Michael didn't change the song but he changed it enough. Huh? Simon didn't get any Luther from that performance and felt it was all “wet” and girly. Oh, snap!
Ryan calls on Shania for some commentary and she babbles on about makeup and being emotional and how Michael got her.
Sensitive guy sitting on stool
Apparently, Casey's been missing his guitar for some reason so he's happy to play it this week and also wants to “do more and different”. I don't know what that “more and different” but he is singing a song called “Doubt”. In his meeting with Shania, she tells him that he's not confident enough on the inside. Casey thinks this will be an exciting performance because it's a “singing song” and he says he hasn't sung yet. Well, isn't that charming on a singing show? Several people have done the sit-behind-the-judges-on-a-stool-with-a-guitar routine so far and I guess, Casey felt that since Timmy the Hair has been bounced and won't be reprising that move he was free to copy it.
Vocally he sounds exactly like another ten or twenty people who croon with guitar in hand – your run-of-the-mill sensitive lite vanilla rocker fare that would put your cats to sleep – so it's nothing new but I think it's the hair that truly sets Casey apart. Don't ever cut it, man! The judges are largely unanimous that Casey did well. Randy liked it lots, Ellen thought it was his best, Kara felt he wasn't hiding behind his guitar and Simon says he had his best performance and he should hug Shania. So he does. Next.
No one needs to know it's not bigger
So Crystal is wearing a dress tonight. It's a dull, reddish brown strapless mini dress with a wide leather belt and some sort of stitched and printed on design. It is a horror in every possible way you can imagine. It makes me want to both scream at her for having so little taste and common sense and laugh at the same time. Does it matter what her mentoring session was like? She picked a song called “No one needs to know” which may or may not be about whether she bought the dress from the Salvation Army discount bin. Interestingly, Crystal says that this is a happy song that applies to her life and is a message to her boyfriend. Wasn't last week's song some sort of huge drama filled crying fest that also applied to her life? In the end, the performance is a yee haw, corn fed cheese jam session straight from the back of a pickup truck. It's twangy, it's banjo-y, it's country, it's a corny awful mess.
Randy mumbles something about not quite loving it and it being country so Crystal opens her mouth and talks back saying “it's country week, so it's country”. Oh, you don't say?! Ellen didn't like it either. Kara yaps on about truth and honesty but in the end it wasn't good, she says, to which Crystal mouths back “it just wasn't as big because bigger isn't always better”. Simon doesn't like her this week either saying her performance was a limp, lacked conviction and reminded him of a coffee shop performance that nobody wants. Hee. You'd think this would finally shut Crystal up but you'd be wrong. She opens her mouth again and gives a whole speech about singing to her boyfriend in the audience and having grown up with country music. Oh, and bigger isn't always better she says again for emphasis.
Yes, I agree. A bigger mouth is sometimes just a bigger mouth. The EL station beckons, Crystal. Everything is so much smaller in the EL station. And obviously better.
Two more to go. Aaron's pic is “You've Got A Way” which is a song about having a way, I guess. Shania tells him to show what he loves with the song. That's some nebulous advice there, Shania! Aaron loves his country so I'm kind of expecting this to be halfway decent but it's just another sappy piece of country cheese. Aaron is warming a stool and there's a pianist on stage and a guitarist crouching on the stairs. Very artistic.
Randy feels this was his best fit and did a good job this week. Ellen marvels again that Aaron is 17 years old because it always bears mentioning. Kara thought he sang with depth of feeling and appreciated the subtle lyric change he made to remove references to sex. Aaron says he sang the song to his mother so I definitely applaud his lyric changes. Simon thinks Aaron struggled in the previous weeks but pulled it off tonight. He also advises him to make a country record in the future.
A difficult birth
Last of the night to sing is Siobhan who is about as country as they come. Well, not really but tonight she is singing Shania's first big hit called “Any Man Of Mine” which is a song about a woman. Shania's advice is to put attitude into the song which Siobhan apparently took to mean wear a fugly floral dress, ugly white boots and scream aimlessly, breathlessly and off-key. Her final scream of death is closely reminiscent of Danny Gokey's vocal crime from last season which was bad enough but he screamed at the end of a rock song. Siobhan screamed like a banshee at the end of a tame country song. Can't decide which is worse.
Ellen thinks Siobhan ended the show well and Kara agrees. Simon felt it was a good song choice but the final scream was of a primal, giving birth type of quality. I forget what Randy said.
Somebody is getting bounced again on results night and there will be approximately 4729 guest performers to be seen. Don't miss it.