The charming and often unpredictable presence of Jamie Foxx on this week’s American Idol helped save what easily could have been a mind-numbingly boring hour of television. Rarely has there ever been a Foxx induced snooze-fest. American Idol season nine however is not as consistent.
This week, in accordance with a “movie songs” theme, contestants performed hits from films over the decades.
Lee DeWyze: “Kiss from a Rose“
A fan favorite and usually loved by the judges, Lee DeWyze didn’t impress as much with his “Kiss from a Rose” rendition. In rehearsal Jamie Foxx got right up in Lee’s face while he sang and said, “If you can’t perform it with me that close to you without messing up or laughing, you can’t perform in front of 10,000 people.”
Lee got some tough critique this week. He seemed to really struggle vocally at certain points. Randy said Lee “did nothing with the song.” Ellen said, “You’re so good” but that he could have done more with it. With Lee coming off a great performance last week, Kara wasn’t as pleased with this one. She felt he chose “one of the most difficult songs to sing” but said, “You’re still great.” Simon likened this performance to the word that always brings on endless boos from the studio audience – karaoke. He explained he felt Lee was “trying to sound too much like the original” (Seal) instead of making it his own.
Michael Lynche: “Will You Be There“
“Big Mike” took on Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There” featured in Free Willy. He was clearly nervous at the start of the mentoring session with Jamie Foxx, but Foxx helped him calm down. Some comic relief came after Jamie Foxx helped Michael loosen up. Foxx said, “To loosen him up I had him punch my hands a few times…I won’t do that again.”
Randy was a little disappointed in the song choice because he feels Michael does best in R & B. Ellen said, “You’re consistently good” but also felt this performance was “a little predictable.” Kara said she didn’t get “goose bumps” this time like Michael’s past performances and wants him to “find those moments again.” Simon just got stuck on the fact that he had never heard of the movie Free Willy but finally went on to say, “At least you gave it 100% and you meant it”
Casey James: “Mrs. Robinson”
Casey has been up and down in his performances lately and this week he chose “Mrs. Robinson.” He said he chose the song for “personal reasons.” But when he first sang it for Jamie Foxx he looked extremely deadpan. Foxx helped him focus and be able to connect with the audience better and it seemed to make a difference. Oh, and the other judges were not subtle in voicing their suspicions that the song was directed towards Miss Kara DioGuardi…especially after seeing the bright red blush that quickly filled Casey’s face.
Randy called it “just a cool, laid back version.” Ellen wished he “would have gone further with it” but in general still liked the performance. Kara, also blushing a bit, said she knows this style isn’t where Casey is as comfortable so she was glad he pushed himself and she thought it was a really good performance. Simon called it “a little bit lazy” and lacking some of the substance needed for a night this important.
Crystal Bowersox: “I’m Alright”
Crystal came off two weeks of very mixed reviews from both judges and fans. This week she sang “I’m Alright” from the movie Caddyshack. Performing right in her element, Crystal won a lot of positive comments from the panel. Randy said it may not be his favorite Crystal performance but he loved how she “switched it up and made it interesting.” High praise came from both Ellen and Kara who said, “You took the song and made it better.” Simon gave quite a compliment stating, “After that performance, you are back in the game.”
At the start of the evening Jamie Foxx proposed the question to each performer, “Are you just a contestant or are you an artist?” Since true artistry goes well beyond the scope of American Idol success, a t-shirt with the word “artist” on it would be given to the performer who displayed true artistry. Crystal won that honor and all four judges agreed that it was well deserved.
American Idol Top 4: Duets
This week’s episode also filled time with two duet performances, one with Crystal and Lee singing “Falling Slowly” and the other with Michael and Casey performing “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.” Both sets earned rave reviews from the judges and I have to agree with Kara and Simon, the duets were far better than most of the individual performances.
American Idol, 20th Century Fox