While I sat and watched American Idol last night, I had to remind myself throughout the show that theme was not "Ballads Gone Wild." I understand that Idol Gives Back is going on this week; however, with the theme being "Inspirational Songs," I felt more tired than inspired by the end of the show. (Rhyming not completely intentional.)
Multiple Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys was the mentor this week. I really thought she did a good job with trying to get the contestants to connect with their songs. For some, it worked; for others, not so much.
Guitar player, Casey James was up first last night singing Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop." Casey had the only upbeat song of the night, but there was such an emotional disconnect going on during his performance.
Like I have been saying for weeks now, Casey needs to put the guitar down and show that he can really sing. I think taking the time for the slight guitar solo, wasting bars in the song that he could be singing, only proves that he's more into showing off his guitar skills than he is about showing off his singing voice (or lack thereof).
The judges seemed to see things from my perspective, saying that Casey was becoming boring by just going up on stage and playing guitar every week. Even Ellen DeGeneres told him that now that they were in the Top Seven, all of the contestants were really going to need to step it up. It was the first time that Casey really got a mouthful from all the judges, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Lee Dewyze was up next singing Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer." During his mentoring session with Alicia Keys, she had Lee read the lyrics of the song aloud, so he could feel what he was singing. No big shock here, I loved Lee's performance. I thought it was a great song choice for him. You could feel the sincerity in the lyrics he was singing. Another big improvement was that Lee looked comfortable on stage. His "deer in the headlights" look never showed up during his performance once. He is finally building a much needed stage presence, which is nice, because he looked calm and collected.
I have to agree with Kara DioGuardi who said that this performance was Lee's moment. I think he has had a couple performances in the past that were really good and served as momentum for him to truly break out and leave it all on the stage. Simon Cowell told Lee that he "made the song sound as if it had been written a week ago." Simon ended his critique of Lee's performance by calling it "brilliant."