'American Idol' Recap: Only Two Idols Shine On Sinatra Night

This is one of those theme nights I just don't understand.

What have we heard from the judges all year? Be it Katie's old-school vocals, Siobahn's strange operatic voice, or Aaron's wholesomeness 'the judges have been harping on it all year: Be current. Find a way to make the song new, to make yourself new. That's been the main comment from the fearsome foursome all season long.

And now, we get. . .Frank Sinatra night? After months of caterwauling about currency, the judges decide to throw the contestants the songs of a singer that peaked in the late 40s.

It's very reminiscent of two years ago when, in the midst of the judges complaining about singers being too theatrical, the producers dropped an Andrew Lloyd Weber night on the season.

That night actually managed to work out. Last night? Well, you"ll just have to read on to find out. . .

Random Thoughts Waiting for the Actual Show To Start:

There's nothing quite like introducing the Idols once at the beginning and then introducing them again two minutes later. Especially when your show is notorious for its inability to finish on time.

Quick. Is there anyone out there who doesn't like Harry Connick, Jr.? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah, didn't think so.

Wow, HCJ is looking a lot like Lee Dewyze in this opening package. A lot like Lee Dewyze.

Is there greater proof of how inane a form of entertainment musicals are than the rise of the jukebox musical? They only make it more certain that the book is just an excuse to get from song to song. When the songs aren't even written cohesively

HCJ (yes, I've gone two-for-two with the invented initialed nickname) writing the arrangements! Why haven't they ever thought to do this before? I have a good feeling about this, especially since he's also accompanying them.

Listening to HCJ's Cajun drawl reminds of a show that must be recommended. If you haven't seen "Treme", you are missing what is undoubtedly the best musical show on television. Sorry, "Glee". Love ya, but you don't come within an octave of the David Simon's love letter to New Orleans. If you're not sticking around after "The Pacific" you should start this week.

Y 'know, for a second when Ryan introduced Nancy and Tina Sinatra, I thought he meant they were Harry's daughters, and all I could think was ' wow, they look a lot older than their dad. Gotta love comedic brain farts.

And after twelve minutes of stalling (from a series that hasn't ended on time in weeks). . .On with the show!

Aaron Kelly Sang -Fly Me to the Moon"

HCJ Said: He's got such a sweet voice. I wish him the best.

Randy Said: You did a really good job.

Ellen Said: I felt like you really pulled that off. Beautiful vocals.

Kara Said: I thought it was good, but compared to last week it wasn't as strong. I think you’ll be here again. (Then she talked for what had to be 90 seconds about nothing in particular. Yikes)

Simon Said: If Frank Sinatra was a lion, then you were a mouse.

The Verdict:

With that hair and vest, Aaron is looking shockingly like Pete Campbell on “Mad Men� and he’s much less annoying – a major plus. His voice; however, can’t match his coolcat look. He’s all over the place, has no grasp of the jazzy arrangement given to him by HCJ and his voice just never seems to fill out throughout the song. Kind of like the equivalent of a race car driver never getting out of second gear – his voice was stuck in the slow lane the whole way.

Grade: D

Prediction: That seemed like a mighty forgettable performance to me. Out of the first slot, that’s normally a sign of great danger.

Casey James Sang “Blue Skies�

HCJ Said: You sang it better in rehearsals.

Randy Said: Your worst performances. It didn’t work, baby.

Ellen Said: That felt very stiff to me.

Kara Said: You sound like a lamb when you hold your notes.

Simon Said: Good news: Band was great. Bad news: You weren’t fantastic. You seemed embarrassed.

The Verdict:

Just like Aaron, Casey seemed to be lost inside this arrangement. Sometime he’d find his way around and hit some nice notes, but mostly he seemed to be restraining himself nearly the entire time – not a good move when there’s a big band there to overpower you. And, again, Casey, could you please look like you have a pulse. I got really worried that you died halfway through that performance. Maybe he would’ve been better off playing that gig with his friend – I’m sure he wouldn’t have looked less excited playing there.

