What do a paint salesman, a high school student, a glass blower, a mother, a father, and a construction worker have in common? They're all still in the running to become the next American Idol. Their lives have been changed forever, but so have many other lives thanks to the $45 million Idol Gives Back raised. Nice job! You can still donate - visit IdolGivesBack.org.
This week, the fabulous guest judge from this season's Chicago auditions, Shania Twain, mentored the Top 6 as they sang her songs. Poor John Park must be so upset he didn't make it to the Top 6 for one-on-one time with his lady. I wonder if Shania will tell anyone else, "You have a beautiful bottom end." We saw footage of Shania's successful career path and clips from her hot music videos. She sure wore many interesting outfits, but my absolute favorite is her leopard print bell bottoms with a matching bandeau bra top and hoodie. I'm wearing that to the Idol finale party. Can't wait!
Lee DeWyze, who met Shania during his Chicago audition, was up first. He chose to sing the popular Shania song, "You're Still The One," but when he played it for the mentor, she observed that he was rushing the song along on his guitar. She encouraged him to start a capella and then join in with the guitar. Lee took Shania's advice and started and ended the song with just his voice. When he was through performing, the crowd wouldn't let Randy get a word in. Once they settled down, Ellen told Lee he was "all aboard the Shania Twain" [toot toot!] and Kara borrowed from the song's lyrics and said, "Look how far YOU'VE come," but left out the "my baby".
Ryan read off two numbers. Yes, we're at that point in the competition where each contestant has two lines. Does that mean we'll be hearing a personal "Thanks for calling for me, [Lee]" tonight?
In other big news, the American Idol LIVE! Tour 2010 has been announced. Check out this site for more details about tickets. Soon the message boards will be buzzing with which color to wear to support your favorite. I wonder if Crystal's fans will sprout dreadlocks to show their support.
When Michael Lynche sang "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" for Shania, she was moved. She encouraged him not to take phonebook singing for granted. Just as Tyra Banks would say "you can't rest on being pretty," Michael can't just rest on the fact that he has a good voice. As Shania put it, "The ones that make it in the end are the ones that connect the most." Big Mike started his performance while sitting on the "Staircase to Nowhere." He definitely connected with the song, because by the end of the performance the camera captured a teary-eyed Shania. As a woman who co-writes all of her songs, that one must've had deep feelings behind it. Shania even cries beautifully. Ellen and Simon were seeing eye-to-eye when Ellen said that the performance reminded her of Luther Vandross, and Randy said Michael's in his niche -- of course he said "zone" not "niche" -- as a love song balladeer.
The judges wanted to see something new from Casey James this week, and he made the drastic change from singing "Don't Stop" last week to "Don't" this week. At this rate he'll be singing "Don't Stop Believin'" by next week! "Ooooooh" was the sound I made when Shania and Casey sang a few notes of the song together in his rehearsal footage. That sounded beautiful. Out of all the weeks, Casey said he's most excited about his song this week (I feel like we've heard him say this before), and he took his spot back on his lucky stool where the light illuminated his golden curls and made him look like an angel, as Andrew Garcia astutely observed. Casey always sounds much more emotional and seems more connected when he gives these stripped down performances. Randy, Ellen, and Simon called this Casey's best performance yet, and Kara said if he keeps this up he'll be at the front of the pack. Simon had Casey give Shania a kiss on the lips. Somewhere in Chicago, a tear just ran down John Park's face. Something makes me think Casey always gets the girl!
Crystal Bowersox sat in a stool next to Ryan in a short (for Crystal) strapless dress. She met Shania back in Chicago and Shania signed her guitar, and Crystal mentioned that Shania is always glowing. It's so true! I thought it was just soap opera-type lighting, but no one around her is glowing quite like she is. I guess that's just her aura...and her sequin jacket. Crystal rehearsed "No One Needs To Know" for Shania, and she talked about how the sweet love story applies to her life. She is using this song as a way to drop some subtle, yet not so subtle since she's announcing it to 30 million viewers, hints to her man. I guess their commitment ceremony officiated by Elvis in Vegas wasn't enough...and who can blame the mom (plus, her man's cute)! While standing on her rug with her lamp mic stand, Crystal sang the cheery song. All of the judges talked about how they love Crystal, but that this performance wasn't as special as some of her others. Crystal said, "Bigger isn't always better," and everyone darted looks at Simon Cowell. I'm sure the man would disagree in some respects -- he likes his big paycheck, big cars, big house, big bus...
This is the genre for Aaron Kelly -- pop country. Shania taught him to be more secure in his decisions. Aaron sang "You've Got A Way," but chose to omit the lyrics, "It's in the way we make love." Kara caught on to this switch, and Aaron explained that he didn't want to sing it since he's just a kid and he dedicated it to his mom. He is such a good 17 year old -- nervous to sing about booze in "Blue Suede Shoes" and making love in "You've Got A Way." Heck, when I was 17 my potty mouth and I were in college. Ellen was impressed with his maturity at 16 years old, and Aaron corrected her that he's 17, to which Ellen brilliantly stated, "Well then I'm not as impressed now." Overall, the judges thought that Aaron gave a great performance and showed maturity, sincerity, and believability.
Wrapping up a night of solid performances was Siobhan Magnus. She took on the up-beat Shania hit "Any Man Of Mine," and Shania encouraged Siobhan to perform it with attitude. In a season of singer-songwriters, Siobhan changes it up by moving around the stage and behind the judges. She also got the audience clapping along with her. After a few weeks of holding back, Siobhan brought back her signature scream. The judges liked her performance very much and were glad to have Siobhan back. Ellen brought her comments full circle by saying "Way to pull the Shania Twain into the station." Although he's not a country fan, Simon admitted to really liking this song, but he compared Siobhan's scream to giving birth. Someone should create a mash-up of this scream and Danny Gokey's "Dream On" scream.
After 6 solid performances, I have absolutely no idea who is going home, or even who is in the bottom. The other question is, will the contestants be divided into two groups and one is in the bottom or will they be in three groups of two and only two are in the bottom? Only time will tell, but until then I'm going to dial in some votes for the finalists and see if they greet me with their own voices.