I always enjoy seeing celebrities who use their fame and power to help others and bring attention to important issues. American Idol should be applauded for using their status as one of the most popular television shows in the Country to raise money for charities in their annual “Idol Gives Back” episode.
With her uplifting lyrics and involvement in raising awareness about HIV in Africa, Alicia Keys was the ideal mentor for this week’s theme of inspirational songs. Yet even the “Princess of Soul” could not help all of the contestants.
Casey James – “Don’t Stop (Yesterday’s Gone)”: I enjoyed the performance, but it was nothing special and I had difficulty recalling it by the end of the show. He needs to add variation to his performances as watching him play his guitar and sing the same type of songs week after week is quickly becoming repetitive and boring. Simon Cowell criticized the performance, saying the song was not “particularly inspiring” and that he showed “no emotion.”
Lee DeWyze – “The Boxer”: He picked a song that actually inspired him, and that connection definitely showed in his performance. He held my attention the entire time and left me wanting to hear more. His interpretation and delivery of the song had an emotional impact on the audience, which is exactly what the contestants should try to do with inspirational songs. Cowell gave him the best compliment of all, saying, “Even though we’re only two in, that was the best of the night.”
Tim Urban – “Better Days”: How is he still on this show? I have a difficult time even critiquing his sub-par performances anymore. Just a reminder, he was not even supposed to be in the top 24, but was brought back into the competition after one of the contestants proved to be ineligible. His performance was boring, and I almost miss the ridiculous dance moves. Almost.
Aaron Kelly – “I Believe I Can Fly”: I was really worried when I heard he was singing such a powerful and well-known song. He struggled in the beginning, but displayed the power-house vocals he is known for by the end. While I give him credit for having the courage to take on the song, I think he would have made more of an impact if he had selected something on his skill level. A cute face can only get you votes for so long, Aaron.
Siobhan Magnus – “When You Believe”: If Aaron took on a big song, Siobhan attacked a giant. I was pleasantly surprised by her vocals, and I think she did the song justice.
She defended herself by saying that she did not want the singers to scare her away from singing the song. Out of all of the contestants who have tried to sing Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston in the past, I think she may have done the best.
She has performed a variety of songs over the past few weeks, and I’m not sure what type of album she would release. I haven’t seen enough consistency from her to place her in a genre, and I think she’ll have difficulty gaining fans after Idol unless she establishes herself.
Michael Lynche – “Hero”: He has been complimented for his soulful sound throughout the season, and I thought he would be the star performer this week. I liked the fact that he changed the song and made it his own, but I was disappointed overall. He had the opportunity to really show off his vocals and range, but I think he spent more time figuring out how to change the song to fit his voice instead of on the actual singing component.
Crystal Bowersox – “People Get Ready”: I loved the fact that she began the song a cappella, and it put her performance on another level from the start. She poured her heart into the song, and moved herself to tears by the end. If you didn’t see the show, this performance is worth taking the time to watch on YouTube. I think Cowell regretted saying DeWyze had the best performance of the night as he could not compare to her.
The evening began with a recorded message from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama showing their support for Idol Gives Back. According to the First Lady, American Idol has raised “$140 million to help children and families around the world live healthier and happier lives.”
Idol was apparently also feeling charitable to the eliminated contestants and brought back the top 12 to perform the opening song. Did anyone else think this looked and sounded pre-recorded? As Idol is doing a great service with this episode, I’ll refrain from criticizing this.
Celebrity appearances throughout the night included Jennifer Garner, Victoria Beckham, Captain “Sully”, Queen Latifah, Joss Stone, Slash, Octomom (why was she there?), Jim Carrey, Bill Gates, Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Wanda Sykes, Ben Affleck, Justin Bieber and Sir Elton John.
The Black Eyed Peas were the first celebrity performers of the night, singing “Rock That Body.” While I’m not usually a fan of their music, they should be commended for their showmanship. Their performances are always full of energy and visual effects, including the robots and strobe lights in Wednesday’s performance.
George Lopez momentarily guest hosted and could not refrain from joking about Ryan Seacrest’s multiple jobs and height. However, he directed most of his criticisms towards the judges. He obviously mentioned Randy Jackson’s excessive use of the word “dawg,” and embarrassed Kara DioGuardi by bringing up her recent nude photo shoot. He called Ellen DeGeneres the “Kourtney Kardashian” of the judges, but nobody, including DeGeneres herself, understood the reference. Simon Cowell, who seems to be in a permanently bad mood this season, looked less than amused during Lopez’s spiel. He managed to force a polite smile at the comment, “Every now and then wear a large t-shirt. People at home can tell how cold it is in the studio.”
Carrie Underwood, performing “Change,” reminded audiences why she is one of the most successful American Idol contestants and female country singer of all time. Her vocals were incredible, and she looked stunning in a short black and gold dress. As to be expected after such a performance, she received a standing ovation from the audience.
Mary J. Blige, singing “Stairway to Heaven,” also performed. Randy Jackson even joined her on stage to play guitar. I never understood the celebrity trend of wearing sunglasses indoors, and I thought it was even more inappropriate considering the whole point of the show was to promote emotional connections between human beings.
The bottom three consisted of Casey James, Aaron Kelly and Tim Urban. Thank you America for finally sending Tim Urban into obscurity. His fifteen minutes of fame ran out long before tonight, and his elimination was way overdue. He can thank the people at votefortheworst.com for helping him stay in the competition.
As this is the last American Idol article for the year, I’ll announce my predictions. Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze will be the top two, and the winner will probably depend upon their performances in the finale. Either way, both have to potential for successful careers.
Thank you to all who read my article each week, and good luck with finals.
Tracy Combs is a junior Communications Studies major. She can be reached at TC694114@wcupa.edu.