American Idol: They Did It Their Way

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This was Frank Sinatra week on American Idol, with Harry Connick, Jr. himself on hand to coach the contestants and write the arrangements. Basically, it was a chance for Big Mike to kill it while the other contestants tried to keep up, which is pretty much what happened. Most genre weeks let the contestants each find something that's in their wheelhouse, but the only real crooner in the group is Michael Lynche, and as a result, his was the most natural performance of the night.

Backing up: Things got off to their normal start with Ryan doing his little spiel with the judges. For some reason, Anthony Hopkins and Rob Reiner were in the audience last night, presumably with grandchildren, or maybe just cruising for tail. Connick also got the obligatory video intro before the performances got under way. It's safe to say he's the most legit musician to appear on the show this season, in terms of vocal skill and instrumental prowess. Sure, will.i.am got close, but Connick edged him out with his whole actually-being-a-singer thing.

First up was Aaron, dressed as an extra from Catch Me If You Can, but his new vest and hair couldn't cover up the fact that he doesn't have the chops for a song like "Fly Me to the Moon." At all. Even the judges could only go so far as to give him an A for effort, as if not turning a song into a country ballad was somehow a great achievement. I'm pretty sure he was slotted first so producers could get him out of the way for the bigger singers.

Casey's "Blue Skies" was similarly rough, and Simon rightly pegged him as being nervous on stage. Casey's a fun performer, but mid-century standards are not his thing, and it showed. My money's on him or Aaron going home this week.

Crystal's "Summer Wind" was fine, and a solid enough performance to put her in the middle of the pack for this week, but Simon (again) was right when he told her that she's had two okay weeks in a row, and that it's time to step it up and finish big if she wants to win. I don't know yet what next week's theme is, but here's hoping Crystal can use it to return to her Americana/gospel roots.

Big Mike, though, absolutely killed with "The Way You Look Tonight," which was the perfect song and arrangement for him. He stumbled into his crooner/R&B success a few weeks into the show, and you know he's been waiting for a week like this one a long time. The timing is such that it might push him up in the rankings and give him a better shot at the title. He was easily the best of the night.

However, Lee was a close second. He closed the show with "That's Life," and he sang it so well that he probably earned more cred with the judges than Mike. Mike's already an easy listening guy, so succeeding this week was almost a given, but for Lee to perform so well in a genre so different from his preferred roots-rock shows the judges he's got more talent than they probably figured he did. Ellen said that if this were the final week, Lee could have won the title with his performance, and she might not be far off. This season will likely come down to Lee, Mike, and Crystal. I can live with that.

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