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'IDOL' WATCH: The Top 4

The top four sang songs from the silver screen tonight on "American Idol." Film and music star Jamie Foxx served to mentor, the perfect choice, since he has clearly been able to succeed in both genres. Foxx coached the contestants on how to perform for an audience, as he told them they now cannot be just a contestant; it's time to take it to the next level and show the audience who they are as an artist. Foxx made a good point: it's important to be an individual, not just have the best vocals.

Lee Dewyze kicked off the night singing Kiss from a Rose, originally recorded by Seal for the hit film Batman Forever. DeWyze chose a song that was tough for his voice. It's a very rangy piece that DeWyze just wasn't able to keep up with. His pitches were all over the place and he wasn't able to sell the falsetto aspects of the song. He lost some of the rock essence that he has so fully embraced these past few weeks and I missed that from him tonight. The judges all felt he gave a very mediocre performance. Simon and Randy agreed it was "verging on karaoke," while Kara and Ellen both wrote off the performance, instead focusing on how good DeWyze has been in past weeks. It was a tough night for DeWyze, who hasn't had a bad week in recent memory.

Michael Lynche sang Will You Be There by Michael Jackson, originally from the movie Free Willie, and I was underwhelmed with his performance. Lynche didn't seem to really be in the game tonight; the song was boring and his vocals didn't really move with the song. Lynche didn't show off any range in a piece that more than calls for it. He did make a nice decision adding the gospel choir, but that should have caused him to build the song, where he, instead, got lost. The judges felt the performance was lacking. Ellen called it "a little bit predictable" and Kara said he "played it safe" where he should have taken the risks that he has benefitted from in the past. Lynche wasn't particularly memorable, which does not bode well for him tomorrow night.

Tonight, the contestants appeared on stage twice, each for their individual song and again for a duet with another member of the top four. The first two to go were Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox, singing Falling Slowly from Once. I really enjoyed the pairing because it allowed for the two to do a dueling guitars sort of thing. DeWyze more than made up for his weak performance earlier in the night, as he and Bowersox were great with the song. I felt that Bowersox's voice was a little lost behind the power DeWyze had, but, overall, they blended surprisingly well. The judges thought the two were great, with Simon going so far as to say, "I don't know if I would call that a good song. I would call that a fantastic song." It was the first really solid performance we had of the night.

Going for a different feel, Casey James chose the mandolin for one of the more well-known songs on the night, Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson, from the film The Graduate. James was okay; he made it a sit-and-sing, attempting for a more personal performance, but he didn't have the energy or emotion to carry it through. He sounded fine, but something was just missing. Ellen said she "wished [he] would have gone further with it" and Simon said it lacked substance. We got another view of the Kara/Casey crush, with Randy, Ellen, and Simon insinuating that James picked the song for Kara's benefit. Overall, it was another fairly weak solo showing.

Following a rough couple of rough weeks, Crystal Bowersox came back with the only upbeat solo of the night, I'm Alright by Kenny Loggins from the film Caddyshack. Bowersox needed to come out strong after lagging behind recently, and she was miles better than any of the other contestants tonight. Bowersox is an individual and that was very clear tonight. Bowersox had some great upper notes and stood out on an otherwise bland night. Randy praised her for taking the song and molding it to who she is as an artist. Bowersox was clearly the strongest performer of the night, doing well on both her solo and her duet.

Saving the best for last, Casey James and Michael Lynche gave an incredible performance of the Bryan Adams song, Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? from Don Juan DeMarco. James and Lynche both gave very different interpretations of the song that worked rather well together. James was fantastic on the classical guitar and Lynche's emotional R&B performance was miles better than his solo. It was by far the most interesting and engaging performance of the night. The judges all commented on how superior the duets were to the solosm, and both James and Lynche received high praise for their work. This was definitely one of the better performances "Idol" has had all season.

It wasn't the best night for any of the contestants individually, even though each had a good showing in their duet. The weakest overall performer was Casey James and he seems the most likely to take the fall tomorrow nighT. James doesn't have the ability to connect with the songs as consistently as the other three and I sometimes feel like he is reaching to give a good performance. He is a talented singer and will do well after "Idol," but just seems too out of his element to make it to the top three. Joining him in the bottom two will likely be Lynche who, although he was great on his duet, was lacking on his solo.

Two "Idol" alumni rejoin the show tomorrow night, as rocker Daughtry and singer and Broadway star Fantasia Burrino each perform. Also taking the stage is rock star Bon Jovi, performing a to-be-announced song. One of the top four will perform for the final time on the "Idol" stage during tomorrow night's results show, beginning at 8:00pm EST.

"American Idol" is a reality competition to find new solo musical talent, created by Simon Fuller. It debuted June 11, 2002 on the Fox network and has since become one of the most popular shows on American television. It is currently the #1 TV show in the Nielsen Ratings and is one of only three that have been #1 for five consecutive seasons. The cast of "Idol" includes judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen Degeneres, and host Ryan Seacrest.

The program aims to discover the best singer in the country through a series of nation-wide auditions, and subsequent viewer voting. Through telephone voting, America has chosen past winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Kris Allen.

Several "Idol" contestants have been seen on the Broadway stage, including Barrino (The Color Purple), Hicks (Grease), Clay Aiken (Spamalot), Diana DeGarmo (Hairspray, Hair), Josh Strickland (Tarzan), Tamyra Gray (Rent, Bombay Dreams), Constantine Maroulis (The Wedding Singer, Rock of Ages), and Ace Young (Hair).

"American Idol" airs on Tuesday and Wednesday nights on Fox at 8PM EST.

Photo Credit: AmericanIdol.com

 

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From This Author Jeff Dennhardt

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