American Idol
Top Four: Performances

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: C | Grade It Now!
Take This Sinking Boat & Point It Home

Just four remain! Casey and Crystal and Lee and Big Mike, and Ryan with a big old goofy grin looking as excited as I feel that we're nearly done. These four, man, what is to say? Without Aaron Kelly it just looks like in-house suspension at a community college. Three stoners and Mike having been late to class one too many times because he was too busy saving kittens from trees and singing about it so everybody knows. In the audience: Taye and Idina! This mother is star-studded!

Jackson's wearing Izod, Ellen's rocking the keffiyeh once again, Kara's wearing a suit and Simon is wearing Simon clothes. More importantly, the Idols will be singing not only their Movie Week songs for our votes, but some extra Movie Week duets just for fun. I saw the song list they got to choose from and let me tell you, I am so excited about this week I can't stand it. I looooove these cheesy-ass songs. I can't even hazard a guess as to what they will sing because I don't care, it's going to be remarkable. I hope somebody sings the song from Titanic, in honor of Aaron Kelly.

Ryan explains the theme, starting with what movies are and then what music is and then what Movie Songs are, and then who Jamie Foxx is: "Jamie Foxx was here last year," Ryan says, while we revisit his terrible music once again. He was in some movies, and got an Oscar for pretending to be a dead person better than other dead-person impersonators once. In the mentoring nightmare he asks them who's going to win, and then explains that it is a trick question, so Crystal says cheerfully, "We're all winners!" He points at her like Jerry Maguire, because she is exactly right.

Music, Jamie explains, "really is the soundtrack to our lives." It also is "the soundtrack to our movies." Because we have heard songs before, and because we have seen movies before, the Idols are in a heap of trouble. Unlike every other week, when the annoying songs we've heard a million times before are the soundtrack to our lives but not our movies. Then he produces t-shirts for the Idols, which Ryan needs him to explain. This should be good.

"Obviously" they've "been through this" for "several weeks now," and he has devised a t-shirt lesson for them. On four shirts he has caused to be written CONTESTANT and on four more shirts he has written ARTIST. The challenge, and please do pay attention, is to earn from Jamie -- through singing songs -- the ARTIST t-shirt. But only if he feels you have earned it. Because, you see, if Jamie feels that you are a CONTESTANT, he will offer you a shirt that reads CONTESTANT. But if, and I hope you're following, America finds you to be an ARTIST, Jamie will give you a shirt reading ARTIST. He explains it one more time just in case your mind just got totally blown, and his gross chin-whiskers are coated in sweat from having to explain this complicated scheme on live TV. Should a person receive the ARTIST t-shirt, we will possibly see them in concert and buy their music from iTunes, but it's possible that even earning a CONTESTANT t-shirt might be okay. Just kidding. So then Ryan earns a CONTESTANT t-shirt and Simon gets an ARTIST t-shirt. Wait, start over.

Lee will be singing "Kiss From A Rose," which is I believe a song about kissing Chris O'Donnell after he is dead. Not really a win-win. Jamie explains to Lee that he has earned, on a probationary basis, an ARTIST t-shirt, but if in fact this proves to be premature, he will take the ARTIST t-shirt back and give Lee a shirt reading CONTESTANT instead. Got it.

Then Lee's beautiful voice attempts not to be incredibly dorky singing the incredibly dorky song about Chris O'Donnell's plastic nipples. This song, have you heard it? It makes no goddamn sense. It is one of the most mystifying songs in the history of words. Good thing it is so beautiful, and good thing Lee never makes sense anyway, because his general awesomeness and the song's general awesomeness add up to a completely content-free wonderful sound... Aw, damn. That last word he throws that Duritz on there so it sounds like the light is hitting the gloom on the grive. God, I hate when he does that.

Jackson wonders if Lee will ever earn the ARTIST t-shirt, and says that he did nothing with the song and that it didn't work and why didn't he sing "Blaze Of Glory" or something Jackson wanted him to sing. Ellen agrees that it wasn't really ARTISTed but that it sounded bad-ass, and how are you supposed to sing that song in an interesting way when the whole point of the song is the melody? There is nothing going on with that song at all that isn't the melody. You could do it with guitars I guess, like Cook would have, but I think there is not a way for that to sound anything other than wussy and lame. I don't know. Kara calls it "one of the most difficult songs," and I would agree insofar as it is one of the most difficult songs to understand, since it makes no sense, but not really with her point that it's a hard song to sing, because it is not. He hit nearly every note, even the high ones that were questionable.

Bottom line, though, Kara recognizes that he is awesome; Simon agrees with Randy that Lee picked a weird one for him to sing, and ended up in a karaoke place. Okay, I get what they're saying now: It was the choice that made it impossible, not anything he could have done after that. Simon offers him a t-shirt reading CONTESTANT, and then Lee babbles at Ryan for a bit. Fucking stupid America actually cheers when he goes, "I liked it, so I sang it." YEAH! AMERICA! Liking things is so ballsy!

What pressures has Mike been under lately? I don't know, but they have been on his "back" and also on his "heart and soul," and also his baby and America and the city that he comes from. He mentions his hometown several times, not really in any context at all, because that's how his brain works. Mike wonders if Jamie Foxx really thinks he should even be on this show, and Jamie decides that they should dance together, and also that Mike should hit him. Agreed. He gamely plays the stupid t-shirt game, but you can tell it hurts him.

Mike sings that Michael Jackson song about the River Jordan, and he does so poorly but with much drama. I mean, what was I going to say about Mike? Crummy but dramatic is his stock in trade. He does the best impersonation of a contestant on this show we have seen since Scott Savol, and with a much better voice. If Paula were here she would have climbed her rickety ass up onstage by now just to be closer to the unending puppet show jukebox of drama fakeness he's all about. She would just die.

Jackson hated it, once again because he didn't stay in his Jackson-invented box, which is even dumber when he does this on Mike because he still hasn't figured out that Mike is not actually an R&B singer and never has been. Ellen mentions Free Willy and then makes fun of him for saying his "goal" was to make Top Three. Kara brings up songs that Mike sang that weren't ridiculous and silly, or at least not in this same way. Mike whines that he will be singing once again, and Simon wonders at length what that movie is even about, and there are dick jokes on live TV, and he praises Mike for even trying and his ability to "mean" such a saccharine, silly song. Ryan asks Ellen to explain Free Willy to Simon and she refuses and Ryan says he'll find out eventually. Then Mike launches himself over the stage and back into the ocean.

Lee and Crystal making horrible faces, and then that annoying Kohl's commercial with Dr. Holland Kemble, and then the first duet. "Falling Slowly" by Lee and Crystal. This song is phenomenal and these two are amazing. They sing the song with their various tics intact -- he goes to the Duritz place at the jump -- but their voices sound fantastic together, and once it gets into the meat of the song, it's fairly wonderful. This is the best thing I've heard on this show in a long time, actually. I would buy this. I wo

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American Idol




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