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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Twaining Ground

Who knew Shania Twain would be the great “Idol” equalizer?

After I heard that the country superstar would not only be this week’s theme, but also its guest mentor, I was extremely skeptical. Does Shania have enough songs to service an entire theme week? Would four male singers be able to handle songs written for a woman? And did this mean someone would have to sing “Man, I Feel Like a Woman?”

Well, let me first answer those questions- yes, yes and no. As it turns out, Ms. Twain is a super-bubbly, informative guest mentor who has an impressive track record for doling out hit records and catchy pop-country tunes. And her songs had an amazing effect on the Top 6 singers, bringing out voices and personalities we haven’t seen before.

Starting off the night was resident rocker Lee Dewyze, singing “You’re Still the One.” Tackling her first contestant critique, Shania told Lee not to rush the guitar and really put emotion into this one. Lee took her advice and started the song with a slow rock vibe and very little accompaniment. Then he cranked up his inner David Cook (outfit included) and lent some gruffness to the arrangement, somehow turning yet another song into something I could hear on the radio tomorrow. And while he started the whole thing off a little pitchy, he really put his own spin on this. All the judges liked his take on the song, though Simon wishes he’d quit making those weird faces.

For the 50th straight week, Mike delivered another R&B/soul/love song take on another theme. This week he transformed Shania’s already emotion-filled “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing” into his best Luther Vandross imitation (which Ellen and Simon both pointed out). But, to his credit, he did follow Shania’s advice to pack the song full of emotion. Love him or hate him, Mike is consistent and he delivers what his fans want to see. I’m guessing no matter what happens to him for the rest of this season, he’ll definitely put out a semi-successful R&B/soul/love song record.

What can I say about Casey’s turn at the bat tonight? How about “amazing?” What about “impressive?” Or maybe “surprising?” Whatever you call it, Casey really hit one out of the park on “Don’t.” (What’s with all my baseball metaphors tonight? I’m not really sure. Just go with it.) Shania told Casey to really show confidence on this song, which he definitely did, as well as tons of emotion. His voice was on point and this song perfectly showcased his voice. I was surprised to hear that he even made the song sound relevant. I never thought I’d say it, especially with Lee and Crystal around, but I think Casey was the best of the night.

We all know Crystal is a good singer. She always hits her notes, her personality has really been shining lately and no matter what she does this season, this lady is going to make an album. So it doesn’t really matter what anyone says about her singing tonight does it? Putting a bluegrass/folk spin on “No One Needs to Know,” Crystal sounded awesome as she hit her power notes. And those high notes she threw in there were a welcome (and surprising) addition. Randy actually threw out an insightful comment, comparing the performance to acoustic bluegrass trio Nickel Creek. Simon didn’t like it at all, saying it was like sitting in a coffeehouse while having to endure a band house band. I don’t think it was that bad, but it wasn’t one of her best performances.

Aaron was another one that surprised me this week. Over the last few episodes Aaron had been steadily declining, mostly due to nerves, but he made up for it tonight with his take on “You’ve Got a Way.” Sitting on a stool, we got to see the softer side of Aaron, as he showed lots more emotion and plenty of that country tone he sometimes hides. I don’t think this was his strongest performance, but it was a strong effort.

Singing in the last spot of the night was Siobhan, our kooky and inconsistent glass-blower. She performed one of Shania’s first hits “Any Man of Mine,” for which Shania suggested she let her inner “character” come out. After listening to her take on the song, I have to say I’m a little confused about what the judges were hearing. They heaped praise on her such as “fantastic” (that was Ellen), “you’re back” (that’s Miss Kara) and “that was fun” (the last comment was from Simon). All I know is that when her voice came out of the speakers on my television, it sounded too low, behind the beat, pitchy and screechy. I guess the acoustics in that place are awesome.

My pick for bottom of the night is Siobhan, followed by either Aaron or Mike (though that’s only because everyone else was that much better). Top three for the night were definitely Casey, Lee and Crystal.

How did Shania Twain night go? Do you think Shania ranks as one of the better mentors this season? Do you think Casey had a break-out performance, or did one of the other singers blow you away? And does anyone have any idea what Simon meant when he called Mike’s performance “wet?” Post your comments below and come on back Wednesday night as Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Sons of Sylvia and Shakira (how does she fit in?) perform!–Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on April 28, 2010 12:38 AM
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