Imagine a greasy slice of olive-loaf, a package of half-defrosted frozen green beans, and a bowl of two-day-old refrigerated oatmeal. Now imagine going to your favorite restaurant and having the aforementioned foodstuffs placed in front of you. You try to explain this isn’t what you ordered, try to send these unappealing items back to the kitchen, but everyone — the waiter, the manager, the busboy, and the chef — insists you’re turning your nose up at a delicious meal of filet mignon, haricots verts, and creamy polenta. You think to yourself: ”Am I going crazy? Am I losing touch with my senses? And why in holy hell is Kara DioGuardi crying?”
Welcome to Bizarro Night at the American Idol Cafe, where the eight remaining male semifinalists of season 9 received an unwarranted amount of praise, encouragement, and hugs (!) from a panel of judges who seemed desperate to convince us there was a future musical superstar among their ranks.
Okay, okay, the guys did, in fact, hit a much higher percentage of notes this evening than in their two previous outings. And yeah, aside from a Gong Show-level vocal by Aaron Kelly, there weren’t any true disasters over the course of the one-hour telecast. But every time the season 9 guys hit the stage, the feeling persists that the Emperor, while perhaps not butt-booty nekkid, is down to a threadbare bikini and a pair of tragic fingerless gloves.
Still, despite the overarching concern that season 9’s Top 12 is going to contain a few too many lemons, we’ve got no other option but to add water, stir in some sugar, and hope the end result is not too tart, not too sweet. I mean, what else are we gonna do? Give up our Idol addictions and put our collective faith in America’s Got Talent? No, wait — don’t even think about answering that question! Instead, let’s split the guys up into two groups:
Group A: The Four Dudes Who’ve Clearly Done Enough to Advance to the Top 12
Any way you look at it, the leader of the manpack heading into the finals is clearly Michael ”Big Mike” Lynche, who has surged to a leadership position over the last two weeks by actually singing in tune (what a novel idea!) and positioning himself as the burly guy who understands the hearts and minds of the fairer sex. Musically and emotionally, tonight’s cover of Kate Bush’s glorious ”This Woman’s Work” provided the perfect bookend to last week’s ”It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” and from a technical perspective, it was the telecast’s best vocal — although Simon’s contention that it was ”the best performance of all these live shows by far” seemed impossibly daft.
Trouble is, the visual aspect of Big Mike’s performance provided absurd contrast to his vocals. The dramatically raised hand, the side-to-side shimmy, the parallel fists held out in front of the torso… these carefully staged moves had all the subtlety of an Applebee’s commercial where a tidal wave of melted cheese splashes dramatically over a promotional entrée. If Big Mike weren’t so gosh-darn serious, I’d half wonder if he wasn’t aiming for parody, or at least high camp, up there on the Idol stage. What’s more, while Michael’s decision to utilize his falsetto only at the beginning and end of the performance helped him avoid copycat comparisons with Maxwell’s 2001 cover, it also created a jarring disconnect within his own performance — sort of a vibe of: ”now we’re in head voice”/”now we’re not”/”oh, and now I’d better switch back to it at the end because that’s what people expect from this song.” I can’t be the only one who was more moved to scratch my head than to burst into tears of, um…I’m not sure what. Joy? Despair? Desire for a little additional screentime?
NEXT: Alex may be in ”Trouble”