Grade: D-

Prediction: I don’t see how Casey’s going to survive that one.

Crystal Bowersox Sang “Summer Wind�

HCJ Said: I don’t know what that song means to her, but I wanna hear it again.

Randy Said: It was a little sleepy for me.

Ellen Said: I wish you would have loosened up a bit more.

Kara Said: I really like your phrasing.

Simon Said: The first half was too small night club, but the second half was much better.

The Verdict:

Again, what is going on with these restrained performances tonight? Crystal’s best asset is her big voice which she can stretch out like wildfire. For the first verse instead we get her doing the musical equivalent of a scared whisper and we only get to see her flash those brassy tones for a few moments toward the end. I loved the arrangement, and loved the way she handled it – it still just felt like the air was sucked out of most of it.

Grade: C

Prediction: She was unequivocally better than Casey, so I doubt she’ll be going home. Though her insulted bit of an angry tirade after her performance isn’t going to endear her to anyone.

Big Mike Sang “The Way You Look Tonight�

HCJ Said: If he can find that fleeting moment of truth, it will have been perfect.

Randy Said: Mike is in it to win it. This is what I’m saying!

Ellen Said: You have the most comfort onstage, and you showed that tonight.

Kara Said: You found the drama in the song and took us on a journey. (Ick)

Simon Said: The first three performances were just okay, and now it’s all changed. It all just clicked.

The Verdict:

I don’t know about the intro (seemed like something out of a bad 50s Christmas Special) but once the swing riff hit, so did Big Mike. He’s the first contestant who actually really felt the rhythm of the song and absolutely nailed the way it should be sung. This was a very cool retro performance that would have brought The Dresden Room to its feet about 12 years ago. So smooth, so effortless, just so natural. Mike was definitely in his wheelhouse with that number.

Grade: B+

Prediction: No way Mike goes home after that one.

Lee Dewyze Sang “That’s Life�

HCJ Said: He looks like me (Yes, nailed it above!) Sounds awesome! (Followed by gestures indicating he was being sarcastic – were these jokes?).

Randy Said: I loved it.

Ellen Said: I think if this was the last night, you would’ve just won the whole thing. (Wow, did Ellen just go a whole show expressing real opinions in an interesting way? Wow, it’s like almost like the producers were expecting something when they hired her!)

Kara Said: You can win this thing. (Thanks for repeating Ellen, Kara)

Simon Said: It was by far the best performance of the night.

The Verdict:

I thought going in that Lee was actually going to have the best night. His gritty rock voice fits this style of music better than a lot of people realize until they hear it. But it didn’t take long to hear that was true. While, Lee seemed to be catching up to the song and back to his awkward self in terms of stage presence, his vocal was just about spot on the whole way – a nicely grounded update of this classic song.

Grade: B

Prediction: Yep, Lee’s safe.

Final Thoughts:

This night seemed like a complete disaster 60% of the way through it. Two absolute duds from Aaron and Casey followed by Crystal’s worst performance to date. Thank goodness Big Mike and Lee swooped in like they were descending from a chandelier or this would have been the worst night in the history of the show. And no, that is not hyperbole.

But still, there were those first three performances to consider. The lameness of which make predictions a bit of an issue. Aaron’s in trouble because he went first and was in the bottom three for about a month running prior to last week. Crystal has some real issues because people may just forget about her. She’s been so good for so long that voting for her is a bit passé. Combining that idea with her performance means she could be in some serious danger.

Those two will be safe however, because tomorrow night’s vote out is reserved for Casey. You just can’t get away with being that dull and survive such savagery from the judges, especially after being in the bottom two the week before. It’s curtains for Casey, with Crystal joining him in the bottom two – if only as a ploy from the producers to galvanize the Bowersox voting bloc.


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