May 12, 2010

American Idol recap: Duet to it

Posted: 02:50 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 cinematic impressions of last night:

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…

There was a TV show so full of drama and excitement that it captured the hearts (and speed dial buttons) of millions throughout its journey to discover the stars.  Often there were such intense plot twists that you might have felt like a twister dumped you in Oz.  Occasionally there were moments of sheer genius that gave you chills to rival the best psychological thrillers (“Billie Jean” & “Mad World”).  Something might have escaped from a gory horror flick to haunt your dreams (Danny’s “Dream On” screech from the dark side).  Or you might’ve felt such bewildered delight as if yanked right out of Alice’s rabbit hole or Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (Adam’s “Ring of Fire”).  There was heartbreak (Allison’s “Cry Baby”).  There were epic battles (“Guyliner vs. The Guy Next Door” & “The Battle of the Davids”).  And heroes rode in on their horses, fought to win the battle, and carried you away… directly to iTunes.

And now… There is Season 9.  Yes, some pretty talented leading characters, but not exactly the type that can carry the screenplay on their own without big budget special effects and 3D glasses to liven things up.  Even Simon, the resident antagonist, doesn’t appear to be in the fightAmerican Idol Top 4Can you blame him?  What battle are we going to have this time around?  The Mom vs. The Paint Salesman?  Big Daddy vs. Cool Mommy?  Ooh, I’m on the edge of my seat.  But who knows?  Some of the best plot twists are the ones we don’t see coming.  But time is running out…

Yeah, I know, I went overboard with the movie references.  But it is movie night, after all, as the Top 4 sing songs of the cinema.  They pair up to give us duets as well.  Mentoring them is Oscar winning actor and multi-platinum R&B artist, Jamie Foxx. He has t-shirts to challenge the Top 4.  They either say “artist” or “contestant,” and he presents one to each after the rehearsals. Music is “the soundtrack to our lives,” he tells us, and these are “big songs” so the finalists have a “big task” ahead of them.  May the force be with them…

LEE:  Jamie got right in Lee’s face for his rehearsal of “Kiss from a Rose” and awarded him with an “artist” shirt. Jamie predicts, “If he lets the audience feel it, you might be looking at the American Idol.”  I didn’t feel it.  Not horrible, though there were some pitch problems, but not great either.  The judges all wanted him to do more with the song.  Kara thinks he “got lost” in the arrangement and had some “out of tune issues” (Hmm, I think Kara is taking a note from Harry Connick Jr. and refusing to say “pitchy”).  Simon thinks it was “verging on karaoke,” and he should’ve gotten a “contestant” t-shirt instead.

MIKE:  He forgot the words during his rehearsal of “Will You Be There” so was given a “contestant” shirt by Jamie. Mike refused it and said he would be coming back for the “artist” shirt.  Umm, I don’t think so.  I absolutely loved the choir, but I didn’t find anything too special about Mike.  His goal was to make it to the Top 3, but Ellen said his goal “should be to win this thing.”  She thought it was predictable.  Kara felt it was safe.  Simon “kind of felt that [he] meant it.”

CASEY:  Playing the mandolin, Casey chose “Mrs. Robinson” (Oh, here come the Kara cougar jokes).  Jamie asked Casey to seduce him and gave him an “artist” shirt after singing through all that eye contact.  Much better than last week though I was a bit bored.  Randy wasn’t “jumping up and down” for it but did jump on the chance to start the Kara jokes.  Ellen liked that he changed up the song but wanted him to go further.  Then she turned it over to Mrs. Robinson (Ugh, that got old real fast).  Mrs. Robinson never got a chance to finish her critique through all the jokes.  Simon thought Casey’s performance was “a little bit lazy” and didn’t have “the substance” needed.

CRYSTAL: Jamie gave her an “artist” shirt and wants her to use eye contact to turn the song into a testimony.  Crystal lightened the mood with a song from Caddyshack.  She sang “I’m Alright” and was cool and definitely more than just alright.  It wasn’t Randy’s favorite, but he liked that she switched up the song.  Ellen and Kara both think she made the song better than the original.  Simon said she’s “back in the game.” 

CRYSTAL/LEE:  Both on guitar and facing each other, Crystal and Lee sang “Falling Slowly.” It didn’t quite have magic the Adam/Allison duet had last season, and I preferred the charming version Kris did of this song (also last season), but for this season, it was pretty darn special.  Interestingly, Idol captured the entire song with one continuous camera shot that just kept circling around them, but it kind of made me feel like I was falling slowly into an ocean of seasickness.  The judges loved it with Ellen calling them “the new Captain & Tennille.”  It was one of Kara’s favorite moments of the entire season.  She thought they brought out the best in each other.  “I don’t know if I’d call that a good song,” Simon said, “I would call it a fantastic song.”  Crystal said that Lee is her “musical crush.”  Aww.

