American Idol – Episode 9-34 Review

Shania Trainwreck is the expectation of the night, The Canadian country star Shania Twain will be the focus of tonight’s competition. After she served as a judge during the auditions, she’s getting her payback by having her skimpy songbook picked over by the six finalists. The shame is that we won’t be anticipating Tim Urban choosing between “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” Why do her song titles sound like quotes from a Hooter’s waitress?

For those not familiar with the singer’s background, the highlight of her career was meeting and marrying producer Mutt Lange after putting out a forgettable debut album. Mutt is a legend for having unleashed ACDC’s Back In Black, invented Def Leppard and exploded The Cars. The rock knob twister turned her into a country superstar over 3 albums. However the marriage ended and it’s been 8 years since her last release. Shania is a rather reclusive star who used to live in a Swiss mansion so it’s a bit strange to see her connected to a karaoke contest. She doesn’t desperately needs attention like Posh Spice. Where is the news that she’s releasing a new record or even a greatest hits collection? Guess this means she wants to make Mutt cringe by what Casey James will do to their musical babies.

The show opens with Ryan introducing the six by their professions. It’s like the worst Village People cover band. Siobhan gets tagged as a glass blower. Ryan thanks the viewers for the donations on Idol Gives Back. We’re a month away from the winner being crowned. Shania Twain is in the audience. Ryan calls her a country pioneer because she made country “hot.” Dolly Parton was pretty hot and sexy in her prime. How long has it been since Shania was hot? Her Rolling Stone cover hyped Zwan. Remember them? During the mentor session, she tells the kids to make the songs their own. Shouldn’t they also get advice from Mutt Lange on making the songs click? He did co-write all her hits. She’s concerned about four guys singing her girlie tunes. A good singer should be able to go both ways with a melody if they want to please an audience.

Lee DeWyze gives a stab at “You’re Still the One.” She tells him to slow down and not rush the song. The advice helps at the start. He’s getting a little power umph in his voice during the chorus which dominates the song. He pulls off a good opening act. Randy calls it one of his favorite songs ever. He thinks Lee did a pretty good job. Ellen thinks he made it his own. Ellen calls out, “All Aboard the Shania Twain.” Is that flirting? Kara spots him cracking a smile. Simon calls it the perfect song for him to do. He brings up Lee pulling weird faces. Simon gets flustered with Kara and the audience interrupting him. There’s two phone numbers tonight. But none of them connect you to Tim Urban. Lee is making this a two person race with Crystal.

Michael Lynche goes high to make “It Only Hurts When I Breathe.” Shania comes off as extremely Canadian the more she talks. Big Mike opens seated on the staircase. He’s going for the holding back the tears emotion in his voice. He keeps his tone constant. He makes Shania cry or they have pollen in the studio. It’s a soulful ballad that could easily be used on an internet radio station. Randy feels he’s in the zone. Ellen hints he was the Luther Vandross in that song. Kara goes on about the connection of Shania and her songs. She likes the little changes he did to put his mark on it. Simon debases the performance as “wet.” He calls it a musical performance and “girlie.” Simon is slowly losing it on stage. Shania wants make up woman to get the tears out of her eyes. Lynche got to her. So far we haven’t had the Twainwreck.

Casey James might be our first chance to see a rail jump with “Don’t.” He promises Ryan he’ll give more on the stage. Shania wants him to have more confidence since he’s a good looking guy. Casey gets on the barstool with his guitar on the ramp behind the judges. He’s playing it more country than pop. His eyes are constantly closed during the performance. He should have just gone for sunglasses. It’s really annoying. He opens them at the end. It’s better than last week. Randy decrees it as the best Casey James performance ever. Ellen calls it beautiful and all his best to date. Kara goes on about how he didn’t hide behind the guitar. He hid behind his eyelids. Simon reminds him last week was a wake up call. This was also his best song to Simon’s ears. Casey ends up coming off the stage to give Shania a kiss. Is this Love Connection or a singing competition? How can nobody mention his eyes being closed so much?

Crystal Bowersox gets asked about her spending serious time with Shania as a mentor. How many minutes did they get with her? “No One Needs to Know Right Now” is chosen as a message to Crystal’s boyfriend to man up. Yikes. She’s got a mandolin, stand up bass, dobro and small drum kit on the stage with her. It’s a folk festival moment. She works the country twang with a sweet harmony with the back up singer. It’s nice, but sounds like it should be part of a set. Randy doesn’t think it’s her best, but he likes her country approach. Ellen also mention it’s not her favorite, but it was good. Kara found it believable, but not her best performance. Simon once calls it an unwanted coffeeshop band performance. He dismisses the song as forgettable. Shania gives him an evil point. They were pretty harsh in a kind way which means they probably need the drama of having her in the bottom three.

Aaron Kelly wants to hit the notes with “It’s In the Way Your Love Me.” He’s on a stool next to a piano. Is he old enough to sit on a bar stool in California? He gets emotional and swings his free hand as if the stool is a mechanical bull. He goes for a big note at the end, but it’s not quite a clincher. It’s not a big moment. Randy calls it his wheelhouse. Ellen also thinks he did so well. She trips over herself. Kara goes on duplicate Ellen’s praise. Things get sentimental when Aaron admits he was singing it to his mom. Simon feels struggle from the boy, but tonight he was a different artist. Simon goes on about Aaron being sincere and believable. I’m not buying Simon’s sincerity and believability in the praise. What’s the game going on with Aaron? Undeserved praise part of his prize package when he won the Idol Experience at Disney?

Siobhan Magnus closes out the night with “Any Man of Mine.” Shania wants her attitude to come out during the song. Siobhan brings out the fiddle player. She goes country diva even with a shoulder harness on top of her dress. When she goes into the crowd, there’s a high pitched feedback coming off the microphone. Her voices gets more powerful as the song goes on. She hits the big note at the end and comes back to hit the chorus line and soar a second time. It’s more fun than she’s had lately on stage. Randy loved it with the punk country look and the big notes. Ellen does the “Shania Twain into the station” pun. Kara hints that Siobhan is back. Simon feels it was a good song although the last note sounded like she was giving birth.

The half dozen performances as a group were the best of the season. Perhaps the limited catalog helped them focus on the material.

COME ON OVER
Lee DeWyze, Michael Lynche and Siobhan Magnus

DON’T BE STUPID
Crystal Bowersox, Aaron Kelly and Casey James

Casey James ought to get the cut, but Crystal was the only person to get trashed by the judges. Let’s split the difference and slash Aaron Kelly.

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