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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol 9, Apr. 27 – That Impressed Me Much


Not that I’m a huge Shania Twain fan, but I’m really interested to see how she’ll do as mentor tonight. I liked her as a guest judge, and we know she liked John Park. Her music will be an interesting fit on these Idols, none of which have a country edge, unless you count Casey James, who has a little bit of Southern rock in him. So it’ll be interesting to see how they turn these songs around to fit them.

Shania tells the artists she wants to see the songs come alive. She lived them and wrote them, but they really have to interpret them as if they wrote them themselves. She thinks the songs can lend themselves to any style, as when she writes them, she writes them bare bones. Crystal refers to her as the queen of country music and an icon. Aaron thinks she’s a great songwriter, and Casey believes the week will be amazing for everyone. Shania agrees and says she’ll be sitting on the edge of her seat. She knows the four guys will be especially challenged, and jokes she was disappointed to not hear them sing Man I Feel LIke a Woman.

The first Idol Shania meets with is Lee Dewyze, who she first met in Chicago, and she thought he was great then. He’s singing You’re Still the One, and when he played the guitar and sang it for her, she thought he was rushing it a bit. She asks him to resing it with just his voice and the piano, and says he has a fantastic sound that needs to not be buried by his guitar. Yet, when he comes out onstage tonight, he’s got his guitar strapped around him. He starts singing with the guitar accompaniment real lightly to not drown it out and performing it more slowly. He still seems so much more comfortable onstage. It’s not my favorite Lee song, but I think he did really well with it. In no way does it sound like he’s singing a woman’s song, as he once again makes it seem like a new song.

Randy Jackson tells Lee it’s one of his favorite songs of all time, and one of the greatest ones ever written. He was a little worried about him doing the song and it started out a little pitchy, but midway through the song, he found a way to make it his own and found his sweet spot, doing a pretty good job with it. Ellen DeGeneres thinks he did better than a pretty good job, and thinks everything he takes, he makes it his own. It always sounds like his version, instead of him singing someone else’s song. He couldn’t look cuter. She toots the horn and announces, “All aboard the Shania Twain.”

Kara DioGaurdi tells Lee the sound of his voice on every song makes it sound so relevant, and all she could think of were the lyrics, “look how far we’ve come,” as she wants him to look at how far he’s come. It’s a love song, and she doesn’t know if he related to the love part of it, but he cracked a smile a few times, making her think maybe he was feeling it. Simon Cowell agrees with everything the others said, and thought it was absolutely the perfect song out of Shania’s catalog for him to sing. When he watches it back, he thinks he’ll notice he was pulling some kind of weird faces. Kara thinks he was smiling, but Simon disagrees. He starts blushing and smiles more, and Kara just keeps talking about it. Simon doesn’t get to finish, and is quite upset.

Michael Lynche meets up with Shania and announces he is singing It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing. She says she was very moved to hea r his voice to her lyrics and melody. He finds a lot of strength and vulnerability in the song. She tells him when he’s done that he’s one of the guys who can sing the phonebook and people will still melt. Yet, she doesn’t want him to take it for granted, as the people in the end will be those who feel it the most. It’s one of her favorite songs and fills her up emotionally and he just takes it to another place. He sings tonight from Adam’s stairs and does put every bit of emotion he has into it, similar to This Woman’s Work. Again, it doesn’t sound like a country song at all, so he’s succeeding into turning into something of his own.

Randy tells Mike he found his zone with this, as he definitely has balladeer and an R&B kind of singer down. What he loves about a great song is no matter the genre it’s sung in, it works. Big Mike did a great job and is really in the zone of who he is, and he hopes he keeps that in the future, as there’s a wide open space out there for this. Ellen was a tiny bit nervous for him to take this on, but it felt like Luther Vandross singing to her. She felt the emotion and felt him getting into it. She knows he needed to follow her advice and show that emotion.

Kara notes that one of Shania’s incredible gifts is how connected she is when she sings. She always feels that from Mike, that he goes to that place that relates to him. The melody is so beautiful, and she thought it was great that he didn’t change too much, but changed it enough to put his mark on it. Simon knows what Ellen meant when she brought up Luther, calling it spot on and a good analogy. He felt the performance was a little bit wet, and Randy asks for a definition of that. Simon says like it was in a dryer, like a little bit girly. Kara tells him it is a girly song. Shania says she’s still teary and now needs makeup to fix it. He really did get her.

Casey James gets stool time with Ryan and talks about his critique last week and how it affected what he’s doing this week. He went back and watched all his performances since the beginning, and realizes he didn’t give anyone anything new last week. This week he’s doing that, and notes it’s a little different than what he’s done.

Because he finds it amazingly beautiful, Casey’s singing Don’t. Shania thinks he’s missing a little bit of inner confidence, and tells him that’s going to come out when he tells this story. She wants him to bring it inside and let it come out in his voice. He admits he couldn be more excited about this performance than others, as it gives him a chance to show a part of him he hasn’t shown yet. He sits on a stool out in the audience to sing, and from the first few words, I know he’s about to nail it. He’s right. This is something he didn’t show before, and something I called for when I handicapped this week. He had to hit the emotion. He did it a few times before, enough to know he could, so we were going to want it again. He’s even doing faces as he sings we haven’t seen before. He’s concentrating on singing, rather than performing or playing guitar for a change.

Randy says for him, this is one of the best Casey James performances ever. He hopes that he really learned something here. As for going forward, this could be a great thing to add to his wheelhouse to what he already does with the guitar. Ellen was gong to say the same exact thing. He sang it like it’s where he really belongs. And she’s not saying he should change, as she likes the Bob Seger rock thing he does, but she also thinks it’s his best performance so far.


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