Ryan Seacrest began Top 3 week by announcing the home town of each of the remaining Idols. The three finishers have the honor of singing it out to make it to the show’s prestigious Top 2, a season finale extravaganza which will culminate in the crowning of another American Idol.
The Top 3 won the chance to go home at the end of last week’s results night, where Michael Lynche was eliminated in fourth place. There was no mentor for the week and not much of a theme, either. The contestants and the judges selected tunes from a large Idol grab-bag of former hits.
Ryan Seacrest kicked off the Top 4 results show by announcing the season’s highest vote tally, which was counted Tuesday night: nearly 37 million. The evening’s line-up offered Season 5 contender Chris Daughtry, rocker Bon Jovi and Season 3 winner Fantasia…not to mention, the shattered dreams of one Idol hopeful.
Fantasia began the night with “Bittersweet.” The wardrobe was horrible, but the performance was pretty good. The VH1 diva still has a strong set of pipes. Fantasia’s new album - the first in three years - will be out this summer. She says the album will offer a lot of “soul” tunes, which should delight Fantasia fans.
The theme of American Idol 9’s Top 4 night was movie music, a sweeping genre encompassing many wonderful tunes. Jamie Foxx returned to Idol as the week’s mentor. He found the theme to be “a big task,” for the contestants. Foxx gave the four remaining singers T-shirts, one marked “Artist” and one marked “Contestant.”
“America wants to see the artist,” he explained to Ryan Seacrest.
Do you like Ellen DeGeneres as a judge? Do you think the judges’ save is a nifty device for the show? Do you want the opportunity to sound off on what you like and dislike about American Idol? Well, now you’ve got a chance to do so…and the powers-that-be behind the series are listening.
American Idol has released an official survey asking viewers to detail their opinion on the show. The survey asks about the current season of the show (9), and asks about your reasons for watching. Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Ryan Seacrest are all listed as reasons for watching. You have the ability to vote on the strength of your enjoyment from each one.
Certain aspects of Idol, such as musical themes, mentors, voting and the judges’ save also listed on the survey. You have the opportunity to vote on your level of entertainment derived from each. The survey contains many questions regarding guest judges as well, asking to you rate your enjoyment of each one who appeared on this season.
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The Top 5 American Idols kicked off results night with a medley of Frank Sinatra tunes. The four competing men came out to sing “The Lady is a Tramp.” Crystal Bowersox, sole female remaining in the competition, then appeared to croon the song. I believe it was a bit of a bad choice, that song. Aaron Kelly, of course, sang a few bars from “When I Was Seventeen” as the number progressed. “Night and Day” and “Under My Skin” were also featured.
American Idol 9’s Tuesday performance episode was opened by Ryan Seacrest and Harry Connick, Jr. That’s right, folks - it’s Sinatra night. Connick, Jr. is perhaps best known for his hit “It Had To Be You.” Sinatra was best known for his baby blues and his velvety voice. He was, arguably, the greatest singer of standards, and he is certainly a legend.
Unlike most Idol mentors, Harry Connick, Jr. brought his own band members and worked on the arrangements of the contestants’ songs. He performed with them all, playing piano on the stage for all five songs.
Before the singing began, Frank Sinatra’s daughters gave Simon Cowell one of Sinatra’s monogrammed handkerchiefs, an item which is now amazingly valuable. The Sinatra connection, the Cowell connection, the American Idol tie-in…eBay would be thrown into a frenzy over such an item.
The American Idol 9 judges had few negative comments to make Tuesday night, which set the stage for a very unpredictable elimination round on Wednesday’s results show. Thirty-three million votes were recorded following Shania Twain night.
Rascal Flatts kicked off the show with “Unstoppable,” performing the tune as ably as you’d expect. Classic country song, very straightforward stage show, a few hot guitar licks. The song was really, really long. Rascal Flatts is soon going out on tour with Shakira, an odd combo.
Only six remain in the American Idol 9 competition, and there are no more saves to see them through the elimination rounds. All must go for one to stand alone, and they all must present their very best for the oh-so-important Tuesday performance rounds.
This week, the theme was Shania Twain, who has often bridged the gap between pop and country. She’s a multiple Grammy award winner and she’s enjoyed plenty of Number 1 hits, which makes her a good mentor choice. She advised the Idols to make her songs their own, as if they had written the tunes themselves. “I’m going to be sitting on the edge of my seat,” she predicted of the performance round.
At the top of the Idol Gives Back spectacular, host Ryan Seacrest immediately introduced the President of the United States and his First Lady, Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama. Two praised the Idol Gives Back event and urged viewers to contribute to the cause. In his typical contemporary fashion, President Obama then gave a message to the Idol contestants: “As Randy Jackson says, you’re all my dogs.”
Ryan then reappeared on stage to introduce the judges and hype up the crowd. Queen Latifah served as the host of the event at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, which was filled with a screaming crowd.
The Top 12 were brought back together for the first group performance of the night, an incredibly weak number. The only big moment in the song was given (predictably) to Crystal Bowersox. Could this show please make it more obvious that they want her to win? I’m not sure the astronauts on the space shuttle have managed to get the message yet - they’re so far away, and all.
It’s Idol Gives Back week, which means the Top 7 performance round was stuffed with plugs for the upcoming event. In honor of charity week, the Idols sang “inspirational songs,” a topic so broad we were pretty well guaranteed a grab bag of styles.
Casey James picked the imminently popular “Don’t Stop,” a bit of a dangerous decision, for the first performance of the night. Mentor Alicia Keys tried to help Casey find some personality within his performance, a quality she felt was essential for the popular tune. On the big stage, Casey James was more raspy than usual, full of energy and absolutely generic. His guitar solo was pretty hot, but he’s been relying on that crutch a bit too much. All the same, James delivers consistently solid performances that the crowd seems to enjoy. I don’t think he’ll do too poorly in the industry…when he’s finally let out of his Idol cage.
“It was a good performance,” Randy Jackson told him, though he grudgingly added “every week, we’re seeing the same thing.” He asked for James to deliver “something different,” a request he’s made in the past. “We’re getting to the point to where you have to be great…and it wasn’t great,” Ellen DeGeneres expanded on Randy’s theme. “You made yourself like everybody else tonight,” Kara DioGuardi likewise expressed her disappointment. “That wasn’t particularly inspiring,” Simon Cowell noted.
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