May 5, 2010

"American Idol recap" – There's something about Harry

Posted: 02:40 AM ET

Keri's control panel

*Note: the "American Idol" recaps are a series of blog posts from "Morning Express with Robin Meade" Technical Director, Keri. Keri knows what every button on that giant panel (above) in the control room does, and she presses most of them while putting "Morning Express" on your TV every day. Keri is also a long-time Idol fan and provides the Morning Express writers and producers (who typically go to bed way too early to watch "Idol" live) with a recap. We get a kick out of Keri's "take" on the show, and thought you might as well. The opinions below are Keri's alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of "Morning Express with Robin Meade" or HLN. Here are her impressions of last night:

Last night, the Top 5 took on “The Voice” and performed selections from the Sinatra songbook. Did they do it their way? Or was it karaoke on repeat? I mean, way to keep things current, Idol. Like a broken record, we spend ALL season hearing the judges tell the contestants they need to be current and relevant, but then they give them themes like Sinatra? Don’t get me wrong… I love Ol’ Blue Eyes as much as the next person, but asking some of these kids to become contemporary crooners is a stretch. Do they have the swagger or the maturity to take on Frankie and make it fresh?

Lucky for them, this week the Top 5 have modern-day crooner Harry Connick Jr. to help. He is not only their mentor, but Harry also wrote the arrangements and the orchestrations for the songs. Finally! Give the mentor actual input in the total process (not just few minutes of rehearsal time). Now, I’m guessing not all mentors have what it takes to do this (*coughs* Miley Cyrus *clears throat*), but Harry Connick Jr.? If he can handle alien attacks and Grace Adler for a wife, he can take on the Top 5. Though I suspect the arrangements will sound more like him and less like them.

Idol kept Harry busy as he wrote the “supportive” arrangements. So busy that he made a dig at Shania, “You think Shania Twain was up in here doing this?” (Aww Harry, not Shania.) He thinks it will be “great” because the contestants are “great” people and “great” singers, and it was “great” seeing how humble they are. (Well Harry, I guess it is going to be great then, huh?) He plays the piano alongside the contestants too! And his band is there, amidst the rest of the Idol band, taking his lead.

The Top 5 were all dressed up for the occasion, looking very dapper and smooth and ready for a show. So, In Harry’s own words (well, the words of his Independence Day character, which strangely are the first words that pop in my mind when I think if him), “Let’s kick the tires and light the fires, big daddy!”

THE GOOD (in order of appearance):
MICHAEL: Harry thinks if Mike can find that “moment of truth” when he sings “The Way You Look Tonight,” it will be perfect. Mike is smooth and in his element, even has the angled fedora. Randy shouted, “You threw down the gauntlet tonight, baby!” Kara thinks he “found the drama” and “took us on a journey.” Simon thinks, “Everything just clicked.”

LEE: Harry’s wife thinks Lee is cute. And I think Lee and Harry were cute. Harry kept telling him how great he is but then tells the camera otherwise. Lee was laughing and smiling. And he kept that smile going when he sang “That’s Life.” Ellen said, “If this was the last night of performances, you would have just won this whole thing.” Harry brought out Lee’s personality and confidence, Simon notes, and feels it was “by far, for all of us, the best performance of the night so far.” (So far? What show was he watching? Lee was the last one.) As Ryan tried to give out the phone number, Lee made a beeline to Harry for a gracious thank you hug. Harry said, “Way to go baby. Just stop smiling.” And Lee smiled. Man, these two… just adorable.

CRYSTAL: I thought Crystal looked beautiful but started off a little corny sitting at the piano with Harry as she began “Summer Wind.” She hit one key on the piano and walked over to the mic. It sounded pretty but looked uncomfortable. Ellen thought she swallowed her words and needed to loosen up. Simon thinks she’s had two “OK” weeks, and “if” she survives this week, she needs to prove she’s in it to win it. Crystal defended herself saying that she didn’t think the song needed “really big notes.” (Huh? I didn’t hear anyone telling you it did. But I love you anyway.)

THE NOT SO GOOD (in order of appearance):
AARON: “Big Mike,” Harry shouts when little Aaron walks in the room. Ha! Aww, they dressed Aaron up in big boy clothes, but it just made him look even younger when he sang “Fly Me to the Moon.” No swagger here. Ellen and Randy liked it with Ellen saying he had “beautiful vocals.” Though she had a critique for Harry, calling his piano “a little pitchy.” Simon thought it lacked conviction saying that Sinatra was a “lion” and Aaron was a “mouse.” (But he’s a cute, likeable little mouse.)

CASEY: One of Casey’s friends (who doesn’t watch “TEEvee”) called offering him a gig for Tuesday night that would pay $50 and a free meal. Sorry, he’s a bit busy Tuesday nights (Hmm, but maybe not for long). Casey looked awkward without his guitar, and the stiff goofy grin was back as he sang “Blue Skies.” Randy believes it was his worst performance, “It was pitchy all the way until maybe the last note” and even made the orchestra sound out of tune. Kara thinks his vibrato sounds like a “lamb.” (Seriously, Kara? You’re just now noticing that? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL SEASON?!?!) Simon thought Casey looked “embarrassed.” Harry admitted that Casey was better in rehearsals.

