I have to admit I didn't have high hopes for tonight's episode. I thought Frank Sinatra night was going to be all kinds of cheesy and Harry Connick, Jr. would be all kinds of same-ol' on the mentoring front. Well Harry either has some spare time on his hands, or he's high on cocaine, or he's just uber-competitive and wanted to show all the other mentors up, but he was the most involved mentor I've seen to date on this show. He not only met with the singers to coach them, he also wrote their arrangements, played onstage for each song and directed the orchestra. That's pretty impressive. And he seems like a genuinely outgoing guy. I always sorta like Connick, Jr. but now I think it's a full-on like.
The singing tonight was also a lot better than I expected it to be overall. Aaron sang "Fly Me To the Moon." At first I thought he was enunciating too slowly as the beginning dragged on, but I thought he warmed into the song, plus, did he do something different with his hair? He looked cuter, sort of like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. As long as he sang it earnestly and didn't swing his head and look cool, I thought I was actually sort of starting to see what his fangirls and fanwomen see in him. I thought it turned out pretty good. Randy and Ellen liked it, Kara and Simon were lukewarm. Simon thought Aaron wasn't cool enough for the song but I thought it was the "coolest" Aaron has been all season. Aaron will never be cool; he's an earnest 17 year old. Was David Archulete ever "cool"? Sometime before telling Aaron he wasn't cool enough, Simon held up his brand-new hankie to the camera.
The whole Casey thing was interesting. I couldn't tell really whether he and Connick had a like-like relationship or a hate-like. He sang "Blue Skies" and I thought his Sinatra night look didn't go over well: the slicked-back ponytail didn't go with the open-shirt/vest combo. During his performance I actually thought he sounded pretty good: I liked the dramatic arrangement and I thought his voice sounded good, and I thought it was a nice change of pace to see him without the guitar. I did notice, which Kara pointed out, that his vibrato was a little intense. But the judges all hated it: I thought, maybe I was wrong. Then Harry Connick, Jr. basically told Casey he wasn't so great so then I decided that I must have been wrong. He was not actually good. Or was I right the first time and the rest of them were wrong, including my new friend, Mr. Connick, Jr.?
First observation about Crystal tonight: she looked great. I liked her little bit of added swingin' stage presence. I thought her voice sounded good on "The Summer Wind" but I have to admit it wasn't incredibly exciting. After her performance, her boyfriend gave the camera a weird, intense look. None of the judges were super excited about the performance, and I don't really blame them. Then Crystal made me have to take back a few like-points but pulling a Siobhan onstage, telling the judges how she isn't going to compromise herself. That's for defensive people, Crystal, not winners.
With Mikes performance, I had the reverse of the Casey situation. I think he sang "Just the Way You Look Tonight" well but I couldn't get over the cheese factor. Between the (always tiny-looking) hat and the suit and the "Hey how ya doin'" eyebrow waggling and the oh-so-sincere eye-closings, he's just too hammy for me to take seriously. The judges loved it. I watched it a second time to see if maybe I was wrong but I just can't get into Mike at this point. I was surprised Simon didn't call him on it.
Lee took on "That's Life" with Harry on organ. I have to admit it: I liked it, and I haven't been a Lee fan for some time now. The song forced Lee to be a little more soulful and do a bit less yarling—his voice actually sounded really good to me, despite a bit of mumbling. I missed the backup singers but it was my favorite performance of the night. The judges loved it and Harry ordered Lee to stop smiling which made him smile more. I love that game.
I'm thinking bottom three tomorrow night are Crystal, Mike and Casey. I think Crystal needs to let the dreads down and put on the jeans and get back to where she used to be and Mike needs to stop singing like he's in show choir. That leaves me with Casey and I can't come up with a way for him to improve so maybe that means he'll be going home.
—I think the Sinatra girls overestimated how much the American Idol live audience really wanted to clap for them.
—I am curious to know what everyone thinks of Connick, Jr. He's like that girlfriend in Seinfeld to me: from certain angles he looks dreamy and then from others he looks sort of like Howdy Doody. (So call me Mrs. Doody!)
—Ellen made a joke alluding to Harry's "organ." Heh.