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'American Idol' tackles Shania Twain tunes

Shania Twain guest stars on Tuesday's episode of "Crystal Bowersox & Friends." Show host Ryan Seacrest introduces the Crystal Bowersox Repertory Theatre cast members according to their occupation. There's:

Crystal Bowersox hits a sour note with her rendition of Shania Twain's "No One Needs to Know." (Michael Becker -- Fox) Click on image to see gallery of performance highlights from last night.

The Paint Salesman, played by Lee DeWyze
The High School Student, played by Aaron Kelly
The Glassblower, played by Siobhan Magnus
The Mother, played by this year's presumed "American Idol" winner Crystal Bowersox
The Father, played by Michael Lynche
The Construction Worker, played by Casey James.

Seabiscuit notes last week's "Idol Gives Back" raised more than $45 million.

First out on stage: Lee DeWyze, who has picked "You're Still the One" to sing. It's a good tune choice for Lee because the judges are sure to love its "looks like we made it" bits, what with those lyrics reinforcing the storyline the judges have created for Lee about his working on overcoming his inner inhibitions. Sure enough, judge Kara DioGuardi tells Lee, " 'Look how far we've come' -- look how far YOU'VE come!" She also notes that Lee actually smiled once or twice during his performance. But Simon Cowell believes that when Lee watches back his performance, he will realize he was making some kind of "weird faces" but it wasn't a smile. But Kara insists it was a nice smile. Cut to Lee, who is smiling in a pained sort of way. "Keep that face!" demands Kara, who is wearing a large lump of anthracite coal on her chest tonight in a show of support for American energy independence.

During her time at-bat, Ellen The Generous looks so darned pleased you know she's about to let fly with one of her prepared jokes. "Every song you take, you make it your own," she tells Lee, adding "you couldn't look cuter...and I say, 'All aboard the Shania Twain!'." Ellen makes a train whistle-tooting gesture and looks around to see the audience's reaction while the rest of us attempt to overcome a nauseous feeling.

Michael Lynche has decided to sing the Twain tune about how it only hurts when he's breathing. In his current state of gigantic-ness, we believe him entirely. Twain warns Michael that though he is one of those people who can sing the phone book and make women melt, he must not take that power for granted. Too late -- Michael begins to touch all the bases in a by-the-book heart-tugging performance. It starts with Michael sitting emotionally on the American Idol Stairway to Paradise, which helps him look less scary. He sings and sighs the first bits. Twain is in the audience, rocking back and forth, her little hands clasped together earnestly while the Idol Mosh Pit Swaybots try to figure out when their arms should be swung to the left and when to the right. Michael has a hard time standing up right as he gets to the fireworks of the tune, but he manages and finishes his performance with big-but-sensitive-guy falsetto notes. It works like gangbusters on the judges. Randy thinks Michael has found his zone as an R &B singer of sweet little love songs and says he hopes Michael stays there because there is "a big wide open space" for him in that tiny little niche. Ellen The Generous compares him to Luther Vandross. Kara, who says Michael goes to "that place that relates to you" is making even less sense than usual tonight. Simon thinks Michael's performance sounded " a little bit wet" which, when pressed, he explains means "the opposite of dry" or "a bit girly."

Casey James is the New Lee. That's the storyline the producers are pushing, anyway: he's got to overcome the drubbing the judges gave him last week. During the taped rehearsal bit, Twain say she senses Casey is missing a little bit of inner confidence, and Casey, who has picked the tune "Don't," explains his agenda thusly: "It's a singing song. I don't think I've sang yet." Dang -- he's more country than Twain! Casey plays it well, sitting in a chair, behind the judges, playing an acoustic guitar with the camera in tight, which screams "Vulnerable." And, he has the good sense to keep his eyes closed for the duration of the song, to show his deep feelings. This brings a big thumbs-up from the judges, including Kara whose praise is so passionate she once again appears to be overlaying her own fantasies on Casey's performance. "Artists do not hide the good, the bad, the ugly...and that's what you did - you were vulnerable; you were raw," she says. We rest our case. Simon tries to stage a Harlequin Romance moment, suggesting Casey come down off stage and lay a big wet one -- on Twain, instead of the panting Kara. Casey obediently comes down off stage, but Twain has to settle for a hug.

