'American Idol's ninth-season Top 5 finalists take the stage and sing
By Reality TV World staff, 05/05/2010
American Idol's Top 5 ninth-season finalists took to the stage during last night's live performance show broadcast on Fox.
This week's mentor was Harry Connick, Jr., who helped the finalists interpret Frank Sinatra songs. However unlike previous mentors, Connick was also responsible for composing the arrangements of the songs the finalists sang and accompanied them on-stage with his big-band orchestra as they performed.
"I expressed interest in writing the arrangements and orchestrations for the contestants because I thought it would really be cool to have something in connection with these guys," he explained. "What I'm trying to do is feature the contestants by writing a supportive arrangement."
"American Idol is keeping me pretty busy right now to be honest with you. I mean I should be out laying by the pool -- you think Shania Twain was up in here doing this?" he joked, referencing last week's Idol mentor.
"I'll be playing for them. That's what I'm really excited about, is to play behind the contestants."
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 5 finalists sang. Also included are comments from each of the four judges -- Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell -- as well as any noteworthy additional information about each finalist's performance or comments to Idol host Ryan Seacrest.
On Wednesday night, one finalist will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last night's broadcast, resulting in the season's Top 4 finalists.
Randy said: "One of the things I was looking for tonight -- I know my co-judges are looking for this too -- is who is in this to win it. It's getting down to the wire, who's got the fire, who's going to bring it hard. Sinatra Week -- I mean [it's] one of the best singers in the world, ever, [and] you got the great Harry Connick. I got to tell you dude, I was so worried more probably about you, because you're so young, [but] dude, you did a really good job. Nice work Aaron."
Ellen said: "I know, I know. I thought the piano kind of was a little pitchy. I was worried also for you and I can not believe -- I did not hear any country in that at all, I felt like you really pulled that off. That was beautiful vocals. Beautiful."
Kara said: "Aaron, I thought it was good. I did. I think compared to last week though, it wasn't as strong. And last week you really came into your own. I think you'll be here again, and what I want to say to you is what I want you to learn a little bit more is a little bit more charisma. Fill up the stage more. You know Frank Sinatra was just about as tall as you but he filled everything up, and he commanded it. And you still need to get there, you still need to break out as a performer because you're so close. This isn't a negative, this is constructive criticism, okay honey?"
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Simon said: "I'm more with Kara on this one because... I adore Frank because Frank was the king of cool. He had a swagger, he had a believability. And if he was a lion, you were just a mouse. It didn't have the conviction for me and I thought the vocals toward the end were a bit corny. But the one thing about you, which is a good thing, is that people like you after you perform. Because you do try hard and I'm going to give you that."
Randy said: "Dude, I got to tell you something man, this was like for me, your worst performance dude. I got to tell you, it was pitchy all the way until maybe the last note maybe. And it's funny, when somebody sings and the orchestra sounds out of tune you know you're in trouble then. You were just kind of out of your element. I knew this was going to be a tough one for you because this is like about intricate melodies and singing with the band -- it just didn't work baby, it didn't work. It didn't work! It didn't work!"
Ellen said: "I don't know who's idea it was, but I thought it was a bad idea to have the piano on stage. I thought that was not good. [Seriously], I feel like what Simon was just saying about Aaron. The whole thing is about being smooth and having swagger and that felt very stiff to me. Very stiff. I didn't feel like you were cool and moving around in an easy way, it didn't feel effortless to me. And I agree with Randy, I'm sorry."
Kara said: "Casey... it took you a long time to warm up and to feel more relaxed. By the end you had it a little bit more. But at least you held some notes. I don't think I've ever heard you hold a note for longer than two seconds in any performance. But the bad thing is you kind of sound like a lamb... it's got a little vibrato or something, I don't know, sorry. you've got to work on your vibrato, it's a little out of control. I'm sorry."
Simon said: "This is really, really uncomfortable... okay, good news [is] the band was great, bad news [is] you weren't fantastic. I actually thought you came over a bit embarrassed and a bit awkward. You just didn't feel comfortable. The good news is you got a booking for next week... no, I'm kidding -- that was a joke!"
Additional Notes: Before performing, Casey had told Ryan that he had recently gotten a phone call from a friend telling him he had booked Casey and himself for a performance at a Texas bar this week. "I said 'Man, I'm actually busy on Tuesday.' Because he doesn't watch TV, and he hasn't heard anything, seriously," he explained. After his performance, Casey admitted he had been uncomfortable performing without his guitar. "I think you sang it better in rehearsal, to be honest with you," Harry told Casey. "You killed it about two hours ago but that's not going to help the viewers."
