Jamie Foxx. He's an Oscar winner and has sold his fair amount of R&B records. He's also been a mentor on American Idol before. Last season, he got all up in people's grills. And he did it again this one. Foxx Face!
This time, though, he gave out T-shirts with big words on them: There was "Artist"--which would, I think, be more of a benefit/warning to co-workers and people on the street--and there was "Contestant." Foxx couldn't really explain if the Contestant shirt was bad or not, but he did say Ryan could have both. Not sure if that means what I like to believe that means, but I do think maybe I like Foxx better than I thought.
I also think there should have been an "Artestant" or "Contist" just for the sake of confusing the recipient. (Oh, fake words on T-shirts, you are so under-loved.) Someone make me one. K, thanks.
Anyway, this week, we're down to the Final Four--and they've got a HUGE genre with "songs of the cinema" (but in reality probably very few choices). So, this time, I'm just going to give a rundown of what everyone did, for comparison's sake.
That makes it more interesting, because, well, I get to be more judgmental. Kinda like RyCrest, but taller.
Lee DeWyze chose Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" (Batman Forever) and then napped right on through it. Really?! Why the hell would anyone pick that song? Someone in our office once lost a dart game and had to have that as his ringtone for a week. It's not an ideal choice for midi or vocal contests, It just isn't, Lee. Big Mike Lynche took on Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There" (Free Willy) but rather than making it a whale of a song [rimshot!] it was, well, just all right. The gospel choir wasn't put to good use and while he was into it, something was just off. And while we're on Mike, can wardrobe please find him a shirt that doesn't choke his massive guns? It's uncomfortable to look at. Now that I think on it, maybe he should've chosen a song from Hulk--then he could bust out of his shirt at the end.
Crystal Bowersox and Lee were the first to perform a duet and while they chose a predictable number, "Falling Slowly" from Once, they performed it well. I actually liked Lee the most I have all season, which is not all that much, but way more in comparison. I think it was the natural chemistry between them that amped it up. It was magic. But in all seriousness, it was above average.
Then Casey James, our Fort Worth boy, got his solo moment of the night. But before the break, RyCrest teased CJ's song choice, and if you'll think back to another contestant's performance that really pissed me off
, you can probably guess what I was dreading all the way through those cell phone and Robin Hood
Yes, that's right. Casey James would just have to go and perform Simon & Garfunkel. Seriously.
RyCrest intro'ed CJ as the "pride of
Cool, Texas" which is a strange turn of phrase but whatever. (It's probably some Casey Kasem quote
I've never heard before.) Then we got to see Jamie Foxx getting all Texas-happy in the mentor video package. He was slow-clapping and saying he "always loves somebody from Texas." It was neat and, at the same time, mildly threatening in an "Oh, yeah, Texas boy, bring it on! I fuckin' dare ya!" sorta way. I liked it.
CJ strummed his mandolin and softly hummed "Mrs. Robinson" (The Graduate) for Foxx and apparently the fishermen's children and forest elves that were just out of the camera's range--because kids and elves are exactly the sort of audience it sounded like he was playing it for; if I had to guess, I'd go with Appalachian elves, but I'm not up on my folklore.
Foxx noticed CJ wasn't focused and so he told him, "Act as if I'm a woman, look right at me and seduce me." But he said he knew it wasn't about that, really (because clearly, he'd already been seduced by those flowing golden locks). No, it was about Casey looking past the Foxxster (and aforementioned elves) and understanding what it means to be an artist. I'm not clear what that meant, exactly, except that if I ever become a singer, I'm going to assume that I can look through someone rather than at them and they'll think that not only am I feeling them, but I'm a real artist. Right? I'm going with it.
Casey admitted that the moment between Foxx and him was intense and changed the feel of the song. And Foxx said, with more of his odd, convoluted logic, "If you can get past me looking in your eyes and asking you to seduce me, you can really perform that song." He gave CJ the "Artist" shirt, in case you were wondering. And when their hands grazed during the exchange, I like to think both noticed an electrical charge, but neither said a word, preferring to channel that incredible mutual seduction into silk-screening more T-shirts and performing, respectively.
Must've been a big change, for true, because CJ's performance wasn't nearly as namby-pamby as it came across in rehearsal. In fact, it was sorta impressive, if only because he showed off his folk sensibilities and the simple beauty of his voice. I'm not saying I loved it, but it did grow on me as it went on. It also seemed like a weirdly soul-baring performance from CJ and his tiny strings. And the tween girls that swayed around him on cue from the producers even felt the desire to sway of their own volition.
Randy didn't think he changed it up much, so apparently Randy's never heard "Mrs. Robinson" before. There were no harmonies, the addition a mandolin, changes to the melody. So, not sure I follow. He was more interested in making jokes about the subject matter and how it related to Casey... and Kara. Ugh. That's so April 2010, Randy.
Ellen thought they should have given CJ a "big boy guitar." And everyone laughed. And Casey made a joke that may or may not have been a double entendre about his wang. It wasn't clear and I'm glad they didn't push it, really. Ellen said she liked the changes to the song but wished he had gone further with making it different.
Kara, or Mrs. Robinson as they called her, felt the performance was Casey's fight to stay in the competition. She noted that he broke from his electric jam band vibe and went the vulnerable and up-front route, and she felt it was a good choice.
Simon cleared the bull-shit and asked what The Graduate
was about. He doesn't know--being British and all. Kara made it all about her--which was totally gross--and then Simes moved on to say: "Casey, back to you, because this is an important night of your life and I get that. Personally, I didn't think the song or the performance had the substance required on this important night for you. I didn't. I thought it was a little bit lazy and I think that you could've made more of an impact. But I do think there have been some very strange song choices tonight and that was one of them."
Fair enough. And props to the Brit for paying attention to the song and not some soapy judge-contestant romance.
Crystal then took on Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright" (Caddyshack). Yay for the song choice! It was totally unexpected and FYI, regardless of his presence on adult contemporary radio, Kenny Loggins' music is damn hard to play. She jazzed it up and put a funky twist on it and I dug it. I love me some Loggins anyhow (no shame), but she really owned that shit. Hey, maybe Lee should've turned his ballcap around backwards and chosen "Meet Me Halfway." (Apologies--not really--for obscure Kenny Loggins soundtrack references. "Don't Fight It," I can't help myself. I think I might be headed for the..."DANGERZONE!")
The final duet came from CJ and Big Mike who asked one another (c/o Bryan Adams and Don Juan DeMarco) "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" It was a little awkward, what with all the tast[ing] and breath[ing] her parts, but the harmonies were all right, as were Casey's flamenco guitar jaunts. And they waited to make eye contact until the very end, capping it off with what appeared to be a loving fist bump.
Jamie Foxx enjoyed the show and the artistic imprint the singers put on the simple movie tunes. He really loves any variation of the word "artist."
He wants, next week, to see the caterpillars turn to butterflies, so there ya go.
Tonight's performers include Daughtry, Fantasia and Bon Jovi and, of course, there will be results.
I'm not going to guess the bottom--we all know my record is atrocious--but I will say my least favorites were Lee and Mike.