Talk about a personal connection. Crystal let's us know that her song choice, "No One Needs to Know," "is a message to my boyfriend" who is in the audience. "I'm dropping hints here and there -- he'll man up one of these days," she says of the guy - on national TV. She tries out a straight-ahead country approach to the song, and, all in all, it comes off a cheery little ditty. But the judges dis her in various very respectful ways. Except for Simon, who seems to have recovered his balance as the judge who says what must be said: "Shocker: We don't like Crystal this week, that's the story," he says, adding " It was limp. " Then, for good measure, he turns and says "sorry, Shania, it was a little bit forgettable compared to the other songs." Crystal's having none of it, telling the judges that bigger isn't necessarily better, but we are focused on the newly minted America's Most Crummy Boyfriend, who's in the audience waving sheepishly like, well, a man who's been told to man-up in front of about 20 million people. Presumably when she wins this thing, gets her recording contract, and starts making all that money, he will man up and marry her -- which we presume is what's at stake here.

Aaron Kelly's performance of "You've Got a Way" is a breakthrough for him, having finally figured out that the way to sound sincere singing grownup is to sing a love song - to his mother. It all started when Kara commends his having de-sexed the lyrics by taking out the "It's in the way we make love" bit, which she says in so many words she thought was appropriate because she presumes he's a virgin though she can't be sure. Aaron says he changed that lyric because he was singing the tune to his mother. We're totally creeped out, but Kara -- who is getting more hunched over by the minute under the weight of that boulder of coal on her chest -- gushes that it is so sweet. Just when we think Simon has got his groove back, making an ominous gotta-level-with-you start, he starts heaping praise on Aaron for being "sincere and believable" for the "first time in weeks," while we mourn the loss of the Simon who would have savaged an Idolette for singing a love song to his own mother.

Siobhan Magnus is convincing as a country singer from the neck up. From the neck down she's modeling Betsey Johnson's gym wear line. But she's got that rich mid-range country chick voice thing going as she belts out "Any Man of Mine." Her walk off the stage, into the audience and back again is about as spontaneous as a security guard making the rounds, but, on the bright side, she makes it through without a break in the singing. Fortunately, she's finally figured out that viewers are in complete disagreement with the judges in re belting out glory notes and she winds up this tune with one of her best belting jags yet, while Simon works up a new batch of derogatory adjectives. Ellen The Generous, apparently thinking this show has not been about her enough, lets it pass so she can instead uncork her prepared "way to pull the Shania Twain into the station!" gag, after which she turns around, and looks back to bask in the audience reaction, though no big laugh is forthcoming. "Guess who's back?!" says Siobhan non-fan Kara, apparently knowing when she's licked. And Simon has indeed had time to gather his thoughts and lets go with "the screaming at the end...was almost like you were giving birth up there," though he's otherwise tepidly complimentary. Sadly, because the show is already running a couple minutes late and they still need to re-play each singer's numbers for voting purposes, Siobhan is denied the opportunity to respond, which is what she does best. Too bad.

See performance highlights from Tuesday night's show here.

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By Lisa de Moraes  |  April 28, 2010; 7:04 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Remember last year when Paula said the goopy stuff and Kara was the voice of logic? Apparently Paula leaving left a vacuum in the goopy universe and Kara has been sucked in to fill it.
I think Crystal's whole "my boyfriend won't commit" premise is a vote-getting device directed at all the similarly afflicted women out here....uh, out there.

Posted by: disposall | April 28, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: igetdeadbeats | April 28, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone else absolutely hate Siobhan's performance? I had to change the channel at the end it was so unbearable. She had to have sent dogs into hiding

Posted by: MasonNation | April 28, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I doubt Crystal will actually win since the best one usually doesn't. But, she has advanced far enough to get a record deal and should do fine post idol. Siobhan looks so uncomfortable all the time that she makes me uncomfortable to watch her. Probably Lee or Casey will win. In my opinion the winner this year wouldn't have made it to the top five last year.

Posted by: barbnc | April 28, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

To MasonNation- a wholehearted yes! And that was even before the end of song screeching.