Crystal Bowersox, a 24-year-old from Elliston, OH who currently resides in Toledo, OH
Song: "Summer Wind"
Randy said: "I don't know, it was a great arrangement and it's one of your more subdued performances. I mean I don't know if you did anything different with it. It's okay but it was a little sleepy for me. It was."
Ellen said: "At first it felt like you were swallowing every word and I was a little nervous and then you started really singing. And I wanted to see a little more of that when you were kind of starting to snap and I wanted you to kind of loosen up a tiny bit more. That's the only thing I missed. But man, if I saw you for the first time, I would never know that you are that other girl too, you have so many different sides to you, you're so impressive. Really, really impressive."
Kara said: "I mean it's out of your element but I kind of liked it, I did... I wouldn't see you singing this kind of music, but what I really liked is I liked your phrasing. Phrasing is a big thing this week. Frank Sinatra had impeccable phrasing -- swing, rhythm -- and you showed you could hold your own in that department, so that's why I kind of liked it."
Simon said: "I love the song [but] I don't know if I would have chosen it for you, though, because it felt a little bit indulgent. The first half was too jazzy for me, too small nightclub. and then the second half obviously got a lot better. But I'm not going to lie and say that this is one of your strongest performances. And I think for you now Crystal, I think you've had two okay weeks. I think if you survive [to] next week, as Randy said, now it's about being in it to win it. It's not about just singing for yourself anymore, it's about using this opportunity to nail it week after week after week. So I expect better."
Additional Notes: Crystal disagreed with the idea that the arrangement -- which, like all the songs the finalists sang this week, was actually determined by Harry, not her -- was too soft and slow. "To me it's a sweet love story and you wouldn't sing it really big like that," she told Ryan. "The song gets bigger as it goes on... I just don't feel like I should sing really big notes just because I'm on American Idol, I think it should be about the music." Simon insisted he hadn't been suggesting that. "I'm just saying more you as an artist you have one opportunity each week to absolutely present you in the best possible way, and I'm giving you this advice to help you," he told her.
Randy said: "Harry, unbelievable arrangement. Unbelievable vocal. Mike is in it to win it, this is what I'm saying! This is what it's about! Dude, listen, what is great -- I don't care what song you sing just sing it and do it interestingly and do it well. That's what you did, that's what this competition is about. Mike, you threw down the gauntlet tonight, baby I'm watching you. Eyes on Mike!"
Ellen said: "You seemed to, of everyone else, seemed to have the most comfort on stage. You seem to have more experience and you just move easier this everyone else and you really showed that tonight. You looked the part, you sounded the part. Very, very smooth, a lot of charisma -- really good. Really good."
Kara said: "Mike, you found the drama in the song. You took us up, you took us down. You took us on a journey, you did everything right. But above all, you didn't lose yourself in the song. You still did things that I said, 'I know who that is, that's Big Mike.' And that's what this is all about."
Simon said: "This has been a tricky night. I mean you're got Harry on stage, you've got the Sinatras in the audience, we're singing my favorite singer of all time. I understand the pressure you're under. If I'm being honest with you, the first three performances have been okay and now with you, that's all changed. I think you just put yourself back in the game. You know what I loved about that, is that I actually felt that you listened and everyone worked together on that performance, it all just clicked. And as Randy said, that was a terrific arrangement as well, everything worked, fantastic. Well done."
Randy said: "You know what, another great arrangement by a Louisiana boy -- because me and Ellen are from Louisiana [too]. The great Harry Connick, great arrangement. But dude, you know what I love about this, you stayed your rocker self. Even though the band was playing, I could hear the guitar with it dude. I loved it, I loved it."
Ellen said: "Well, I have to be honest, at first I was distracted by Harry's organ... well it was different than the piano. I think it this was the last night of performances you would have just won this whole thing."
Kara said: "Lee, I want to ask you a question, do you think you can win? You better go home tonight and write 'I can win this thing' a hundred times and believe it. Because that's the confidence you need and you can. You can win this thing."
Simon said: "What I really liked -- and Harry, you've been absolutely incredible tonight working with the contestants, seriously, very generous. What you've managed to do for Lee tonight is you've got to remember, you started off you were working in a paint shop, right, and you had some issues with shyness. And I think what Harry managed to do tonight is that he brought out your personality, he brought out your confidence. and what I really love is the fact that you gave it 110% and it was by far -- I think for all of us -- that best performance of the night so far."
Additional Notes: Lee told Kara he believes he can win the competition. "I'm going to try," he replied to her writing request.