Big Mike and Aaron
The show began with an opening montage of the Top 5 performances, with silhouettes of them on white backgrounds as if they were posters for a Las Vegas show. Host Ryan Seacret wished everyone happy Cinco de Mayo and announced that over 32 million votes had come in.
The top five did a Frank Sinatra montage, starting with the guys at mike stands, doing "The Lady is a Tramp." Then Crystal Bowersox came out on her own, also wearing a suit! It was a cute look for her. Aaron Kelly, 17, did a solo for "When I Was 17" (har har). Casey James was much better than the previous night, maybe because he wasn't as nervous. I want Lee to do a crooner album. [VIDEO OF TOP FIVE]
Ryan announced that next week, the top 4 will perform movies of the cinema with mentor Jamie Foxx (who also mentored last season).
This week's Ford video found the top 5 wondering through the city, each doing their own thing (with Casey as a waiter). Lee Dewyze and Crystal seemed to be making eyes at each other, but Lee really was heading for the car, Crystal and Casey connecting instead. Punch line! [FORD VIDEO]
In an obvious attempt to pad out the show, we saw a video montage on what their Tuesdays were like before the show, compared to what they're like now. [TUESDAYS PACKAGE]
Before giving the results, Ryan interviewed the contestants. He asked Mike Lynche if he slept well last night, and Mike said he doesn't think about it until he sits on the couches, waiting for the results. Asked about what it's like being the last woman, Crystal said she feels like one of the gang: that they're like family; they're brothers. Ryan asked Casey about going without a guitar and Casey, whose performance was criticized heavily by the judges, said, "Well, we saw how well that worked out."
Then Ryan had Lee stand up and join him in the center of the stage. He talked to him about the performance. He also asked Simon for comments about the performance, and Simon said it's "the first time I thought you had started to believe in yourself."
After the nationwide vote, Ryan announced, Lee was safe. [VIDEO OF LEE]
Next was a pre-recorded performance of Lady Gaga singing "Alejandro." Wearing a black veil over her head, with black half gloves and an outfit primarily consisting of fishnet, she performed with several male dancers on a dark garden set. I'm so used to Lady Gaga being outlandish now that her performance seemed pretty standard for me. [VIDEO OF LADY GAGA]
As another bit of padding, we saw a montage of mentor Harry Connick Jr. joking around with the finalists. He also had a bone to pick with the judges: "The word pitchy does not exist, judges." [MENTOR OUTTAKES]
Harry Connick Jr. performed then, doing a big-band version of the Beatles tune "And I Love Her." It was on the lower end of his range but was a nice, smooth performance. [VIDEO OF HARRY]
Harry then accompanied the top 5 as they sing a medley of Harry Connick Jr. songs. [CONNICK MEDLEY]
Killing time, Ryan interviewed Harry, who joked about having a bad relationship with Ellen. He also told a story about the first time he met Frank Sinatra, when he was so scared to perform in front of him he forgot the words to the song. Afterward, he followed Sinatra into the elevator and tried to talk to him, but Frank only told Harry's future wife that she was beautiful, kissed her on the lips and left.
Finally, it was time for the results. Ryan placed Crystal Bowersox on one side of the stage and Michael Lynche on the other. Then, he had Aaron Kelly join Big Mike and Casey James join Crystal.
Ryan asked Lee, who was sitting on a tulip chair, safe, "If you had to choose [which group was safe], would you even go for it?" Lee said no, he wasn't going to play that.
After the nationwide vote, Ryan announced that Mike and Aaron were the bottom two. Crystal and Casey, along with Lee, were sent back to the couch. Like I said, Mike gave an exceptional performance the previous night, but he probably received fewer votes from viewers who considered him safe, while Casey's fan base voted hard to save him. [VIDEO OF GROUP SEPARATION]
After the break, it was down to just Mike and Aaron. Ryan announced, "After the nationwide vote, the person whose Idol journey comes to an end, unfortunately, tonight, is Aaron Kelly." Shot of Mike's wife celebrating. As Aaron and Mike hugged each other, Mike said something to Aaron that was muffled. Aaron smiled but looks a little sad, saying "I've had a blast." He smiled as he watched a montage of his journey.
Ryan told him, "You are truly an inspiration." Aaron sang us out with "Fly Me to the Moon." [VIDEO OF AARON]
So why was this Aaron's week? Or more importantly, why did he last so long when people kept predicting his downfall? No doubt Aaron benefitted from being the last contestant under 20, thereby securing the teenybopper vote. This week, however, he was up against Casey's fans, who probably voted extra hard to keep him in the competition after a rough performance.
On paper, Aaron looked really good: a reasonably attractive, clean-cut young man, he has a naturally good voice. Yet, in the live shows, he struggled to get his bearings, seemingly stiff and uncomfortable. Still, Aaron kept trying, and despite several mediocre performances, he also managed a few that impressed the judges and, probably, many of the viewers, as well. He was pleasant and polite to the judges, so he avoided any backlash for "talking back."
Judge Kara DioGuardi put her finger on the problem in her critique of this week's performance, telling him he needed more charisma. Aaron never got to a point where he seemed to own the stage; in his best attempts at it, he seemed to be forcing it. Perhaps even worse for him, he failed to stand out. Except for being the youngest contestant, there was little about Aaron that was unique. While the other finalists seemed to like him, he didn't show much personality, on stage or off.
Aaron has a lot of potential, and if he finds his comfort zone, he could do very well. But it was really no surprise that this week, his Idol run came to an end.
Looking good on paper isn't good enough.