From over 100,00 contestants (well, potential contestants — Ryan likes to exaggerate), we’re down to a mere 5. That’s probably 5 too many, but we’ve stuck it out this long, haven’t we? Might as well see it through. It’s not like we have lives. Or good taste. This is American Idol. “I have seen a security hologram…of him…killing Younglings.”
Tonight’s guest mentor is Leo from Will & Grace, who I think is a singer of some kind. Oh, Harry Connick Jr.? Yeah, okay, whatever. Because he has no original songs of his own that anyone on Earth has ever heard, Leo is having the Idols interpret the songs of Frank Sinatra, who was famous for not being a good singer, getting drunk with Dean Martin, and stealing “New York, New York” from Liza Minnelli.
Leo is arranging the songs himself, because musical director Ricky Minor is leaving for the Leno show in June and the Idol producers want to ruin him. Ricky will spend this episode crying in the men’s room.
Meanwhile, the Daughters of Sinatra, Nancy and the other one, present Simon with a very special gift: one of Frank’s ratty old, monogrammed hankies. Simon says he will treasure it always, even if it’s full of thirty-year-old boogers.
Aaron Kelly will cover “Fly Me to the Moon,” which Leo instructs him to sing in a certain way. Specifically: sing it by using actual musical notes in the proper order. Aaron attempts this magical feat, but barely succeeds. But he’s wearing his big-boy vest and has his hair slicked back and it’s so cute when our little man plays dress-up that he gets a pass. Kara wants Aaron to command the stage like Sinatra, and, you know, sing well, sometimes. Simon thought it lacked conviction, but maybe Aaron simply isn’t interested in space travel.
Casey James is performing “Blue Skies,” but seems to spend most of his rehearsal time laughing at Leo, who Casey finds funnier than Tina Fey and the cast of 30 Rock. But he cleans up nicely on stage, with his hair pulled back so we can see his moon-face. Unfortunately, Casey sings like he’s being swung upside down over a lake of alligators while being fed a morphine drip. Terrible. The judges don’t even have words for the mess of this. But does it really matter? Will Casey, ever, ever in the real world sing a song like this again?
Crystal Bowersox will tackle “Summer Wind,” which she’s chosen for “personal reasons,” so mind your own B.I. business. Leo can’t even train her properly, he’s so overcome by the mystery of Crystal’s song choice. “I still don’t know why that song means something to her…I wanna try to figure it out. And whether I do know or not, to me, that’s the wonderful part about it.” Leo is also a fan of the Byzantine plots of Hart to Hart and to this day is pondering the wonders of the classic novel Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. Crystal looks more and more like a girl every week, and tonight she’s quite elegant in a long, fancy dress with those skeevy dreadlocks of hers styled towards the back of her head. Vocally she’s fine; performance-wise, she’s a little dull. The judges are like, yeah…sleepy. As as been the season, judges. Catch up.
Big Mike, ever-irritating, is singing “The Way You Look Tonight.” Leo wants Mike to “think of his girl,” of course, who is home, nursing their baby and doing other womanly things for her hard-working man, like mopping, dusting, and ovulating. Big Mike is a guy with a Theme. This song is definitely in his wheelhouse, and despite wearing a hat that makes him look like the King of Tools, this might be one of his best nights. So forget about him going home tomorrow. The judges kneel at the gloryhole of this performance.
Dweezil will sing “That’s Life,” but never mind rehearsing because all Leo wants to talk about is how cute Dweezil is and how he wants to nibble his earlobes and groom his chin-scruff. Dweezil performs this song with a bit of mumble, a dash of Ray Charles, and a vague slice, if you’re familiar, of Bobby Darin. There’s also a vibe of Jerry Lewis in the 23rd hour of the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, which is nice. The air of exhaustion lends authenticity to the performance, which the judges lurve heartily.
And that’s it! I like these shortie nights; five singers, five songs. Back in the Blake Lewis days, they’d have made these schmoes sing two songs apiece, leading to hours upon hours of aggravation for Your Humble Recapper. But the ratings are low this year. So thanks, Idol, for sucking greatly. Your crappiness has gifted me with free time.
So who goes home? The beautiful plus-size model who doesn’t believe in herself? Or the girl with the confident, dazzling looks who just can’t seem to take a good picture? Aaron Kelly, everyone but you is one step closer to being America’s Next Top Idol.