Shania Twain mentored for the American Idol Top 6 Tuesday evening, lending her songbook to the contestants for songs from which to choose and perform live. Since the line-up is now guy heavy (four of the Top 6), the Canadian country singer said she was a bit nervous about guys singing her songs but was pleasantly surprised that they did such a good job. Shania Twain also noted in the lead-up clip that she just hoped whoever got voted off American Idol didn’t hate her…
Lee Dewyze led off the American Idol Top 6, singing “You’re Still The One,” arguably the most boring of Shania Twain’s hits. Far too reminiscent of the old Orleans standard “Still The One,” which was made into a long-running ABC network jingle, it has little power. And Lee Dewyze has a powerful voice. Even his unique vocal stylings couldn’t make this song interesting, although he did give it a try late in the song. Still, the American Idol judges loved it. In fact, Randy Jackson said that it was one of the greatest songs ever written and Dewyze did a good job with it. Ellen DeGeneres said he did “better than a pretty good job” with it. Kara DioGuardi said that his voice made the song “relevant.” And Simon Cowell agreed with everyone, stating that it was the “absolutely perfect song choice” for Lee Dewyze. This should have been a foreshadowing that the judges weren’t really in the mood to be overly critical, which became evident by the last performance.
Michael Lynche was second up. He chose “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing.” Shania Twain told him in rehearsal that he could “sing the phone book and everybody would still melt,” but leavened it with warning him not to take it for granted. She said that he “moved” her in rehearsal. And when he performed live? Her brought her to tears. In one of his best performances to date, Michael Lynche put a soul-laden R&B spin on the country song that made it nearly unrecognizable as Shania Twain’s hit. Randy Jackson said he’d done great job. Ellen said it reminded her of Luther Vandross. Kara noted that he didn’t change the song “too much,” he “changed it just enough.” Simon agreed with Ellen’s comparison but said the performance was a bit “wet.” When asked to explain, he hedged, then finally told everyone that Michael Lynche’s performance was a bit “girly.” American Idol host Ryan Seacrest wisecracked that it stood to reason — the song was written by a girl.
The third man up was Casey James. He promised to be a little different from his previous couple performances. He performed “Don’t.” Gone were the blues. Gone was the growl. Casey James just hunched over his acoustic guitar and simply sang the song. And the judges rewarded him for the change-up. Randy Jackson said it was the “best Casey James performance ever.” Ellen said, “You sang that like that’s where you belong,” noting that it was his best performance to date. Kara DioGuardi told him that if he kept being “vulnerable” and “raw,” he would be at the front of the competition. Simon told him that last week had been a “wake up call” for Casey and he suggested he give Shania Twain a kiss — and he lost no time moving across the stage to do just that.
Crystal Bowersox pulled the fourth position, singing “No One Needs To Know,” one of Twain’s more playful tunes. She said in the rehearsal clip that the song was chosen in the hopes that her boyfriend would “man up.” During rehearsal, Shania suggested she sing with a little more happiness because the song was a cheerful song. When Crystal Bowersox took the stage, she did so with a full band, including a bass fiddle and steel guitar. Of all the performances Tuesday evening, hers was the only song that resembled country music. And she handled it masterfully. The first three judges all agreed that it was good (Randy Jackson said he liked her Nickel Creek twist) but that it wasn’t her best. Simon Cowell translated and said that it meant they “didn’t like Crystal this week.” He said the performance was a bit “limp” and that it reminded him of a coffeeshop hiring a band that no one wanted to hear.
The number five position was filled by Aaron Kelly, who has been trying to tell everyone he is 17 for weeks but nobody seems to be listening. Shania Twain told him during rehearsal that he needed to have more confidence, to show his love of singing in his performance. One thing is certain, the boy can sing. He chose “You’ve Got A Way” and owned the song. Randy Jackson told him he was this season’s country artist, and he had done a good job. Ellen DeGeneres threw in that he was 16 — Aaron corrected her — and she quipped that that made her less impressed. She noted that the “maturity” of his singing amazed her and said that this week would be tough for American Idol voters. Kara agreed with Ellen and liked how he changed a line about making love. Aaron won the audience by saying he had done so because he was singing to his mother. Simon Cowell didn’t rain on the Aaron Kelly parade, either, adding that he was a different artist than the one that had struggled the past few weeks.
Then it was “The Note” singer, Siobhan Magnus’ turn to take the show home. She sang “Any Man of Mine,” a song that Shania Twain admitted was one of attitude. And Siobhan Magnus showed nothing but attitude during her performance. Would that she had been more conscious of her vocal execution. Here’s where the Lee Dewyze breakdown in aural critiquing became most apparent. The chorus got away from Siobhan Magnus as she tried to lower her voice. And then she hit the note again, Adam Lambert style — only it ain’t working for her. Fortunately for her, the judges didn’t notice the flat notes. Randy was distracted by her “punk” country outfit and said he loved it. Ellen DeGeneres presented the worst pun ever on primetime television: “Way to pull the Shania Twain into the station.” She added that Siobhan’s performance was “fantastic.” Kara said, “Guess who’s back? Siobhan!” Then Simon said he liked the song (we already know he doesn’t like country music) and thought it was perfect for Siobhan, but her screaming at the end went on a bit long. He likened it to “giving birth.” But it was “fun,” he said.
So ended the Top 6 performances with nary an unkind word — well, almost. Simon always has his dour moments — but they’re usually spot on. However, this week, as stated earlier, saw the judges taking it a bit easy on the contestants. Maybe George Lopez’ critiquing of them during “Idol Gives Back” gave them something to think about. Who knows?
But who among the American Idol Top 6 will make the Top 5? If there’s any justice in the world, Siobhan Magnus will be sent home forthwith. Her performance of “Any Man of Mine,” despite what the judges said, cannot (and did not) hold up under video inspection. Fun it might have been, but good it was not. Compared to all the rest, even Lee Dewyze’s boring rendition of “You’re Still The One,” Siobhan Magnus’ performance fell short.
Oddly enough, Siobhan Magnus has been chosen by Vote For The Worst as their new champion. So, even given the worst performance of the night, Magnus just might be around for another week.
But she shouldn’t be.
Still, it’s up to the American Idol voter. Results of the voting will be revealed on Thursday evening’s show, and Shania Twain will perform.
“American Idol,” Fox Television