Sinatra night should be known as the night Harry Connick Jr. took over “American Idol.” He was charming and funny as he mentored the contestants, performed with them, threw in a few judging comments, took over Ellen’s comedy duties… He even took over Ryan’s intro at the top of the show and announced, “This… is ‘American Idol’” in that southern drawl. And I loved every minute of it. Not every minute of the show of course (could’ve done without much of it… Aaron and Casey… and Ryan… and Randy… and Kara), but I loved every minute of Harry! I only wish he could have gotten Simon to button a few more buttons… Too much chest hair showing buddy!

We’ll get more Harry Connick Jr. on results night when he performs. (Yay!) Also performing will be Lady GaGa! (Woo hoo!) So what wild and crazy spectacle are we going to get from GaGa this time? What will she (or won’t she) be wearing?

And oh yeah, someone will be going home too as the Top 5 become the Top 4.

So, did the Top 5 bring Sinatra into the 2000s and inspire the modern-day “bobby-soxers” into texting twitches and speed-dial spasms? More importantly, is there a number I can call to vote for Harry?

*P.S. – if you are new to Morning Express, hello! Please visit us on our main showpage and get to know anchor Robin Meade, meteorologist Bob Van Dillen, business correspondent Jennifer Westhoven, sports anchor Rafer Weigel and news correspondent Richard Lui. Get your "news in the fast lane" on Morning Express with Robin Meade weekdays from 6 to 10 Eastern time on HLN!

*P.P.S. – follow HLN on Twitter @HLNTV and we'll update you as soon as Keri's next American Idol recap is up... you'll also get breaking news, and opportunities to share "your views" on the day's issues.

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Filed under: Aaron Kelly • American Idol • Big Mike • Casey James • Crystal Bowersox • Extras • Frank Sinatra • Harry Connick Jr. • Kara Dioguardi • Lee DeWyze • Michael Lynche • Mike Lynche • Mommasox • Morning Express crew • Randy Jackson • Ryan Seacrest • Simon Cowell

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KTK 98.5 » The top 5 Idols take on Old Blue Eyes   May 5th, 2010 6:53 am ET

[...] Harry Connick Jr. may be the best mentor ever [...]

simon cowel   May 5th, 2010 7:41 am ET

this is the worst episode..honestly

propo   May 5th, 2010 7:58 am ET

aaron was trainwreck horrible.

casey was embarrassing. never should have been voted through this far.

crystal has an attitude problem, and is getting thrown under the bus, slowly but surely. her performance was meh, no high points, no low points, just meh.

mike deserves to win with that performance.

lee was bad. all the pimping in the world can't disguise it. he was wooden, still pitchy as heck, and looked like a clumsy ox singing sinatra. if he is pimped into winning like i suspect the judges are doing, it marks the 3rd year in a row a caper milquetoast white guy with guitar wins. and all remaining cred for this stinker of a show goes down the toilet finally. idol needs to go off air if lee dewyze makes top 2 or wins.

let's start a petition to make harry connick jr. a fixture on tv somewhere every week. he oozed grace, sex appeal, charm, swagger, humor, intelligence and real professional and caring for the contestants mentoring them. he made everyone from ryan to the judges look like the clods and amateurs they are across the board. oh yes – america is wild, wild, wild about harry connick jr!

Janie   May 5th, 2010 8:46 am ET

I agree that Harry was awesome as a mentor and actually could take over as one of the judges – like Simon when he leaves. He would be a superb addition to the show. Loved Crystal – gave my husband and myself chills to hear her sing this style. I prefer her bluesy style best (think Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Rait, Janis) That is her style and she is great at it. Really unfair to make artists do Sinatra and expect them to have his swagger, style, etc. Only Mike comes close to being a crooner and he has too much R&B to pull it off. Crystal was as good as anyone and better than most. Judges are pimping Lee and Mike to get them to the final 3. AI should be ashamed.

joey the butcher   May 5th, 2010 3:10 pm ET

who the f&*@ is harry!

vinny   May 5th, 2010 4:49 pm ET

I'm pretty sure Aaron and Casey will be the next to go. (I hope) I totally agree with everyone who says the judges are pushing Lee and Mike forward. It's so obvious. And disgusting. Hey, we put alot of time into this show. Be fair. that's all we ask.

Why were the judges putting Cristal's performance down? In her own style, which made it her own, I believe she sang it just the way Frank did it. Staring off real easy and building up the emotion. Would they have criticized him? She was way more than just okay. I really hope she wins. Mike is only happy when the judges like him, but when they don't think he is just great, he has a real attitude problem.. I know he's good, but I really hope he dosen't win.

Top Posts —   May 5th, 2010 8:23 pm ET

[...] "American Idol recap" – There's something about Harry *Note: the "American Idol" recaps are a series of blog posts from "Morning Express with Robin [...] [...]

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