Tonight's theme for the Top 4 on American Idol is songs from the movies, with an assist from mentor Jamie Foxx.
He wants them to prove their worth as artists, rather than contestants.
First up is Lee DeWyze with "Kiss From the Rose on the Grave." While he's practicing, Jamie gets up in his face to test him. He says he needs to bring it from the inside to the outside. His performance is ... OK, I guess. Nothing really jumps out at me, and that's really sad at this point in the competition. Randy Jackson says he didn't do anything with the song, and it was just "OK." Ellen DeGeneres agrees that more could have done, but still, "you're so good." Kara DioGuardi says he was great last week, but that is just a really hard song and not a great arrangement, so it didn't work. But, "you are still great, and I can hear you on the radio." Simon Cowell says he agrees with Randy and wishes he'd picked a great rock song or some other song he could make his own. He thinks it was a karaoke performance.
Michael Lynche is singing "Will You Be There." Jamie thinks he's thinking too much that he shouldn't be in the Top 4, and he's wrong. In the run through, Mike forgets his words a bit and he's upset with himself. In the performance, he remembers the words, and it's OK, but same thing as with Lee: There's not much new going on here. Randy says this is a great song, and he didn't love this for him, and it didn't ever take off. Ellen thinks it's weird that his goal a year ago was to get into the Top 3, but it should be to win. Also, she thinks his performance was a little predictable. Kara wanted goosebumps like from some of his previous performances, and it didn't happen. Simon is mostly just confused about what "Free Willy," the film that is the source of the song, is. Also, he didn't really get it, but he thought Mike gave it his all.
The first duet of the evening is Lee and Crystal Bowersox. They sing "Falling Slowly" from the film "Once." Nice choice for showing them off, I think. The camerawork is dizzying, but the performance is great. Definitely the best thus far. Randy says this was a great song by two great singers. Ellen says they are the new Captain and Tennile. Kara says this is one of her favorite moments of the whole season. Simon says he would call it a fantastic song. I'm hoping this marks a change for the rest of the show.
Next is Casey James, who is singing "Mrs. Robinson." Jamie says Casey was unfocused during the performance, and he tells Casey to "seduce me." Really, he just wants him to focus. Casey plays ukulele and sings, and it's definitely a slightly different take on the song. It's kind of charming and nice, but not really ground-breaking. Casey's voice sounds pretty good, though. Less bleaty than last week. Randy wants to know why he chose this song, and Simon points at Kara. He thinks Casey sounded cool, but he's not jumping up and down. Ellen says she wishes they would have given him a big-boy guitar. She likes that he came back from last week with something different, but she wishes he'd pushed it further. Kara says this is him fighting to stay in the competition, so she thinks it was a good choice, which makes the rest of the panel crack up. Simon doesn't think the song or performance had the substance required for this important night.
Crystal chooses a song from "Caddyshack" because she wants to lighten the mood. Her song is "I'm All Right." Jamie tells her she needs to be confident and turn that song into a testimony. She sings with feeling and power -- it feels like a tell-off to the judges. I'm not in love with it, but it's certainly the strongest solo of the night by a long shot. Randy says it wasn't his favorite, but he likes that she switched it up to make it fit her. Ellen says she made that song better. Kara agrees with Ellen and she declares, "ARTIST! ARTIST! ARTIST!" Simon says he isn't going to ask what that movie is about, but he definitely thinks she is back in the game.
The last duet is Casey and Mike with "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." They both are a lot more loosened up and having more fun, but Lee and Crystal were in a whole other league. Randy loved the guitar playing and Mike's sultry tones. Ellen says yes, she has loved a woman. That's literally all she says. Kara says the duets tonight were incredible. Simon thinks all the duets were a million times better than the solos.
In fact, I'd like to see more duets. But the show is actually over. I think Crystal is in good shape, but I don't know about everyone else.
Mostly, I'd like to be a fly on the wall while Kara, Ellen and Randy make Simon watch "Free Willy."