Top 4 Performance Night: Sputtering To The End

You’re supposed to be excited getting into the Idol Top 4 episode. This year, though, it’s different. To be blunt, the season has been outrageously flat. There’s not much excitement to be had with the season coming to an end. Say what you will about Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, but it was a compelling matchup to watch. This year is just not in that category.

Normally I do the songs from best to worst, but I’ll do it by performance order this week. I will, however, discuss the duets separately.

It’s a good thing Lee DeWyze‘s solo came in first of the night. It was pretty awful. I would have put it as a mediocre performance, at best, in an earlier week. It was barely above “competent”, and honestly if I’m still thinking about basic singing competence in the top 4, that is a massive serving of fail.

Michael Lynche wasn’t appreciably better. It was competently sung – the notes seemed to be in the right places – but it just went nowhere. There was no emotion, no feeling, no heart in it. Just… no.

Casey James made an… interesting choice, to be honest. Mrs. Robinson is not the most technically tough song, and neither was Casey’s version. He didn’t change it an awful lot, but he did enough to at least have a decent go at making it his own. The downside? Casey still can’t express emotions worth a damn. It was an interesting attempt to (sort of) change up a song that didn’t work all that well.

In a night full of cheese and sappy songs, I will give Crystal Bowersox some credit. She chose the only song that was anywhere near entertaining. It wasn’t her best performance – by her standards it was just good – but there wasn’t any real competition for her on the night.

What about the duets? They were both pretty good, and while I wouldn’t go as far as saying they were better than all the solo numbers – Crystal’s solo was the only real competition there, though – they were both pretty good. Let’s not get carried away, though. Neither was close to last year’s Slow Ride.

Overall, it was a very meh episode. Crystal was her usual self, but she wasn’t brilliant. The same could be said for the duets. Casey was a mixed bag at best, and both Lee and Big Mike did poorly with their solos. Three okay-to-good songs, three disappointing ones… I can’t help but be underwhelmed.

Here’s how I rank the night for the top four:

  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Casey James
  3. Michael Lynche
  4. Lee DeWyze

A Singing Competition Without Singing: Is it just me, or we’re getting less and less singing every year? So far we have 135 total performances in competition. With the six we get for both the top 3 and finale, that brings us to a total of 141 songs. That’s admittedly more than last year, but that is the lowest total for any year with a top 24 format.

It’s easy to see where the change happened: from Season 2 to Season 7, two-song nights began in the top 5. Last year that stopped, and this top 4 “duet” idea began.

The end result, it seems, is that we are having Idol seasons that are becoming less and less about the music. Not only are the songs getting fewer, they’re not getting any longer. It used to be that in the later stages of the show songs wouldn’t be as horribly chewed up as they were earlier. Now, though… the songs are just as badly cut up as they were at the start of the competition.

Here’s a simple thought for the marketers running the survey that’s floating around. At it’s core, Idol is a show about music. Everything else should be secondary to that. There should be as much music as you can fit in the TV format, and it should be as high-quality as you can manage. This year has been a failure on both counts. It is that simple.

Get Thee A Dartboard: Let’s be honest – if I told you I had reasons X, Y, and Z why so-and-so would leave, I’d be lying. Anyone could go home this week.

Well, except one person. Crystal’s not going home. Beyond her, though, you could make a compelling case for everyone. Lee was not great. Big Mike wasn’t great, and he was last before, so he’s weaker than the rest. Casey is splitting votes. I could make the situations for each very complex, and detailed, and we’d have no idea which really is the case.

So, in the end, I’m really just guessing. And relying on my years of Idol-watching that guide my instincts. And those tell me…

TIG pick: Casey James to go home.

3 Responses to “Top 4 Performance Night: Sputtering To The End”

  1. anonymous says:

    I took that survey and gave them a lot of negatives.

    After this week, I could care less which one goes home and which one wins. I’m looking more forward to the guests on results nights for the rest of the season than the performances by the contestants.

    My theory is that perhaps the more talented singers are waiting for X-Factor to start.

  2. Sue says:

    With Lee and Casey in the final 3. it’s going to be hard for Crystal to win. The 2 guys share too many avid voting fans. I wish her the best of luck.

  3. Saphron says:

    I hated the Slow Ride duet. It’s a song with too many pauses, and both singers were in this eye-rolling “oh, we’re both so fabulous!” mindset…ugh. It’s frankly a cliche to keep saying nothing in the world ever tops that silly duet.

    I don’t think Casey gave a crap about that Mrs. Robinson song…but emotion was very evident in the duet. As it was in JG earlier this season. That doesn’t make him the most emotive person, but he’s capable of it when it’s the right song. How much emotion have we really seen out of Lee? And remember that Carrie chick? She was extremely robotic.