We’re officially knighting Shania Twain as the American Idol mascot of Season 9—the country star was a guest judge during the audition rounds in Chicago (where she let loose her inner Abdul while salivating over long ago favorite John Park) and the Top 6 contestants rifled through her songbook last night as she acted as mentor. Sadly, none of the Idols decided to don a leopard catsuit or take on “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” (maybe that was Tim Urban’s pick?) but they did manage to entertain us through an artist-specific country night.
Why check out recap of the contestants performing Shania Twain’s biggest hits? As the singer would say herself, “Why Not?” Jump below to relive all of the Top 6ers best and worst moments.
Lee DeWyze – “You’re Still The One”
Lee is slightly off pitch at the start, but quickly finds his groove. He changes the song around enough to make it fit his rocker vibe—we could actually hear this version on the radio today and would be digging it. The most noteworthy thing about Lee, though, is how fastiduously he’s risen from just a throwaway finalist to somebody people look forward to hearing from each week. We think Lee’s underdog status and ability to improve throughout the competition definitely switched power positions between him and Casey James, who’s grown a bit predictable the last couple of weeks.
Michael Lynche – “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”
We really like Michael Lynche, who may have lost some buzz (and his almost elimination didn’t help), but has been one of the most consistently entertaining and proficient performers all season long. His gorgeous, R&B take on Shania’s forlorn ballad was pitch perfect—but at this point, we think Michael could leave the show at any point. (We’d like to see a Crystal/Michael finale, but unless Lee makes a major misstep in the next few weeks with a wrong song choice or foretting the words, we think DeWyze will be nabbing that spot.) On a sidenote, Simon calls his performance “wet”and we still have no idea what he’s talking about. Has Simon realized after nine seasons that he’s on an American television program and shouldn’t be using either British colloquialisms or made-up terms?
Casey James – “Don’t”
“It’s a singing song,” says Casey. ”I don’t think I’ve sang yet.” Despite making it to the Top 6 without, er, singing, Casey does a pretty great job with this slow song. It was sweet, tender, understated and showcased his vocals, and all four judges love it. On a more important note, however, Casey’s hair is out of control. It almost looks like he’s wearing a freakin’ wig.
Crystal Bowersox – “No One Needs To Know”
Extra, extra! Breaking news! Crystal gives yet another excellent performance! Mama Bowersox is onstage alongside a team of musicians, and even the rug is back! We’re not exactly feeling this slowpoke kind of song (neither is Simon, who calls the song “limp”), but Crystal can’t blow the lid off the house every single week by sobbing at the end of every song, can she? That would be much too try-hard (think Siobhan’s everpresent money note).
Aaron Kelly – “You’ve Got A Way”
Country night was destined to be the night for the twangy-voiced teen, and for the most part, Aaron pulled off this ballad. Even Simon was doling out the compliments (and causing Aaron to tear up! With his mom in the audience!). In fact, we may be warming up to Aaron after weeks and weeks of groaning at his unspectacular to mediocre performances. We think it’s only a matter of time (ie. tonight, perhaps) before Aaron gets voted off, but he at least can say he ended on a high note.
Siobhan Magnus – “Any Man of Mine”
Who knew Siobhan’s voice fit country music to a T? Shiv belted out the song with a healthy dose of attitude, wearing an outfit that was equal parts country western (white boots), 4th grade school photo day (a poofy floral print frock) and bondage (was that thing strapped around her chest meant to hold her boobs up?). At this point, the screechy, loud power note at the end of a Siobhan performance is a requirement. We’re not exactly sure if we’d be relieved or angry if she decided to get rid of it. (Also, can she please, please, please wear this outfit next week?)
Best of the Night: We’re hopping on Team DeWyze, who may not have given a perfect performance, but his rocker interpretation of “You’re Still The One” (probably our favorite Shania song as well) was the most memorable of the night.
Worst of the Night: It’s hard to find a worst tonight is a night of mostly entertaining and powerful performances. But we think either Aaron or Michael are in trouble tonight, just because somebody’s got to go.
Most Unfortunate Quote of the Night: It’s a tie between “All aboard the Shania Twain!” and ”Way to pull the Shania Twain into the station!” as uttered Ellen DeGeneres, as she made a little “choo choo” hand signal to boot. Dear god. We’re almost wishing Shania replaced Paula instead of Ellen.
Final Thoughts: The competition has definitely reached the point where everyone pretty much deserves to be there. It’ll be interesting to see how the contestants kick up their game—we think even Crystal is in trouble of getting voted off unless she finds a way to revitalize her performances each week. Audiences get bored easily, and giving great performances isn’t enough—you’ve got to keep viewers interested not only while wactching the show, but the morning after when they blog about what blew them away the night before.
Also, we certainly don’t miss his singing, but we do miss Tim Urban’s smile. Sigh.