Posted by: faywray | April 28, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I agree, the judges were pretty useless last night, though Simon was right about Lee -- what I mostly remember about his performance was noticing how his bottom jaw seemed to go down and to the left at a striking angle when he had to belt out parts of the song. I thought he's improved a lot, but he did slide off key sometimes and he still seems so awkward. Michael's improved a lot, too, though again, intrusive thoughts would wander in like, "Hold on -- is that the camera angle, or is his bicep actually larger than his head?!"

Ellen's "twain" puns -- yeesh. But she did recover nicely when she was using her "and you're only 16!" line on Aaron for the twentieth time and he reminded her he was now 17 and she said, "oh, then I'm not as impressed." She should stick to that kind of humor.

Here's the strange thing about last night -- I thought Casey came out as the best, and I have not gotten his appeal all season. Like Lee, he has seemed a challenged in the personality department, but I thought he sang that song sensitively last night. Reminded me of Counting Crows, which is a good thing.

Lisa, love your fashion descriptions: anthracite coal necklace! Betsey Johnson gym wear! Hee hee

Posted by: owingsmills | April 28, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit that I am not a Casey fan but that he did a good job last night. I think he'll be safe tonight. I like Siobhan a lot, she does have a really good voice. I thought that Crystal did fine, I think the judges were overly harsh. Dweeze or whatever his name is sounded awful. And, I didn't like Mike.

Posted by: MrsKirby | April 28, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Just out of curiosity, if Adam Labert was doing the exact same thing how many of you would critize him? He did do the exact same thing as Siobhan, and almost everyone loved him. She's not screechy, and she's not a bad singer. I like her, and by the way it's kind of sexist to critize someone when a singer of a different gender did the exact same thing a year ago! I hate Big Mike, and Aaron. Ryan needs to be fired, and really does Idol need so many commericals? My family and I used to watch Idol during dinner, now we watch reruns of NCIS. Much better show, more action and headslaps than on Idol. I know one host who needs a headslap at least once a show.

Posted by: snapeisagit | April 28, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else find it a challenge to get to Lisa's column? And btw, I think we should all complain to the WP about not printing it in the Style section. I used to look forward to picking it up Tues/Wed and reading the abbreviated version while sipping coffee and herding my family through our am routine. The snark is better than caffeine and put me in a good mood. Later, I'd check out the on-line blog for the fuller version and comments. Now I'm cranky that I have to wait to find time to sign on. WP could also Advertise it in the style section, but nooo....

Favorite Lisa lines: anthracite coal and Betsy Johnson gym wear line. Laughed till I cried over the latter.

I'm tired of Big Mike - time for him to go.
I was SHOCKED that DialIdol has AARON as number 1 this week. The kid has a nice voice but no personality. I think he is supported by the Bible Belt and those who propelled Archuleta to number 2 and Kris Allen to number 1. Ugh.

I think/hope Crystal will be in top 2. Last night it seemed as though judges felt obliged to nick her so as not to annoint her. It probably works in her favor. Love her attitude too.

I'm a Siobhan fan, but not last night. I loved her performances that the judges criticized and was surprised they praised her last night. Didn't get it. It seems as though she pranced around stage to prove that she can do the cliche pop singer performance in high heels. I felt icky watching it. Reminds me of the part in Little Women when Meg pretends to be a rich belle at a society party before being called out by her little sis Jo.

Lee - where were you? Love the song but only a few good moments. Truly pitchy at beginning. I'm still hoping he is top two.

Casey - good job but I think he is a low watt bulb in the intellect dept. His comments are always stupid. At least Kelli Pickler was funny in almost a Betty White way back on her season. Sorry, I don't get the handsome. I wouldn't look twice if he was lifting mulch into my truck. Lee, however,..

I think we tend to be harsh on these contestants, though the criticism is usually on target. But I shudder when most of the celebrity mentors perform. Do think Adam Lambert and Shania Twain were better, but was appalled with Miley Cyrus. Most of celebrities sound TERRIBLE on the show. Talk about pitchy and not being able to sing. As my teen sons point out, "Mom, its all fixed in recording studio." Ya think?

I suspect that some of mentors give some good advice, but we will never see it on show. It's edited for fuzzy, feel good comments/sound bites, and at a level for least musically informed. Too, bad. I do think Shania was essentially saying the same thing to all of them: "Don't karaoke my music - be yourself." The same thing the judges say week after week. I agree.

It would be tough to pick a more overpaid celebrity, but Ryan Seacrest is proving once again that he is a contender. What a jerk!

