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American Idol Fodder

American Idol: Not Quite Fantastic Mr. Foxx

In the grand scheme of “American Idol” guest mentors, Jamie Foxx was not the worst the show has ever offered. He was however not the best either.

After last week’s awesome outing with the hysterical Harry Connick, Jr., who motivated the remaining singers while also being funny, Foxx’s second turn at the mentor’s table was a little underwhelming. It’s also hard to see how sticking your face uncomfortably into people’s personal space is really the best way to teach them how to sing. And yes, I understand WHY he did that, but it all seemed a little off-putting and not quite so helpful.

And don’t get me started about those “Choose your own adventure” T-shirts. Was it really necessary to make those things? Couldn’t he have just told them they needed to work harder? Isn’t handing them one that says “contestant” pretty much like handing them one emblazoned with the word “loser?” Just sayin.’

Anyways, there was still plenty to like about tonight’s episode, in which our Fearsome Foursome tackled Movie Songs! Going into tonight, the thing that made me most excited was the fact that Aaron Kelly had already used up “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” so I knew no one would be screeching that tonight! (Don’t get me wrong. I like the song. I like the movie “Armageddon” as well. And I even like the Aerosmith music video, corny Liv Tyler and all. But I’m so sick of hearing it on the “Idol” stage!)

First up on stage was Lee “I Hope People Like Me” Dewyze. Foxx pulled a similar stunt to the one he tried on Danny Gokey last year, standing so close to Lee that they probably both needed breath mints before they continued. Despite that weird maneuver, Foxx did correctly point out that Lee needs to get in touch with his confidence. Lee seemed to exude a little more of that much-needed confidence while he sang Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose,” from ‘Batman Forever.’ Unfortunately, he lost a little bit of his cool factor by playing the song too closely to the original. At points he even sounded a little like Seal. He also did something uncharacteristic of his usual performances- he was out of tune! Randy and Kara picked up on all the awkward notes, while Simon said it sounded too much like karaoke.

Next on stage was Big Mike who sang Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There” from the ‘Free Willy’ soundtrack. I’m not sure what was accomplished during the mentoring session for Mike, with Jamie Foxx alternating between telling him to dance and fake boxing with him. I guess he was trying to calm his nerves and get him to focus on the material. Listening to his performance, I’m not sure nerves were the problem. I think Randy said it best when he wondered why Mike picked this song, which showed Mike’s pitch problems in his lower register and took him out of his happy R&B zone. Ellen called it predictable, while Kara said he played it safe. I agree that it was not one of Mike’s best performances, though the best part of the critiques was when Simon asked what exactly ‘Free Willy’ was all about. Priceless.

Switching things up, tonight we were introduced to this season’s first duets! Tackling this tricky maneuver first were Lee and Crystal, singing “Falling Slowly” from the movie “Once.” Let me just say, I loved this song when the original performers sang it on the Oscars a few years ago. I also loved it when Kris Allen tackled it, and succeeded with it, last season. So, these two had some pretty big shoes to fill. And man, did they fill them!!! Continuing the night’s tradition of having Lee stare into people’s faces, he faced Crystal as they alternated between lines of the song. Their chemistry seemed great (watch out Crystal’s boyfriend! She called Lee her “musical crush!”) and the voices really melded together. The performance really seemed to energize each singer as it continued and we heard some awesome vocals from these two! It was also good enough for Simon to call “fantastic.” Let’s hope one of them, or both, cuts this as a single and puts it on their future album. (Which, by the way, will totally happen once this season is over. These two are going to do great things, no matter who wins.)

After a quick commercial break, and returning to the solo songs, Casey was next at bat (I couldn’t resist another baseball pun) singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” from ‘The Graduate.’ He really toned down his performance and tried out his vulnerable side again, much like he did two weeks ago on Shania Twain night. This effort didn’t wow me as much, just because it seemed a tad boring. His vocals were OK, and as Randy would say “I just wasn’t feeling it, dawg.” Unfortunately, Randy also made some uncomfortable comments comparing Casey and Kara to the characters from ‘The Graduate,’ which was just plain creepy. Thank goodness for the change in topic when Ellen quipped “Too bad they wouldn’t let you have the big boy guitar.”

Crystal was up next, ready to show the world her interpretation of a song from a beloved movie classic. That’s right, she sang Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright,” better known as the song that crazy gopher dances to in the Bill Murray golfing movie, ‘Caddyshack.’ This was a bit of a surprise, but Crystal did the song justice. Somehow she turned it into a nice little folksy song, though I could’ve done without the backup singers. Randy, Ellen and Kara called her an “artist,” while Simon declared that Crystal was “back in the game.”

Taking the last slot of the night, it was time for the second duet, this time from Mike and Casey. I wondered what they would sing and figured it would be alright as long as it wasn’t anything by Bryan Adams, because that sure would get awkward! Then I heard what song they were singing- Bryan Adams’ “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” from ‘Don Juan DeMarco.’ Well, I guess there’s egg on my face, huh? Actually, this wasn’t completely awkward, mostly because they kept their faces on the crowd and their guitars, and not on each other. And while both did a decent job, Mike definitely out-sang his partner. The best part of this performance was Ellen’s comments, for which she only said one sentence: “I have loved a woman.”

What did you think of the Final Four? Did any of them wow you with their vocal acrobatics, or did somebody make you hit the mute button? Who would you nominate to bring back if you could? And what did you think of tonight’s duets? Post your comments below and come back Wednesday night for performances from Daughtry, Fantasia and Bon Jovi! –Chris Sardelli

Posted by Chris on May 12, 2010 9:10 AM
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