Tonight’s theme is a rough one. These kids get to choose from a list of fifty Shania Twain hits. I’m not sure that I’m ready to hear Big Mike sing a Shania Twain song. Hell, I’m not sure I want to hear the two remaining girls sing a Shania song. Crystal isn’t even the same species as Shania, and Siobhan is about as country as I am a trapeze artist. Don’t get me wrong, I like Shania’s songs. “Still the One” is one of my favorite songs, as are “You Win My Love” and several others. I was in my most serious stage as a musician in the mid 1990’s, when Shania dominated the charts. It just seems like a bad fit for this group.
To make it worse, the judges won’t be able to understand tonight’s performances. None of them have a background in this style of music. Shania’s songs are all very tightly produced, and very specific in their melodies and rhythms. There will be no “making it your own” and no “reinventing the song” tonight; without catcalls from the judging table. If they just sing the melody, though, that will get more catcalls. Either way, the contestants can’t really win tonight. All they can hope for is that the judges are in a good mood.
The Singers, the songs-
Lee Dewyze, “Still the One”
I thought that Siobhan would do this one, but it did fit Lee fairly well. He soared on his high notes, and he wasn’t all that pitchy despite a pretty tough vocal arrangement. He’s been showing off his high range more and more lately, which will help separate him from the pack of contenders for the runner up spot. He relaxed noticeably once he hit his first big high notes, and blew it out to the end, which he again cut short with a weak pull off and look down to his guitar. Work on those ending notes, my man. B
Michael Lynche, “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”
I expected this sort of song from Mike. He pulled out all of his tricks, and other than one horrible falsetto run he nailed it. My problem is that I just didn’t care about the song. It was really pop, and really schmaltzy. He might be in some trouble tomorrow night, just because his performance was so forgettable. B-
Casey James, “Don’t”
He did about what I expected. The judges gushed like they had never seen him perform something like this. I wasn’t as impressed. He was good, sure. Was he as good as he was on “Jealous Guy” three weeks ago? Not by a mile. He opened his mouth a lot wider, which is a good thing. His tone on the song was a current tone, which is also a good thing. Overall he was good, but not great. B
Crystal Bowersox, “No One Needs to Know”
I picked this one for Crystal. Oops. This was by miles and miles her worst performance of the season. She was wooden, nervous, pitchy, off in her rhythm, and stilted in her phrasing. It was the second worst performance of the night, better only than one that I’ll hit on later. Crystaldeserves a mulligan, of course. She has been dominant all season, and she is still the clear frontrunner. I might be a tiny bit worried, though. This was the second week in a row that her nerves got the best of her. C-
Aaron Kelly, “You Got a Way”
He did pick a lesser known (to me, anyway) song. He sang it pretty well, and he did about what he always does with ballads. I agree with Simon, who said that he showed us what kind of record he is capable of. While he sang well, it was about as forgettable as Mike’s performance. C+
Siobhan Magnus, “Any Man of Mine”
Uh Oh. Seriously, Siobhan; why pick this song? She sang it fairly well by her own standards, but she doesn’t have a clue about country music. Her departures won’t help her this week; the voters will hate how she re-arranged the song. Her rhythmic choices; especially the “as the story go-ho-hoes” choice sounded jarring compared to Shania’s original version. Voters are notoriously unforgiving to contestants who butcher signature lines, and that’s one of the signature lines of the song. B- vocal, but in context it was a D performance.
Safe to in Danger-
I don’t even know if I can hazard a guess about who will be going home. On a night when every song was written by a woman, the two worst performances were by the two remaining women. The two most boring performances were Aaron and Mike, and I expect those two to be the last two left on the stage. Siobhan has been dodging the bottom three despite harsh judging, with pretty good performances. This week she is in the opposite position, with positive judging comments after a dramatically bad performance. This is probably the week that she sits in a hard chair, and she is by no means safe from getting the axe.