Posted by: MarriedMom | April 28, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I did not like the show last night. Too many songs I did not recognize. I just don't know enough country.

I wish they would discourage the singing of rarely known songs from well known artists. I think it shows cowardice. The contestant can't figure out how to make a well known song their own, so they pick a song that nobody knows. It can't be karaoke if you never heard it before.

Lee DeWyze wins this weeks David Archuleta/ Danny Gokey award for undeserved praise over a mediocre performance. We are down to six contestants, and the guy still has pitch issues. Also, there are times to emphasize the raspy voice, and times not to, and he hasn't figured that out. He is definitely a one trick pony.

I hope Aaron is eliminated for his own good. He is too young. He is still a boy. Picking him would be like picking a fruit before it is ripe. Put him back on the vine and let him finish his journey to adulthood without the poisoning and pressure that comes from fame. Singing love songs to your mom is an unconscious cry for help.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | April 28, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Getting tougher now, I thought Lee and Casey did well and found Targon to be the worst. Still, I think it will come down to Sweetie Cupcake and Siobhan leaving tonight. Lisa, you're getting all Dennis Miller on us now; what the heck is a Betsey Johnson?

Posted by: ozpunk | April 28, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

lee is tone deaf - no if's, and's or but's. this is something archuleta nor gokey had any problems with, especially archuleta. i haven’t heard a performance from dewyze yet that has stayed consistently on point, pitch wise. don’t know why they are going overboard praising him, when it’s painfully obvious to even the most untrained ear that he has some fundamental problems that need some work correcting before i’d consent to spend a bloody dime on anything he recorded.

mike sang well, has a tone that is smooth and pleasing, but for some reason is coming across arrogant [boggles the mind], and thus looks vulnerable in the popularity contest idol really is. it’s a shame that this show is such a transparent popularity contest, because if it was in fact a real singing contest, he’d be in the hunt every week.

aaron had what i think was his best performance. country def is his bag, and i think it would serve him to just stick to songs in that vein, or let more of that side come through, instead of whipping back and forth trying to please these schizo judges.

casey is taking baby steps to get out of the rut, and the shell he’s in performance wise. this guy to me – if he were a little looser, more willing to use the stage, has the right ingredients to be a contender for the finale. his voice is more than servicable, killer guitar skills, possesses that blond/blue eyed tom petty/surfer boy/gregg allman-esque look that still markets well. i really want to see him give a ‘damn the torpedos’ performance just once this season. it could change everything.

siobhan… i want to like her. she has a great voice, but just doesn’t know how to control it, when to restrain it, when to let it rip for maximum effect. i thought she was behind the beat in the first few bars, and it just threw the rest of her performance off for me. when she went for her trademark scream, i had just lost interest in the whole song. one thing though – it was pretty lively, and a needed uptempo number in another sea of boringness that are these song choices.

not crystal's best night for me – song choice nor performance. something was just disjointed about the whole arrangement, but compared with the other contestants, she still stands out from them overall. i like her singing style, just not sure she’d be someone i’d purchase a full cd from.

another night of piping hot meh stew, served with stale bread, with tapioca wallpaper pudding thrown in as dessert.

Posted by: dyneri | April 28, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Agree with OwingsMills, anthracite coal necklace and Betsey Johnson gym wear-- snortingly funny.
DeWeezy can't sing on pitch but the producers are building him up for the win--here come the ProTools (and Clive Davis)!
Big Mike needs to go home. I'm sure there were security guards even bigger than he (if that's possible) just off camera, since you may have noticed this is the first celeb he didn't just pick up and spin over his head--he needs to get maced a few times so he'll knock that off. Yeah, he did sound like Luther, but I'm sick of him and he needs to get gone.
I also thought Casey sounded a little like Adam Durwitz (Counting Crows) last night, although he has sounded like Bob Segar in weeks gone by; and I agree that he doesn't have a whole lotta watts upstairs, but who cares, he won't get a contract to lecture in philosophy at Yale (even though that should be the tape they show before he sings next time--that would be priceless).
Crystal was mediocre and snotty, Aaron sang well but creeped me out, and I'm sorry, but I guess I'm just not watching the same show that the judges are. I thought Siobhan was awful, that affected low-fiving the crowd, and even though she has a nice voice when she's not imitating Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween, she's probably going to get sent home tonight.

