The American Idol Season 9 Top 5, Crystal Bowersox, Christian music artist Michael Lynche, Lee Dewyze, Casey James and Aaron Kelly, perform the songs of Sinatra under the tutelage of Harry Connick Jr. This is not a great week for any of the Top 5. Sinatra will be a stretch for all of them. I would think Michael Lynche would have the best skills to translate Sinatra but, as I said in our American Idol Season 9 Top 5 power rankings, he needs to break his mold this week and do something outrageous and big. Sinatra does not translate too well to what Michael Lynche needs.
Last year, the Top 5 performed the songs of the Rat Pack, essentially the saem theme and it cost Matt Giraud his place on American Idol Season 8.
In an interesting twist, Connick will arrange their songs. This could show us a lot about each of the remaining 5. How well do they respond to the collaborative process? Can they execute a producer’s vision? Join us a we live blog tonight’s performances to see who turns the Sinatra minefield into their American Idol Season 9 victory launch pad.
I remember Harry Connick Jr from 1987 when I bought his first nationally distributed album. He was a cool 19 year old jazz pianist who had the critics drooling over his potential. He has built a serious acting and recording career but never met the critic’s expectations of jazz legend. While he has not reached the status of Monk or Coltrane in jazz circles, we love him. This guy does not look much different than he did on that first album when he was 19. Connick is playing piano for the performances. How intimidating is that?
Aaron Kelly begins the festivities. Like Connick, Kelly stated very young. Harry Connick Jr released his first album when he was ten and Aaron Kelly first had a song he wrote recorded when he was 6 years old. Aaron sings “Fly Me To The Moon”. Aaron is in the deep end of the pool here. He struggled a bit and his voice sounded a little rough for this song. Randy loves it but doesn’t say why. Ellen thinks he pulled it off. Kara was luke warm and did not think it was as strong as last week’s performance. Simon calls Aaron a mouse to Sinatra’s lion.
Casey James will be singing “Blue Skies”. Casey reveals that he passed up a gig tonight that paid $50 and a meal. Casey seems very, very uncomfortable without his guitar. He is trying to pull off the Didi Benami jazz phrasing and it does not work. This song and arrangement exposes Casey’s vocal limitations. I can already tell Randy hates it. He calls it Casey’s worst performance. Ellen is speechless, get it, Ellen is speechless? Kara says he sounded like a lamb holding a note. Simon says he seemed embarrassed and uncomfortable. I think Casey is in trouble.
Harry Connick Jr just defended Casey James by saying it is hard to hear on the stage. Why, at the end of the 9th season, and after six weeks on this stage, can the producers not get the sound right for these performers. Is it really that impossible for top professionals to get the sound right?
Crystal Bowersox joins Harry Connick Jr to sing my favorite Sinatra song, “Summer Wind.” I don’t like the arrangement but, unlike last week, Crystal showcases her great vocals. It sounded like a show tune. Randy thinks it was a little sleepy. Ellen wanted her to loosen up, but was impressed. Kara liked her phrasing. Simon says this is her second okay performance.
I hope Michael Lynche does not try to channel Sinatra. The suit and hat are making me nervous. He is singing “The Way You Look Tonight.” I love Harry Connick Jr as a mentor. And again Michael Lynche takes an iconic song and makes it modern without scrapping the greatness of the original. The audience is going nuts. Randy loves it with a capital L, says he threw down the gauntlet. Ellen says really good. Kara says he found the drama and owned the song. Simon says Michael put himself back in the game. He says everything worked. Is Michael Lynche back in the game?
Lee Dewyze finishes the night with “That’s Life.” Harry Connick breaks out the Hammond B3 for the bluesy, jazzy versions of “That’s Life.” Lee’s singing is not great but he has come into his own as a performer. He really charmed the camera with that performance. Randy loved it and Ellen says if this was the last night he would have won the show. Kara says he can win American Idol Season 9. Simon says Harry brought out his confidence and personality. Simon calls it the best performance of the night.
Join us tomorrow night as we live blog the results to see who makes it to the American Idol Season 9 Top 4.