American Idol: 4 Finalists Compete 
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American Idol: 4 Finalists Compete 

I would love to know the process of choosing a song on movie night on Idol because I imagine the list from which the singers are allowed to choose must be, what, 10 songs long? Only that could explain the songs performed tonight. As Ryan pointed out in the intro, "Everyone loves the movies," hence, tonight's theme was songs from the brilliant history of cinema.  Jamie Foxx returned as mentor and, not to be outdone by Harry Connick, Jr. went so far as to make up t-shirts for the contestants, marked with either "Artist" or "Contestant" and doled them out as he saw fit.  He is no ordinary mentor who would just TELL you you're an artist or a contestant. No sir, he spent, what, $60 on these t-shirts because he is an Oscar-winning movie star and that's how they play.

Even before he started singing I thought it was odd that Lee chose "Kiss From a Rose," just because it doesn't seem to fit him.  Jamie did that thing he did to Danny Gokey last season where he got all up in Lee's face, which got him "Artist" tee for his troubles.  But I could tell right from Lee's "La de ta ta" intro that it wasn't the right song for him. He couldn't get the high notes and sounded just plain out of tune during some points, plus he mumbled the words pretty badly. He looked like he knew he did a shitty job.  The judges were disappointed but I was sick of Kara and Ellen giving him the old "Well it doesn't matter because you're awesome anyway" spiel.

I was surprised when Jamie gave Michael a "Contestant" t-shirt (which Mike declined), since I didn't think Jamie would have the balls to tell someone they weren't a shining star, but he did get his skull tattooed so maybe he is made of stronger stuff than I suspected.  Mike sang OK but "Will You Be There" was such a lame choice. Nothing about the song sounded contemporary and it was pretty disappointing for the Top Four.  The judges weren't so happy about it and Ellen made fun of the fact that the song came from Free Willy although I kind of liked the Ryan pointed out that she was in a movie about a sea-dwelling creature as well.

I'm really glad they brought back duets this season and I wish they introduced them earlier in the competition. I'd even take group night: if they have to do it during Hollywood Week, they should do it during the regular competition.  The first duet was Lee and Crystal singing "Falling Slowly." OK, you can't go wrong with that song, ever. Was it the best version of it? No, I'd say I actually liked Kris Allen's better (although the original was the best.)  I don't think Lee and Crystal really found their footing until the song picked up, but the harmony sounded great and once again I love a guy and a girl singing to each other, and I liked that they both played guitar. The camerawork during the song was a little extreme, swooping and swirling around them to the point where I felt sort of sick but the theater looked nice at least.  I wouldn't say it was worthy of all the adulation the judges gave it but it was definitely the best performance of the night so far. I thought it was cute the way they stood beside each other after they song with Crystal's guitar on her back as she fingered Lee's fingerboard.

But then we were back in weird song-ville. Casey sang "Mrs. Robinson" and earned Jamie's "Artist" shirt for once again being able to sing to Jamie while Jamie looked at him (Jamie never had a single comment about whether, say, a note was out of tune).  Casey played the mandolin and sat off to the side on the stage in a teal leather jacket. It was a pleasant version of the song but I have no idea why he chose that selection and did relatively so little with it. It kind of drives me crazy because he could have done "The Sounds of Silence" and had it be a lot more meaningful. Also, his p's sounded like f's. Anyway, the judges made some jokes at Kara's expense about "Mrs. Robinson" (who, according to Kara, is the main focus of The Graduate) but overall were pretty unimpressed. Simon summed it up by saying that it didn't have the substance required of Top Four night. Case didn't look very happy at all during his time onstage.

I was surprised, in a good way, by Crystal. When I think of "I'm All Right" from Caddyshack I think of the battery-operated motion-sensing dancing gopher that sat in the office of my alcoholic boss at my first job in advertising, IE, bad times.  I never thought very much about the song to be honest, I just wrote it off as stupid movie (sorry), stupid song.  But Crystal was the only one of the contestants who actually changed the song up and when she slowed it down, the lyrics actually sounded like they applied to her.  I agreed with Randy that it wasn't my favorite performance of hers but she belted and sounded defiant and funky and by far it was the best solo performance of the night. "Artist" t-shirt all the way. And give one to her boyfriend to wear with his American flag pants. Simon declared her back in the game, wink.

I realized that I think of both Casey and Mike as already being gone so I think I started hating on their version of "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" before they started singing but it's a sweet song and they sounded good, like Crystal and Lee, once the song picked up steam and they sang in harmony. Like Lee and Crystal they also sounded good on their guitars. The judges all confessed that they liked the duets more than the solos.

I still can't figure out why someone doesn't go with a James Bond theme on movie night, especially a guy, but there must be something goofy about the song selection process (this was the third time that song from Don Juan DeMarco was used on this show and I don't think that movie was that popular.)  Anyway, I expect that either Mike or Casey will be heading home, as they both seem to have checked out of the competition.  But sweet Leonard Pierce will guide you through eliminations tomorrow night, as I will be off doing whatever it is I do.

--Was the soft focus on the judges always so extreme this season and I just noticed it now?

--I am confused, what did Ellen mean when she said "Yes, I have loved a woman"? Does her husband know about this?

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