Posted by: pookiefan | April 28, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

(ozpunk, Betsey Johnson is a kooky, animated fashion designer whose line is playfully provacative...i.e., kinda nuts. Ugly Betty meets Lady Gaga clothes).

Being in lust with Casey myself, I thought he did especially well last night. For reals, he did sing well. And as far as labeling him a dim bulb, I have yet to see an intellectually stimulating conversation on Idol, so not sure how much one can gauge that. All I can say is when Casey comes on, my mind becomes very active.

I usually like Lee a lot, but the man needs to learn dynamics...don't yell the whole song or you'll get a node on your vocal chords. And we will turn the volume way down.

Aaron's singing was beautiful. I thought he'd be the next to go, but not sure now.

I rather thought they all did well last night.

And a lot of that, I think, has to do with the incredible songbook of Shania Twain. Never thought of her as strictly country, not that it would matter. "Country" music is some of the best out there today. But what a lovely lady, isn't she? Gracious and kind, incredibly talented as both a songwriter and a singer, pretty as a rose. What in the heck was Mutt Lange thinking? And have you seen her French manfriend today? Man, I bet you DO feel like a woman!

Posted by: ILoveToSinga | April 28, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

i'm not an AI watcher, did watch last night w/ my mom who is a huge fan. particularly of Siobhan. and we both were floored at the praise the judges were giving her. it was awful! just awful! too slow, flat, boring. and yet they ate it up. my dogs were running for cover...

Posted by: irishviking | April 28, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

To "snapeisagit"- For the record, I hated when Adam screeched during every song last year too.

Posted by: faywray | April 28, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

What's the Lee and Archuleta comparison? Lee is still struggling to find pitch and always amateurish. Archuleta showed what 17 year old can do despite enormous pressure as a frontrunner at that time.

On the country week, he made Dolly Parton as well as many listners cry.

Posted by: mlondon20 | April 28, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

ozpunk--I agree about Casey. Though he has been lame at times, he definitely has skills, and he is physically attractive. At times he has been stunningly good.

Crystal does nothing for me--I really don't get the cult of Crystal.

Anyway, I want Casey to win. He seems like a good guy. He is the oldest contestant at 27.

Posted by: ensilager | April 28, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

You are a brilliant writer! The funniest review yet.

Posted by: janehowze | April 28, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Oops! I meant dyneri, not ozpunk--confused by layout..I agree with your analysis (lol) of Casey, as well as some other comments you posted.

Posted by: ensilager | April 29, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't Archuleta deserves to be smeared with the Bible Belt rhetoric. A lot of Christians don't even think Mormons are proper Christians (or Christians at all, as evangelicals think). Archuleta was a solid #1-2 throughout the competition. I also don't think he got false praise from the judges. I think he deserved the praise he got. And the judges ripped him a number of times. I'm a non-Christian liberal adult and I voted a lot for him and I am still a huge fan. David has fans of all religions around the world. I don't think you can compare David's performances to some of what I've seen praised this year. This year's crop of Idols was pretty rough at the beginning, with a few exceptions. I think some have improved over the weeks though, and I would include Lee and Aaron in that group.

Posted by: violet4ever | April 29, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I think the judges drank the kool-aid. They had gushed so much over Crystal in past weeks that they had to overpraise the others to try to keep the race tight.

Nothing Crystal has done equals the coffeehouse clip, or her own audition. She seems uncomfortable on this show. She will have a career, but she's not my American Idol.

I like Aaron, the poor kid whose parents gave him away when he was 5, and old enough to know he was being thrown away. He needs the audience to love him to make up for all that pain. He thinks he has to thank the 'new' mother all the time....a kid shouldnt have to feel that grateful.

He gets better every week. Blondie doesnt sing very well, Lee is soooooooo boring, Big Mike can sing, but he won't win. Crystal doesnt want it...

Aaron needs to wear a cool suit, dark and lean, basic Prada with a white shirt and narrow tie. The costume people seem especially bad this year. Lee should NEVER wear a suit, Crystal always looks a mess. However Siobhan always looked modelicious.
They have to stop dressing Aaron in little boy clothes. And ease up on the gel.

Posted by: katalina911 | May 1, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

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