May 11, 2010

MUSIC: American Idol 2010: Movie Music

Jamie Foxx is the mentor for movie night, and his advice usually boils down to "make contact with the audience;" good advice, as far as it goes, but it doesn't address any of the real problems with any of tonight's performances. We also get duets, which are presented as bonus numbers -- no voting phone numbers attached to them -- and they're both more interesting than any of the solo numbers.

The rundown:

Lee, "Kiss from a Rose" -- Lee is the most maddeningly inconsistent of the remaining contestants, so after having seen him do so well last week, I probably shouldn't be surprised that he doesn't quite have it tonight. He's mumbling some of the words badly enough to make me think he doesn't really know them, and his pitch is weak, especially on the more angular phrases ("...did you know / when it snows..."). And some of the falsetto notes are just plain ugly.

Michael, "Will You Be There" -- Not a great song choice, I don't think; more than half of it is call-and-response stuff, which can get an audience excited, but doesn't do much to show off the singer. It doesn't give Michael any chance to build or to go anywhere, and the performance is somewhat lifeless. On the plus side, the first couple of lines are in a lower part of Michael's register than we usually hear, and he sound marvelous down there.

Crystal & Lee, "Falling Slowly" -- The song suits them very well, and I like the slightly harder edge they're giving it. I'm not wild about the way they're breaking up the phrases in the verses, with the two trading off words mid-phrase. They both sound great here, but she's coming off slightly better than he is, mostly because he's still having a few scattered pitch problems.

Casey, "Mrs. Robinson" -- It's very pretty, and I like the scaled-down intimacy. What's missing is any sense of what Casey thinks of the material (or of Mrs. Robinson). The song doesn't require the sarcastic bite of the original -- it could work with a sort of sincere vulnerability -- but there's got to be some discernible attitude there; all Casey is giving us is pretty notes.

Crystal, "I'm Alright" -- The song's an entertaining little piece of fluff, and she's burying it under enough weight to crush "The House of the Rising Sun." The vocals, taken strictly as vocals, are well done, but her interpretation is so insanely disconnected from the song that the performance fails entirely. It doesn't even work as camp.

Michael & Casey, "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" -- An uneven pairing here, which may be due to the song as much as anything; it suits Casey much better than Michael, and we get one of Casey's better performances from it. The subject matter should work for Michael, and he gives it his all, but the sort of Latin tinge doesn't work terribly well with his voice or inflections.

For the night: Casey, Michael, Lee, Crystal (but "Falling Slowly" was the only real high spot of the night)

For the season: Casey, Michael, Crystal, Lee

Let's send home: It's a very tightly bunched field at this point, but Lee's inconsistency makes him the weakest of the pack.

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