CASEY/MIKE:  “Ladies, prepare yourselves,” Ryan warns, for Casey and Mike’s “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman.” The harmonies were really pretty.  Casey’s guitar work was gorgeous.  Randy thought Casey started it off a little rough, but then it was brilliant when Mike joined in.  Ellen said, “As a matter of fact, yes, I have loved a woman.” Kara thinks the incredible duets were better than all the solos.  Simon thinks the “artist” shirts should go to the duets which were “a million times better” than the solos.

To be continued... Tune in to results night (& check back here tomorrow) for the exciting conclusion as the Top 4 become 3.  Joining the action will be special guests Daughtry, Fantasia, and Bon Jovi.

Who will succumb to the wrath of the texting teenyboppers?  Who will triumph over the speed-dialing soccer moms?  And after season 9 sputters along at its snooze worthy pace, will any of us live happily ever after?  At least no one released the Kraken this week.

Tickets for the summer tour go on sale this weekend.  Anybody going?

*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: American Idol • Big Mike • Casey James • Crystal Bowersox • Ellen Degeneres • Extras • Jamie Foxx • Kara Dioguardi • Lee DeWyze • Michael Lynche • Mike Lynche • Mommasox • Morning Express crew • Randy Jackson • Ryan Seacrest • Season 9 • Simon Cowell

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propo   May 12th, 2010 9:13 am ET

If the previous shows have been trainwrecks, this one was a nuclear bomb! Recognizing that this is the weakest bunch of pretenders ever on Idol, this show overall was astonishingly bad. This show has effectively destroyed itself. This Top 4 is the worst in history – no personality, no stage presence, no vocal range.

out of the four contestants left, Lee Dewyze should be the next one to fly the friendly skies. His consistent pitchy, off-key singing needs some assistance from a vocal coach. About Crystal….even though I really like “bluesy” arrangements, for some reason, I didn’t like this version of “I’m Alright”. I much prefer the Kenny Loggins version….it just works much better. Crystal is really good and I usually like her song choices and arrangements, but she is similar to other entertainers out there…..most of her songs and arrangements sound the same. It’s kinda like the ‘ole saying, “If you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all”.

I thought Big Mike did a pretty good job on the “Free Willy” number. It was a typical Gospel-sounding version that obviously works for him. He seemed to stay on pitch and his performance was (in Simon’s famous words)…. believable.

Casey’s version of Mrs. Robinson was pretty good as well. It wasn’t an exciting song, but he performed a very good version of the song. He just needs to show more emotion and connect with the audience. About the duets…….Big Mike and Casey’s performance was better than Crystal and Lee’s performance. Casey and Mike performed a nice arrangement of “Have you Really Ever Loved a Woman” and Casey showcased his incredible acoustic guitar skills. Casey and Mike actually sounded good together and complimented each other.

What’s left for a season in which one of the heavily hyped frontrunners never could sing in tune, and now that his voice is shot, has got absolutely nothing left to offer at all, not even to those who liked that raspy mess when it still had its limited range. Why on earth did they pimp this guy when he had little to offer when he was fresh and would therefore have NOTHING to offer when fatigued? I can think of other overhyped finalists but at least they were amusing in some way. Lee? Looks and sounds like the paint salesman he is.

Paul Ardoin   May 13th, 2010 1:19 pm ET

I agree that the solos were mostly bad - but did you see the list of 50 songs they had to choose from? Many of them were complete stinkers (or totally cheesy now that it's not the 80's). A whole bunch of Disney movie songs, 2 Top Gun songs, Eye of the Tiger, Eminem's "Lose Yourself" (which in my opinion is a brilliant song but totally inappropriate for American Idol), a huge amount of diva ballads like My Heart Will Go On, I Will Always Love You (which would also be totally inappropriate for any of the remaining contestants). Randy suggested Blaze of Glory for Lee; too bad that wasn't on the list. I might have picked Don't You (Forget About Me) instead of Kiss From A Rose for Lee - but other than that, I think the performers did the best they could with the horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE, list they had to choose from.

dane   May 18th, 2010 3:32 pm ET

Shame on Ellen responding about loving a woman!
This is a Family show not a show promoting Godless homosexuality

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