In order to make things more contemporary and youthful, tonight’s American Idol is all about Frank Sintara. Each of the five finalists will gets a chance to play it safe with songs that the Chairman of the Board made iconic. You’d figure at this point in the competition they’d want the kids sounding more “now” than a pack of Vegas throwbacks. But when the Sinatra estate wants a night – they take a night.
Ryan descends the staircase reminding us of the 100,000 that have now been whittled down to five. Harry Connick Jr. is at the final step. How come tonight isn’t a tribute to Harry’s music? Or maybe the songs of New Orleans? Anthony Hopkins and Rob Reiner are in the crowd. Guess their grandkids were begging for tickets. Simon’s t-shirty thing is open way too wide. You can see his massively hairy chest or is that a happy trail? Either way, Grandma doesn’t need to see it. Somebody needs to button him up.
Harry Connick Jr. gets called a triple threat as a musician, singer and actor. Shouldn’t singer and musician be called a single threat? A triple threat should be actor, musician and dancer. After a mini-bio of his amazing career, we learn it’s Frank’s night. The whole theme is tied together by a Broadway musical called Come Fly Away. It’s all about sponsoring the night. Harry provides them with an arrangement and back up band. The rehearsal lobby space looks like it’s from The Shining. Is there a typewriter on the table near the piano? Ryan looks like Harry’s Mini-Me in their matching suits and ties. This footage shall be abused on The Soup. Ryan asks what’s the key to singing the songs? Harry mentions it’s good to sing the words. Since it’s only five songs over an hour, they take a commercial break before any real singing.
Nancy and Tina Sinatra are in the audience. I’ve always dug Nancy’s performance in the biker flick Wild Angels. They bring Simon a monogramed handkerchief that was supposedly intended for their dad. It looks new so Simon doesn’t have any real Frank DNA in his palms. It might be a reject from Frank Sinatra Jr.?
Aaron Kelly soars to “Fly Me to the Moon.” He sounds more like the young Wayne Newton. He waves the microphone in front of his mouth. He follows Harry’s advice of singing the words, but they’re just words. In other words, it’s just his normal performance with a country waggle at the end. It’s unexceptional. Randy thinks it’s a really good job. Ellen considers the piano pitchy. She didn’t hear any country in it. Kara compares it as worse than last week. I’m not sure what Simon says because his hairy chest is distracting. He does call Aaron a mouse to Sinatra’s lion. But concedes that people like Aaron. That didn’t help Tim Urban.
Harry comes over to Casey James during the break to tell him to not screw it up. Casey tells the story of a bandmate who didn’t know he was on the show and thought he’d want to play a gig for $50. Casey’s selection is “Blue Skies.” He avoids the guitar to give us the ballad. Harry has jazzed up the melody. Casey keeps breaking into that dopey grin when he looks at the judge’s table between lines. It comes off as rather flat. He lacks the pizzaz given to him by the band. There’s no real range. Randy calls it his worst performance with a lot of pitchy notes until the end. Ellen doesn’t like the piano being on stage. She declares it as stiff. Kara compliments on his holding a note. Simon feels he came off as embarrassed. He tells Casey to accept his pal’s $50 booking next week. Harry says Casey was much better at the rehearsal two hours earlier. Right now we can safely stick him in the bottom three. Shame Harry spooked him.
Ryan comes down to say hello to Sir Anthony Hopkins. Do you think Hannibal Lecter would consider Ryan an appetizer or a desert? Or merely a Bite-sized Halloween treat?
Harry doesn’t have much advice to Crystal Bowersox for “Summer Wind.” She opens the song the piano bench with Harry, but walks to the microphone before her first note. She brings her folky soul voice to the big band notes with an effortless charm. This is the first real performance of the night. Randy debases her performance as a subdued and sleepy effort. Ellen wants her to loosen up more. Kara kinda likes it. Simon scoffs it as too indulgent. He sums it up as her having two OK weeks. Has he not witnessed the mediocrity that’s left on that stage? This is the weakest season ever. A lot of runner ups of previous seasons would have dominated amongst this bunch.
Michael Lynche breaks out the hat to look Rat Packy. He promises us that people will get up and dance to “The Way You Look Tonight.” Please let us see Sir Anthony waltz around the studio with Meathead. They bust out the strings. Big Mike walks straight to the camera during the opening lines. It’s like a we’re going to get beaten up in a David Lynch film. His hand gestures are old school signaling. He over does the vibrato on every other word. He doesn’t get the emotion and connection. He’s like the hidden singer on Dancing with the Stars. It’s nice, but you won’t want to play it at your wedding. Randy swears Mike is in it to win. Ellen feels he was smooth with charisma. Kara swears he didn’t lose himself in the song. He didn’t lose us in the song. Simon delights that Big Mike has put himself into the game. Was the gauntlet thrown down or a kitchen mitt?
Lee DeWyze unleashes “That’s Life.” Harry thinks Lee’s the new and improved version of himself. Harry’s on the organ while Lee sings from a stool on the other side. He’s got the cadence right. He works a little swagger at the front of the stage. Harry’s arrangement helps tremendously. He doesn’t get too emotional. It’s good and the best of the night. Randy likes that Lee remained his rocker self. Ellen works in a joke about Harry’s organ being a distraction. She feels if this was the last night of performances, Lee would have won. Kara wants to know if Lee can win cause she swears he can if he gets more confidence. Simon brings up the paintshop business. He swears Harry brought out Lee’s personality and confidence. At least he gives Lee the gold star for the best performance of the night.
Harry Connick Jr. won the night. But he’s already a recording star so that disqualifies him. Lee DeWyze was the best on a rather uneventful night.
Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox.
Michael Lynche, Aaron Kelly and Casey James.
Pretty easy to pick tonight’s loser: Casey James is grinning off the stage tomorrow night.
Tags: American Idol, Anthony Hopkins, Ellen DeGeneres, Frank Sinatra, Las Vegas, Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell