momlogic's Vivian: The six remaining "American Idols" each put their spin on mentor Shania Twain's songbook this week. And you better grab your coffee (or other lukewarm beverage) and sit down before reading on, because the judges' feedback will shock you!
Did you know that Shania Twain has the top-selling album by a woman in any genre? Neither did I. Apparently, this was the impetus behind "American Idol's" producers selecting Miz Twain's song stylings as the week's challenge. (I'd just thought that Shania wrote the occasionally catchy tune and closely resembles Paulina Porizkova.) Anywho, she doubled as this week's mentor, generically advising each contestant to connect with each song. Yawn.
Lee DeWyze was up first, taking on Twain's slow-dance classic, "You're Still the One" -- while all gussied up in a jacket and tie. He did a good job, but he was a little off-pitch at times and didn't fully let go. Randy commended him for making the song his own, and Kara told him that the sound of his voice made it sound relevant.
Big Daddy Mike Lynche put his trademark smooth R&B spin on "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" -- and as I've been saying throughout, the man excels at taking a song in any genre and turning it into his very own. He could aptly fill a void left by late, great vocalists like Barry White and Luther Vandross.
FINALLY, the judges are coming around to my way of thinking about him. Randy said he loved that Big Mike had "found his zone," Ellen (right on!) said the song "felt like Luther Vandross," Kara admired how Big Mike "changed it enough" while leaving it identifiable and Simon agreed wholeheartedly with the Luther comparison, adding that it got "a little bit wet." Shania herself actually teared up during the performance, proclaiming at the end of judging that Big Mike "really got" her. SAFE!
One would think that Casey James might struggle with a Twain tune, but he actually turned in one of the best performances of the night with his tender rendition of "Don't." Randy said it was "one of his best-ever," Ellen rightly likened his voice to that of Bob Seger and Kara advised Casey to keep on "showing it all" and said that, if he did, he'd be "in front of the competition." Simon also called it Casey's best performance so far -- and suggested that he give Shania a kiss on the lips. (She settled for feeling those pecs through a warm hug.) SAFE!
Next up, our hero, Crystal "MamaSox" Bowersox, took on "No One Needs to Know," dedicating its cheerful proclamations about getting married to her boyfriend, adding, "He'll man up one of these days." Her full-on quasi-country, Patsy Cline take on the tune was augmented on stage with a band. Randy loved this "Nickel Creek" version and said that he loved her and how she mixes it up, but that it wasn't his favorite performance. Ellen said that there was nothing Crystal couldn't do, but the song wasn't her fave, either. Kara acknowledged that it's kind of impossible for Crystal not to be good, because she's "always coming from a place of truth, and it always feels honest" -- before adding, "Was it your best? No. But you're still amazing!"
Crystal then countered that her performance wasn't as big, but "bigger isn't always better." Simon chuckled at the many inappropriate comments he could make to that statement, before saying, "Shocker: We don't like Crystal this week." He likened her performance to something you're subjected to involuntarily in a coffee shop. The audience booed, then he added, "I didn't feel any conviction from you, and I thought the song was a little bit forgettable -- forgive me, Shania -- compared to other songs. This is the only week I haven't really liked your performance, I'm afraid." YIKES! Gulp. Did the judges actually DIS our MamaSox?
Crystal questioned the comment about the lack of conviction, saying, "I still love you, Simon. But 'lack of conviction?' No! He's right there [pointing at cute boyfriend]. I grew up listening to country music and classic rock, and I don't know ... I really enjoyed this! I had a great time with this performance, and I'm glad that the band was here with me." Ryan then remarked that the song may have put a little pressure on Crystal's boyfriend!
"Glee" boy Aaron Kelly overall did a real nice job with Twain's "You've Got a Way," but the first verse was a snoozefest. The judges, surprisingly and unanimously, met him with approval. Kara remarked that he'd changed the lyrics in a way that helped him "feel those words" -- after which Aaron admitted that he'd been singing the song to his mom! Awww ....
My homie Siobhan Magnus sang "Any Man of Mine." As fond as I am of her, I found it all a little pitchy and theatrical in spots. Her trademark big finish/big-ass screech ended the tune like an overused exclamation point. Randy loved her "punk country look" and Ellen said, "Way to pull the Shania Twain into the station!" Kara also applauded her comeback, and even Simon -- who's been down on her the past few weeks -- said the "song was perfect," but likened the screaming at the end to "giving birth." (Not quite, Simon, but we don't expect you to know that!)
All six contestants turned in strong performances, but I hereby declare Mike and Casey the champs of the night. But will voters call in for their faves, or for the best performers of the night? That said, could this actually mean trouble for our unflappable MamaSox?
Tune in to FOX tonight for a nailbiter of a results show -- and check in with me tomorrow for the recap!